Yesterday we spend the day along with hoards of others, invading the rich 'palaces' of London's rich past and present.Lot's of photos (taken with my phone) and a few brief words about our day . . .
Arriving at the old West India Dock on a misty, grey morning
A magnificent inscription . . . I loved the emphasis given to certain words, its voice speaks across the centuries
The view behind us towards Canary Wharf, in the past 20 years the derelict docks have been transformed into London's high rise, high tech, commercial centre. The arch-shaped structure bottom left is the roof of the new Crossrail station and the building whose pyramid-shaped top is lost in the mist, is One Canada Square (usually just called 'Canary Wharf as it was the first tower in the development to be built) and where we were heading
We had been very lucky to get pre-booked tickets for a tour up to near the top of One Canada Square, first to the Marketing Suite on the 30th floor, where we saw some incredible architectural models of the whole site's development - past and future. And then up to the Level 39 which is the home to technology start-up business and is very cool. Photos weren't allowed, which was a shame.
We were allowed to take photos out of the windows . . .
The Thames and the City spread out before us in the grey mist
Another view of the new Canary Wharf Crossrail Station, it's shape is inspired by a ship in dock and will include a roof garden
Other things I loved in One Canada Square but couldn't photograph . . . the sculptures in the foyer by Bridget McCrum and the amazing flower arrangements!
Moving on . . .
Next stop was The Guildhall where we hoped to join a walking tour. Sadly the first-come-first-served system meant all places for the whole day had been snapped up within minutes of the 10am kick-off!
Nevertheless, there was lots to see, firstly we went into the Guildhall Art Gallery to see the Roman Amphitheatre which is in the basement. On the way downstairs we also saw Magna Carta.
We then crossed the square and went into the Guildhall itself, here's the magnificent Great Hall - the entrance guarded by the giants Gog and Magog
In this huge space Mayor Dick Whittington held a banquet for Henry V . . . I wonder if his cat was invited to the party?
Monuments to 'British Heroes' line the walls . . . here is a very sad British Lion and Britannia mourning the death of Lord Nelson, while a lady with nice handwriting writes up a list of his victories on a board
And here is Pitt the Elder surrounded by symbols of his illustrious career, there's Britannia again with a very fluffy British Lion and a bee skip (skep) to represent 'industry' and 'hard work'.
Down in the crypt the stained glass windows, designed in the 1970s, depict different Livery Companies. This one is for the Gardeners' Company, whose motto is -
In the sweat of thy brows shalt thow eat thy bread
(a quotation from the Bible, Genesis Chapter 3 verse 19)
After a snack eaten perched on a seat in Guildhall Square, we were off again . . . heading down Throgmorton Street with a glimpse in the distance of what was once London's tallest building Tower 42
Just past the clock in the the photo above is Drapers' Hall, along with everyone else we weren't prepared for the magnificence within!
There's Her Majesty looking down on the masses gawping at the splendour of the Drapers' HQ
The furnishings, furniture, illuminated charters and paintings were splendid! Former Drapers' Company members' wives and children depicted in their best frocks
We were allowed to sit on the sofas in the Drawing Room, wouldn't it be a lovely place for Afternoon Tea?! Sadly no scones appeared
Back out in the City streets and alleys . . . I love these wall plaques marking the Wards of the City of London
We headed towards the river, down Pudding Lane and past The Monument marking the place where the spark in a bake house ignited the Great Fire of London.
In Lower Thames Street we went in The Customs House, the latest of many Customs Houses to occupy this site for nearly 2000 years! and still the home of HM Customs and Revenue today. It was interesting to see the offices and displays inside but very crowded and hot so we didn't stay too long.
On Tower Hill, there's the ancient church of All Hallows by the Tower now dwarfed by the new giants of London's skyline . . . The Walkie-Talkie, The Cheese Grater and The Gherkin . . . Londoners' sense of humour survives in the 21st Century!
And across the water on the south bank of the Thames is The Shard . . . an is currently the tallest building in Europe
The Tower of London guards the entrance to the City as it has for centuries . . . those life-like lions were made from chicken wire by artist Kendra Haste
Before heading home we joined the crowds of people looking over the Tower moat at Blood Swept Land and Seas of Red the installation of ceramic poppies to commemorate the dead of WWI . . . each one of the 888,246 poppies mark a British military fatality in the 1914-1918 conflict. A time to stop and think a while.
London never fails to surprise and astound.