Tuesday, August 23, 2011

London: Day 3 Part I

Day three? Also jam packed (of course)! We spent most of the day at the Tower of London (spoiler alert - it's not just one tower, but like 15 towers). We got there right when it opened to avoid as many lines as possible and went straight for the Crown Jewels since we heard it gets super crowded. No line for us and we were able to go right in. We saw lots of gaudy gold chalices, plates, serving dishes, punch bowls, etc. as well as some royal robes and other royal wear. But the best part was the Crown Jewels. 

The jewels were locked up (they say it's the best security in all of London) in probably six inches of glass. You could go up about three stairs to view and read about each crown, sceptre, sword, ring, and orb from above or you could walk on the moving walkway on either side of the glass case to view them up close. I guess it was smart of them to put in the moving walkway because I could have stayed there for a loooooong time. I made Zach go back through the conveyor belt like four times so I could examine each crown very closely. :) 

My favorite was Queen Victoria's crown she had specially made for her after her husband, Prince Albert, passed away. Since we couldn't take any pictures of the crown jewels you can see official pictures of them here. There was also a diamond there - the Star of Africa - that was 530 carats! I think it had been broken down in to three or so "smaller" diamonds, but they were all still huge!

After that, we went back to the entrance where they have Beefeater tours. They are free, start every hour and are led by the famous Beefeaters. The Beefeaters (also called Yeoman Warders) are the official guard of the Tower of London and the Crown Jewels. They were supposedly called Beefeaters because they were paid in beef for watching over the Queen. The guy we had was really funny and gave lots of good facts. And he was very proud of the Monarchy. He even took us inside this little chapel inside the Tower where a few famous people were buried as well as told us all about the be-headings (including Anne Boleyn) that happened in the courtyard.

The Beefeaters told us about the legend of the Ravens. It's said that if the Ravens ever leave the Tower of London, the Monarchy will fail. They have a Ravens-keeper that watches over the eight Ravens currently at the Tower, and two are kept in cages to make sure they never leave. A little superstitious, are we?

Of course I loved the blue doors they had every where. You know me and doors. And aqua.

Beauchamp Tower (pronounced "Bee-chum" in London, but "Bow-Champ" to my favorite twins!) was another favorite of ours. It was where they kept all the prisoners and the walls were lined with carvings from the prisoners. We were surprised on how perfect and straight their penmanship was!

Next we went to White Tower, which used to be the main castle where the King and Queens lived, but now is the main museum. It was filled with lots of the King's armor and weapons. I'm pretty sure the Hubby liked it more than I did, but it was still fun. 

We spent so much time wandering around the Tower of London. So much to see and so much history. It's interesting to read about it in the history books in class, but when you go there it is so cool to see it come to life and solidify that it actually happened. Here's some more shots from our day at the Tower of London...

These posts take so long I have to split up Day 3... you'll just have to wait. (I know, the suspense will kill you) St. Paul's and our Jack the Ripper London Walk to finish up Day 3 coming soon!

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