Thursday, September 30, 2010

Two days done

So yesterday I went back to St. Paul's Cathedral (well the first time for this trip, I went there two years ago), then walked down Fleet Street to The Temple Church and then to the Houses of Parliament. St. Paul's is great, but the audio guide last time I was there was much better, so I took the guided tour, which turned out to be a lot of fun. We were able to go into the South Bell tower, where people usually can't go unless they are on the tour. The guide explained things that were not well explained in the audio guide and which had confused me a bit last time. I wanted to stay longer but I wanted to get to the Houses of Parliament before it was too late.

I walked down Ludgate Street, which turns into Fleet Street to The Temple Church (I am fully aware that these names mean nothing to most of you, but I just love saying that I walked down the same streets that I have been hearing references to for years). This is a small church designed after the churches the Crusaders saw in the Holy Land. It has a round section in the south and a more common rectangular sanctuary attached to it.

I decided to go to the Houses of Parliament this time; last time the price seemed too high, given my then current credit card bill. The guide seemed very pro House of Lords, from the way she spoke about the qualifications of the Lords. In case you don't know, Parliament is divided among elected Members of Parliament in the House of Commons and the appointed Lords of the House of Lords. It is interesting to see that where MPs sit is determined by their political affiliation; if they are in the parties that form the government they sit on one side of the room, if they are the opposition they sit on the other, and if they are on neither then they sit on benches in the middle. At one point the guide pointed out a picture of King George III, and said "For all you Americans, there is a picture of the King that generously decided to grant you independence." When the two other Americans and I laughed, she said "What? That's how I learned it in school."

I also went and bought a ticket to The Mousetrap for last night. It was good, but I had a hard time really getting into it. I think that since I have seen it close to 20 times after having designed it, all the mystery is taken away. In case you don't know, this production of the Mousetrap is the longest running production of a show in history. It is in it's 58th straight year and I saw the 24,103rd performance. The seats were awful though, I think the seat are a reason I would not go back to it.

And that brings me to today. I took the train to Canterbury late this morning and got back about 9.30 tonight. I got to the city and went to St. Martins Church, the oldest parish church in Britain at about 1400 years old. At the end of the 6th century the pope sent St. Augustine to England to convert Ethelbert, King of Kent and highest king of the kingdoms south of the Humber river, to Christianity. Ethelbert's wife, Betha, was a Christian and so Ethelbert gave her a church outside the city wall to worship in and from where Augustine and his monks could work. It is a tiny church, but still has sections of the old roman walls from the original building.

I then went to Canterbury Cathedral. Um, how can I put this........WOW!!!!!!! It is probably one of the best churches I have ever been in. I took a guided tour that lasted about 2 hours, but I wished it would have lasted all day (remember, I am a HUGE history geek). This is the Cathedral where St. Thomas Beckett, then Archbishop, was murdered (we had the top of his head chopped off and then his brains removed and smeared across the ground. The cathedral is massive, I could have spent all day there, and I think I might go back and do just that (I am even geeky enough to take a few more tours from different guides, just to get different stories).

Well now I am back in London at my friends' place. I leave tomorrow for Statford-Upon-Avon. I have an orientation on Sunday and classes begin Monday.

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