Thursday, October 31, 2013

Day 44 - A tour bus ride, a cruise to Greenwich and a return to Picadilly

The Roundhouse on Garrick St in Covent Garden
It's 11:30 and I'm just starting this blog, so that means I'm basically going to need to do a quick run through and add pictures and information at a later time.  Today is Halloween, and London lets out the ghosts and ghoulies at night.  Most are adults, and I'm not sure if they're going to parties or nightclubs, or just out showing their creativeness.  We took a lot of pictures, including one of a pub that really went "all out" for the holiday (see The Roundhouse above).

Parliament and London Eye from the bus
We went to Leicester Square first and got tickets to "Dirty Dancing," then caught the bus at Trafalgar Square and rode it to Westminster Bridge where we boarded a boat and rode it to Greenwich.

Trafalgar Square fountains
Nelson's Column Trafalgar Square

Charles I statue on Whitehall
Charles I was the second son of King James VI of Scotland (son of Mary Queen of Scots). James VI was the first cousin twice removed of Queen Elizabeth I of England, and when she died childless in March 1603, he became King of England as James I. Unfortnately, Charles was a weak and sickly infant, so while his parents and older siblings left for London, England in April and early June that year, he was not considered strong enough to make the journey due to his fragile health.

By 1604, Charles was three and a half and as he was able to walk the length of the great hall at Dunfermline Palace without assistance, it was decided that he was now strong enough to make the journey to England to be reunited with his family. In mid-July 1604, Charles left Dunfermline for England where he was to spend most of the rest of his life. In England, Charles was placed under the charge of Elizabeth, Lady Carey, the wife of courtier Sir Robert Carey, who put him in boots made of Spanish leather and brass to help strengthen his weak ankles. His speech development was also slow, and he retained a stammer, or hesitant speech, for the rest of his life.

In January 1605, Charles was created Duke of York, as is customary in the case of the English sovereign's second son, and made a Knight of the Bath. In 1611, he was made a Knight of the Garter.

Portrait by Robert Peake of Charles as Duke of York and Albany, c. 1610
Eventually, Charles apparently conquered his physical infirmity, which might have been caused by rickets, and grew to a peak height of 5 feet 4 inches (163 cm). His short stature is one of the reasons he preferred to be seen on horseback.  He became an adept horseman and marksman, and took up fencing. Even so, he was not as valued as his physically stronger and taller elder brother, Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, whom Charles adored and attempted to emulate. However, in early November 1612, two weeks before Charles's 12th birthday, Henry died at the age of 18 of what is suspected to have been typhoid (or possibly porphyria), and Charles became heir apparent. As the eldest living son of the sovereign, Charles automatically gained several titles (including Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay). Four years later, in November 1616, he was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester.

Portrait of Charles as Prince of Wales after Daniel Mytens, c. 1623
An unsuccessful and unpopular attempt to marry him to a Spanish Habsburg princess culminated in an eight-month visit to Spain in 1623 that demonstrated the futility of the marriage negotiations. Two years later he married the Bourbon princess Henrietta Maria of France instead.

Portrait from the studio of Anthony van Dyck, c. 1636
After his succession in 1625, Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his royal prerogative. Charles believed in the divine right of kings and thought he could govern according to his own conscience. Many of his subjects opposed his policies, in particular his interference in the English and Scottish churches and the levying of taxes without parliamentary consent, and perceived his actions as those of a tyrannical absolute monarch.

Charles's religious policies, coupled with his marriage to a Roman Catholic, generated the antipathy and mistrust of reformed groups such as the Puritans and Calvinists, who thought his views too Catholic. He supported controversial ecclesiastics, such as Richard Montagu and William Laud, whom Charles appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, and failed to successfully aid Protestant forces during the Thirty Years' War. His attempts to force religious reforms upon Scotland led to the Bishops' Wars, strengthened the position of the English and Scottish parliaments and helped precipitate his own downfall.

From 1642, Charles fought the forces of the English and Scottish parliaments in the English Civil War. After his defeat in 1645, he surrendered to a Scottish force that eventually handed him over to the English Parliament. Charles refused to accept his captors' demands for a constitutional monarchy, and temporarily escaped captivity in November 1647. Re-imprisoned on the Isle of Wight, Charles forged an alliance with Scotland, but by the end of 1648 Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army had consolidated its control over England. Charles was tried, convicted, and executed outside the Banqueting Hall on Whitehall at age 48 for crimes of high treason in January 30 1649. The monarchy was abolished and a republic called the Commonwealth of England was declared with Oliver Cromwell invited to rule as the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth.. In 1660, the English Protectorate ended and the monarchy was restored to Charles's son, Charles II.

Continuing our bus trip, we next came across the Horse Guards Building.

Horse Guards Building as seen from Whitehall
Horse Guard close-up

Horse Guards is a large grade I listed building in the Palladian style between Whitehall and Horse Guards Parade. The first Horse Guards building was built on the site of the former tiltyard of Westminster Palace in 1664. It was demolished in 1749 and was replaced by the current building which was built between 1751 and 1753 by John Vardy to a design by William Kent.

Horse Guards is guarded by the Blues and Royals, one of two regiments of the Household Division that can trace its lineage back to the New Model Army, the other being the Coldstream Guards.The regiment was formed in 1969 from the merger of The Royal Horse Guards, which was known as "The Blues" or "The Oxford Blues", and The Royal Dragoons, which was known as "The Royals".

The Blues and Royals formed a union for operational purposes with the Life Guards as the Household Cavalry Regiment. However, they each maintain their regimental identity, with distinct uniforms and traditions, and their own colonel. The Blues and Royals currently has two reconnaissance squadrons in Windsor, which are part of the Household Cavalry Regiment, and a mounted squadron in London as part of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.

The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment caries out regular ceremonial duties throughout the year. As the Sovereign's bodyguard and part of the Household Division, the HCMR mounts a daily guard (called Queen's Life Guard) at Horse Guards, which is the historical and ceremonial entrance to Buckingham Palace. This ceremony can be viewed daily by members of the public. The HCMR is responsible for the provision of the Sovereign's Escort, most commonly seen at the monarch's annual Birthday Parade (Trooping the Color) in June each year. The escort is also seen at other occasions, including during state visits by visiting Heads of State, or whenever required by the British monarch. The regiment provides a staircase party inside Buckingham Palace at state Investitures, and inside the Palace of Westminster at the annual State Opening of Parliament. They are also present at the annual Garter Ceremony at Windsor Castle.

