Since being here in London for a couple of days Paula and I have managed to fit in so much. Including a trip out to the Petticoat Lane and Wentworth St Markets where we picked up a couple of souvenirs. So much we would like to buy but we have to be practical as we still have rest of European trip to do.
To get to Petticoat Lane Markets, we took the tube out to Liverpool St and walked from the station to the markets. At every station we are reminded to ‘Mind the Gap’ as we leave the carriage. I didn’t get it at first, but then realised it’s an audible warning to passenger to mind the gap between the train and the platform as they leave.
After a few hours we have had enough wandering around and decide to head off to take the boat trip on the Thames. We have tickets to the Tower of London and are eager to see the Crown Jewels and the Armoury.
Our catamaran cruise trip takes us under Tower Bridge which is often mistaken for London Bridge. Tower Bridge is the more ornate of the two bridges. The London Bridge that was built in 1831 was sold in 1962 to Robert P. McCulloch, an American who had the bridge transported to Lake Havasu and re-erected as a tourist attraction.
The Tower Bridge
The Tower Bridge is a working bridge and it provides access and egress for registered vessels with a mast of 30 feet or more. The service is provided year round and is free of charge. However the bridge authorities need to be given 24 hours notice for when the bridge is to be raised.
Next stop The Tower of London, which is a medieval castle that houses the Crown Jewels, and they are truly magnificent.
The Crown Jewels
The Crown Jewels of England are considered to be the most valuable and one of the largest jewellery collections in existence. It is a truly awe inspiring experience to look on the wealth and craftsmanship of ages gone by. The collection is made up of crowns ( for every occasion) swords, orbs and so much more. There is the ring that was made for William IV’s coronation in 1831. Up until 1831 each Sovereign received a new ring that symbolised their “marriage” to the nation. This tradition seems to have ceased in 1831. Pity really.
The Tower of London
The Tower of London has such a rich and checkered history. It started life as a fortress in 1070 when it was built for William the Conquerer. It took over 20 years to build and although it was built mainly by Englishmen, the masons were from Normandy. The stone was bought to London from Caen in France.
Henry 111 (1216-1272)and Edward 1 (1272-1307) added to the expanse of the fortress by adding defensive walls and a series of small towers, and expanding the moat.
The Yeomen Warders
The Yeomen Warders or Beefeaters as they are commonly known, have been part of the Tower of London for centuries. They were the Kings personal body guards and traveled with him. They were called Beefeaters in reference to the fact they were permitted to eat as much beef as they wanted from the King’s table. I think they look quite splendid in there Royal regalia.
The Yeoman Warder Ravenmaster cares for a flock of Ravens that reside at the tower. Legend has it that if the Ravens leave the fortress then the tower and the Monarchy will fall.
A Place of Incarceration and Torture
Over it’s long history the Tower of London has housed the royal Mint, the Royal Armouries and there was even a zoo. It was also the place where enemies of the state were incarcerated, ofttimes tortured and subsequently put to death. Elizabeth 1st, lady Jane Grey, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Guy Fawkes were imprisoned here. So were two of Henry the VIII wives, Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard, both of whom were executed. When you visit the Bloody Tower you will see the very small room where Sir Walter Raleigh spent 13 Years of his life.
The Armoury was of special interest to me. There are row upon row of ordered displays of sword, rifles pistols etc. It is a magnificent sight to behold when you are interested in such weaponry.
There is a lot to see and it takes some time to complete the tour of the Tower of London. and it truly is worth a visit.