Wednesday, November 03, 2010

London: Part II

When we woke in the morning of our second day, we had only a short while before the complimentary breakfast at the hotel was over. This meant that we all rushed to shower and dress and make it downstairs to breakfast. The hotel could put on quite the spread- coffee and juices, croissants, sausages, scrambled eggs, cereal, pain-au-chocolat, toast, fruit...
This proved to quite a popular option with us- I can honestly say we never missed breakfast while we stayed at the hotel ;)

This was the day we opted to visit 'the churches'. On my list were Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, and St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate. I'll explain the significance of the latter later ;)
Our first stop, was the abbey. We got on the tube, and took it all the way out to Westminster. This has the happy chance of allowing you to view St. Stephen's Clock tower, which houses the hour bell, Big Ben. When you come out of the tube station there, it is the first thing you see :)
If you look, you can see the canopy of the tube station AND the sign to the right :)
Unbeknownst to us, we were there on a day that was quite important. There were helicopters flying around filming, protesters on the street, and on the way back, a car with a police escort. That likely means either the Prime Minister or a Cabinet Member. So what was the important day? It was the day that Prime Minister David Cameron and the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, presented their "Spending Review 2010". This was the day they cut £81 billion to the budget... hence the protestors :)

You can see the busy street here- with the marvellous views of the houses of parliament and the London Eye in addition to St. Stephen's Clock Tower. We have just crossed over to the Abbey.
We had no idea how big of a deal it was. Primarily because it was our first full day in London- believe you me, we heard about it afterwards ;)
You can see the tents of protesters on the left here.
Actually, I became rather enamoured of the British news system (again)- I was finally plugged into what was going on world-wide- something I think the news outlets here could do a little more of! There were so many newspapers- and many of those had very in-depth reports on things happening not just in the UK but all over. If I had a favourite in depth paper there- it would be the Independant (the hotel gave us complimentary copies of that, very nice!). The Metro, a free paper available on the tube, was a fun read too. Definitely entertained us while riding around!!
But, we were ignorant at this point, and heading for one of my very favourite churches in the world, the ancient (established in the 10th Century) Westminster Abbey.
I was rather taken with this sundial clock :)
It is very unfortunate that the Abbey does not allow photography inside it's walls. Not that this is unusual in Britain- it is not. You will (if you are a man) be asked to remove your hat still, too. It is a sign of respect.
The Stunning West Gate (I think). The sun was blazing just behind the church as I took the photo, so there is a little glare. Note the perfect green lawns- my kids wondered how they got such lovely grass in England. I told them it just grows that way ;)
Inside are the tombs of Kings and Queens from hundreds of years back- including Elizabeth I. Amazing statuary, glorious stained glass, and the famed Poet's Corner- where there is a memorial to a relative of mine (some sort of distant relative that shared my not-exactly-common maiden name). I was a little surprised to see memorials to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow "a tribute by English admirers of an American poet" and Franklin D. Roosevelt. And amazed at the fact that although the coronation chair is undergoing restoration, the restorer is working in a little glass room on display to the world! You can see images inside on the web, but they don't do it justice!
I admired the gifts in the gift shop (where I saw a sketchbook of London and never saw it again!), explained to the kids that grass just grows that green in England, and came out of the wonderful Abbey in a hush. In fact we all did. DS will still tell you he thought it the most beautiful of the sights we saw.
After exiting the abbey, and a brief visit to St. Margaret's Church outside, we took the tube again (get a nice detailed map here) from Westminster to Monument- where we took a LONG walk underground to bank, to get on the central line to St. Paul's.