When we reached Westminster Bridge, we got off the bus and walked back across the bridge to join up with City Cruises.

City Cruises, the boat tour company that operates with the bus tour company we took, don't have professional guides on the boats, so it's basically the crew members who do their best to point out landmarks as we pass them.  Greenwich is east of the tower, but what is amazing is that you can see the Shard almost more clearly there then you can in London proper.  You also get views of certain landmarks that are only visible from the river.

Houses of Parliament from the River
Waterloo Bridge (Ladies' Bridge) Portland Stone

Waterloo Bridge is a road and foot traffic bridge crossing the River Thames in London, between Blackfriars Bridge and Hungerford Bridge. The name of the bridge is in memory of the Anglo-Dutch and Prussian victory at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Thanks to its location at a strategic bend in the river, the views of London (Westminster, the South Bank and London Eye to the west, the City of London and Canary Wharf to the east) from the bridge are widely held to be the finest from any spot at ground level.

The forgotten heroines of London's 'Ladies Bridge': Historian reveals how women were drafted to construct Waterloo Bridge during WWII but never got the credit they deserved
Records of women who helped build the bridge have never been found
Could have been thrown out when construction company folded
Female workforce ignored when the bridge was opened in 1945 but male workers were thanked
By 1944, two years after the bridge was partially opened, 25,000 women were in the construction industry working as brick layers, laborers and joiners.

Workers building Waterloo Bridge
Waterloo Bridge was built during a time when London was being pummeled by the Luftwaffe, causing mass destruction to buildings that had stood for centuries. Undeterred by the nightly raids during the Blitz, however, a group of women, who until now have largely gone ignored, never lost their resolve to build what is now one of the city's most important bridges.  Their work on Waterloo Bridge left it with the moniker of Ladies Bridge, but this fact has been ignored by all but a few.

Thanks to Christine Wall, a construction historian who worked with filmmaker Karen Livesey to look into the reason why the women have been ignored, the ladies' efforts are finally being recognized."The Ladies Bridge" reveals that their absence from historic records is primarily due to the liquidation of Peter Lind, the construction firm behind the bridge. Peter Mandell, manager of the company, explained: "The difficulty with the Peter Lind records were that when the company went into liquidation in the late 1980s, a lot of their information was kept or pillaged by people who wanted a keepsake of their time with Peter Lind. But it was generally well known that, anecdotally if you like, that there were women working (for Lind), and in fact names of a particular lady was given to me at the time."

Because of the dearth of pictorial and written evidence, it is not known what specific work the women carried out on the bridge, but because many men were fighting 'The War,' their efforts are believed to be significant.  The women worked with the understanding that they would be paid less than their male counterparts and would give up their new jobs when the men returned once the war was over.

Underside of the Waterloo Bridge
The bridge the women built replaced one that had nine arches and was demolished around 1936 because of problems that had occurred with its decaying foundations. The new bridge's construction suffered several delays when it was repeatedly damaged by enemy action during the Blitz - the only Thames crossing to be attacked in this way. Clad in Portland stone, the Waterloo Bridge is London's only self-cleaning bridge. Spanning the Thames in 1,200 feet and 80 feet wide, making it the longest bridge in London, the Waterloo has five spans of reinforced concrete that cross the river between the modernist concrete structures of the South Bank Centre and the classical stone structure of Somerset House on the north bank.

Externally, the spans appear as elegantly flat arches, but the underlying structure consists of steel box-girders.The bridge was opened with a proper ceremony in December 1945 once the war was over, but the Labour politician Herbert Morrisso said: 'The men who built Waterloo Bridge are fortunate men. They know that, although their names may be forgotten, their work will be a pride and use to London for many generations to come.'  Not recognizing the women's efforts at all.

On the "other" side of the Waterloo Bridge is the Thames River Police Station.

Police Station on the Thames
In the late 1700's ship merchants were losing thousands per year in stolen cargo from the River Thames in London.

Mr John Harriot, Justice of the Peace and Master Mariner, devised a plan to protect Thames shipping from river pirates with a preventative policing unit.  Financed by the West India Merchants, who invested £4,200, and with Government approval the unit began on July 2nd 1798. It was based in Wapping High Street and the original site is still the current headquarters of, what is now called, the Marine Support Unit, MSU, of the Metropolitan Police - over two hundred years later.

Originally set up as a one-year trial it was remarkably successful. A small force of 50 river officers were charged with controlling over 30,000 workers connected with the river trades of which nearly a third were known criminals.

On July 28th, 1800 Parliament passed the Marine Police Bill, moving the original small privately funded river police force into a public service. The Thames River Police was a pioneering operation that brought law and order to the river and became a model for many police forces around the world. In 1839 the Thames Police Office was eventually merged into the London Metropolitan Police as the 'Thames Division' which was responsible for saving lives and protecting property on the Thames for over two hundred years.

Police presence on the Thames
Fast track to today and London's river and all of London's waterways are policed by the Marine Support Unit of the Metropolitan Police with tasks ranging from Counter Terrorism patrols to policing the waters of the Thames on a 24 hour basis.

You can visit The Thames River Police Museum which is located at Wapping Police Station. However, since the museum is housed in a working police station, visits must be arranged by prior appointment.

Across the river from the police station on the Thames is the National Theatre (where we saw Edward II). See Day 34 for more information regarding this set of buildings.

Next we came across the HQS Wellington.

HQS Wellington
HMS Wellington (launched Devonport, 1934) is a Grimsby-class sloop, formerly of the Royal Navy. During the Second World War, she served as a convoy escort ship in the North Atlantic. She is now moored alongside the Victoria Embankment, at Temple Pier, on the River Thames in London as the headquarters ship of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners where she is known as HQS Wellington. It was always the ambition of the founding members of the Company to have a Livery Hall. Up to the outbreak of war in 1939, various proposals were examined, including the purchase of the sailing ship, the Archibald Russell.

