Posts Tagged With: London

On Guard at the Tower of London

A sentry at the Jewel House at the Tower of London

The Tower of London is famous for its Beefeaters (also called Yeomen Warders) and their fabulous free tours of the Tower of London, however, a detachment of the regiment on guard at Buckingham Palace and St James’ Palace is also guarding parts of the Tower of London.

The Tower guard is made up of one officer, 6 NCO’s (Non-Commissioned Officers) and 15 soldiers. They have sentries posted outside the Jewel House and the Queen’s House.

Sentries are changed every two hours and you can see them being posted and receiving their orders. The Jewel House is your best option, as you get fairly close to the sentries.

On their way to the Queen’s House

The change over is accompanied by the usual stamping of feet and shouting of orders, however, not so at the Queen’s House. So as not to disturb the occupants (which is the Resident Governor of the Tower of London and his family) the sentry does not stamp his feet, and when an officer makes a tour of inspection the sentry will whisper his response “All’s Well”.

Sentry at the Queen’s House

The detachment is also involved in some other daily duties.

Each morning at 09:00hrs the Duty Yeoman Warder and a military escort ceremoniously open the Middle and Byward Towers. After this opening the public is allowed to enter the Tower of London.

This soldier has clearly been in position for some time!

At 15:00hrs the Officer of The Guard and his escort march to the Byward Tower to collect the Word. The Word is the password, which gets changed daily, for after-hours entry to the Tower of London. The Word is used by Tower staff, residents, and the soldiers on duty.

 

And the last duty is in conjunction with the Chief Yeoman Warder. Every night at 21:00hrs they take part in the Ceremony of the Keys, which is the locking of the Tower of London for the night. This ceremony has been performed every night for more than 900 years.

You can get free tickets to this event through the Tower of London website, but be warned, they sell out a year in advance. If you are lucky to get any tickets, please note that there is a small administration fee. No cameras are allowed at this event, you will need your ticket, and ID and there is a limit on the number of tickets you can book (depending on season). We did try to get tickets, but were not lucky enough; so another reason to go back to London!

A Yeoman Warder

 

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Discovering the Inns of Court in London

London’s Inns of Court offer lots of little streets to explore

 

Travel to London and your list of must-see attractions invariably includes places such as the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, and many more well-known places. Understandably, if you are in London for only a few short days, you don’t want to miss these, but, if you find yourself in London for anything more than 3 days, it is worth looking for some alternatives that will still give a flavour of London and its history, but are perhaps not on most tourist trails.

Exiting out of Lincoln’s Inn Fields

With that in mind let me show you London’s Inns of Court. This is the heart of legal London and consists of four ancient Inns of Court; Gray’s Inn, Lincoln’s Inn, Middle Temple, and Inner Temple. Just take a tube to Temple, head North and start exploring from there. One thing to note is that any exploring needs to happen during the weekday as the inns are closed in the evenings and weekends.

Old Square in Lincoln’s Inn

The inns are where barristers first train and then later practice and are all located within the vicinity of the Royal Courts of Justice, at the boundary between the City of London and Westminster. The inns started in the Middle Ages, and even back then were devoted to the technical study of English law rather than Roman law, which was taught in the universities. The Inns of Court were set up as an answer to the problem of legal eduction, as by this time (the mid-13th century) the common law of the land had become extensive and intricate. All manuals and books for teaching were produced in French rather than Latin.

More views of the buildings in Old Square

As you can see, there is plenty of history in these streets in around the inns and plenty of little streets and corners to explore. Additionally, it is also where you will find the church of the Knights Templar, Temple Church (see my previous post for some information on this church). In the Middle Ages Inner and Middle Temple were part of the monastery of the Knights Templar. When the order was suppressed in 1312 most of the premises of Inner and Middle Temple were taken over by lawyers. Middle Temple Hall (on Middle Temple Lane) is famous for having the first performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, which took place on 2nd February 1601 (Candlemas).