Built on the site of a Saxon church dedicated to St Edmund the church became known as St Edmund and the Holy Sepulchre during the years 1105 to 1173, when it was in the care of Augustinian Canons, who were Knights of the Holy Sepulchre. Later, the name became abbreviated to “St. Sepulchre”.
Rebuilt and much enlarged in 1450, the walls, tower and porch survive from that period. Badly damaged in the Great Fire of 1666, the interior was restored in 1670 and has been much altered since.
Among famous names associated with the church are
John Rogers, Vicar, first Protestant martyr;
Roger Ascham, Tutor of Queen Elizabeth I;
William Harvey, discoverer of the circulation of the blood;
Captain John Smith, first Governor of Virginia and Sir Henry Wood, founder of the Promenade Concertsm whose ashes rest in what is now the Musicians' Chapel, with its many memorials to musicians. The church also contains the Regimental Chapel of the Royal Fusiliers.

We were visiting the Church of St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate. It was the church where the colonists took their last communion before coming to Virginia. It was the Church where Captain John Smith was buried, and it was the church where the condemned at Newgate prison would hear their death bell being rung.
Newgate prison was knocked down a while back, and the Old Bailey now stands on the site- right opposite St. Sepulchre's.
You can see the entrance to St. Sepuchre's above, with the wording on the placard.
Having asked permission (and had it granted) I was able to take some photos inside the church :)
Window dedicated to the colonists.
This stained glass window was dedicated to the colonists- paid for by an American biographer of John Smith back in the 60's or 70's- I forget which. It is quite lovely :)
To the living memory of his deceased friend
Captain John Smith
sometime Governour of Virginia,
and Admiral of New England,
who departed this life the 21st of June 1631


Here lyes one conquered that hath conquered Kings,
Subdu'd large Territories and done things
Which to the World impossible would seem,
But that the Truth is held in more esteem.
Shall I report his former Service done
In honour of his God and Christendom?
How that he did divide from Pagans three
Their heads and Lives, Types of his Chivalry,
For which great Service in that Climate done,
Brave Sigismundus, Kind of Hungarion,
Did five him as a Coat of Armes to wear,
These Conquered heads got by his Sword and Spear.
Or shall I tell of his Adventures since
Done in Virginia, that large Continent?
How that he subdu'd King unto his Yoke,
And made those heathen flee as Wind doth Smoke:
And made their land, being of so large a Station,
An habitation for our Christian Nation,
Where God is glorify'd, their Wants supply'd;
Which else, for Necessaries must have dy'd,
But wat whails his Conquests, now he lyes
Interr'd in Earth, a Prey to Worms and Flyes?
O! May his Soul in sweet Elysium sleep,
Until the Keeper that all Souls doth keep,
Return to Judgment: and that after thence,
With Angels he may have his Recompence.
The church is currently undergoing a lot of renovations- they have become quite the place for musical performances :) Meanwhile, this plaque to Smith sits on the floor until the renovations are done.
Another thing I admired in the Church, were the beautiful kneelers. In fact, many of the kneelers were memorials to the trip the colonists took to Virginia. I took lots of photos of them- and have placed those below.

All beautifully needlepointed- a rather time consuming craft! But they are very nicely made and very attractive! I suspect the ladies of the church some time ago, made them. Not that I think they are OLD, just about 30-40 years old ;)
For some reason the kids did not want to pose!
There is quite a spectacular view of the Old Bailey from outside the church.
and the famed lady of justice atop of it...
Lovely sky wasn't it?
After visiting the church, we were hungry, and wanted to eat. So we detoured... finding ourselves in Smithfield Market.
She had to try out the phone box- dirty as it was ;)
Finding only a lack of child-friendly restaurants there, we went back to the the hotel, where a lovely Wetherspoon pub called the "Plough and Harrow" was next door. It was the first time we ate there, but not the last. In fact, it became a favourite place to eat- it was relatively cheap, very convenient and ideally located! They have some great British Ales (incidentally those are available as a drink option with your combo instead of soda- I know DH liked this).
Having eaten, we did a little local shopping. I checked out Primark, which became my new favourite place, did a little shopping in Sainsbury's and basically enjoyed the rest of the day.
And that was Day 2 in England :)

No comments:

Post a Comment

I always enjoy your comments, so please feel free to leave them or message me if you cannot!
I will try and reply as much as I am able :)

I have turned on word verification because I am getting spammed without it! You can always use the audio feature if you can't read the words.