After the war, it became apparent that the possibility of building a Hall in the City of London had been rendered very remote. In 1947, the Grimsby-class sloop Wellington was made available by the Admiralty. The Company decided to buy her with money subscribed by the members and convert her to a floating Livery Hall - an appropriate home for a Company of seafarers.

Just to the right of the Wellington, is the King's Reach Marker with the face of Neptune, which is reportedly the dividing line between Westminster and the City or central square mile city of London, which has its own police force.

King's Reach Marker
HMS President is next along the Victoria Embankment right before you reach the Blackfriars Bridge.

HMS President
HMS President (1918)’s former Royal Navy Flower Class sloop, HMS PRESIDENT moored on the River Thames, London by the Victoria Embankment. Friday 15th July 2011.

On the south side, opposite the HMS PRESIDENT is the OXO Tower and Restaurant.

OXO Tower Wharf
The Oxo Tower Wharf is located towards the eastern end of London's South Bank cultural area, and is within the London Borough of Southwark. A continuous riverside walkway passes in front of the building, and links it with other riverside attractions such as the Festival Hall, the National Theatre, the Tate Modern and the Globe Theatre.

The building is flanked on the upstream, western side by Bernie Spain Gardens and Gabriel's Wharf, and to the east by Sea Containers House.  We were also told that the word "wharf" is an acronym for Ware House At River Front.

Back on the north side of the river, just prior to reaching Blackfriars Bridge, you'll see the original City of London School (now the J.P. Morgan building) and the Unilever House.

The Original City of London Boys School and Unilever House viewed from across the River Thames.             © Copyright Philip Halling and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence
The Victoria Embankment building of the City of London School (1883-1987) is a grand building  in a high Victorian style with a steep pitched roof (resembling that of a French chateau), designed by Davis and Emanuel Pevsner and constructed by John Mowlem & Co at a cost exceeding £100,000. The designers designed the school as "amazingly unscholastic, rather like a permanent Exhibition Palace."

On the front of the building are statues of Shakespeare, Milton, Bacon, Newton and Sir Thomas More, "the first four emphasizing the schools literary and scientific traditions, the last being a religious martyr, a famous lawyer, and the author of Utopia."

Old London City School building lit up at night
The building remained the home of the City of London School for over one hundred years, although the site expanded to include not only the original building on the Victoria Embankment itself, but a range of buildings at right angles along the whole of John Carpenter Street (which was named after the founder of the school) and further buildings constructed at the back along Tudor Street, with the school playground, Fives courts and cloisters enclosed within the site. These other buildings were demolished when the school moved again in 1986. Here the school was adjacent to the City of London School for Girls (which was founded by the City of London Corporation as a sister school in 1894 and moved in 1969 to its present site in the Barbican) and the Guildhall School of Music (which has also since moved to the Barbican). It was also next to the traditional home of the British newspaper industry in Fleet Street.

This building is now protected by a preservation order; it is presently occupied by the investment bank JPMorgan and appeared on the left of the famous Thames Television ident for 30 years. The building still
features the school's name above the door.

Blackfriars Bridge
Blackfriars Bridge is a road and foot traffic bridge that spans the Thames between Waterloo Bridge and Blackfriars Railway Bridge, carrying the A201 road. The north end is near the Inns of Court and Temple Church, along with Blackfriars station. The south end is near the Tate Modern art gallery and the Oxo Tower.

Although the original bridge was built of Portland stone the workmanship was very faulty. Between 1833 and 1840 extensive repairs were necessary, and a good deal of patching-up was done, until at last it was decided to build a new bridge on the same site and this coincided with the creation of the Thames Embankment's junction with the new Queen Victoria Street required a major reconfiguration. The present bridge, which was opened by Queen Victoria  in 1869, 923 feet (281 m) long, consisting of five wrought iron arches built to a design by Joseph Cubitt.

Pillars from the 1864 Railway Bridge next to the new one.
Cubitt also designed the adjacent rail bridge (opened in 1864, now demolished) for the London, Chatham and Dover Railway with the condition that the spans and piers of the two bridges be aligned. It was built by P.A. Thom & Co. Like its predecessor it is owned and maintained by the Bridge House Estates, a charitable trust overseen by the City of London Corporation. Like London Bridge the full length and its southern end is within the City's borders and not in the adjoining borough of Southwark. Due to the volume of traffic over the bridge, it was widened between 1907–10, from 70 feet (21 m) to its present 105 feet (32 m).  It eventually became too weak to support modern trains, and was therefore removed in 1985 – all that remains is a series of columns crossing the Thames and the southern abutment, which is a Grade II listed structure. (see above picture)

The solar-paneled roof on the Blackfriars Railway Bridge
The second bridge, built slightly further downstream (to the east), was originally called St Paul's Railway Bridge and opened in 1886. It was designed by John Wolfe-Barry and Henry Marc Brunel and is made of wrought iron. It was built by Lucas & Aird.] When St Paul's railway station changed its name to Blackfriars in 1937, the bridge changed its name as well.

At the southern end of the bridge was Blackfriars Bridge railway station which opened in 1864 before closing to passengers in 1885 following the opening of what is today the main Blackfriars station. Blackfriars Bridge railway station continued as a goods stop until 1964 when it was completely demolished, and much of it redeveloped into offices.

As part of the Thameslink Programme, the platforms at Blackfriars station have been extended across the Thames and partially supported by the 1864 bridge piers. The project is designed by Jacobs and Tony Gee & Partners and built by Balfour Beatty. The work also includes the installation of a 64,583 square feet solar bridge on its roof.  The energy that will be generated is said to be used to power the station or at least half of it.  The solar panels used are Sanyo HIT photovoltaic panels with 4,000 high-efficiency. It is the largest of only two solar bridges in the world (the other being Kurilpa Bridge in Australia). Other green improvements include sun pipes and systems to collect rain water.

Between Blackfriars Bridge and the Millennium foot bridge is the current City of London School.