The Old Curiosity Shop, made famous by Charles Dickens

In amongst all the inn buildings you will find something that looks rather out-of-place; the Old Curiosity Shop, which stands on Portsmouth Street, between the London School of Economics and Lincoln’s Inn Fields (London’s second largest square,Trafalgar Square being the largest). It is apparently the oldest shop in London and is said to be the original of Dickens’ eponymous novel.

The only original house left in Lincoln’s Inn Fields is now two houses, numbers 59 and 60. This is also were Spencer Perceval once lived; he was the only British Prime Minister to have been assassinated (in 1812). Number 65 on the same street used to be the home of William Marsden, founder of both the Royal Free Hospital (so-called because treatment was free to all) ¬†and Cancer Hospital, now called the Royal Marsden Hospital. Number 66 are the offices of the Queen’s solicitors, Farrer and Co.

There is very small pathway between these buildings

Amongst all the buildings you will find plenty of little gardens, some of which only open during lunch time, to explore and have your lunch, so bring a little picnic! Alternatively, there are plenty of pubs and sandwich shops around, but be warned, as lunch approaches these will all be very busy (the busier they are, the better their offering!).

Plenty of pubs in the Inns of Court for refreshments

So, next time you are in London with some free time give the Inns of Court a chance to take you back into time.

This is the old water pump which sits on Bedford Row at the entrance of Brownlow Street

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Summer of Love at the Globe Theatre

 

It is the Summer of Love at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London this Summer.

At the beginning of this year I found out that our daughter’s favourite Shakespeare play Romeo & Juliet was being performed at the Globe while we were visiting London. The excitement from our daughter was enormous, so obviously I had to ensure to get tickets! We were lucky enough to book seats on the Upper Gallery of the Globe right at the front, opposite of the stage, so no posts were hindering our view!

 

The stage at the Globe Theatre

Emma Rice, the Artistic Director (leaving after only 2 seasons in April 2018), has had some bad press , as her productions are modern and somewhat shocking, and many Shakespeare fans do not like to have their favourite plays changed like that. However, her different take on the traditional plays has brought in a more diverse audience, which can only be a good thing in my mind. So, with all that being said, we were not sure if we would like the modern take on this classic play; our daughter (then 18 years young) said she would probably prefer the original version, which she had previously viewed on DVD.

Boy were we wrong! We loved it, were totally mesmerized by the performances, and the end was so powerful it took our utmost willpower to not break out in tears! The modern take was just perfect, and from what we saw the rest of the audience agreed! It is a shame that Emma Rice felt she had to resign from her post at the Globe, as I think this new take really does change your perspective on the plays of Shakespeare.

If you ever get the chance to watch a play here, please take that chance. Even though this is a faithful recreation of the original theatre, it does feel very authentic. Be warned though, if you book a seat in any of the Galleries, it is cramped, as the following photo indicates. There is an interval to get up and stretch your legs; and do pay the couple of pounds for a seat cushion, unless of course you like the feeling of a numb bottom!

The seating at the Globe Theatre – a little tight!

For info on the Globe and its history, and to book tickets visit their website at http://www.shakespearsglobe.com.

We had a great time and I would book tickets again in a heartbeat.

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Something about London – a poem

Not a poem written by myself, but written for me by one of these two gentlemen.

Along Bankside in London, UK

We came across them on our way from the Tate Modern to Shakespear’s Globe on Bankside. The deal was that you gave them the title of the poem, they would type away on their typewriters and come up with the words, and then you would pay them whatever you thought fair.

This was the result, which I quite like and paid accordingly for:

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London Compilation

I spent the afternoon creating this, which is everything that says London to me. I have seen this sort of work on various platforms online and wanted to create my own take on it using my own photos.

