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The key to flooring at the Tower of London

A hidden treasure in the Tower of London, The Keys is a secret pub that has the most exclusive guest list.

The watering hole feels like a country pub fused with a members-only bar, but the décor is unique. There’s an ancient yeoman gaoler’s execution axe in one corner; photos of guests including senior members of the royal family; A-list actors and musicians; and in another a framed Rudolf Hess signature on official Tower of London stationery. The captured Nazi, who was Hitler’s deputy, was briefly imprisoned in the tower in 1941 after a madcap flight from Germany in an apparent attempt to make peace with Churchill.

But it’s the pub’s direct connections to the yeomen themselves that are most intriguing. Dozens of wall-mounted plaques represent the regiments each yeoman has come from – new applicants must have honourable armed forces records going back for at least 22 years before being considered.

In the evenings the yeoman or beefeaters as they’re more well known as, ditch their uniforms for street clothes and head to The Keys, where they kick back on red leather benches beneath framed and mounted historic artifacts.

Including a row of silver tankards that are a crucial part of each yeoman warder ceremony that few outsiders know about. Each have a tankard that has been used to swear in new recruits around a large bowl of port. It was the preparation for a swearing in of a new Yeoman Warder that promoted a much-needed renovation at this exclusive and historic site.

The oak parquet floor needed a full renovation after 15 years of wear, tear and the odd invitation only party or two. A key aspect of the specification was minimal downtime and a premium finish for the floor. The renovation needed to be handled in a timely manner and with minimal disruption as the location needed to be ready for a swearing in of the Yeoman celebration shortly afterwards.
With a location as exclusive and prestigious as The Keys the trusted choice was Bona, expertly used and applied by The Chapman Brothers, expert French polishers.

The Chapman Brothers is described as a passionate team of skilled craftsmen, reportedly recognised as the gold standard in the profession. Working in the most prestigious, historic and contemporary buildings in London and surrounding areas. Offering advice and providing a bespoke solution, often with controlled environmental limitations and restricted timescales between events and exhibitions. Chapman Brothers has been working with polished floors, furniture, yachts and listed building features in the UK for more than 30 years.

Understanding a site as exclusive and historic as The Keys with highest standards are required, The Chapman Brothers wasted no time in specifying Bona for all stages of the renovation. Says Bona: ‘Our systems and products offer extreme efficiency, durability and of course a pleasing aesthetic for this important venue. With Bona’s dust-free sanding system and low VOC products, the Chapman Brothers can offer a full renovation while protecting this historic site and the treasured artifacts displayed.’

The first stage of the renovation included repairing and resetting many damaged oak parquet blocks to save as much of the existing floor as possible. The blocks were secured in place with Bona Vertical adhesive offering ‘an extremely fast setting and high initial bonding strength’.

The floor was then cut back to remove 15 years of damage build up with a belt sander using Bona green ceramic abrasives at 50 grit and Bona FlexiSand using 50 and 80 grit disks. Bona Mix and Fill Plus was used to fill exposed gaps, then the floor was treated to a final sand with the Bona FlexiSand this time using Bona 150 grit green ceramic abrasive disks for that final smooth finish.

Continued Bona: ‘One coat of Bona Prime Classic UX was applied, then any remaining imperfections (deep stains) were touched in by hand ahead of the final treatment of three coats of Bona Traffic HD Anti-Slip. Bona Traffic HD Anti-slip offers the same durable finish for public areas where increased slip resistance is demanded. Perfect for this venue and the regular celebrations!’

Said Dominic Oughton of Historic Royal Palaces: ‘I’d just like to express my appreciation for the works completed to the Keys Club floor. The work to strip back the parquet flooring complete repairs and retouching some damaged areas, followed by the application of the Bona – Traffic HD Anti-slip lacquer, was all completed on time and achieved a better-than-expected finish which everyone from the club charman, the chief yeoman warder, to visiting guests have positively commented on. We’ll certainly be using Chapman Brothers and specify Bona products and systems in other areas and would be pleased to recommend it to anyone who requires a high quality, professional workmanship and finish.’
Youtube: youtu.be/gNUncRZXtE0

Facts to digest
Bona products have been used to renovate many famous landmarks across London from the iconic Tower Bridge walkway to The National Gallery, The British Museum, The National Theatre, an iconic – world-famous recording studio, many prestigious hotels, restaurants and even a well-known royal residence.

The Tower of London is the most visited paid-for attraction in the UK with more than 2.8m visitors annually. Henry VII’s personal guards were the first ‘beefeaters’, so named as they were permitted to eat as much beef as they wanted from the king’s table.

Clad in red-trimmed coats, per the illustration on their namesake London Dry Gin, beefeaters have guarded the Tower of London since 1485. Historically their duties included defending the crown jewels and minding prisoners such as Anne Boleyn, who was beheaded in the tower in 1536.

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