Friday, August 12, 2011

Our Day 7 In London

Westminster Abbey

As the plane circled over London, Hera asked me if there were any important cemetaries near London. I replied, that the most important was Westminster Abbey itself. And that was where we were headed for today.

But we had to do some shopping first. Hera had forgotten her small external hard drive at home, and this old lap top has a tiny 60 Gb hard drive, that quickly fills with her photos. So we quickly went on-line, found a computer store, and headed there first, and picked up a tiny external 1 Terabyte hardrive.

Getting about London is quite simple. I cannot stress how important it is to learn and use the transit system of whichever city you visit, and London's system is very efficient.

During our day, as well as throughout our visit, we have noticed how polite and helpful the citizens of London are. "I'm sorry" is often heard for even the mildest bump even in very crowded quarters. It is very sad that this very polite city and nation is being portrayed world wide in such a negative light with the recent riots.

I do hope the ones responsible for these crimes are not only caught and punished, but I hope that they are also forced to "pay back" the full cost of their actions. I would go even further, and add that they should have to wear a "dunce cap" for at least a year.

Getting to Westminster Abbey a bit later than we had hoped, we had to wait a bit in line. But it moved fast, and soon we found ourselves inside this magnificant place.

Like the Tower of London, Weminster Abbey too recounts the history of the nation.

God had told King Edward the Confessor to visit Saint Peter's in Rome. Worried about the French Normans who were threatening invasion, he decided to stay home and build a church (minster) dedicated to St. Peter, west of London, thus the name Westminster. Not obeying God is dangerous in itself, and the Normans did invade. The French Duke conquered the Island and crowned himself (William the Conquerer) King of all England here at the new Westminster Abbey.

Unfortunately photography is prohibited at Westminster Abbey as well as in many other places in London, like the Crown Jewels yesterday.

Since William the Conquerer, this Church has been the site of the coronation of Kings and Queens for the past millenium. The simple wooden coronation chair can be viewed here. It was construced to sit atop the Stone of Scone that the English King Edward I took from Scotland. The Stone of Scone has an even older history, and meant much to the Scottish people. A 2008 movie called "The Stone of Desitny" (another name for the Stone of Scone) recounts the true story Scottish students trying to bring the stone back home. In 1996, the British government decided to let the Stone return back home to Scotland, as long as it can be borrowed for future coronations.

Westminster Abbey is also the final resting place of many monarchs. King Edward the Confessor is here, as well as Queen Elizabeth I who lies over her half sister Queen Mary I, and across the way from her cousin Mary Queen of the Scots whom Elizabeth had imprisoned for years and then executed.

Many other notables are also here, Newton and Darwin, Chaucer and Dickens, Livingston to General Wolfe, and many, many more.

Leaving the Abbey, we listened to Big Ben chime once again, and then walked along Whitehall to Trafalgar Square, then onto the lively Soho to find a pub for a refreshing drink.

Photographer's note: The photo above of The Big Ben was shot with a 20mm Lumix lens. The photo below was shot with Samsung Galaxy SII smart phone.


Hera & Anthony