Monday, August 27, 2007
Overwhelmed in London
We've experienced so much English history in the past couple of days that I don't know where to start. Though I'm Chinese-Canadian, I grew up with the stories of English Queens and Kings and read all the greats of English literature, so being in London was a thrilling experience.
This morning, we went to Westminster Abbey and I was overwhelmed ... so many tombs and monuments, and each one of such significance. My favourite place was the Lady Chapel, containing the tombs of Elizabeth I, Mary I, Mary Queen of Scots, Henry VII and his wife, Elizabeth of York, among others. A close second was Poet's Corner, containing tombstones and memorials to England's most famous writers and poets.
We spent the afternoon at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The museum is immense and we had to keep our tour kid-friendly, so we didn't even see a fraction of the treasures available for viewing. Even so, I managed to see, among other items, the William Morris tapestries, several outstanding pieces from the Tudor era including portraits of Henry VIII, and the Raphael Cartoons. The word "cartoon" here is used in its original sense, and these cartoons were studies for tapestries destined for the Sistine Chapel. Julia enjoyed viewing the fashion collection, while Kate donned one of the children's backpacks prepared by the museum and went sleuthing among the British antiques with a giant magnifying glass.
Yesterday, we visited the Tower of London, a very popular site for tourists. It was rather chilling to visit the Beauchamp Tower and see the graffiti left behind by the famous prisoners. The crown jewels were impressive too, but I had really wanted to go to see the place where Sir Thomas More had died and Elizabeth I had been imprisoned. Below is a photo of Traitor's Gate, where many of the prisoners had entered during the Tudor era.