Monday, July 18, 2011


Inside the cloister. The ceilings are quite
high, as the people demonstrate.
My first Monday in London has been a busy one. We started out this morning with a quick stop at the Study Center, then off to Westminster Abbey to meet our Blue Badge Guide Brian. Westminster Abbey is absolutely beautiful. The architecture is stunning. Much of the interior is carved stone. The only disappointment is that no photography is allowed inside the Abbey.This is because it is a working Abbey with daily prayers. While we were inside the Abbey they held their 11am prayer service. As we had been instructed, our group paused and were silent while the prayer was taking place. Once it was completed, we continued with the tour.

Politicians, musicians, scientists, as well as poets and other literary figures are buried or memorialized in the Abbey. These include Charles Darwin, Ben Jonson, Henry Purcell, and Florida State University's own Paul Dirac, who has a memorial beside Isaac Newton. It seems that there are always curiosities and scandals related in the history of buildings that are over 900 years old. For instance, Ben Jonson did not have enough money to be buried in the Abbey in the traditional style, so he was buried standing up. On top of that, his name was spelled wrong, with an 'h' included in his last name, Johnson instead of Jonson.

This fountain is in the College Garden, which is in the
part of the Abbey not open to the public.

Another interesting fact is that Oliver Cromwell was only buried in Westminster Abbey for three years. When Charles II took the throne, his vengeful mother demanded any and all individuals involved in the death of her husband, Charles I should be prosecuted, hung, drawn, and quartered. This included Oliver Cromwell. He was disinterred, hung, drawn and quartered. The body of Cromwell, and the others, were buried under the Tyburn gallows.

The final burial at Westminster Abbey occurred in 1920 and was the body of The Unknown Soldier. The idea behind the inclusion of the unknown solider was to give Brits who had lost loved ones in World War I the opportunity to morn those that did not return and were assumed dead. It gave hope to families to believe that maybe, just maybe, their loved one was buried in Westminster Abbey. This is the only grave in the Abbey that is never walked on. Even during the Royal Wedding this past April and Princess Diana's funeral in 1997, the processionals navigated around the grave.

These statues were used to fill the niches that were formerly
empty. The fifth one from the left is Martin Luther King.

After a picnic lunch in Trafalgar Square, we sat in on a concert in St. Martin's-in-the-Fields. Then we made our way to the London Eye where I took a great shot of parliament along with skyline views of London. Afterward, a group of us made our way to Notting Hill Gate to catch a discounted showing of Harry Potter. The perfect end to another wonderful day in London.

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