Monday, July 18, 2011

Just A Spoonful Of British History

I knew I would learn a lot on this trip—a lot about web 2.0, digital multimedia, libraries, and the like. Yet somehow I didn’t realize (until this morning) that I would also learn a lot about British history. Maybe I figured I had learned all there was to know from my last visit to London. Our tour of Westminster Abbey this morning certainly wasn’t my first, but I learned so much today from our great Blue Badge guide, Brian; I was pleasantly surprised.

 A small portion of Westminster Abbey
First of all, the area of Westminster was originally very swampy, almost an island unto itself. Edward the Confessor built his palace, Westminster Palace (now the houses of Parliament) right next to the Abbey, to oversee the construction for its expansion. He was the first monarch to be buried at Westminster, and his tomb still lies there today. I wish I had a photo to share, but unfortunately no photography is allowed in the cathedral itself.

Construction of the cathedral languished under Edward Longshanks, best known today as being the evil king in the movie Braveheart (one of my favorites!) largely because he was more interested in war. Another interesting tidbit about Longshanks—he was madly in love with his wife, Eleanor of Castile. When she passed away, he had her body carried across the country. Everywhere the body rested, a cross was placed in her honor. These are known as the Eleanor crosses. One of these crosses can be found at Charing Cross Station in London.

Last tidbit of the day, I promise. Both Bloody Mary and her half-sister, Queen Elizabeth, are buried right next to each other—in the same tomb! Very ironic considering how much they hated each other when they were alive. This is because the monarch in charge of burying Elizabeth after her death was the succeeding King, James I, whose mother, Mary Queen of Scotts, was executed by none other than Elizabeth herself. It was an act of revenge that they still haven’t fixed today, though perhaps they should?

A perfect view of Big Ben
After Westminster, we walked over to the London Eye, and saw breathtaking views of Big Ben, Parliament, and the river Thames. I also took tons (and by tons I mean about ten minutes) of videos while onboard; I’m hoping to be able to edit a little video out of all of the clips. And so, more info on the London Eye will be coming later.

Pigeon is just as excited to go on the
 London Eye as I am!
After our ride on the Eye, we went to Chelsea to finally watch the last Harry Potter movie, which was brilliant! I definitely got teary towards the end. It amazes me that after an entire decade, there will be absolutely no more Harry Potter films. It truly is the end of an era.

P. S. I listened to your advice, Mom, and so I have added more pictures of myself in today's blog. You may be the only one to appreciate it, but thats OK :)

1 comment:

  1. i loved the pics. it had really nice backgrounds and of course you in it.
    u seem to be having fun. wish i was there to enjoy the abbey and all it's history. That was a good tidbit about the crosses. There is so much to learn about England. U know I find Medieval England fascinating.
    It has been raining all afternoon here, apparently there is a storm. How is the weather there?