Saturday 29 January 2000 and Sunday 30 January 2000
Highlights: Leicester Square, Tower of London, The Globe Theatre
Firstly jet-lag hit hard with both Jon and myself waking up at 3 am and unable to get back until about 7.30 am. At least we could watch the Australian Tennis Open, the first time I had missed the Tennis Open in 10 years. The hotel room includes a television and full breakfast which we made full use off.
This was my first chance to experience England and I couldn’t wait we were very tired so only visited Leicester Square on the Saturday.
On the Sunday we visited the famous Tower of London. Most people just picture the bridge, but it is actually a Royal Palace. The Tower is actually a mini-city designed to be easily defended from attack so that in times of trouble the King could retreat here.
It has been in use since it was established in 1078. Henry VIII was the King who changed it into a full time prison and execution venue for the ‘crimes’ against the Crown. Executions had occurred before this but it was not the main function. It still held prisoners as late as the 1940s, Rudolf Hess Hitler’s deputy who claimed he was on a peace mission. It was also the centre for British armoury until the 1960s.
The most famous tourist attraction is the Crown Jewels all dating from about 1640 onwards. The reason there is nothing before this date is Oliver Cromwell, who removed the monarchy for a short time (1649-1660), destroyed the earlier jewels.
New coronation jewels are created when the current become either old or no longer the style. For the crowns the diamonds are removed, but other items remain the same. I actually learned a little more about English history and the guided tour is a must.
We moved onto William Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. This theatre is actually a re-creation of the original Globe (1598-1942). This includes it still being open air and performances being held during the day in natural light. This means actors can actually see the audience. Also actors must project their own voice.
The guided tour was again excellent and touched on whether William Shakespeare even wrote the plays. Under the Globe was a fantastic museum and display on his plays and who Shakespeare was. We finished with a few pints in Leicester Square.