If you’ve been keeping up, the #TravelingTalleys blog has already updated you to the adventures of #CuzUK in Sunderland, Scotland, the gardens of London, and the Tower of London. But everything in England isn’t roses! While Emily and I were in London we went to a few iconic places along with immersing ourselves in the history of Great Britain at the Imperial War Museum. Visiting London of course means visiting Big Ben, which was unfortunately under construction (leave something to come back for!) and Westminster Abbey, which we were not allowed to take pictures inside while visiting.
During one of our daily marathon walks we were able to travel over Thames by various bridges, one of them being London Bridge. The history of this bridge spans many generations, including a stone-built medieval structure that lasted 600 years. The current span opened to traffic in 1973 and is built from concrete and steel. London Bridge remained the only road-crossing downstream of Kingston over Thames until 1792 when the Putney Bridge opened. Central London, where we spent some of our time, is very similar to large, metropolitan cities that have a high percentage of visitors from around the world. Commercially, London also caters to many businesses across Europe and the world. Remember, Great Britain was an incredibly spread out empire – very much so even today. Seeing the blend of modern architecture and medieval was like when Clinton and I walked through the old Roman ruins, to an extend. While the Romans are no longer in power and arguably Great Britain still rules part of the world, the structures speak of an affluent time with creative minds. I appreciated the intricate details that were molded into everyday Great Britain.
Walking around the town of London also included educational trips to a museum, and one of the best museums we found during our travel was the Imperial War Museums. Actually a museum with five different branches, three of them in London. The museums were founded in 1917 to record the civil and military war efforts of Great Britain and its Empire during World War I. Today, the museum includes all conflicts that Great Britain was involved in since 1914. Included in the museum’s collection is the personal and official documents, photographs, film, and video material from various wars. It was an extremely impressive collection that included oral history recordings. As a self proclaimed “historian” of humans throughout time, a very important part of history is oral history recordings. Hearing from the person directly who lived during different time periods is always moving. The museum also includes a large art collection and many examples of military vehicles and aircraft. Entering the museum is free but donations are always encouraged!
One of the more popular places we visited during our trip was Westminster Abbey. This beautiful Gothic abbey church is one of the most notable and famous religious places in London and is also the traditional place of coronation for the monarchy. Formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster. SInce 1066 the Abbey has been a coronation church – or the official ceremony where a king or queen is officially crowned – since 1066 and is also the final resting place of seventeen monarchs. The present church was begun by Henry III in 1245 and still holds a medieval shrine of Anglo-Saxon saint. Today, the church is not used for coronations but is a place for tourists to visit and for those to come to throughout the day for worship. Services are daily and just the thought that over 1000 years of history is in one building always amazes me. I’ve been to many “old” buildings and love visiting churches because of this!
Westminster Abbey does require a fee to enter and you are not allowed to take pictures, but there is a nice gift shop where you can purchase a picture book and you are given a self guided tour to peruse the Abbey on your own time. Seventeen monarchs reside within the Abbey and if you were like me to actually enjoyed your history class, it’s pretty cool when you round a corner and see a shrine to a monarch whose name your recognize. Who is not there – notably, Henry VIII. Of course not, right? 🙂 There is a section called “Poet’s Corner” where famous authors of the day were buried, including Charles Dickens. Death wasn’t the only thing celebrated in this gorgeous abbey. Wedding are also popular, including that of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – William and Kate. The building is absolutely beautiful and the surrounding area is pretty as well, though it is very crowded as it is part of the main city center of London. Be prepared for lines and rude visitors!
I’ve found that even knowing the language of the locals doesn’t necessarily matter, so patience is key in many situations. Don’t let a language barrier (or in this case lack of one) give you a false sense of security. You are still in a foreign land! We tried to stop into tea shops throughout the day and tried to learn as much as we could about the local history and culture wherever we traveled. It was nice not having language as a barrier, but customs still took a little time to get use to! I loved our many adventures and walks around town each day and appreciated the help we received along the way. This isn’t the end of my blog adventures since we also visited Wales and that post will be next, but our adventures in London will end here. Thanks for keeping tuned to the travels of #CuzUK and keep here for details of Wales! Till next time!