City of London School with St Paul's Cathedral behind it
The present building on Queen Victoria Street was designed by City of London architect Thomas Meddings, an Old Citizen of the school as well as a former Temple Church chorister. It is a wholly modern building, although some of the stained glass and sculptures from the Victoria Embankment building has been relocated to this new building. A design and technology block was added to the building in 1990, though in 2008, the block was transformed into a building mainly used by the ICT and music departments, although some design and technology facilities remain. The building was designed on a structural grid and non-load bearing walls were used so that the internal layout of the building could easily be changed when necessary. The school's design is also slightly unusual in that it was built avoiding a road tunnel in the center of the premises. This meant that the first and second floors of the building could only be built on either side of the road tunnel. The load on the third floor directly above the road tunnel is also limited and so a courtyard, surrounded by the building, which goes up to the fifth floor, exists in that area.

The current building is opened to the public annually on one weekend in September as part of the Open House London event.The front view of the building beside the River Thames with St Paul's Cathedral in the background and the Millennium Bridge on the right is occasionally seen in popular media such as in the BBC News 60-second countdown as well as in an early scene of the 2005 movie, The Constant Gardener and in the 2009 film Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Across the river from the City of London (School for Boys) is the Tate Modern (connected to St Pauls by the Millennium Bridge) and the Globe Theatre.

Globe Theatre and Tate Modern
Next along the river comes the Southwark (pronounced Suthuck) Bridge.
Southwark Bridge (with St. Pauls in the distance)
After Southwark Bridge, on the south side of the Thames is The Anchor Pub Bankside.  For more information about this pub, please visit Day 15.

The Anchor Pub Bankside
The next bridge we pass under is the Cannon St Railway Bridge.  The Cannon Street Railway Bridge carries trains over the river to Cannon Street station on the north bank. It was originally named Alexandra Bridge after Alexandra of Denmark who was the wife of the future King Edward VII.

The Cannon St Station and Bridge
The bridge was designed by John Hawkshaw and John Wolfe-Barry for the South Eastern Railway. It was opened in 1866 after three years of construction. In its original form, it carried the railway over the Thames on five spans standing on cast-iron Doric pillars. It was subsequently widened between 1886–93 by Francis Brady and extensively renovated between 1979–82, which resulted in many of its ornamental features being removed and the structure taking on an even more utilitarian appearance than before.

It was the scene of the Marchioness pleasure boat disaster in 1989, where fifty-one people drowned after two boats collided due to poor visibiltiy.

Visible on the north side next is the Fishmonger's Hall. The earliest recorded Fishmongers' Hall (sometimes shortened to Fish Hall) was built in 1310. A new hall, on the present site, was bequeathed to the Company in 1434. Together with 43 other Company halls, this one was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and a replacement hall designed by the architect Edward Jerman opened in 1671. Jerman's hall was taken down when the new London Bridge was constructed in 1827. The next hall, opened in 1834, was designed by Henry Roberts although his assistant Gilbert Scott made the drawings for the new building, and built by William Cubitt & Company. After severe bomb damage during the Blitz, Fishmongers' Hall was restored by Austen Hall and reopened in 1951.

Fishmongers' Hall
The hall contains many treasures, including the dagger with which Lord Mayor Walworth killed Wat Tyler in 1381, Pietro Annigoni's first portrait of Her Majesty The Queen, a collection of 17th- and 18th-century silver, an embroidered 15th-century funeral pall, two portraits by George Romney, and river scenes by Samuel Scott. The hall is located in Bridge Ward on London Bridge.

The next bridge we went under was the London Bridge.  Though the name "London Bridge" refers to several historical bridges that have spanned the River Thames between the City of London and Southwark, the current crossing, which opened to traffic in 1973, is a box girder bridge built from concrete and steel. This replaced a 19th-century stone-arched bridge, which in turn superseded a 600-year-old medieval structure. This was preceded by a succession of timber bridges, the first built by the Roman founders of London.

London Bridge
The current bridge stands at the western end of the Pool of London but is positioned 30 metres (98 ft) upstream from previous alignments. The traditional ends of the medieval bridge were marked by St Magnus-the-Martyr on the northern bank and Southwark Cathedral on the southern shore. Until Putney Bridge opened in 1729, London Bridge was the only road-crossing of the Thames downstream of Kingston-upon-Thames.

After the bridge, on the north side, is St. Magnus the Martyr.  This church was one of 51 parish churches rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren and his office after the Great Fire (in fact, the enterprising parishioners had already begun to rebuild north wall with the mason George Dowdeswell by 1668). The work spanned 1671-84, but was substantially complete by 1676; at £9579 19s 10d, it was one of his most expensive churches. Wren's craftsmen were John Thompson, mason; Matthew Banckes Senior and Thomas Lock, carpenters; William Cleere, joiner; Doogood & Grove, plasterers; with internal woodwork by William Grey and one Massey. Although the model for the steeple was probably made by 1684 (very closely based on that of St. Charles Borromée by François Aiguillon in Antwerp), it was only completed in 1703-06.

St Magnus the Martyr Church
St. Magnus is reportedly just one of the many haunted churches rebuilt by Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London in 1666. However, the tomb of Miles Coverdale, the man who gave us the first English Bible and who died in 1535, can be found in the church's south east corner. Many visitors report a great feeling of sadness when near his tomb.

A ghostly figure with black hair and wearing a serge cassock with a cowl, has been seen on several occasions both near the tomb and in other places in the church. A church worker, a rector and a rectors wife all testified that the church was haunted. Although churches don't normally admit to playing host to anything supernatural, Miles Coverdale was rector of the original church before he became Bishop of Exeter so perhaps it is him keeping a spectral eye on things.

Once we landed at Greenwich and tipped our commenter, we stopped at a small hamburger place called Byrons and had some warm drinks.  The boat wasn't heated and the "doors" where the passengers enter and leave are left open, so it got chilly.

After our drinks we boarded the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) and took a train to Tower Gateway.  The Docklands Light Railway (the DLR) is an automated (computer-operated with no engineer) light metro system opened in 1987 to serve the redeveloped Docklands area of London. It reaches north to Stratford, south to Lewisham, west to Tower Gateway and Bank in the City of London financial district, and east to Beckton, London City Airport and Woolwich Arsenal.

