Day 8 Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London
An early start saw us in the train into the nations’ capital city to see two of the worlds’ premier tourist destinations but as it is now September the tourists are scarce on the ground
First up Westminster abbey the Nations’ parish church and called a Royal peculiar church, that is to say the church answers only to the Sovereign and is outside the Church of England hierarchy. 11 of our previous sovereigns lie buried here, Edward the Confessor, Henry III, Henry V, Henry VII, Elizabeth I and Mary Tudor lie in glorious tombs of importance and splendour. But tucked away in a little wall space you would hardly notice there are some gold letters saying here lies Anne of Cleves Queen of England, the only memoriam as far as I know in the country to her.
We travelled by river boat to the Tower and arrived Traitors gate just as Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Princess Elizabeth would have done. It takes about 4 hours to see all that the Tower has to offer, because it’s not just one tower, it covers 22 acres full of the nation’s history. It can be crowded but today the tourist were not too many.
The White Tower is the one that everybody sees on TV but the place is much, much more than that, to begin with there is the Chapel of St Peter Ad Vincular where Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Lady Jane Grey all lie and all three queens of England. There are other towers that held important prisoners not least of which is the Bloody Tower, so called as this was where the two Princes were said to have been done to death in 1483 under the orders of Richard III.
The White Tower holds the oldest tourist attraction in the world, the line of Kings, all the kings of England on horseback with armour quite an impressive sight. Also somewhat gruesome, is an executioners axe and block. On the top floor is Keeper, a magnificent sculpture of a dragon made will all the bits that represent the institutions that once or are still in the Tower.
We got into the Crown Jewels late in the day and were practically the only people in there so we had along good look at these fabulous crowns, sceptre and gold plate. The largest single cut diamond in the world is here on display and a trick of the light through this unique object throws a tiny rainbow on the wall across the room, yes there is gold at the end of the rainbow.
All that history and grandeur in one place and we were not finished for the day. A Medieval banquet in St Katherine’s Dock was the final event of the whole tour. A splendid banquet held in underground vaults near to the Tower. We were treated to feasting , music, dancing, acrobats and some of the best sword fighting you’ll see outside of the movies.
All to soon we had to finish back at our last character hotel near to the River Thames in Southwark to say our final farewells.
all together a terrific tour through Tudor England.