We were so excited to hop on a coach with our fellow Trinity companions and head south to the city of Canterbury. Our mission was to visit the Canterbury Cathedral, kind of the mother church of the Anglican/Episcopal Communion. It is the Cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the symbolic leader of the Anglican Communion. Mr C and I love visiting cathedrals. Most of these big cathedrals in the UK were built long ago – the original structure was built in 597 AD. The cathedral went through many incarnations, but the basis of the current cathedral was built in the 15th and 16th centuries. When you look at the magnificent architecture and realize it was built with very primitive tools, you can understand why it took years and years to finish construction.
We were divided into smaller groups and assigned a well-educated docent who led each tour. Here are some photos that I took of the structure and beauty of this place. (Be sure to click on photos to see them larger.)
One of the men in our group asked if there was much stained glass. The guide kind of smiled and said you will see. The stained glass in this cathedral is extensive and beautiful. Here are some examples:
One of the most notable events in the early history of the Canterbury Cathedral was the assassination of Archbishop Thomas Becket.
A pivotal moment in the history of the cathedral was the murder of the archbishop, Thomas Becket, in the north-west transept (also known as the Martyrdom) on Tuesday, 29 December 1170, by knights of King Henry II. The king had frequent conflicts with the strong-willed Becket and is said to have exclaimed in frustration, “Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?” Four knights took it literally and murdered Becket in his own cathedral. After the Anglo-Saxon Ælfheah, Becket was the second Archbishop of Canterbury to be murdered.
The posthumous veneration of Becket made the cathedral a place of pilgrimage. This brought both the need to expand the cathedral and the wealth that made it possible.
After our tour, we spent some time in the city of Canterbury which had a nice array of shops and restaurants. It was a nice day and we enjoyed just sitting and watching people.
I was not quite as active today – pacing myself!! My back was hurting quite a bit so I sat down as often as I could.
On Wednesday of our week in the UK, we had a free day. Mr C had booked a day trip to Stonehenge and Bath before our trip. We took the underground one stop and walked to where we were to meet the coach. We were not sure where we were supposed to be, but a family from Finland told us that we were in the right spot. It was gray and cloudy and rain was in the forecast.
By the time we got to Stonehenge it was raining and very windy. Here is the queue for the shuttle at the welcome center to the location of the stones.
I enjoyed checking out the wild flowers along the path.
Here is the mob of people walking up to the stones in the rain!!
We admired the stones and the ingenuity of the people who put them here.
We got a selfie with the stones in the background. By this time the rain was coming down horizontally.
We went back to the welcome center and perused the displays with all the other folks. The welcome center was very well done and I wish it had not been so crowded so that I could see the displays a bit better. Then, we ate a sandwich lunch before getting back on the bus and off to Bath.
As you can see, it was really raining when we got to Bath. I would like to have been able to see the beautiful countryside bathed in sunlight!
We were warned by our guide that we must be back on the bus by 4pm or we would be left behind and have to spend 30 pounds to take the train back to London. We queued up again at the Roman Baths while she got our group tickets.
We were inside with another mob of people, but at least it was dry. We both enjoyed the baths and the ancient architecture, artifacts and stories.
It was still raining when we left the baths so we ducked into a coffee shop until the rain let up. We decided to check out a marketplace with various vendors. I found a booth that was selling sewing supplies:
I wish I had bought some of the dyes to try.
All of a sudden, it was time to head back to the bus and every street and building looked the same. We knew we needed to get near the cathedral.
We finally found the spot where the bus was supposed to be and there was no bus and we couldn’t find anyone who was on our bus. Slight panic happened. Then we began to see others and the bus finally showed up.
We got back to our underground station and bought some take out and a bottle of wine to take back to the room. We were damp, tired and happy with our rainy adventure. This was my activity for the day.
Tuesday, the coach picked us up and delivered us at the Tower of London. We were met with a chain link fence, cordoning off a construction area.
Mr C and I had toured here a few years ago so I was not enthusiastic about expending energy up and down stairs and to check out the Crown Jewels. We made our way to the entrance and up to a plaza area where I found a bench. It was a beautiful day and I was a bit weary so I decided I would just people watch. I loved this view of the chapel with one of the very avant garde modern buildings in the background.
I also got this photo of one of the ravens that live on the grounds.
Here is a bit of trivia about them:
Legend says that the kingdom and the Tower will fall if the six resident ravens ever leave the fortress. According to the stories, it was Charles II who first insisted that the ravens of the Tower should be protected.
This was against the wishes of his astronomer, John Flamsteed, who complained that the ravens impeded the business of his observatory in the White Tower.
Despite the painless clipping of one wing, some ravens do in fact go absent without leave and others have even been sacked. Raven George was dismissed for eating television aerials and Raven Grog was last seen outside an East End pub.
‘The ravens eat 170g of raw meat a day, plus bird biscuits soaked in blood. They also enjoy an egg once a week, the occasional rabbit (complete with fur) and scraps of fried bread.
I also had a view of the red suited guards who marched back and forth. I had a video of them, but I guess I deleted it.
We also decided to join a Yeoman Warder tour ( also known as Beefeaters). They are very articulate and funny.
He ended the tour in the chapel where we could ask questions. I thought the windows were beautiful.
Then, we were back on the bus and off to the Thames where we had a boat ride to the Westminster Pier. Here is a collage of photos:
We were then on our own. By this time, I was starving and about to hit the wall from exhaustion and jet lag. I will admit to being a bit of a mench!! We found a place for lunch and pondered our next adventure. It was between walking over the bridge and riding on The London Eye that giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames or walking to the National Gallery of London. I opted for the National Gallery and we headed to Trafalgar Square. It was a bit warm and I was still hitting that jet lag wall. We found our priest, Julia, sitting in the square with a friend of the family who works in London. They got up to leave and gave us their seats in the shade. I kept looking at the National Gallery in front of us.
I finally said, I need to go back to the hotel room and take a nap. Mr C was not at all unhappy with this decision. We fell into bed and a deep sleep. We woke feeling refreshed and found a nice place for dinner on High Street. It was the cure for my crankiness.
Here is my activity for Day 2 in London. Taking the Underground will provide you with plenty of flights of stairs!