"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life." -- Samuel Johnson
May 21, 2012
Sorry I've been out of contact so long. Our first London B&B had no internet, at least that we were allowed to use, and the library was closed on Sunday.
Yes, we left St. Andrews Saturday morning and travelled to London by train. It was a very picturesque journey. We were on the east side of the train, so got a great view of the coast as we travelled along. When we got to London King's Cross we went straight to the British Library because it's literally next door to the tube station. Oh my goodness! I can't believe I've never been there before. We saw the actual Magna Carta (well, there were 4 original Magna Cartas, and we saw one of them). We also saw papiru from the 3rd century that contained the story of Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene after the resurrection. They found it in a garbage pile in Egypt less than 100 years ago! And we saw an edict written by Henry II about the monks at Canterbury. AND, the best thing, we saw St. Cuthbert's gospel, dating from the 9th century. Pristine condition, and the museum had it open to John 11. It's in Latin, and I was able to make out a lot of it, partly because I know that chapter so well. Incredible. We also saw an original Gutenberg Bible (from his first printing), and a bunch of other stuff. Wonderful.
The British Library is so full of charms! If you visit London, do not neglect it. It was the high point of the the entire trip for me. The picture above is of St. Cuthbert's Gospel. You can see that the last line is Jesus' word to Martha: "I am the resurrection and the life."
We then dragged ourselves to our B&B which is a little odd. The people running it always seem a little surprised to see us. Yesterday (Sunday), we left the B&B at 9:00 and headed for the Tower of London. According to Trudy's guide book, you should see the Crown Jewels first, so we went straight there. Again, amazing. One of the scepters has a 530.2 carat diamond in it. Thankfully it wasn't very crowded yet, so we went through the line to see the jewels three times (they make you stand on a conveyor belt that takes you past them, so no lingering). The third time, we went and read the signs on the wall. A very friendly beefeater must have pegged us as people who were genuinely interested and somewhat knowledgeable about British history, because he came right up to us and started explaining things and answering all our questions. He took us all around the jewels and pointed out all the interesting things. We saw a ruby Richard III wore into battle, a sapphire that belonged to Edward the Confessor, pearls worn by Mary Queen of Scots, and diamonds stolen from India. The beefeater was great -- we must have spent 45 minutes talking to him. Trudy's guide book said to allow 2 hours for the Tower, and we spend an hour and half just in the jewel room.
A miniature of the Tower of London. The White Palace in the middle is the oldest part of the Tower, built in 1066 by William the Conquerer.
The moat around the Tower. Now just beautiful grass.
Outside the Tower of London.
The White Palace. So beautiful -- and almost 1000 years old!
Looking up at the White Palace. Gruffydd, son of Wales' Llewelyn the Great, died falling out of one of these windows. He was being held as a political prisoner by Henry III and died trying to escape.
This sign is posted in the White Palace. It refers to the two sons of Edward IV, murdered in the Tower shortly after the death of their father. Shakespeare blamed Richard III, but readers of The Sunne in Splendor by Sharon Kay Penman know better! (By the way, if you like British medieval history, you won't find better historical fiction than that authored by Penman.)
Looking out of the White Palace. Think of all the British royalty that stood in that very spot!
This spoon was used for anointing the kings of England. It was made for either Henry II or Richard I (the Lionheart). Trudy and I about had a conniption looking at this spoon!
The bedroom of King Edward I, also known as Longshanks because of his height. He was 6'2".
This beautiful private chapel connected to Edward I's bedroom.
The armor of King Henry VIII in his later years. Overcompensate much?
A matchlock gun! I so wished Z had been with me to see this since we had so recently finished the book The Matchlock Gun. The gun is much larger than this picture conveys, and really helped me visualize the story we'd read.
A cozy window seat. Again, for Penman fans, so many things to imagine sitting here!
In the streets inside the Tower.
Traitor's Gate -- the gate leading to the Thames by which traitors were brought into the Tower. Elizabeth I was brought through this gate during the reign of her sister Mary. Unlike many who entered here, she managed to leave the Tower with her head.
Behind us is the Thames.
Tower Bridge, so named because it is adjacent to the Tower. It currently has the Olympic rings hanging from its center.
Outside the Tower, enjoying every minute!
We had fish and chips when we finally left the Tower. We were famished!
Today we switching to the other B&B and will see Westminster Abbey this afternoon, and stay for evensong, and then go see Les Mis tonight. Tomorrow is St. Paul's Cathedral and the British Museum, and Wednesday we come home. I'm already starting to feel ready for that, especially knowing that Eden is not feeling well.
I'm so sorry you had to miss the graduation banquet! Everyone we meet here asks us how can we possibly be gone from out children for 8 days, and we just keep telling everyone about how wonderful our husbands are. Really, thank you for all this. Is Eden doing better? How was graduation on Saturday? I'm glad you've got everything done but the grading. Maybe you're almost done with that now? I'm hoping that Highbury Centre will let us use their internet, so hopefully I can check again later today. I hope Eden is doing better, and glad you're there to watch over her.
I love you a ton! And I miss you a ton! Trudy is awesome and we're having a great time (we still spend every evening just talking for 2-5 hours), but multiple times I've thought, 'Oh, I WISH Nathan were here!'
Love, love, love and hugs and kisses to Z and Eden. And all that and more to you!