Great Britain Part Two (The Towers and Westminster Abbey)

Part of our time in London was spent touring numerous historical places along with modern markets places, restaurants and lots of interesting architecture. In this post I’m going to highlight the Tower of London, the Tower Bridge and Westminster Abbey. We arrived early before the Tower of London opened and were one of the first in. Officially called “Her Royal Majesty’s Palace and the Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historical castle located on the north banks of the River Thames in central London. It was first founded towards the end of 1066 but went through many changes over the centuries. It was originally built to be as a royal resident and secure castle from any would be threatening armies. Over the years it was used as a Royal Mint, as an armory, a treasury, prison, for storing public records and as a safe place for storing the Royal Crown Jewels for centuries to present day. There are large walls surrounding all the grounds and a one time was a large and deep moat that surrounded the whole castle. Over time the moat became a large cesspool from all the refuge dumped into it by the residents of the Castle and hundreds of years was finally filled in. In this photo the large green area in the front would’ve once been the very deep (up to 26 feet) and filthy moat.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We headed straight back to the Crown Jewels before the crowds arrived and we could spend time admiring the collection of Crowns, Ceremonial Swords and other fine gold and silver artifacts. Unfortunately no photographs are allowed of any of the Crown Jewels and other splendid items they have on display in a Tower of London. Here’s a photo of the section where the jewels are kept.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey have armed guards with the big furry bearskin hats to make sure no harm comes to any of the jewels.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Also the Yeoman Wardens (nicknamed the Beefeater’s) are there to guard the palace and its contents and residence. The Wardens were founded in 1485 by King Henry VII. Many people think these are just costume actors but that’s not the case. They are retired servicemen from the Royal Armed Forces with at least 22 years of service along with good conduct medal and having accomplished a non-commissioned rank of petty officer, they have to meet all of this criteria before they even qualify for applying for one of these positions. At present there are only 37 Yeoman at the Tower of London and someone has to retire before an opening comes up. From this you can tell it’s quite an accomplishment to have this position even though too often they do not get the recognition they deserve. Here is Bonnie with one of these fine officers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One of the many advantages of becoming a Yeoman is (he or she) and their family get residence in the apartments around the tower grounds. Yeoman also act as tour guides showing guests around the Tower of London.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All around inside the walls are what used to be residents and businesses that supported the palace grounds. In the center of the outer walls is White Tower which was the royal residence fit for a king and protect him against enemy attacks. Now it is home to displays of the armory and displays about the Royal mint along with historical information. Here’s a photo of white tower as it sits in the center of the Tower of London walls.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here’s one that I took when on the riverboat looking back at the Tower of London with White Tower standing high in the center.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In these photos are some of the displays of suits of armor and armory inside of White Tower.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lots of chest armor.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hundreds of muzzleloader’s, canons, swords and spears.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The very unique sculpture made of all kinds armory, helmets, shields, telescopes and scrolls.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Among the many residents of the Tower of London some of the most prized are the Ravens. At least six ravens are always residents of the tower it is legend that if the ravens ever left the Tower the monarchy would crumble. So at least six ravens (seven at present day) are permanent residents inside the walls. Their flight wings are clipped so that they cannot fly away but they are well taken care of with a full-time Raven keeper and they get fresh meat daily. Here’s a couple photos of the proud birds.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here’s one last photo from the inside courtyard looking out towards the modern city with the Shard in the background.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After spending many hours enjoying the grounds and exploring the history of the Tower of London we headed a short distance to the Tower Bridge.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Tower Bridge is probably one of the most recognized bridges of all times. From it looks you would think it was centuries old but in reality it is quite modern being built in the late 1890s.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When it was built it was purposely designed to look like many of the surrounding much older castles and buildings. But it is a modern steel structure with the brick and stone facing applied to the steel structure. It is a drawbridge with the counterweights hidden inside the towers. So that it can be opened to allowed tall vessels through as need be. One of the interesting things I learned is that the River Thames will go up and down 26 or more feet with every low and high tide. In this photo it’s close to high tide.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When you go on a tour of the bridge you can ride an elevator up to the crosswalk that connects the two towers. And from there you can walk out to the center where they’ve installed glass floors so you can look down at the river and the people below.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It took Bonnie a little bit but she finally sat on the glass to pose for this photo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One of the other neat things is you can sit on the glass and there are mirrors on the ceiling so you can take pictures of yourself sitting there.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here I am posing for Bonnie’s photo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One of the other highlights is the engine room where they have the old steam engines that used to be used to use to open a drawbridge but now they have modern equipment for that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The last highlight of this post is Westminster Abbey.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Unfortunately with most of the churches and abbeys and cathedrals photographs are not allowed inside these buildings but take it from me there quite spectacular and well worth exploring. Here’s a photo from the outside of the side entrance by no means not too shabby.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There’s unique sculpture inside and out.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beautiful Park like grounds all around the building where people come just to relax and enjoy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Construction of the present date’s church began at 1245 by Henry III taking many years to finish the present day Westminster Abbey. The church is home to many coronations, funerals and royal weddings over the centuries with latest being the wedding of Prince William and Kate. It is truly a spectacular place.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

That’s it for now thanks for reading more to come later. Rick 🙂

Advertisements

3 comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s