Being an avid fan of British Monarchy and Alison Weir's books on the subject, the Tower holds a wealth of historical information.   What I had read about was now more than words in a book.   If you love looking to the skies you may be interested to know that the first Royal Observatory was housed in the north eastern turret of the White Tower.   This photograph shows the site where seven famous people met a grisly end.   Other famous 'guests' included Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, the Bishops Fisher and Cranmer and in more recent years the Tower housed Rudolf Hess.   The placard above reads:

Queen Anne Boleyn (19 May 1536)
Second wife of Henry VIII
Margaret, Countess of Salisbury (28 May 1541)
Last Plantagenet Princess
Queen Katherine Howard (13 Feb 1542)
Fifth wife of Henry VIII
Jane, Viscountess Rochford (13 Feb 1542)
Wife of Anne Boleyn's brother
Lady Jane Grey (12 Feb 1554)
Uncrowned Queen of 9 days
Robert Devereux (25 Feb 1601)
Earl of Essex
Lord Hastings was also beheaded near the spot in 1483

The Scaffold

The Chapel
This is the chapel of St John the Evangelist, in the White Tower; it is almost untouched and a perfect Norman chapel.   The chapel was for the sole use of the Monarch and her/his court.   I was amazed at how small some of the doorways were and how very narrow the stairways were constructed allowing only one person going in one direction at a time.

In the medievel church of St Peter ad Vincula, lie the remains of:

Lord Guildford Dudley (1554)
Lady Jane Grey (1554)
Henry Grey Duke of Suffolk (1554)
Thomas Howard 4th Duke of Norfolk (1572)
Philip Earl of Arundel (1595)
Robert Devereux Earl of Essex (1601)
Sir Thomas Overbury (1613)
Queen Anne Boleyn (1536)

Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula

The Queen's House
The Queen's House was built around 1530 and possibly replaced a medieval constable's house.   Originally it contained a spacious hall 2 stories high.   The Council Chamber was created when a floor was added to the upper part of the hall.   Anne Boleyn spent the last days of her life is a tiny room in the north wing.

The western rampart is known as Elizabeth's walk.   Next to it stood the house where Lady Jane Grey lived as a prisoner.   It was from the windows of that house that she saw her husband escorted from the adjoining Beauchamp Tower to his execution on Tower Hill.   She then witnessed his headless body being brought back for burial in the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula.

Well what can one say?   Looks uncomfortable, yes, even chilly in the winter.   Not where one would go to read.   There is no toilet paper holder...or toilet paper for that matter.   But it was still a potty nonetheless, which in my opinion, is better than no potty at all.
The Loo, Tudor Style

The Tower Ravens
Myth and legend surrounds the ravens in the Tower.   Exactly when they took up residence, is not known.   It is said that six ravens must remain at the Tower or the Monarchy will fall.   Legend has it that John Flamsteed (1646 - 1719), the 'astronomical observator', complained to King Charles II that the birds were interfering with his observations.   So the King ordered their destruction only to be told that if the ravens left the Tower, the White Tower would fall and a great disaster would befall the Kingdom.   With that bit of information in mind, the King recinded his order and decreed that at least six ravens should be kept at the Tower at all times to prevent possible disaster.   There are seven ravens in the Tower today - they have a spare just in case.   The ravens are kept from flying away by having their wings clipped.   One of the ravens was unconcernedly sitting on the railing at the top of one of the stairs.   The loads of visitors walking right up to him, didn't faze him one bit.

The ravens consume 6oz. of raw meat and bird formula biscuits soaked in blood each day.   They are very partial to an egg each, once a week plus the occasional rabbit which is given to them whole as the fur is good for them!   Mmmmm...

Westminster Abbey was also a place that I had promised myself I would visit the next time I was in Britain.   It isn't a regular church by any means.   Westminster Abbey is an architectural masterpiece of the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries as well as a historical diary of British history.

Inside the Abbey there is: the Confessor's Shrine, the tombs of Kings and Queens, and countless memorials to the famous and the great.   Since 1066 every Coronation has taken place there and as have other royal occasions.   It is still in use today for those who wish to worship there.   Neither a cathedral nor a parish church, Westminster Abbey is a 'royal peculiar' under the jurisdiction of a Dean and Chapter, subject only to the Sovereign.

These monarchs are buried next to the High Alter and near the shrine of St Edward.
King Edward the First (1239-1307)
King Henry the Third (1207-1272)
King Henry the Fifth (1387-1422)

Westminster Abbey

Tomb of Elizabeth the First
The Lady Chapel consists of a nave and two aisles.   It was built by King Henry the Seventh between 1503 and 1519.   It is the home of the Order of the Bath, one of Britain's orders of chivalry.

Two of my favourite Monarchs are buried here among others.   As I have read so much of both of these women, I was thrilled to be in the very room where they had been laid to rest.

Queen Elizabeth the First (1533-1603)
Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1587)

Elizabeth's half-sister, Mary I, is also entombed within.   Mary Queen of Scots has an elaborate tomb in the south aisle erected by her son James I (who was himself buried beside Henry VII).   So many Kings and Queens all together - it's a history buff's dream come true!

To my disappointment, picture taking was not permited in the Abbey.   Even post cards in the Abbey shop didn't have pictures of Elizabeth and Mary's tombs.   Therefore, the two pictures of the Queen's tombs were nicked off the internet.   Many thanks to the people at Westminster Abbey!

The heart of the Abbey is the Shrine which is behind the Altar Screen.   It contains the body of St Edward the Confessor.   There is some question as to what kind of person Edward was.   After his death, he was the object of a religious cult and was canonized in 1161, but that could be viewed as a strictly political move.   It is said that he was a weak, but violent man and that his reputation for saintliness was overstated, possibly a sham perpetrated by the monks of Westminster in the twelfth century.   Others seem to think that he was deeply religious man and a patient and peaceable ruler.   The mosaic pavement dates from c. 1268.   It is here that coronations, royal weddings and funerals take place.

Tomb of Mary, Queen of Scots

Waterloo Station
Waterloo is the UK's largest station, covering an area of 24.5 acres.   One of the most notable features of the station is the Victory Arch, in Portland Stone, which commemorates the London and South Western and the Southern Railway men who gave their lives in the First and Second World Wars.   It is from this station that the EuroStar train can be boarded to cross the Chunnel towards Paris.   The travel time between London and Paris is a mere 3 hours.   For those that don't cherish the English Channel part of the voyage, be happy to know that it lasts only 20 minutes.

More of London awaits.

Exploring London

London Page 3

Exploring Yorkshire

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