The system uses minimal staffing on trains and at major interchange stations; the four sub-surface stations are
staffed to comply with underground station requirements. Similar proposals have been made for the adjacent
system, the Tube.

From Tower Gateway we walked closer to the Tower where we picked up another tour bus and rode it to Piccadilly, where we walked to Denman street and stopped at the Clock Jack Oven for a chicken dinner.  The chicken was good, and both of us ordered a salad to go with it, since nothing else came with the meal.  We did take a picture, which I will add in later.

Since the theatre was practically next door, we left the restaurant and walked across the street to the Piccadilly Theatre for Dirty Dancing.  This is the second time the show has come to London and it's for a limited engagement.  Unfortunately, it had a lot of the same problems From Here to Eternity had.  The actors, either through bad direction or lack of interest gave flat performances.  Though the lead characters were supposedly in love with each other, they interacted as though they sort of liked each other, but neither would have minded if the other left.  Line readings were flat all around.  The musical was primarily a dancing show, which they did do very well.

The show followed the movie very closely, though it used a relatively flat stage with backdrops that showed movement.  There were two actresses I felt understood their parts and made the most of them.  Once was the Penny character who had a botched abortion and the other was Baby's older sister Lisa, who as a character couldn't sing or dance and yet appeared in the talent show.  The actress did a very good impression of an untalented amateur that made you laugh and wince at the same time.

After the show, we returned via Leicester Square, which was crowded with vampires, witches, ghosts and ghouls of all shapes and sizes.  Again we took pictures, which I will have to add tomorrow.  So, come back and check in again tomorrow night if you can.  Until then, good night.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Day 43 - A quick cruise and stop at the Tower

Today, we decided to take the Tate to Tate cruise which cruises along the Thames from Tate Britain to Tate Modern.  Tate Modern is just a cross over the bridge to St. Paul's Cathedral, which is in the city.  From there we intended to take a bus to the Tower.  We thought the cruise would be leisurely with commentary, but they've changed their methods to offering a speedy cruise, which is great if you're in a hurry, but not so great if you want to take pictures.  All the same, we persevered.  First building we captured on camera was the St George Wharf Tower.

St George Wharf Tower
The St George Wharf Tower, also known as the Vauxhall Tower or The Tower, is a residential skyscraper in Vauxhall, London, as part of the St George Wharf development. At 181 metres (594 ft) tall with 50 storeys it is the tallest solely residential building in the UK. The building's construction crane was hit by a helicopter in January 2013, causing two deaths.

The building is designed into three legible parts – a base that will house the communal facilities of the building including a lobby, business lounge, gym, spa and swimming pool, a middle section where the typical apartments are located, and the top where the façade reduces in diameter to provide spectacular 360° terraces which will lead the eye to a wind turbine that crowns the structure.

The wind turbine, manufactured by British green-technology company Matilda's Planet, will power the tower's common lighting, whilst creating virtually zero noise and vibration. At the base of the tower, water will be drawn from the London Aquifer and heat-pump technology will be used to remove warmth from the water in the winter to heat the apartments. In comparison to similar buildings, the tower will require one third of the energy, and will produce between one-half and two-thirds of normal CO2 emissions. It will be triple-glazed to minimise heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer, with low-e glazing and ventilated blinds between the glazing to further reduce heat gain from direct sunlight.

Royal Air Force Memorial
The Royal Air Force Memorial is a 1923 military memorial on the Victoria Embankment in central London, dedicated to the memory of the casualties of the Royal Air Force in World War I (and, by extension, all subsequent conflicts). It is sited near Cleopatra's Needle, between the north-bank ends of Charing Cross Bridge and Westminster Bridge, and directly to the east of the main Ministry of Defense building on Whitehall. It was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield, and William Reid Dick sculpted the eagle on top (drawn from the RAF's badge).

Cleopatra's Needle
Cleopatra's Needle is the popular name for each of three Ancient Egyptian obelisks re-erected in London, Paris, and New York City during the nineteenth century. The London and New York ones are a pair, while the Paris one comes from a different original site, Luxor, where its twin remains. Although all three needles are genuine Ancient Egyptian obelisks, their shared nickname is a misnomer, as they have no connection with Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt, and were already over a thousand years old in her lifetime. The London and New York "needles" were originally made during the reign of the 18th Dynasty Pharaoh Thutmose III.

The London needle is on the Victoria Embankment near the Golden Jubilee Bridges, close to the Embankment underground station. It was presented to the United Kingdom in 1819 by the ruler of Egypt and Sudan Muhammad Ali, in commemoration of the victories of Lord Nelson at the Battle of the Nile and Sir Ralph Abercromby at the Battle of Alexandria in 1801. Although the British government welcomed the gesture, it declined to fund the expense of transporting it to London.

Raising the Needle in 1878
The obelisk remained in Alexandria until 1877 when Sir William James Erasmus Wilson, a distinguished anatomist and dermatologist, sponsored its transportation to London at a cost of some £10,000 (a very considerable sum in those days). It was dug out of the sand in which it had been buried for nearly 2,000 years and was encased in a great iron cylinder, 92 feet (28 m) long and 16 feet (4.9 m) in diameter, designed by the engineer John Dixon and dubbed Cleopatra, to be commanded by Captain Carter. It had a vertical stem and stern, a rudder, two bilge keels, a mast for balancing sails, and a deck house. This acted as a floating pontoon which was to be towed to London by the ship Olga, commanded by Captain Booth.

The effort met with disaster on 14 October 1877, in a storm in the Bay of Biscay, when the Cleopatra began wildly rolling, and became untenable. The Olga sent out a rescue boat with six volunteers, but the boat capsized and all six crew were lost – named today on a bronze plaque attached to the foot of the needle's mounting stone. Captain Booth on the Olga eventually managed to get his ship next to the Cleopatra, to rescue Captain Carter and the five crew members aboard Cleopatra. Captain Booth reported the Cleopatra "abandoned and sinking," but instead she drifted in the Bay until found four days later by Spanish trawler boats, then rescued by the Glasgow steamer Fitzmaurice and taken to Ferrol in Spain for repairs. The Master of the Fitzmaurice lodged a salvage claim of £5,000 which had to be settled before departure from Ferrol, which was negotiated down and settled for £2,000. The William Watkins Ltd paddle tug Anglia under the command of Captain David Glue was then commissioned to tow the Cleopatra back to the Thames.

