anne bolyen, armor, british, castle, england, fortress, historic building, historic preservation, historic site, history, london, modern art, monarchs, preservation, richard iii, tate modern, tour, tourism, tower, tower of london, travel
Better late than never on the blog! I’ve had a crazy past month with work, traveling to Utah, and so much more. Back to London:
After a fantastic day traipsing all over London, drooling over David Tennant, and visiting the British Museum, we were out for another day of history and art!
One place in London that I absolutely had to see was the Tower of London – it has so much history! I have to admit, as I walked through, I just touched all of the walls and doors and exposed material possible. People have done that for a thousand years; don’t you judge me. I remember walking down one spiral staircase and just running my hand down the wall the whole way down – I felt up all of the history.
We walked along the Thames through the mist, saw the current London Bridge (I lamented the fact that it is totally lame compared to the Elizabethan version), and finally turned the corner to the ticket queues for the Tower. Along our walk we also got to see St. Paul’s in the day light, walk across the wibbly wobbly Harry Potter bridge, the iconic Tower Bridge, lots of giant boats, barges, and bouys, and even the Globe Theater.
From a museum professional perspective, I do have to say their ticket process is ingenious – the cost of the ticket was, say £17.99; the ticket person asks if you would like to round up to and even £20 with the rest as a donation towards preservation. Duh! We did, of course, and I’m trying to implement the same among my staff.
Moving on, we walked through the gates, past the yeomen warders, and into the heart of 1,000 years of English history. You can read about the entire history elsewhere, but historical highlights for me were: William the Conqueror, Richard III (allegedly) murdering the princes, and Anne Boleyn.
It was a bit crowded while we were there, but it didn’t dampen my excitement. Charles loved the armor and weapons displays, I loved the animal displays and Traitors Gate, and we both loved the cooking demonstration, even though the stag’s head sat there and watched itself being butchered. We didn’t bother with the crown jewels since the line was long, and I had promised Charles time to visit the Tate Modern across the river. Another disappointment was the lack of info torture chamber – the yeoman laughed at me when I asked where it was; something about Americans and their love of violence. The interactives, living history, and touch stations really made a difference, though. Charles and I both tried our arms at the long bow – we weren’t too shabby at it!
Reading about the Tower, I was a bit surprised to find out that sections were torn off that didn’t look “old” or “new” enough. I don’t know why I was surprised since this is a common practice, but it did still hurt my heart a bit. I deal with the same type of things (on a MUCH smaller scale) at my own site, where the historic house has undergone MANY renovations, changes, and owners in its 200 years. What period do you interpret? Can you tell all the stories? What color do you paint the walls – the color from 1200, 1500, or 1850? Should you tear down a building from 1700 in favor of the view from a 1300 building? I don’t have the answers, and I don’t know if there is a right answer. Preservationists – what are your thoughts?
We left the tower to head to the Tate Modern. I originally thought I would write a blog about that, but I enjoyed it so little that I don’t even really want to think about it that much. I saw a Dali, which was ok, and I ate an ok muffin from the cafe. Charles saw a couple things he liked, but over all, it just wasn’t that great. As you know if I read this blog, I have feelings about art museums anyway, so this shouldn’t be a surprise. I have nothing against art, obviously, since I’m engaged to an artist. I like a lot of contemporary art and old art; something about modern art just irks me, though, in general. I like van Gogh? And now I’ve dedicated a whole paragraph to that place. Fin.
From the Tate, we tried to find a place for dinner, which we hadn’t anticipated as a problem, until we realized it was New Years Eve. We went to the Sainsbury’s by the flat, watched the premier of Sherlock on the BBC online, and then headed out to Southbank for the fireworks….