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London Journal
March 7 to March 15, 1998

Day Eight: Saturday, March 14

"Go where we may, rest where we will,
eternal London haunts us still ..."
- Thomas Moore-Rhymes for the Road, c.1820

Today, we split up for the entire day. Margie and Martin set out for Westminster Abbey. They toured the Royal Chapels where Martin thought it was interesting that Elizabeth I is buried so near to Mary, Queen of Scots, who was beheaded by Elizabeth's order. Margie called the Abbey "awe-inspiring" and a bigger thrill than the Palace of Westminster. She was moved by the memorial to Sir Winston Churchill and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They then traveled to the London Dungeon, where they witnessed someone being hung, drawn, quartered and disemboweled, someone being guillotined, etc., etc. They were tried before a judge and both sentenced to death for their wrongdoings. They apparently escaped, and were seen lunching at Café Rouge in Covent Garden. After lunch, Margie visited the Cabaret Mechanical Museum (a museum with wooden and metal objects that move at the touch of a button), and Martin hung out in Covent Garden by himself. They then listened to musicians together in Covent Garden, then went home.

While Margie and Martin were enjoying their day in London, Flora, Barry and Melanie took the train from Waterloo Station to Hampton Court Palace. Hampton Court Palace was built by Cardinal Wolsey, one of Henry VIII's advisors (his prime minister, I believe), and when he fell out of favor with the King, Henry took it for his own. A century later, William and Mary moved in, destroyed a large portion of Henry's rooms (they disliked his style) and added their own wings. Hampton Court was supposed to be England's Versailles and touring it reminds one of being at Versailles, although it ranks second to the French palace in opulence and splendor. (The story is that the money ran out.) They toured the Tudor Kitchens, where at least 600 people were fed two meals a day every day, and Henry VIII's State Apartments, including the Chapel Royal, where Henry married his sixth and last wife, Catherine Parr, and where Henry's son, Edward VI, was christened. The Chapel is still in use today. The original Tudor ceilings were magnificent. They then toured the Queen's Apartments, which have a view over the massive gardens, and the King's Apartments, which were damaged by an electrical fire in 1986 and have been beautifully restored. William's enormous gun and weapon collection is displayed in intricate designs on the walls of the Great Room. It is really something to see. They then tried their hand, or I should say, their feet, at the famous Hampton Court maze. Melanie was leading and they solved the
maze in less than five minutes. Unfortunately, they did not realize that they had solved it (you've "done it" when you reach the center--they were looking for a way out). When they realized what had happened, they spent much more time trying to do it again and were unsuccessful. Are they still in there? Thankfully, there is an emergency exit.

Lunch in the Palace café was late, so Flora and Barry opted for a traditional cream tea instead of lunch--fruit scones with clotted cream, jam and a pot of tea.

Upon arriving back at Waterloo, Barry and Melanie bought some bread and returned to St. James Park to feed more ducks, while Flora spent an enjoyable 30 minutes at the Museum of London right before it closed. The museum requires at least two hours, but Flora was able to view the Lord Mayor's Coach on display, among other things.

We enjoyed our last dinner in the flat, then Martin and Flora took the tube to Embankment, crossed the Hungerford footbridge and walked along the south bank of the Thames enjoying the floodlit buildings at night. The tower which houses Big Ben is not particularly beautiful, but after looking at it in pictures for so many years, it is awe-inspiring to be seeing it in person. Martin, though, was unimpressed.


The torture chamber at the London Dungeon

The courtyard at Hampton Court Palace

Barry and friends at Hampton Court