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London’s little curious things – Wellington’s Horse Mounting Block

I love to discover the curious and little know facts about stuff, but I particularly like to discover them in London (honestly, my head is full of useless facts – just ask my long suffering husband!). There are so many of them, and each time I visit London I try to find some of them.

This one I discovered while reading the walking book I had purchased for my last trip to London with our daughter.

Let me introduce you to the horse mounting block of the Duke of Wellington.

The Duke of Wellington’s Horse Mounting Block

This little curious marvel can be found in Waterloo Place, which is up the Duke of York Steps just from The Mall. Towering at the top of the steps is the Duke of York on his column (he who had 10,000 men, marched them up a hill and marched them down again).

On The Mall looking towards the Duke of York Steps and his statue

Waterloo Place itself is worth a visit not just to see the horse mounting block, but also to see the many statues that line its sides, including Sir John Franklin, who was lost while searching for the then elusive north-west passge round Alaska, and Captain Scott, he of South Pole fame.

If you approach Waterloo Place from The Mall stay on the left hand side once you get to the top of the steps.

The mounting block is outside of the Athenaeum club which was founded in the 1820s, but not completed until 1830. The Duke of Wellington was a founding member and requested that this block be installed outside to help him mount his horse, possibly even his famouse charger Copenhagen.

 

 

 

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Temple Church

Temple Church at the Inner and Middle Temples

Temple Church in London became known to most people through Dan Brown’s book, and the subsequent movie, the Da Vinci Code, yet it is not easy to find.

The church sits between the Inner and Middle Temple of the Inns of Court, just off Fleet Street. If you visit the church during the weekend you will need to access it via Tudor Street as the Inns of Court are closed during the weekend and in the evenings. Check their website before you visit for their opening days and times.

The floor exhibit in the foreground dates from the 12th/13th century

800 years of history can be seen and felt here, which began in the 12th century with the Crusaders. The church was built by the Knights Templar, which was an order of crusading monks who protected pilgrims on their way to and from Jerusalem. The church was designed to recall the holiest place in the Crusaders’ world, the circular Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

The order of the Kights Templar was eventually abolished in 1307 by the Pope on the instigation of Philip IV King of France, at which point King Edward II took control of the temple. Eventually the temple was given to the Order of St John, the Knights Hospitaller, who had always worked with the Templars. It was at this point that the lawyers moved into the area. They were looking for a home in London in order to attend to the royal courts at Westminster and so the 2 colleges rented the temple and it became the Inner and Middle Temples. The colleges shared the church and to this day they maintain the church.

The inside of the church is full of history everywhere you look. As part of the entrance fee, which is small, you get to climb up some stairs to reach the upper exhibit. The views down into the main church are worth the little climb!

Stairs to the exhibit

Looking down into the church

An original floor design

Some of the Knights Templar

The beautiful ceiling

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London Tourists

I am not usually one to do street photography, I always feel like I am stalking or invading a persons space, but I could not miss this opportunity to photograph some rather elegant looking London tourists.

Modern Japan combines with the traditional

This group of Japanese teenagers was hanging out just by the Tower of London ticket booths. The majority of them were dressed just like everyone else in London, but these few girls wore these traditional Japanese outfits. They created quite a stir in the crowd and lots of people (our daughter included) asked them for photographs/selfies. I was going to ask them if I could take their photo, but then decided I would rather try and capture them in between them posing for photos.

I really like the juxtaposition of the traditional dress with the modern cell phones!

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Modern London

London is full of great old architecture, but the modern buildings are not to be missed. These are the ones that stood out for me just because of their colours. I am sure there are lots of others, but these are the ones we came across on our walks.

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Doors

I came across these interesting looking doors in London.

A pretty door somewhere in Kensington

Another one with some pretty iron work, also in Kensington

I really was drawn to the door knocker on this one

A rather impressive looking door, shame about the dead plant!

I cannot remember where we came across this old door, but it’s safe to say it was on either an old church or another monument

The blue colour and lanterns did it for me on this one

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