Close up of the inscriptions on Cleopatra's Needle
The obelisk was finally erected on the Victoria Embankment on 12 September 1878, and a time capsule was concealed in the front part of the pedestal, it contained : A set of 12 photographs of the best looking English women of the day, a box of hairpins, a box of cigars, several tobacco pipes, a set of imperial weights, a baby's bottle, some children's toys, a shilling razor, a hydraulic jack and some samples of the cable used in erection, a 3' bronze model of the monument, a complete set of British coins, a rupee, a portrait of Queen Victoria, a written history of the strange tale of the transport of the monument, plans on vellum, a translation of the inscriptions, copies of the bible in several languages, a copy of John 3:16 in 215 languages, a copy of Whitaker's Almanack, a Bradshaw Railway Guide, a map of London and copies of 10 daily newspapers.

Cleopatra's Needle with Sphinxes
Cleopatra's Needle is flanked by two faux-Egyptian sphinxes cast from bronze that appear to be looking at the Needle rather than guarding it. This is due to the Sphinxes' improper or backwards installation. The Embankment has other Egyptian flourishes, such as buxom winged sphinxes on the armrests of benches. On 4 September 1917, during World War I, a bomb from a German air raid landed near the needle. In commemoration of this event, the damage remains unrepaired to this day and is clearly visible in the form of shrapnel holes and gouges on the right-hand sphinx. Restoration work was carried out in 2005. The original Master Stone Mason who worked on the granite foundation was Lambeth-born William Henry Gould (1822–1891).
The Palace of Westminster
The Palace of Westminster is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Commonly known as the Houses of Parliament after its tenants, the Palace lies on the Middlesex bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster, in central London. Its name, which derives from the neighboring Westminster Abbey, may refer to either of two structures: the Old Palace, a medieval building complex that was destroyed by fire in 1834, and its replacement New Palace that stands today. For ceremonial purposes, the palace retains its original style and status as a royal residence.

London Eye
The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames. The entire structure is 135 metres (443 ft) tall and the wheel has a diameter of 120 metres (394 ft), making it the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe. When erected in 1999 it was the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, until surpassed first by the 160 m (520 ft) Star of Nanchang in 2006 and then the 165 m (541 ft) Singapore Flyer in 2008.

Supported by an A-frame on one side only, unlike the taller Nanchang and Singapore wheels, the Eye is described by its operators as "the world's tallest cantilevered observation wheel". It offered the highest public viewing point in the city[citation needed] until it was superseded by the 245-metre (804 ft)[6] observation deck on the 72nd floor of The Shard, which opened to the public on 1 February 2013.

Millennium Bridge
The Millennium Bridge, officially known as the London Millennium Footbridge, is a steel suspension bridge for pedestrians crossing the River Thames in London, linking Bankside with the City of London. It is sited between Southwark Bridge and Blackfriars Railway Bridge. Construction of the bridge began in 1998, with the opening in June 2000.

Londoners nicknamed the bridge the "Wibbly Wobbly Bridge" after participants in a charity walk on behalf of Save the Children to open the bridge felt an unexpected and, for some, uncomfortable swaying motion on the first two days after the bridge opened. The bridge was closed later that day, and after two days of limited access the bridge was closed for almost two years while modifications were made to eliminate the wobble entirely. It reopened in 2002.

St Pauls from Millennium Bridge
The southern end of the bridge is near the Globe theatre, the Bankside Gallery and Tate Modern, the north end next to the City of London School below St Paul's Cathedral. The bridge alignment is such that a clear view of St Paul's south façade is presented from across the river, framed by the bridge supports.

Upon reaching the Tate Modern, we took a bus to the Tower of London so we could purchase our annual Christmas Ornament.  This year they also offered a limited edition for next year, so we got it too.

Ornaments in hand, we took a bus back to the flat then settled in for sandwiches.  While at the Tower, two English ladies offered us tickets to the Hop on Hop off bus tour, which includes a tour over to Greenwich, so that's our plan for tomorrow (Hallowe'en).

Hope to have more pictures for you that will include some of the decorations around the city for the spooky holiday.  Until then....

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Day 42 - On the Strand to the Cafe to Book of Mormon

Today we took off to purchase some charity Christmas cards from the St. Clement Danes Church on the Strand.  They have some lovely cards and they reflect London as well as UK scenes.  On our way we shot some photos.  The first being The Savoy Hotel and Theatre on the Strand.

We saw Legally Blonde there in 2010 and currently Let it Be is playing at The Savoy Theatre.  The entrance to both the theatre and the hotel is extremely classy.

The Savoy Theatre
We continued along the Strand and came across St Mary le Strand, a small parish church of the united parish of St Mary le Strand with St Clement Danes.  St Mary le Strand is often said to the the loveliest Baroque church in England.  Designed by James Gibbs, the church was built between 1714 and 1723 and consecrated in 1724.

St Mary le Strand with St Clement Danes on the right
Below the foundations of the church are traces of Roman, Saxon and Medieval London, when the Strand was a vital link between the City of London and the Royal and monastic settlement at Westminster. The parish of St Mary le Strand may lay a good claim to being one of the oldest parishes in London. It stands dominating a roadway which since prehistory has been the main artery to the west from the City of London. In early Saxon times the Strand area was the very heart of London, for it seems that the City was effectively abandoned by the newly-arrived settlers.

There is no record of when St Mary le Strand was founded, but the first church, which was dedicated to the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, stood just south of the present church on a site now covered by Somerset House. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Bishops of Worcester were the Patrons of the parish and had their London residence on an adjoining site. For throughout the period from the Norman Conquest to the Reformation, the Strand was mainly the home of bishops and princes. Within the parish were the "inns" - large town houses with chapels, stables and accommodation for a large retinue - of the Bishops of Worcester, Llandaff, Coventry and Lichfield. A large part of the parish was absorbed by the building of a great house, the Palace of the Savoy, by Count Peter of Savoy, the uncle of Henry III, in the 1240s. A century later this became the home of John of Gaunt, Earl of Lancaster, and the palace became a centre of culture; among its residents was Geoffrey Chaucer, who was married in the palace chapel. Gaunt's unpopularity, as the king's chief minister, caused the palace to be burned in the Peasant's Revolt. Despite its long absence, the fame of the palace has lasted in the area and was recreated in the nineteenth century by the Savoy Hotel and Theatre.

