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Friday, 19 August 2016

Looking at London again.

I hope that you haven't missed me too much but I have been busy and getting back to the boat too late to get the blog written up. On Tuesday we went to visit my daughters new flat and of course got involved in cleaning and odd jobs to rectify small problems and then sorting out utilities etc etc. On Wednesday we met a friend from Sri Lanka and we had a great catch up over coffee a,d meals etc etc so didn't move much. Yesterday,  Thursday, we went for a walk whilst the fine weather lasted but got back so late it was straight to bed.

We met up at Embankment Tube and then headed for Whitehall. There were plenty of folks admiring the horses at Horse Guards and we arrived just as they were swapping over. The Horse Guards were established here to protect the entrance to the massive Palace of Whitehall. This Palace became the main residence when Henry VIII moved out of the Palace of Westminster down the road. At It's peak it covered 23 acres and had 1500 rooms. It burned down in 1698

One part of the Palace that survived the fire was the Banqueting House that was built for James I bu Inigo Jones in 1622. It may well have been from this very window that Charles I walked on to the elevated scaffold for his beheading in 1649.

North of the Cenotaph on Whitehall is this monument to the Women of WWII. It was unveiled in 2005 and it was carried out by Queen Elizabeth II. It was created by sculptor John Mills. It is a very moving sculpture to me.

As always I spend a lot of my time looking upwards and the reliefs on the buildings are amazing. I loved these on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. There were the continents and of the industries.

This is a very poor photo but it does show Westminster Hall which is arguably the birth place of English democracy. It was built in 1097 and is almost the only bit of the Palace of Westminster that survives. The first parliament was held here and it was used as a law court for many years. It is a huge place and must have been a wonder of the world when it was built. The reason that the photo is like this is I wanted to show Parliament Square. It just looks like a poorly maintained green of grass but actually you are looking at the first official roundabout in the country that opened in the 1926!

Just off the Square is the Jewel Tower. This is also a survivor from the fire of the Palace of Westminster. It was completed in 1366 and was built to house Edward III's treasure. It had a moat round it that was linked to the Thames. The fire meant that Henry VIII moved to the Palace of Whitehall. The tower then became the store for the records of the House of Lords and other parliamentary archives until another massive fire in 1834 destroyed the buildings all a round. It then became the HQ of the Weights and Measure until 1938.

We sat and had our lunch in Vitoria Tower Gardens watching the traffic on the river and then progressed up Millbank to the Tate Britain. The Tate was built on the site of the Millbank Penitentiary that was built in 1821. It was from this prison that most of those that were deported to Australia left the UK via hulks on the Thames. We did have a look round the free galleries and there is a route showing British art through the ages that was quite informative.

Where as most of the art on display is what some may call 'real art' this stair well has certainly been brightened up by a modern scheme.

You don't seem to see many crests for Edward VII around the place. I suppose that this is partly due to his short reign of 9 years and maybe it is also due to the fact that as he followed Queen Victoria who had had a long and glorious reign with the nation becoming vastly wealthy and and most of the public building that needed building were built and they would still be in good condition.

It is amazing to find these relics of WWII on the streets around here among the beautiful homes on Lord North Street. Apparently the shelters are still there but are sealed up. I think the the S stands for a 'Street Communal Shelter' and were for people who were working such as drivers and pedestrians who were caught away from shelter when the sirens went.

We walked through an arch and ended up in Dean's Yard of Westminster Abbey. Like the rest of London the vista was marred by the amount of scaffolding  in view. We didn't think about entering the Abbey as it was £17 to get in. That seems an awful lot of money to visit a church, although I have never been.

The Methodist Central Hall is a beautiful building that was opened in 1912 and can accommodate 2000 people. It is not widely known either that it was actually the first home of the United Nations in 1946. It was also where the protest movement 'Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament' was started in 1958. We didn't have time to visit this time but it is on my list for another time.

On many churches that we visit there are alcoves and niches in the outside of the building that are vacant. I have never known whether this is because none were ever placed there due to lack of money or they have decayed or been stolen. On the outside of Westminster Abbey are new statues in niches. This one is of Martin Luther King

This one is of Manche Masemola. She was born in South Africa in 1913. She was killed by her parents to stop her being baptised as a Christian in 1928. Here mother converted to Christianity forty years later and Masemola was declared a martyr.

I like this photo that could have been somewhere in India. It is taken from the bridge across St. James Park Lake and is looking back to Horse Guards Parade and the roofs of Horse Guards, the Banqueting House and Downing Street.

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