Saturday, March 04, 2006

London & Canterbury

We took Julie to London and Canterbury on Friday. Our hope was to have a tour of Westminster Abbey in the morning and then take the train out to Canterbury in the afternoon to see the cathedral there. Unfortunately, Westminster Abbey was only open to the public from 2:00 pm - 3:45 pm (due to a special event). That would not give us enough time to do the church justice, so we decided on 'Plan B.' Those pictures follow.

Here are two pictures are of the outside of Westminster Abbey. It is located directly across the street from the Palaces of Westminster, where Parliament is housed.

We walked down Victoria Street to visit the (Roman Catholic) Westminster Cathedral. It is a little more than 100 years old: much of the upper reaches of the interior walls are still the bare, dark brick. The lower parts, including many of the side chapels, are almost finished. Tom will be happy to learn that the designer of the Cathedral modeled it in Byzantine style after the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (his favorite building).

Here is a picture of the main altar at the cathedral.

This is a picture of Chapel of St. Gregory and St. Augustine.

Here is a view of part of the Lady Chapel showing a mosaic of Sts. Dominic and Catherine of Siena. The mosaics in this chapel feature female saints of the Church. (Opposite Dominic and Catherine are Francis and Clare, of course.)

This is a picture of the nave of the cathedral. It really is cavernous. There are 6 Masses celebrated daily, and 7 on Sunday. It serves a very diverse immigrant population in central London.

We left the cathedral (very glad that we had decided to tour it) and made our way to Buckingham Palace. We made it just in time to see the guards marching down the street into the palace grounds for the famous Changing of the Guards ceremony.

This picture was taken in front of the Palace, looking across St. James Park to the opposite end of the palace grounds.

Here's a picture of the facade of Buckingham Palace.

This fountain stands directly outside the main gate to the palace. It was teeming with people waiting to see the Changing of the Guards, so we weren't able to get much closer.

Here is the initial procession of the Changing of the Guards.

We left Buckingham Palace before the marching was finished and made our way to Victoria Station, where we caught the train out to Canterbury. It took a little less than 2 hours to get there.

This is part of the walls of Canterbury, first built by the Romans in the 3rd century and completed in medieval times.

Canterbury Castle is pictured here. Again, it dates from Norman times (11th c).

Canterbury Cathedral is immense! Here are two pictures of the ornate front gate.

The next two pictures show the exterior of the cathedral: the west side and the east side.

Here is a close-up of the main entrance (the Kings' Porch) of Canterbury Cathedral.

Here are Julie and Debbie standing in the nave of the cathedral.

This screen was beautifully carved. It separates the choir of the church from the rest of the church.

The Bell Harry Tower is located directly in front of the screen. It is about halfway down the length of the cathedral.

This is a picture of the choir (or quire in the older spelling).

Here is one of the many 'Bible Windows' in the cathedral. They line both sides of the church.

There were three of these Bossanyi windows, mounted in 1957. The color in these windows greatly contrasted with that of the other windows in the cathedral. They are stunning to look at.

This gate is located behind the cathedral. We walked through this gate to get to the Abbey of St. Augustine of Canterbury, located across the street.

Here is a picture of the gate to the abbey.

This last view is of Dane John, what's left of a kind of lookout tower that was erected before Canterbury Castle was built. It fell into ruins once the castle was built.

After a long and tiring day, we returned to London via train and had fish and chips at a pub/restaurant aptly called 'The Shakespeare' right across from Victoria Station. Then we made our way back to Kings Cross for the train back to Cambridge, thinking our travels were over. Were we wrong. Once back at the rail station in Cambridge, we took the Citi 1 bus in the wrong direction and ended up in the next town before we realized what had happened! We found a landmark (the library) and promptly called a taxi to ferry us home, making it back at 11:30 pm. Despite this little misadventure, it was a truly wonderful day!


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