Itinerary: East London – St. Paul’s Cathedral, St. Bride’s Church, Fleet Street, Blackfriars Bridge, Millennium Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe, London Bridge, Tower of London, Jack the Ripper tour.
This was such a long, long, long day that I am going to do my best to summarize it as much as possible and just going into the highlights. I planned the day to start at St.Paul’s and by the evening end up at Tower Hill tube for the Jack the Ripper tour.
First there was weekend construction in the Underground and we had to figure out a new route to St.Paul’s Tube station. I really love the huge advertisements they have in the subways. I already saw The Rover and What If in NYC, but if we had more time I would have liked to see what the cinema experience is like in London. I am surprised Daniel’s movie was not titled The F word. I thought it was changed to What If only for the US market?
It’s Harry and Cedric across the hall from each other!
I wish we had these “Stand on the right” signs in NYC. No one hardly ever follows the unspoken rule to stand on the right so people can pass on the left on the escalator. Also, look how clean it is!
So here is where I messed up in my planning a bit. I forgot that on Sunday there are no tours of St. Paul’s Cathedral. We were able to see inside, up until the point where people were seated for mass services. Victoria and I decided to come back another day to do the tour. In the meantime the four of us admired it’s beauty, lit some candles, and I mimicked walking down the aisle like Princess Diana.
Unfortunately no photos are allowed inside. 😦
I like finding surprises like this. We only found 2 during the whole trip. The NYPL, or some organization, should do this to raise money for libraries in NYC.
Bridget Jones’s Diary is right by St. Paul’s. Shakespeare, is of course right near Shakespeare’s Globe.
After St. Paul’s we took a quick detour to see the exterior of St. Brides Church on Fleet Street because it was the inspiration for the Institute in Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices trilogy. So I wanted to see it. We then walked across the Blackfriars Bridge (where Tessa and Jem met once a year).
The early half of this day was so windy and so gray that many of the photos we took are so dreary and my hair is a mess.
That gray, windy morning turned into a downpour. So we made a pit stop into Starbucks for a snack/lunch untill the rain let up. It was a good thing because I really don’t know where else we would have stopped for food. Eventually we were able to continue eastward.
Victoria, Stefan, and I walked across the Millennium Bridge while Daniela waited for us outside the Tate Modern. The bridge was a tiny bit wobbly, and she would not have been comfortable on it. Good thing I never told her what the Death Eaters do the Millennium Bridge in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Finally the sun came out and we got lots of great photos of Tower Bridge, The Shard, and St. Paul’s. On our way back to the Tate Modern side we came across a painter painting and selling these beautiful watercolors on canvas of scenes of London. Only 10 Pounds. I bought one.
Shakespeare’s Globe. Next time I’ll see a play here
We walked across London Bridge, not to be confused with Tower Bridge, and I was being corny and sang the childhood song, “London Bridge is Falling Down.” From London Bridge I got a great shot of Tower Bridge and the H.M.S. Belfast.
Next we took a tour of the Tower of London. It was crazy to think we were on the same land and surrounded by the same walls where many historical people were imprisoned and executed (e.g. Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey, and Sir Walter Raleigh). Of course it was a fortress before it was a prison.
The Crown Jewels are on display inside one of building within Tower of London. No photos :(. I got to see the crown Queen Elizabeth II wears when she opens Parliament. The pearls that dangle on it are rumored to have been Queen Elizabeth I’s earrings.
There was also a small silver spoon, which I thought was used as a utensil for the coronation dinner. It is actually used to anoint the king or queen with oil that has been blessed. The oil is then poured on their hands, head and chest.
This is the prettiest shot I took of the Tower of London.
Tower Green, where Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, and Lady Jane Grey were beheaded. Looks nice today. Can you imagine the crowd and the scene of an execution back then? *shudders*
After some good Italian food for dinner we went to Tower Hill station to meet our Jack the Ripper tour guides. We were such a big group we were split into 3 groups of about…30 people I would guess. Our guide’s name was Simon Whitehouse. He was very good, informative and had a good sense of lightheartedness to break up the seriousness of the subject.
I can write an entire post about everything I learned during the Jack the Ripper tour. It was a 2 hours long and fascinating to learn about London history during that time, the details of the case, and the theories people have had about who was Jack the Ripper.
Here is some I remember in a nutshell.
-the animosity and refusal to share information between the Metropolitan Police and City Police. The City Police worked within the city walls. One murder occurred there. The others happened outside the boarder, in Whitechapel (Metropolitain Police a.k.a. Scotland Yard).
-evidence that was washed away, such as blood of one of the victims, and at another scene graffiti that read “The Juwes are the men that will not be blamed for nothing”. It was never known if the graffiti was already in the alley or if The Ripper wrote it himself. The Commisioner of the Metropolitin police, Sir Charles Warren, ordered the message rubbed out because he was afraid of anti-semtic riots.
This is where that alley used to be. Now there is a building. Do you think it is haunted?
-there were many Irish and Jewish immigrants. Because of anti-Irish sentiments and anti-semitism many Londoners suspected either an Irishman or a Jewish man was the killer.
-There was also was, and still is a visual, a difference between the City of London and East London. The City of London is built up with some skyscrapers. You can see The Gherkin (a commercial skyscraper in London’s primary financial district.) But as soon as you cross a street that is outside the boundary, an invisible wall, many of the houses are old. Some still standing from the Jack the Ripper days. They’re poorer. There is graffiti. It is a doggy had I not been with a large group of people, I would have been too scared to be there at night.
The graffiti outside the City of London was actually pretty ugly and just a lot of tagging. But this lone one was odd and artistic:
I am just going to share a few more details. This is getting to be a long entry.
I forgot the actual name, but this church was nicknamed ‘The Prostitutes’ Church”. Prostitutes had an understanding with the City Police that as long as they kept moving, and didn’t just stand around, they could solicit customers here.
One of Jack’s victims, Catherine Eddowes, was released from custody of the City Police. She was locked up overnight to sleep off her intoxication. After her released she was last seen around this church, and speaking to a man believed to be Jack the Ripper. She was next found dead and ripped apart in a square a short walking distance away.
This building used to be a logging where many of the prostitutes would sleep, once they made enough money to rent a room. Or if there were no rooms left, you could sleep in the hallway, standing up against a rope. This was the entrance for the women, as you can see by the sign that survived to today. I can’t remember what Simon said that the building is actually used for today.
I know it’s depressing and grim, and it certainly is, being about gruesome deaths and a serial killer who was never caught, but it was also a great look into history. I learned a lot about the history of London on this tour and was glad we went on it. Makes you think, what kind of historic events took place hundreds, or thousands of years before in your city?