Tower of London

Today I was back at my frantic pace. Class this morning was a guest lecture with Matt Wolf, an America theatre critic living in London. His insights were most enlightening and I enjoyed very much what he had to say.

After that I headed out to the Tower of London. My goal – today – see the Crown Jewels. I found my way down to Tower Hill with just a little difficulty.  That tube line is a bit confusing. On the way I passes the University College of London (which seemed redundant).

University College of London

University College of London

Outside the tube station and before you cross over to the Tower (which is not really a tower) there was the remnants of an ancient Roman wall.

Standing with (thought to be) Emperor Trajan of Rome and in front of remains of a wall from about 200 CE

Standing with (thought to be) Emperor Trajan of Rome and in front of remains of a wall from about 200 CE

I crossed over and bought my ticket to enter the impressive fortress known as the Tower of London. I am posting the pictures. They need little description here. I’ve included most of that in the captions.

Looking down what used to be the moat on the right side of the tower as you face the Thames.

Looking down what used to be the moat on the right side of the tower as you face the Thames.

This is the Bell Tower just inside Byward Tower. It is the 2nd oldest tower in the structure and is on the lower easr side closest to the Thames.

This is the Bell Tower just inside Byward Tower. It is the 2nd oldest tower in the structure and is on the lower east side closest to the Thames.

Walkway (referred to as The Water Lane pasr the Bell Tower which is in the front right corner.

Walkway (referred to as The Water Lane past the Bell Tower which is in the front right corner.

White Tower is the center of the fortress. It was begun by William the Conqueror. In the back the Waterloo Barracks.

White Tower is the center of the fortress. It was begun by William the Conqueror. In the back the Waterloo Barracks.

This is Waterloo Barracks near the back of the fortress where the Crown Jewels are kept and my main destination.

This is Waterloo Barracks near the back of the fortress where the Crown Jewels are kept and my main destination.

This the Queen's House. This is a series of row houses begun in 1540. The name changes depending on the gender of the sovereign.  The original Tudor style.

This the Queen’s House. This is a series of row houses begun in 1540. The name changes depending on the gender of the sovereign. The original Tudor style.

This small chapel sits to the side of the Waterloo Barracks.  Built for Henry VIII between 1519 and 1529 it houses many of the remains of those executed on Tower Hill or at the Tower of London. These include Anne Boleyn, Sir Thomas Moore, Lady Jane Grey and Catherine Howard.

This small chapel sits to the side of the Waterloo Barracks. Built for Henry VIII between 1519 and 1529 it houses many of the remains of those executed on Tower Hill or at the Tower of London. These include Anne Boleyn, Sir Thomas Moore, Lady Jane Grey and Catherine Howard.

Baboons on the wall

Baboons on the wall

Just outside the tower is the Tower Bridge (I initially labeled this London Bridge – my mistake.

Front entrance which was originally a wharf.

Front entrance which was originally a wharf.

This is the famed Traiter's Gate which is thought to have been how prisoners accused of treason were brought to the Tower. It was assumed if you came in this way, you were not coming out.

This is the famed Traitor’s Gate which is thought to have been how prisoners accused of treason were brought to the Tower. It was assumed if you came in this way, you were not coming out.

My main objective was to see the Crown Jewels so, I didn’t go into any of the other buildings.  The line to see the exhibit was about an hour long and I had to get back up to central London for my next jaunt. The exhibit though did not disappoint.  (Sorry, again no pictures.) Once you enter the Waterloo Barracks,  there are several rooms with information and history presented in a number of ways. It builds nicely until you come into the first of several rooms with the artifacts that are or have been used in various ceremonies that most important of which is the coronation of the sovereign. You have to realize that no photograph can do these items justice. Displayed in a relatively low light they are dazzling and breathtakingly beautiful. It is difficult to say what I liked best. One item I did not expect to see was the small crown Victoria had made after Albert died that she wore in most of her official portraits and to official functions. It was tiny and very delicate. One item I found amusing was a solid (I assume) gold punchbowl that is three feet across used in the past for the coronation banquet. The ornamentation was incredibly ostentatious. The ladle was similarly sized.

I left the Tower to head back and meet Christina. She wanted to take me to one of her favorite areas of London – Hampstead.  Apparently, Hampstead was at one time a village on the outskirts of London and incorporated into the city. During the early 19th century the romantic poet John Keats lived here during part of his short life. Today the neighborhood is home to the wealthy. It is a picturesque place with beautiful homes and nice shopping judging from the stores I saw. We had dinner in lovely little french restaurant and walked up to Hampstead Heath which is a sizable green space with a terrific view of the city.

Holly Hill house in the neighbor hood of Hampstead.

Holly Hill house in the neighborhood of Hampstead.

A street in the village

A street in the village

House behind a walled enclosure

House behind a walled enclosure

Small body of water in Hampstead Heath

Small body of water in Hampstead Heath

What appears to be lavendar floating in the water

What appears to be lavendar floating in the water

Hampstead Heath natural beauty.

Hampstead Heath natural beauty.

Baptist Church in Hampstead

Baptist Church in Hampstead

I did find the Baptist church an odd thing. It has been a busy day but, it ended lovely with the walk through the heath.