Category Archives: London

Top things to see in the Tower


1.Crown Jewels

As I said in an earlier post, the Crown Jewels at the Tower are magnificent. No photos could ever do them justice, they have to be seen in situ.

 The tradition of coronation in England is well over 1000 years old, but the Crown Jewels at the Tower are more recent. Almost everything in the Jewel House was made after 1660 – the earlier crowns, orbs and sceptres had been destroyed following the abolition of the monarchy in 1649.

 

2.The Ravens

Legend says that  if the six resident ravens ever leave,the kingdom and the Tower will fall. 

It was Charles II who first insisted that the ravens of the Tower shoravensuld be protected. His astronomer, John Flamsteed, complained that the ravens impeded the business of his observatory in the White Tower. Despite their having one wing trimmed, some ravens do in fact go absent without leave and others have had to be sacked. Raven George was dismissed for eating television aerials, and Raven Grog was last seen outside an East End pub.

3.The White Tower

 One of the most famous castle keeps in the world, The White Tower  was built to subdue and terrify Londoners and to deter foreign invaders. It’s an iconic symbol of London and Britain.tol-iconic-white-tower-1

Along with the rest of the Tower complex, the White Tower is one of the most important historic buildings in the world. It’s part of a World Heritage Site and is an example of Norman Architecture. 

The White Tower also houses the magnificent Royal Armouries collections, including the 300 year old exhibition Line of Kings as well as treasures of the Royal Armouries.

There are arms and armour on display including the magnificent royal armours of Henry VIII, Charles I and James II.  

armoury

The White Tower was also used for torture, imprisonment, and execution over the centuries.

Actually, torture was only used in the Tower during the 16th and 17th centuries, and only a fraction of the Tower’s prisoners were tortured. It was never used as a punishment, only a means to get information.

Torture has never been officially permitted under English law. Those who carried out this brutal practice in the Tower acted under the direct orders and authority of the Privy Council and the monarch.RackTowerofLondon

The three main instruments of torture employed at the Tower were the rack, the Scavenger’s Daughter and the manacles.

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Tower Bridge: Some interesting facts


tower-bridge1910 – the high-level Walkways, which were designed so that the public could still cross the bridge when it was raised, were closed down due to lack of use.

1912 – during an emergency, Frank McClean had to fly between the bascules and the high-level walkways in his Short biplane, to avoid an accident.

1952 – a London bus driven by Albert Gunter had to leap from one bascule to the other when the bridge began to rise with the number 78 bus still on it.

1977 – Tower Bridge was painted red, white and blue to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. (Before that, it was painted a chocolate brown colour).

1982 – Tower Bridge opened to the public for the first time since 1910, with a permanent exhibition inside called The Tower Bridge Experience.

 1993 – The Centenary exhibition was opened at the Tower Bridge.

 1994 – The bridge was available for events and parties.

 2002Tower Bridge Exhibition.  was reopened.

Tower Bridge was needed as originally the only crossing for the Thames was London bridge, and as the population grew this became too congested. At this time the east end of London was a thriving port being served by hundreds of boats including Thames Sailing Barges.

(London Bridge was perhaps one of the first bridges built over the Thames, the original wooden version was built about 50 AD.  The most famous version of the bridge that was used in the nursery rhyme was built by King Henry II as part of his penitence for the murder of Thomas Becket by his knights.  Eventually it became saturated with buildings (some 200 by the Tudor period) on top that ultimately proved to be a fire hazard and were torn down after an act of Parliament in the 18th Century.  Another bridge was built in the 19th Century, and when it came time for its replacement, it was sold in 1968 to Robert McCulloch, who had it shipped to Arizona where he rebuilt it).  

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The Coca-Cola London Eye


Eye Pod

Situated on London’s South Bank, it is within easy walking distance from several London Underground stations: Waterloo, Embankment, Charing Cross and Westminster. 

The 32 capsules of the Eye are symbolic of London’s 32 boroughs and are numbered 1 to 33, eliminating the thirteenth carriage for good luck.  The wheel offers some of the greatest panoramic views of the city, on a good day stretching as far as 40 kilometres. 

It stands 135 metres high and is now the Coca-Cola London Eye and is the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel. The experience showcases breathtaking 360-degree views of the capital and its famous landmarks and has been the number one visitor experience in the city for the past decade.

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My Favourite 5 Places to go in London


1. The Tower                                         toweroflondon

One of my earliest memories of London was visiting the Tower, with my sister-in-law when I was a child. The scary ravens on the lawns are said to protect not only the Tower, but London itself. The story goes that if the ravens ever leave the Tower, London will fall. They have lived there for over 200 years and don’t look like going anywhere, thank God!

Continue reading My Favourite 5 Places to go in London

London’s Big Bus Tour


bigbus1

London’s Big Bus Tour company runs 3 different routes around and through the city, offering single or multi day tours, and optional attraction packages. The bus also runs some night tours.

The open-topped, double-decker buses take in almost all the sights and attractions London has to offer with a “Hop-on/Hop-off”  system so you can visit any or all of them as often as you like and stay at each place as long as you like!

With over 50 well placed stops and buses arriving every 10-15 minutes, it couldn’t be easier to see all of London and enjoy  the recorded commentary in 12 different languages.

Check out their video for a sample of one of the tours.

bigbus2

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London- why you must visit


 I LOVE London!london

Have I said it already?   Well I’ll say it again – I LOVE LONDON!

Why? Oh so many reasons, after all these years it still makes me welcome when I visit. Growing up in Essex, and working in London, I got to see quite a lot of the place. And I never get tired of it, I can go there time and time again, see the same sights and still learn something new each time. London has so much to offer visitors, you can spend a few weeks easily wandering from one attraction to another. Guided walking tours are available for those that want something more organised, or you can simply use the hop-on-hop-off bus if you are pushed for time. I find that just walking around is the best way and the new London Wayfinder signs for walkers are excellent.  ll-totem-1wayfinder-sign

The London Underground rail system, (known as “The Tube”) is really easy to use and visitors can purchase a Visitor Oyster Card which offers a 50% discount to cash fares. These can be bought online at Visit Britain Limited, along with a London Pass which gives you free access to 60+ attractions around London, including the Hop-on, Hop-off bus.

The London Pass can be bought for 1, 2, 3 or 6 days use, and attractions include;

  • Tower of London, londonsightseeingboat1 bigbus1
  • Westminster Abbey, 
  • Windsor Castle,
  •  Hampton Court Palace, 
  • Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre,  
  • London Bridge Experience, 
  • Thames River Cruise,
  • Tower Bridge Exhibition,
  • Monument.

There are many guided walking tours, some are free, and some offer self-guided tours. A good starting point when researching is to check out these websites:

Free tours by foot                   Strawberry Tours                 New Europe Tours

Free London Walking Tours         Undiscovered London              London for Free

tower-bridge

Well now we’ve explored ways and means of getting around the city, lets see some of the places worth the effort!  (And these are purely my own experiences and opinions, you may have different ideas of what you like and if so, please share them with us on the comments section).

London Eye              St Paul’s Cathedral              Tower Bridge              Westminster Abbey

Madame Tussaud’s              Hyde Park              Piccadilly Circus              Covent Garden

The Old Cheshire Cheese              Buckingham Palace              Tate Modern

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