Having been unreasonably tempted to spend the princely sum of £250 on a scarf at Fortnum and Mason I decided that some repentance would be in order, so we beat a path to St. Paul’s Cathedral – a Church of England edifice described on their own website as the ‘mother church of the London diocese’. The cathedral was designed by Christopher Wren, built after the Great Fire of London destroyed it’s predecessor and it was successfully protected by a special brigade during the bombing of London in the Second World War.
Photos are not allowed inside St. Paul’s so I did not take this photo of the beautiful roundels above the quire. Some ten million pieces of glass were used for these three mosaics that depict the plants of the world, the animals of the world and the fish of the sea.
Our walk back from St. Paul’s took us past Postman’s Park, a little gem not often noted in guide books. This little pocket of green wedged between buildings is named for it’s proximity to the London Postal Service, who’s employees frequent the park for their meal and tea breaks. It’s the site of a very old burial ground – the mostly illegible headstones are stacked against the walls and line the borders of the park – but this peaceful corner is better known for it’s Memorial to Self Sacrifice. The poignantly remarkable memorial is the inspiration of one George Watts and his wife, Mary who established it as a tribute to Londoners from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s who gave their lives to save others. This delightful featherweight in a city littered with massive monuments has happily been preserved and ‘listed’ to preserve it’s character.
Westminster is the seat of British parliament. We toured the House of Lords with it’s rows of plush red velvet seats, and the House of Commons with it’s tiers of green leather. This is another place where photos are forbidden and there were lots of big-chested folks with semi-automatic weapons strolling around to wrestle you to the ground if you even made a move toward your camera or iPhone. I thought seriously about sneaking a picture and thought it might make a good story if I was arrested. But I wanted to stick around for the Jubilee scones and clotted cream from the cafe in the basement of Westminster so decided to make do with these exterior photos and one of the Great Hall where the tours assembled.
Covent Garden was a nice contrast to the rigid routine at Westminster. It also boasts the classiest buskers I have ever seen. A four piece chamber group was just finishing off their last number when we arrived, and they were immediately replaced by an operatic singer. Quite lovely. There are restaurants all around Covent Garden but we chose lunch from one of the vendors under tents in the square stirring delicious looking pots of soups or stews, huge griddles of fried lamb or beef with onions, and shoveling out fresh baked pies and breads.
London is a fabulous city for walking and the underground is pretty easy to sort out. Some of the stations, like this Baker Street stop of Sherlock Holmes fame, was built in the 1800’s and is one of the original stops on the London Underbround.
We’re off to greenwich tomorrow to set our watches. Stay tuned!