A Journey Through Historic London

A Journey Through Historic London

As our time in Bath came to an end, we looked forward to the next leg of our trip to one of the greatest cities in the world, London, where we would spend two fabulous weeks.

We rented an apartment for the time we stayed in London, which was located near our friends in Crouch End, and close to the Kings Cross Station, which proved to be a great location.

We visited many historic spots around London during our time there:

Hampton Court Palace is a 500-year old royal palace that was used as King Henry VIII’s summer retreat. Built by Cardinal Wolsey in the early 16th century, and considered an architectural marvel, it attracted the attention of Henry VIII, who brought all of his six wives here.

Luckily there were instructions about appropriate table manners as one of King Henry VIII’s dinner guests.

Outside we explored the kitchen gardens, and a playground fit for Royalty, with towers, dragons, and a crown shaped play area, surrounded by a beautiful green space.

The kitchen gardens where food was harvested to feed the Palace occupants and guests.

After visiting Hampton Court Palace, we reunited with our friends for a traditional Sunday Roast at The Maynard Arms, which was quite good.

Our friends advised us that the easiest way to travel around London was to purchase the Oyster Visitor Card, which we preloaded with money to take both the Tube and city buses, which worked out very well.

Tower of London: The next morning we set off for central London to visit the Tower of London. It was crowded, but we joined a group tour to learn the history of the Tower, and then spent several hours exploring it at our own pace.

The London Tower was best known as a place of imprisonment and execution during the 16th and 17th centuries. Many famous people were “sent to the Tower,” including Elizabeth I, Sir Walter Raleigh, and two of King Henry VIII’s wives, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, who were both beheaded there.

The grounds were expansive, and now include an Armory, Torture Museum, Scaffold Site, Royal Quarters, White Tower, Royal Menagerie, and the Crown Jewels of England.

The sight of Anne Boleyn’s beheading by King Henry VIII.

The White Tower is said to be haunted by ghosts such as Anne Boleyn, Henry VI, Lady Jane Grey, Margaret Pole, and the Princes in the Tower.

The two princes were kept here, the nephews of King Edward III, until they mysteriously disappeared, believed to have been murdered.

The Royal Menagerie held exotic animals gifted to Kings and Queens of England, such as tigers, lions, zebras, alligators, bears and kangaroos.

All of this touring was exhausting, so these three took a much needed break outside while I explored the last few areas around the Tower.

Buckingham Palace: The following day, my mom and I headed out to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.

We arrived early, and chose a spot among the many tourists. Several musical processions led by horse and carriage made their way to the entrance for different shift changes, accompanied by much pomp and circumstance, over a period of about an hour and a half.

Afterwards, we strolled through the expansive grounds in the oldest Royal park in London, St. James’s Park, enjoying the pretty fall colors and abundance of birds and squirrels.

Westminster Abbey: After Buckingham Palace, we passed by the British Parliament, Big Ben (which was under renovation), and the Westminster Abbey. We paid to tour the Abbey, the site of every Coronation since 1066, many Royal Weddings, as well as the final resting place for 30 Kings and Queens. In addition, the Abbey contains tombs and memorials to over 3000 poets, scientists, musicians, and politicians.

We could not take pictures inside, so this is all you get:

British Library: The following day required a bit of down time, so my mom and I took a relaxed trip to the British Library after lunch. The Library holds the world’s largest collection of works, and such famous pieces as the Magna Carta, the Gutenburg Bible, literary works from Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, Jane Austen, and countless others. We finished up our visit with a coffee break at a little Cafe outside the Library and enjoyed the ambiance of a rainy, London afternoon.