Being a Tourist in London

During last week’s heatwave we made one of our rare visits to London. I can’t remember the last time I went, probably it was over two or three years ago when I attended a course for work. Such visits meant travelling in by train, dashing to the course venue and seeing very little of London. So it was strange to be in London with the whole day devoted to sightseeing.

First we went to the Museum of London – my first time there. Some of its galleries are closed as they are being redeveloped but there was still plenty to see – the history of London up to 1666. The highlights for me were the gallery showing Medieval London AD410-1558, topical for me as I’d just finished reading Company of Liars a novel of the plague by Karen Maitland, and the exhibition of the Great Fire of London 1666. I was also fascinated by the shoes on display – the long-pointed toe, or ‘poulaine’, popular in London in the 1380s, with the toe measuring up to 4 inches long, stuffed with moss or hair. The 16th/17th century jewellry display is just beautiful.

london-mug

museum-highlightsIn the Museum shop I bought a booklet of the Museum Highlights to remind me of what I’d seen, and a mug showing the Houses of Parliament and a red London double-decker bus.

Next up was a walk from the Museum along London Wall to Wren’s Monument. I was delighted to see the remains of the original City Wall outside the Museum, including a thirteenth century tower.

london-remains-of-tower

As we were on our way to see Wren’s Monument commemorating the Great Fire of London we didn’t have time to stop and look at anything else, but I took photos of various sights along the way including St Alban’s Church Tower, sandwiched on a traffic island in Wood Street. I didn’t know what it was but thought it looked so incongruous between modern buildings. According to various websites it may date back to AD 930. The rest of the church was destroyed in the Great Fire, subsequently rebuilt by Christopher Wren in 1685, only to be bombed in the Blitz in 1940. The remaining perpendicular tower with its pinnacles is now dwarfed by modern buildings.

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The Royal Exchange (now a luxurious shopping centre) – you can just see the Gherkin in the background.

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And this golden statue caught my eye

ariel

It’s Ariel, or the Spirit of the Winds, on the Bank of England on Tivoli Corner, by Sir Charles Wheeler.

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And here is Wren’s Monument, a Doric order column made of Portland stone with a viewing tower. It’s 202 feet tall, which is the distance from the base of the monument to the shop on Pudding Lane where the fire started. I didn’t go up it – my legs wouldn’t take all those stairs but others with me did – maybe I can get one of their photos.

monument

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The photo above is of the viewing tower and if look closely at the enlarged picture (click on it)you can just make out my son and grandson looking down.

And finally here is Tower Bridge taken from London Bridge.

tower-bridge

10 thoughts on “Being a Tourist in London

  1. Thanks for a lovely virtual tour. I’ve always wanted to go to London and maybe some day I will. I hope you’ll do this again when you are out and about in England.

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  2. What a great way to see London! And, yes, I saw your son and grandson .
    It’s great you took the opportunity to be a tourist (complete with tourist mug) so close to home. Somehow I think if I did that for Cleveland it wouldn’t be the same 🙂

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  3. If that old tower could talk, I would love to listen to her story. Thank you for the lovely tour. It was a very nice sunny day too. I love the picture of the Thames with all the boats activity, it just looked like a perfect day.

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  4. I really appreciate you sharing all these lovely photos. With no international travel in my immediate future, I can at least live vicariously through you. 🙂

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  5. Denis and I are about to begin planning our next trip to the UK, and posts like this provide plenty of incentive. Thanks so much for sharing this with us!

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