St Mary le Strand nave
The site where the present church stands was occupied in medieval times by Strand Cross. The origins of this are unclear. It was not a cross erected in memory of Queen Eleanor - as was Charing Cross - but seems to have dated back at least to Norman times. Perhaps it began as a market cross; by the early fourteenth century it had been rebuilt in a lavish manner, almost certainly following the design of the Eleanor Crosses. Strand Cross was a famous site and it is recorded that in the thirteenth century the local magistrates held their assizes in front of it.

Until the sixteenth century, the Strand was no more than a line of Bishops' palaces on the south side of the roadway stretching all the way to Whitehall. On the north side stood a wall which bounded the Convent - later Covent - Garden, while the churches further away, St Martin's and St Giles, stood "in-the-fields". All this was to change with the Reformation.

The bishops' inns around the church were seized by Edward Lord Protector ((Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, served as Lord Protector of England during the minority of his nephew King Edward VI (1547–1553), in the period between the death of King Henry VIII in 1547 and his own indictment in 1549) who set about building himself a renaissance palace (Somerset Palace) in what was then the most fashionable part of town. Even with the extensive site that he had now obtained, further space was needed and towards the end of 1548 the Lord Protector's workmen fell upon St Mary's church and demolished it to provide stone for the new palace. Further stone was provided by the demolition of a cloister at St Paul's Cathedral known as Pardon Churchyard and the greater part of the Priory of St John at Clerkenwell. Even by the standards of the time, the demolition of so much sacred property was an outrage. Somerset was never to enjoy living in his new palace; just as it was nearing completion he was overthrown by his political enemies and executed at Tower Hill in 1551.

Somerset House
It is said that Somerset had intended to build a new parish church. If so, all thought of it passed away with his fall. Initially, the parishioners scattered but within a short time we find them gathered in the chapel of St John the Baptist in the Savoy. Here they would remain for the next 175 years. Now known at "St Mary le Savoy", the parishioners chose and paid for their own ministers. The most famous of these was Thomas Fuller, the church historian, who was appointed in 1642, fled during the Civil War and was restored to his living in 1660.

Following the execution of Somerset, his palace had passed to the possession of the Crown. Elizabeth I occasionally lodged there and it was from Somerset House that she set off to give thanks after the defeat of the Armada. Under the Stuarts, extensive improvements were made to the palace, the most impressive being the lavish Roman Catholic chapel built by Charles I's queen, Henrietta Maria.

The roadway in front of Somerset House, where Strand Cross had stood and where the present church was later to stand, was occupied in the early seventeenth century by a windmill used to pump water. In 1634 the first Hackney Carriage stand in England was established here by one Captain Bailey. Here also a maypole was erected which became the most famous maypole in London. Demolished by the Puritans, a new maypole was erected in 1661. Parts of this maypole remained until 1717, when they were removed and presented to Sir Isaac Newton as the base for a telescope.

St Clement Danes
Deriving its name from the earliest church to stand on the site, founded by descendants of the Danish invaders, whom Alfred the Great allowed to remain in London in the 9th century, St Clement Danes sits isolated on a traffic island in the middle of the Strand.

The body of the present church was rebuilt in 1680 - 82 by Sir Christopher Wren, and in 1669 Joshua Marshall created the west tower, the familiar spire added by James Gibbs in 1719.

St Clements Danes was damaged by bombing in 1941, and the restoration work was carried out by Anthony Lloyd in 1955.

Inside of St Clement Danes
The galleried interior, with its dark stained wood, follows Wren's original.  Above the galleries Corinthian columns and coffered arches support the tunnel-vault of the nave.

The east end consists of a quadrant bay on each side and an apse, and over each arch are the Stuart arms.  The reredos, built in the Wren style, has two large panels painted by Ruskin Spear representing the Annunciation.

Other features include the east window depicting Christ in Glory created by Carl Edwards, a highly-carved pulpit dating from the 17th century with an ornate lecturn designed by Anthony Lloyd, and in the west gallery is a gilded organ by Ralph Downes.

Dr. Samuel Johnson, 1709 - 84, was a regular member of the congregation of St Clement Danes.  During the 17th to 19th centuries many people were buried in the crypt and the chain hanging on the crypt wall was used to secure the coffin lids against body-snatchers.

Since 1958 St Clement Danes has served as the central church of the Royal Air Force.  The nave and aisles have the crests of hundreds of RAF squadrons, and below the aisle windows are the RAF rolls of honour.  The unusually wide aisle of the church has over 700 squadron badges in slate set into the floor.  At the west end is a larger badge for the RAF, surrounded by the badges of overseas allies, together with carved stalls for the commanders of the RAF. 

Statue of Gladstone outside St Clement Danes Church
Additional statues standing outside the church are of Lord Dowding, victor of the Battle of Britain, and Sir Arthur (Bomber) Harris, Marshall of the RAF.

Statues of  Sir Arthur (Bomber Harris) and Lord Dowding
As the Strand curves around St. Clement Danes, it turns into Fleet Street, making the Royal Courts of Justice just visible on the left side of the church.

Royal Courts of Justice
The Royal Courts of Justice, commonly called the Law Courts, houses both the High Court and Court of Appeal of England and Wales. Designed by George Edmund Street, who died before it was completed, it is a large grey stone edifice in the Victorian Gothic style built in the 1870s and opened by Queen Victoria in 1882. It is located on the Strand (as it becomes Fleet Street)near the border with the City of London (Temple Bar). It is surrounded by the four Inns of Court, King's College London and the London School of Economics.

