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Sunny Days (And Murder) Around London Town

sunny 20 °C

"I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too." - Elizabeth I

"It is eerie being all but alone in Westminster Abbey. Without the tourists, there are only the dead, many of them kings and queens. They speak powerfully and put my thoughts into vivid perspective." - A. N. Wilson

Foodie moment

Nothing like a Big English Breakfast to fill you up in the morning... and for the most of the day as well!


When in London you have to go down to Brick lane to have an Indian meal. Then again if you do, you need to be prepared for harassment galore from the touts out the front of each restaurant. It's not all bad though, play your cards right and the touts will give you a great deal! Lucky for us we didn't have to put up with much harassment.....that's because we gave in at the first restaurant!! We did get a great deal though (10 pounds per person for a starter, main, any type of rice, any type of naan and two bottles of wine for the table!) and the food was plentiful and delicious!


Wow moment

First up today was Westminster Abbey. Although we had all seen many (too many?) cathedrals already in our various trips, this was not just another cathedral, it was THE cathedral.


A really interesting audio tour narrated by actor Jeremy Irons (For other 'Borgias' fans you can understand how bizarre it was to be guided around a church by 'the Pope'!) led us through the Nave, Quire, Shrines, Chapels and Poet's corner. We learnt so much during the tour i couldn't possibly write about it all but some of my favourite bits were: Seeing the location of the royal coronations and royal weddings, and exploring the graves and memorials of famous poets and writers including Tennyson, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, CS Lewis, Keats and Robert Burns.


The most memorable part for me though was hearing the stories involved with Elizabeth I. She is buried in one of the chapels on the side of the Abbey with her half sister Mary. Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII second wife Anne Boleyn and Mary was the daughter of his first wife Catherine of Aragon (whom he divorced), and I found it strange that Elizabeth was buried on top of Mary as in life they did not get along at all due to their differences in religious opinions, I'm not sure if either would have been happy with the situation! The other great story of the Abbey also involves Elizabeth I. Her arch enemy whilst Queen was Mary Queen of Scots, once again due to religious differences (Catholic vs Protestant). Elizabeth imprisoned Mary Queen of Scots for 19 years and then had her executed. The ironic thing is that due to the fact the Elizabeth I never had any children, when she died her successor was Mary Queen of Scots son, James I. Once he was in power he had his mothers remains reburied in Westminster Abbey in the chapel directly opposite the one Elizabeth I was buried in, he then created a tomb and monument above it to rival the one covering his mother's enemies grave! Another great example of the British thirst for revenge and justice!


It wouldn't be a trip to London without taking a river cruise, and we had the perfect weather for it!


A canal cruise from Little Venice to Camden is something I haven't done before but it was on our 'London Pass' so we decided to give it a go, and we were glad we did! It's lovely and calm floating down the canals, cruising past amazing houses in Primrose hill and the London zoo. We learnt all about the days when the barges were horse drawn, and the horse used to walk along the tow path next to the canal with the barge pulling behind. On the bridges we went through you could still see the dents on the edges of the bridge caused by the thick ropes as they wore away at the brick when the horse pulled the barge around the corners. Some of the bridges were very long and didn't have a tow path next to it. When the horse got to these, the barge would be detached and the horse walked above ground over the bridge - this left the barge crew one option - 'legging' it! This is when they would lie on the top of the barge and move the barge through the tunnel by 'walking' their feet along the roof of the tunnel, it could take them over an hour to get through!!


What we learnt today

Tonight we delved into one of London's most famous mysteries on a Jack the Ripper tour. Although we were all hoping for a bit more of a theatrical experience, the tour was very informative and detailed. We learnt about his victims, the letters sent to the police and the evidence that was lost or purposely removed. We also heard the theories about who Jack really was, and what happened to him when he just disappeared after his final kill. Unfortunately they will only be theories as we will never know who Jack the ripper was (Or my theory - who THEY were as i don't believe all the killings were done by the same guy).

Posted by travellinglise 12:04 Archived in England Tagged london westminster_abbey jack_the_ripper jasons_canal_tours

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Obviously it will depend on the tour that you went on, but I enjoyed the more factual Jack the Ripper tour in London and was disappointed with the theatrics of the ghost tour in York!
Would love to hear more of your JTR theories one day; I find it all very intriguing.

by KellieBarnes

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