London, England. October 7, 2006 – What do Edward the Confessor, Geoffrey Chaucer, Queen Elizabeth, Isaac Newton, Charles Dickens, King George II, and Laurence Olivier have in common? TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re all buried in Westminster Abbey of course, and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s where todayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s tour started. But first we had a very nice breakfast at The Pearl within the grounds of the Chancery Court hotel, our home base in London. The inside of The Pearl is decorated with about a bazillion fresh water pearls, which I must admit is quite impressive.
Once breakfast was done we headed out toward Westminster Abbey. We made our normal squiggly route, which is about the closest you can come to a straight line in the maze of one way streets that make up London. Eventually we arrived, driving under Big Ben, and past the House of Parliament.
The grounds of the Abbey are quite interesting. The first chapel was dedicated in 1065, and have been expanded many times since then. The whole grounds are surrounded by various church buildings including two public schools (in the UK a public school is actually a private school). Inside there are of course no pictures allowed, so none to post here, but just a few of the things we saw were the tomb of the unknown soldier, (the only tomb you are not allowed to walk on), the coronation throne, the burial sites of several kings and queens, and those of many poets and great writers including Geoffrey Chaucer, Lewis Carol, and Charles Dickens. Indeed in many ways the entire history of England since the Norman invasion can be seen walking thru Westminster Abbey.
Once we had finished off the Abbey we walked up to see the changing of the horse guard. From there we went up thru St. James Park to Buckingham Palace. This is more of BeciÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sort of place than mine. I can admire the architecture and the grounds, but the fact that kings and queens lived (and live) there doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seem to do anything for me. It is a lovely little house though. Plenty of room for a big screen TV in there I assure you.
After a lovely high tea at a nice place around the corner from the QueenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s house we came back to the Hotel for a bit of a rest. Some people went out to Harrods or a local museum. Some took naps. Some wrote bits of blog entries. The break was well needed, because it would be a long night.
Well rested we headed out to Soho for dinner. We were taken to a very exclusive very private club (Soho house) where we had a great family style dinner right across from the Palace Theatre. Once dinner was done we crossed the street and went into the Theatre for our showing of Mary Poppins. The show was fantastic. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s based on a combination of the books and the Disney movie, so you get a few extra scenes, and a bit of changes in place of some of the movie bits that would be difficult or impossible to enact in a theatre. It was a tremendous show, and we followed it up with a short tour back stage where we got to see how the sets are manipulated.
All in all, a tremendous day. Tomorrow, The Tower of London.