The courts within the building are open to the public, although there may be some restrictions depending upon the nature of the cases being heard. Those in court who do not have legal representation may receive some assistance within the building. There is a citizens' advice bureau based within the Main Hall which provides free, confidential and impartial advice by appointment to anyone who is a litigant in person in the courts. There is also a Personal Support Unit where litigants in person can receive emotional support and practical information about what court proceedings.

Close-up of main entrance to Royal Courts of Justice
Entering through the main gates on the Strand, one passes under two elaborately carved porches fitted with iron gates. The carving over the outer porch consists of heads of the most eminent judges and lawyers. Over the highest point of the upper arch is a figure of Jesus; to the left and right at a lower level are figures of Solomon and Alfred the Great; that of Moses is at the northern front of the building. Also at the northern front, over the Judges entrance are a stone cat and dog representing fighting litigants in court.


One of our "traditions" when visiting London near Christmas is to purchase Christmas Cards that help British charities.  They have lovely cards that range from humorous to religious, but we prefer the ones that have winter scenes of the sites we've visited.

Golden Trees card with Card Aid Logo
For over 30 years Card Aid has helped charities make money from their Christmas cards.
Card Aid shops were developed to provide an outlet for charities to sell their Christmas cards to a wider public. There are now about 30 Card Aid shops selling charity Christmas cards on behalf of over 200 charities.

A lot of their "store fronts" are located in churches, and the closest one to us was at St. Clement Danes.  So after looking about the church, we went through their selection and purchased about 20 GBP of cards along with a couple of lapel poppies for Remembrance Day, which will be celebrated on Sunday, November 10 this year.

I'll talk more about Remembrance Day and its observance on Sunday's post.  The docent at St. Mary Le Strand recommended we try to see King's College Chapel if we had the time, so after we made our purchases we headed back to King's College London.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the east wing of Somerset House now houses part of King's College London.

King's College - East wing of Somerset House
King's College, so named to indicate the patronage of King George IV, was founded in 1829 in response to the theological controversy surrounding the founding of "London University" (which later became University College London) in 1827. London University was founded, with the backing of Utilitarians, Jews and non-Anglican Christians, as a secular institution, intended to educate "the youth of our middling rich people between the ages of 15 or 16 and 20 or later" giving its nickname, "the godless college in Gower Street".

The need for such an institution was a result of the religious and social nature of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, which then educated solely the sons of wealthy Anglicans. The secular nature of London University was disapproved by The Establishment, indeed, "the storms of opposition which raged around it threatened to crush every spark of vital energy which remained". Thus, the creation of a rival institution represented a Tory response to reassert the educational values of The Establishment. More widely, King's was one of the first of a series of institutions which came about in the early nineteenth century as a result of the Industrial Revolution and great social changes in England following the Napoleonic Wars. By virtue of its foundation King's has enjoyed the patronage of the monarch, the Archbishop of Canterbury as its Visitor and during the nineteenth century counted among its official governors the Lord Chancellor, Speaker of the House of Commons and the Lord Mayor of London.

Rumors in the press of a competing institution in the tradition of the established church appeared in 1827, but the idea was first defined early in 1828 by Reverend Dr George D'Oyly, Rector of Lambeth, in an open letter to Sir Robert Peel, the then Home Secretary and Leader of the House of Commons. A scheme emerged during the summer of 1828 and a public meeting to launch King's, chaired by the Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington, and attended by the Archbishops of York, Canterbury and Armagh, and two members of the Cabinet (Peel and the Earl of Aberdeen) was held on 21 June 1828. A committee of twenty-seven was appointed to raise funds and to frame regulations and building plans, but the sum raised by subscription was inadequate. The Crown granted a site lying between the Strand and the Thames to the College and building began in 1829.

King's College London from the air with Big Ben in the background
King's College London (informally King's or KCL) is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom, and a constituent college of the federal University of London. King's is arguably the third-oldest university in England, having been founded by King George IV and the Duke of Wellington in 1829, receiving its royal charter in the same year. In 1836 King's became one of the two founding colleges of the University of London.

King's is organised into nine academic schools, spread across four Thames-side campuses in central London and another in Denmark Hill in south London. It is one of the largest centres for graduate and post-graduate medical teaching and biomedical research in Europe; it is home to six Medical Research Council centres, the most of any British university, and is a founding member of the King's Health Partners academic health sciences centre. King's has around 25,000 students and 6,113 staff with a total income of £554.2 million in 2011/12, of which £154.7 million was from research grants and contracts.

Entrance to King's College from the Strand
King's is ranked 19th in the world (and 8th in Europe) in the 2013 QS World University Rankings, 38th in the world (and 9th in Europe) in the 2013 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, 67th in the world (and 18th in Europe) in the 2013 Academic Ranking of World Universities. There are currently 12 Nobel Prize laureates amongst King's alumni and current and former faculty. In September 2010, The Sunday Times selected King's as its "University of the Year". King's is a member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the European University Association, the Russell Group and Universities UK. It forms part of the 'golden triangle' of British universities.

King's is one of the top universities in the world, a top destination choice of Marshall Scholars and its graduates are highly sought by firms across the globe; in a survey, by the New York Times, of global business leaders when asked to name the top universities they like to recruit from, King's ranked 22nd in the world and 5th in the UK.

King's College London Grand Staircase
In order to get to the King's College London Chapel, you need to climb the grand staircase.  There might be a lift for those who have difficulty climbing stairs, but we didn't see one, so up we climbed.

KIng's College London Chapel
King's College London Chapel is a Grade I listed 19th century chapel located in the Strand Campus of King's College London, London, England. Originally designed by Sir Robert Smirke in 1831, the Renaissance Revival chapel seen today was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1864, at a cost of just over £7,000.

Cartoon of the duel between the Earl of Winchilsea and the Duke of Wellington
The Duke of Wellington, victor of the Battle of Waterloo and Prime Minister, chaired the public meeting which launched King's on 21 June 1828. Early in 1829 the Earl of Winchilsea publicly challenged Wellington about his simultaneous support for the Anglican King's College and the Roman Catholic Relief Act. The result was a duel in Battersea Fields on 21 March. Shots were fired but no-one was hurt.

I have much more to write, but we came back from The Book of Mormon late, so I'm going to have to catch up when I can.  Great show by the way.  Until tomorrow.