Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Westminster Abbey & Tower of London

On Monday, March 6th, the three of us made our way to London once again to see both Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London. After a very hectic train ride (Danny ran onto the first train: Julie and Deb didn't make it and Danny had all the tickets, so Deb & Julie had to get on the next train), we were all in London together. Once again, it was a beautiful day.

Look at the time on Big Ben! Julie was given a real treat. After the bell tolled, we made our way to Westminster Abbey. Since we were an hour later than expected, we missed the 11:00 am guided tour. Therefore, we bought a booklet (pictures were not permitted, of course) and had a self-guided tour of the Abbey.

Here, once again, is the facade to Westminster Abbey.

After having lunch in a quaint cafe called The Churchill, we made our way across London (via the tube, of course) to the Tower of London.

This is a second century wall of London. It's located right outside the Tower tube station.

Here is the Tower of London as seen from the tube station. This fortress dates from the year 1066 when the White Tower's construction was begun. The Tower of London was actually built as a place where the royal family could retreat in times of civil disorder. We know, however, that its history has been very different from that initial intent.

Here is the moat. It was drained in the 1800s.

Middle Tower Gate is where the entrance to the Tower of London is located.

This is Mint Street, where Isaac Newton had lodgings. It's called Mint street because that's where the country's currency was made (the Royal Mint).

This picture shows Water Lane Arch with Wakefield Tower (the circular tower) and Bloody Tower (the square tower).

Traitor's Gate. The Thames River flows along the other side of this gate. Prisoners were brought in from the Thames, through this gate, and walked up the stairs to prison (and sometimes torture and execution).

St. Thomas Tower is located directly above Traitor's Gate. It served as additional royal accommodation for the king.

The White Tower was the first building built in the fortress. It was meant to be a palace,a place of royal refuge, not a prison.

In this picture, you are looking at Tower Bridge from inside the fortress.

Waterloo Barracks is where the crown jewels are on display. Most of the collection dates from the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. The collection includes the 530+ carat diamond, the First Star of Africa. It is said to be the largest top-quality cut diamond in the world. It really was an impressive sight to see.

This area is called Queen's House. Specifically, it was Queen Anne Boleyn's house.

This is St. John's Chapel, in the White Tower.

This is a model of a gallows in the White Tower (part of an exhibition on display).

This is the place of execution of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, two of Henry VIII's wives (not 50 yards from Boleyn's quarters).

Sir Walter Ralegh's prison room didn't look like much of a prison. Actually, he was able to have guests to his room when desired.

The next three photos were taken inside Wakefield Tower where torture methods were explained.

Scavenger's Daughter was a torture where the prisoner would crouch down with their hands in front of them and they'd be placed in this brace for a period of time.

This is what the 'Rack' looked like. It was definitely the most famous type of torture. Our tour guide told us that it could stretch a person's body as much as 6 inches!

These are Manacles. A prisoner was hung by the wrists.

Here is the Tower Bridge at dusk.

This is the Tower of London at night.

Finally, this picture is of the Tower Bridge at night. It is such an imposing sight!

Well, after our second successful day in London, we made our way home (without getting on the wrong bus this time). We still have to make it to some London museums before we leave England in June.


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