Old London

16 Nov

Part of London’s charm is that it’s just such an old place, lived in place. People have been bouncing around there for over two thousand years. Amazingly, some stuff is still standing. Well, sort of, anyways. No trip to London is complete without visiting the monarchical historical mainstays: the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, and Westminster Abbey.

The best photo of Buckingham Palace. You really don’t want to see the others.

Steph and I mostly blasted past Buckingham. It was late, we had wandered through the Victoria and Albert Museum (would recommend!), Harrod’s, Hyde Park, and a long walk from Trafalger Square on towards Parliament. All of this is doable with public transportation and lots of coffee. But since my goal in life is to not be one of those asshole tourists, I passed on the chance to mock the guards in the funny hats.

Part of Westminster Abbey.

Soldiers setting up memorial crosses with the red poppies for Armistice Day.

I spent half a day wandering around the magnificent Westminster Abbey on my own, since Steph had something called “classwork” and “labtime” that she needed to do. It was kind of fun looking at all the old statues and inscriptions proclaiming whose bones laid where. My favorite was probably Darwin’s stone on the floor, which just said his name, birth date and death date. Simple and elegant for the man who advanced our understanding of pretty much everything. In comparison, other notables had whole paragraphs explaining their importance or their connections.

I don’t really have any photos of Westminster for one simple reason: they asked me not to. The Abbey is a working church and they still hold mass and other services every day. As a sign of respect, they asked if I would refrain from setting off my flash every ten seconds. Frankly, it was kind of a relief to not have to bother with my camera the whole time.

The Abbey has a long history of being the place where kings and queens are crowned and buried. I can’t keep them all straight in my head, but I’m pretty sure that it was first underwritten by Edward the Confessor. I liked the tomb shared by Elizabeth I and her sister “Bloody” Mary the most. While the marker might read “Partners in throne and grave, here we sleep, Elizabeth and Mary, sisters, in hope of the Resurrection”, but the statue there is of Elizabeth, looking regal as all get out. Only Elizabeth. Heh.

Poet’s Corner kind of pissed me off for one reason: Jane Austen (more like Jane Awesome, amirite?) had one tiny plaque. The Bronte sisters shared another one. Huge statues and markers for some frankly terrible poets, but the ladies who brought the novel to a new heights (okay, mostly Austen here) and whose works are still widely in circulation today… have a tiny wall tablet. Tasteful, like Darwin’s, but still.

Technically not inside the church, so I took a photo of the stained glass.

Big Ben and Parliament, as seen from outside Westminster.

There is a park just next to Westminster with statues of famous statesmen. I like how grumpy Churchill looks.

–> I’ve decided to save all my love of the infamous Tower of London for Monday. Because that’s how I like my history: bloody with a side of treason, intrigue, and infamy.


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