Charity that runs Tower of London spent £350K over last five years caring for its famous ravens

A charity responsible for the Tower of London has spent £350,000 over the last five years caring for the resident ravens, a freedom of information request has revealed.

Historic Royal Palaces, which looks after the Tower as well as Hampton Court Palace, Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle, is also responsible for the management of the Tower’s ravens.

£157,000 of the total spent was used to install a new enclosure to keep the birds in  during the night, the Sunday Times reports.

Despite the investment, only seven ravens remain at the Tower of London after one bird, Merlina, went missing in January and is feared dead. 

Historic Royal Palaces which is responsible for the Tower of London has spent £350,000 over the last five years caring for the resident ravens, a freedom of information request has revealed

Historic Royal Palaces which is responsible for the Tower of London has spent £350,000 over the last five years caring for the resident ravens, a freedom of information request has revealed

Historic Royal Palaces which is responsible for the Tower of London has spent £350,000 over the last five years caring for the resident ravens, a freedom of information request has revealed

Laura Hutchinson, a spokeswoman for the Tower, said that there is currently a breeding pair which ‘might produce some more raven babies this year’. 

According to legend, both the kingdom and the Tower of London will fall should the number of ravens housed in the Tower fall to below six.

Charles II is thought to have been the first to insist that the ravens of the Tower be protected after he was warned the crown and the Tower itself would fall if they left. 

However, Hutchinson said that despite ravenmaster Christopher Skaife having been placed on furlough, a team of wardens has been caring for the animals. 

The ravens of the Tower of London are fed mice, chicks, rats and a selection of other raw meats – and occasionally a biscuit soaked in blood. 

The ravens are free to roam the Tower precincts during the day and preside over four different territories within the Tower's walls. The birds are trained to only respond to the ravenmaster Christopher Skaife (pictured)

The ravens are free to roam the Tower precincts during the day and preside over four different territories within the Tower's walls. The birds are trained to only respond to the ravenmaster Christopher Skaife (pictured)

The ravens are free to roam the Tower precincts during the day and preside over four different territories within the Tower’s walls. The birds are trained to only respond to the ravenmaster Christopher Skaife (pictured)

Last month it was reported that Merline, dubbed the ‘Queen raven’, was missing from the Tower and is feared to be dead. 

She flew off one night shortly before Christmas for her evening constitutional and, to the shock and dismay of Christopher Skaife, Yeoman Warder Ravenmaster at the Tower of London, she never came back.

Speaking last month, Skaife said: ‘We had a special relationship. I was her human buddy. She always knew where I was and kept her eye on me. 

‘We used a special clicking noise — like a knock-knocking sound. So she’d chat with me and allow me to stroke her beak.

£157,000 of the total spent was used to install a new enclosure to keep the birds in during the night

£157,000 of the total spent was used to install a new enclosure to keep the birds in during the night

£157,000 of the total spent was used to install a new enclosure to keep the birds in during the night

‘She was quite affectionate. I’d never use the term ‘favourite’, but, well… I do have a tattoo of her on my calf.’

This is not the first time disaster that the number of ravens housed in the Tower has fallen dangerously low.

During World War II, just three — Mabel, Grip and Pauline — survived the bombing. But Pauline was killed soon afterwards and the other two died mysteriously, causing Winston Churchill to hurriedly order the flock back to full size.

In 2013, two Tower ravens were killed by a red fox that managed to infiltrate the grounds, and since Chris Skaife took over, one raven called Munin escaped, but was captured by a member of the public and swiftly returned.

The ravens of the Tower of London 

It is said that the kingdom and the Tower of London will fall if the six resident ravens ever leave the fortress.

There are currently seven ravens housed at the Tower: Jubilee, Harris, Gripp, Rocky, Erin, Poppy and Merlina.

However, last month it was reported that Merlina, dubbed the Queen raven, had gone missing from the Tower just before Christmas and has not been seen since.

Charles II is thought to have been the first to insist that the ravens of the Tower be protected after he was warned that the crown and the Tower itself would fall if they left.

The King’s order was given against the wishes of his astronomer, John Flamsteed, who complained the ravens impeded the business of his observatory in the White Tower.

The ravens are free to roam the Tower precincts during the day and preside over four different territories within the Tower’s walls.

The birds are trained to only respond to the ravenmaster Christopher Skaife – who is currently on furlough.

The ravens are fed twice a day dine on a special diet of mice, chicks, rats and assorted raw meats. As a special treat, they are given biscuits soaked in blood. 

Source: Historic Royal Palaces 

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