Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Key to royal ravens and crumbling kingdoms could lie with a pub landlord in Suffolk

Mike Keen raises ravens at his pub in Freston, Suffolk and is establishing a royal bloodline.

Legend says that if the ravens ever leave the Tower of London, the Crown and country will fall but it could now be saved by a pub in Suffolk.

  • Watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Russell Hookey

For centuries the Tower of London has been one of the capital's most important buildings.

Once home to royalty, then used at various times as a prison, the Royal Mint and now home for the Crown Jewels

But for 400 years the one constant has been the ravens which are kept there.

There need to be at least six ravens at the Tower at all times and to safeguard them it's been decided to create a royal raven bloodline using birds bred not in London but in a village near Ipswich.

They're being raised by pub landlord Mike Keen and his son at their pub in Freston near Ipswich.

Superstition has it that the Tower of London will fall if the ravens there ever fly away. Credit: ITV News Anglia

In the past the tower has used rescued ravens from far and wide but now the plan is to create a royal raven bloodline using birds raised by in Suffolk.

Last year Mike Keen was asked to take his own raven to the tower as part of a breeding programme and when the first chicks in 30 years were born there he was asked to raise them in Suffolk.

"We said wouldn't it be great if we could get some breeding pairs and develop a family tree so that in generations to come, it would great to have almost kings and queens ancestry thing for the ravens as well."

– Mike Keen, ravenmaster
Pub landlord Mike Keen wants to establish a royal raven bloodline in Suffolk. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The requirement for six ravens to be kept at the Tower at all times appears to have come about during the reign of Charles II who it seems argued with his astronomer who felt that the ravens obstructed the business of the Royal Observatory which was in the White Tower.

The ravens currently at Tower of London will stay there until they die and can live for up to 40 years.

So it's likely the birds in Suffolk may not go there at all but their offspring could replace the current ravens.

Ravens can live for up to 40 years and generally they have a wingspan of 100-150 cm. Credit: ITV News Anglia

It's the first time birds destined for the Tower have been intentionally bred elsewhere

And from now on Freston can claim to be home to the royal ravens of the future.