One of a series of towers erected by Henry III the tower stands on the site of the old Roman city wall and was as part of a new outer wall for the Tower of London. A moat would originally have existed on its far side.
It is possible that the royal bowmaker, or bowyer lived here which gave rise to its name. George, Duke of Clarence was later imprisoned for treason against his brother, Edward IV. He died in this tower in 1478, supposedly by drowning in a barrel or butt of malmsey wine.
The tower as it is today is a nineteenth century reconstruction since it was this towers stove flue that started the great fire of London in 1841.