New Ravenmaster appointed at the Tower of London

Image: Ravenmaster Barney Chandler with a raven at the Tower. Photo credit: Tower of London

If legend is to be believed, the Ravenmaster is a job title that comes with the ultimate responsibility… the fate of the kingdom.

Now, Yeoman Warder Michael ‘Barney’ Chandler will be stepping into the iconic role from March, 15 years after first becoming a Yeoman Warder (‘Beefeater’) at the Tower of London.

It will see him lead a team of Yeoman Warders dedicated to caring for the seven ravens that call the Tower home and are synonymous with the history of the famous fortress.  

The role of Ravenmaster is a relatively new one, having only been created in the last 50 years, although there have been Yeoman Warders dedicated to their care for much longer. It was formally created by YW Jack Wilmington, who joined the Yeoman Body in 1968, eventually becoming the Yeoman Quartermaster. When the role was later disbanded, YW Wilmington officially became the first Ravenmaster, with YW Chandler now becoming the sixth person to ever fill the position.

The Ravenmaster’s role is denoted by a distinctive badge – originally designed by YW Wilmington – on their uniform, which features an emblem of the famous bird on the right sleeve of both the daily Blue Undress and red Ceremonial State uniforms.

The new Ravenmaster will now lead a team of four other Yeoman Warders who share the duties of caring for the ravens, including maintaining their enclosures and keeping them fed and watered on their preferred diet of raw meat, as well as the occasional egg and blood-soaked biscuit as a treat. The team are also responsible for the health and wellbeing of the ravens and ensuring they are comfortable in their Tower home, which they share with nearly 3 million visitors per year.

Appointed as the 387th Yeoman Warder at the Tower in March 2009, YW Chandler previously served for 24 years in the Royal Marines. As a Company Sergeant Major in 42 Commando, he served all over the world, including being deployed to Helmand Province in Afghanistan from 2006-2007. Originally from Watford, in his spare time YW Chandler enjoys solo motorbike touring across Europe and visiting his four children living all around the world.

YW Chandler will take over the new role from YW Chris Skaife, who was previously in the post for 14 years. During his successful tenure, YW Skaife diligently cared for the ravens and shared their stories with millions of people from around the globe, both at the Tower and online. He will continue in his other duties as a Yeoman Warder.

The Tower is currently home to seven ravens; Jubilee, Harris, Poppy, Georgie, Edgar, Branwen and Rex, the newest recruit who was named in honour of HM The King’s Coronation last year. Ravens have a long association with the Tower of London. The story goes that King Charles II was the first to insist that the ravens of the Tower be protected, inspiring the famous legend that survives to this day. It is said that the King’s astronomer John Flamsteed, who had an observatory in the White Tower, complained that the resident ravens were impeding his work and requested their removal. The King was advised that if the ravens left the Tower then the Kingdom would fall – an alarming sentiment for a recently restored monarch – and the legend has been kept alive ever since.

The Tower’s new Ravenmaster, Yeoman Warder Barney Chandler, said:

“I am honoured to have been appointed as the new Ravenmaster at the Tower of London, after many years of caring for them as part of the ravens team. Being able to work alongside these majestic birds has always been a favourite part of my duties as a Yeoman Warder, and I feel immensely privileged to be entrusted with this iconic role.

The ravens have a long association with the Tower and are immensely popular with our visitors – I’m looking forward to playing my part in continuing their legacy for many years to come.”

Meet the famous Ravens here.


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