Phil Wilson has just retired from The Tower of London, ending an extraordinary career. The extract below shows some of his fine qualities and skills.
Extract from Poppies Pomp and People October 27th (2015):
Twilight Tour- Yeoman Clerk Phil Wilson
Yeoman Clerk Phillip is considered an authority on the many ghost and ghoul stories at the Tower and is expert (among experts) at delivering a good tale. On this occasion, he took a party of 300 around in the dark and I was told that a good number of them left very quietly afterwards and didn’t sleep well. HRP have posted a short video about him and ghost stories on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKkSiuAZoug
Phil Wilson’s rank is one above the Serjeants and he loves deputising for Gaoler. This is some of what he has to say:
On leaving school, I went straight into the army. I’m now reaching sixty-five this year and I’ve never had a day of unemployment. I left school on Friday and went to the army, left the army on Friday and started work here on Monday, never had a break. I did my first guard here in 1968 as a young guardsman and I still think I’m the only Yeoman Warder that has done the Ceremony of the Keys from every aspect except the Officer of the Guard. I’ve been the Sergeant of the Guard, the Corporal of the Guard, done the Challenge, carried the lantern, been the watchman, and of course I’ve been the duty supervisor and locked the Tower.
My work involves dealing with security clearance for the Ceremony of the Keys and for contractors, plus I also do all the tailoring, uniform ordering, the hat ordering, that sort of thing. My background was also master tailor in the Coldstream Guards.
My wife and I are so fortunate. We’ve had lunch at the White House, afternoon tea at Buckingham Palace, dinner with Cliff Richard and we live here at the Tower in historic accommodation, between the Tower’s doctor and its chaplain, overlooking Tower Green. As I got the job here I said to my wife, ‘I’m going to take you to live in a Royal Palace.’ Know what her answer was? ‘Don’t push it; it was a state prison!’ You just don’t realise you’re part of English history. I do love it. You understand that if you really like what you do you’re never going to work again in your life!