Chief Yeoman Warder Alan Kingshott

The following information relates to my 6th cousin twice removed Alan Kingshott. He was a Yeoman Warder, a "Beefeater", at the Tower of London and rose to the position of Chief Yeoman Warder.

 

Alan first became a Yeoman Warder on 1st April 1998. The following account, from "The Argus" newspaper, Tuesday 12th May 1998, describes his appointment and previous job.

 

STORE BOSS WHO ENDED UP IN THE TOWER

When Alan Kingshott goes to work its all part of history. He has given up his job as a Comet store manager to become a Beefeater at the Tower of London. Queries about videos and television sets have now been replaced by questions about Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII, executions and ravens. The proud new Beefeater is currently commuting from Church Green, Shoreham, to the Tower of London, which will shortly become a permanent home for him and his wife, Patricia. The father of two children, who now live away from home, Alan, 45, is one of three new recruits to the ancient post, which is restricted to those who have served a minimum of 22 years in the forces, have a good conduct medal and attained the minimum rank of warrant officer. The former pupil of Tideway School, Newhaven, and Southwick hockey player, is now at the centre of English history. A few months ago, he was dealing with customer queries and stock flows at the Bognor branch of Comet. He also managed the Brighton store in Lewes Road, and others at Eastbourne, Worthing and Crawley. Now he is among the most photographed men in the country as he poses for some of the 2.5 million people who visit the heritage attraction. The job is not all about showing people around the Tower of London. As a member of the world's oldest armed body, they are present at state occasions, such as coronations and the Lord Mayor of London's annual procession. They are also responsible for security at the Tower's 18 acre site where the Crown Jewels are kept, although the job of guarding the jewels is with the Jewel House Warders. Alan said: "I can honestly say I will never get bored with this job. It is something I have always wanted to do. I got the job because I knew some of my colleagues from my former regiment were here. "I am very proud to be a symbol of English history. It is certainly a change from working at Comet, which I enjoyed after coming out of the Army after 25 years. "But my aim is now to get into every single family photograph album in the world - and I have made a good start at that."

 

So Alan arrived at the Tower of London which, incidentally, was built by William the Conqueror who was (on a maternal line, and not a Kingshott line sadly) my 26 times great grandfather!

 

Alan was promoted to Yeoman Sergeant in 2004. By 2011 Alan was the Yeoman Gaoler, a senior position at the Tower. It was whilst in this role that he was visited by a chap calling himself The Gentle Author (TGA) who wrote about his experience on an excellent blog. This blog can be found, in its entirety, here. In this blog, TGA describes Alan as follows.

 

"From the moment you meet Alan, and he fixes you with his dark, glinting eyes deep-set beneath straggly eyebrows, peering at you over his magnificent specimen of a nose, you are aware of an appealing balance of gravity and levity, as if he were born to this role which requires a lofty hauteur on ceremonial occasions and a playful nature greeting young visitors to the Tower. His sombre poise is such that he appears to have stepped from one of George Cruickshank’s engravings of the Yeoman Warders, with the dramatic possibility that at any moment he might reveal himself as a comic impostor – which is another way of saying that while Alan treats his job with utmost seriousness, he does not take himself too seriously."

TGA - Spitalfield Life Blog

 

Alan did not have long to remain in the role of Yeoman Gaoler for, in January 2012, the Chief Yeoman Warder John Keohone, retired. Alan was the only person qualified to take on the lead role and was duly promoted to Chief Yeoman Warder.

The following article recently appeared in the London Evening Standard and is reproduced here by kind permission of the author, Ross Lydall.

 

"John Keohane MVO BEM, Chief Yeoman Warder at the Tower of London, will be retiring on 31 January 2012 after more than two decades service at Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress. The Chief Yeoman Warder is the most senior member of the Sovereign's Bodyguard based at the Tower of London known as the Body of Yeoman Warders, and commonly called ‘Beefeaters’. 

Upon John’s retirement, Yeoman Gaoler Alan Kingshott (the Chief’s deputy) will be promoted to the position of Chief Yeoman Warder. Alan joined the Body of Yeoman Warders at the Tower of London in March 1998, following a distinguished 25-year career in the Royal Hussars. Enlisting as a Boy Soldier in 1968, he progressed through the ranks to become a Warrant Officer, instructing his squadron in tank gunnery. His military life took him to Canada, Hong Kong, Cyprus, Germany and Oman.

 

Nowadays, Alan lives with his wife Patricia in the heart of the Tower of London, is a keen gardener, and enjoys the occasional round of golf with colleagues.

The Chief Yeoman Warder's daily role within the Tower is to manage the Body of Yeoman Warders, ensuring they are trained and equipped to the highest standards required by Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity responsible for the Tower of London; to oversee the duties and responsibilities of the Yeoman Gaoler and the five Yeoman Serjeants; and to liaise directly with the Resident Governor on all matters affecting the traditions and heritage of the Body of Yeoman Warders.

The Body consists of a total of 37 Yeoman Warders who all come from a Military background, have completed a minimum of 22 years in the Armed Forces, having achieved the minimum rank of Warrant Officer, be aged between 40 and 50 years of age on taking up the  appointment and be in possession of the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

The ceremonial role of the Chief Yeoman Warder - known up until Victorian times as the Gentleman Porter - involves overseeing the Ceremony of the Keys, the nightly closing down ceremony of the Tower. Every night, with an escort of four soldiers, the outer gates of the Tower are locked and secured for the night, witnessed by up to 80 members of the public who can apply for tickets to watch the event. The ceremony takes place at
10pm on each and every night of the year and has been taking place with the walls of this great fortress for over 700 years."

 

So, all in all, Alan is a very distinguished and important Kingshott and I'd like to congratulate him on his promotion. 

 

I have also just found a nice photograph of him with HRH Prince Michael of Kent, as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. It is a cracking photograph, showing Alan in all of his finery.

Alan's son Mark Kingshott also has a page on this site, as he is an up-and-coming author. You can read about him here.

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