Monday, September 28, 2009

Trip to England - Part 3

Mom and I started our Sunday with a quick tube ride to Westminster Abbey for 10 o'clock Matins. Wow! I'm at a loss to describe how beautiful and worshipful the whole experience was! The choir singing Psalms with the stunning organ combined with the amazing acoustics and the lovely stained glass was unlike anything I have ever experienced! If you are ever in London on a Sunday, this is a definite must for church!

After the service, we were able to look around the Abbey for 15 minutes until the next service. Providentially, we were seated in the Poets' Corner, so we were able to see the graves of all sorts of people from Robert Adam to Handel to Dickens to Chaucer to Laurence Olivier! If we ever go back to London, I would love to go back when we have more time to see the whole Abbey.

After the next service started, we were able to look around the Cloisters. We were admiring the non-gargoyliness of the outside of the Abbey. :-) When we were at York Minster 6 years ago, we noticed how many gargoyles they had. I must admit that I prefer Westminster in that regard... ;-)

While Mom was taking a picture, I looked down and noticed this grave. Muzio Clementi is one of my favorite classical composers, so it was a pleasant surprise to notice this!

More lovely stone buildings that are so common in London! I loved all seeing all the different styles of old architecture.

The impressive North Entrance. Silly as it may sound, I was surprised at how enormous Westminster Abbey was. Looking at pictures just doesn't give you the right sense of scale; once you get there and see the Abbey towering above you, it is breathtaking to think of all the work that went into it!

Just across the road, one of the great landmarks of London: Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

The gold detail on it really pops in real life!

Another quintessential London picture. We rode on a few double-decker buses while in London and I would recommend not sitting in the very front right above the driver! When you are on the first level it constantly looks like you will either run into the very close light posts or you will run over the bicyclists riding on the roads! On the second level, it's even worse! I eventually just had to tell myself, "The bus driver has plenty of experience, I'm sure he knows what he's doing!". Of course, it also helps your trust of them if you pay no attention to the newspaper headlines announcing "Bus Smash Injures 6"!!!

We walked past the Houses of Parliament on our way to the Tate Britain (an art museum) and saw this statue of Richard the Lion-Hearted. Shortly after, we were approached by an Italian family who were exclaiming "Bella, bella" and asked us in broken English if they could have their picture taken with us! We've had the request several times when we were in historical clothing, but never on a normal day!

On arrival at the Tate, the woman handing out maps admired our clothes, "loved our style!", and asked if we were designers! Well, in a way.... The Tate was wonderful and lived up to our expectations. They had beautiful portraits from the Tudor period on up and a lovely Pre-Raphaelite collection! They also had a William Blake collection; I can safely say that I'm not a fan!! I had several people come up to me in the Pre-Raphaelite rooms and tell me I looked like I stepped out of one of the paintings. It was rather strange to get so many compliments in one day because in the US, people just look at us like we're nuts!

After the Tate we caught a bus to the Piccadilly area and walked around there. This is Burlington Arcade, built in 1819. Lord George Cavendish, who lived in Burlington House (now the Royal Academy) commissioned his architect, Samuel Ware, to design a covered promenade of shops – unofficially to stop ruffians from throwing quantities of rubbish, in particular oyster shells, onto his property and officially “for the gratification of the public and to give employment to industrious females”. Burlington Arcade also has it's own police force- the Beadles who are all dressed in tailcoats and top hats. All in all, much more charming than your everyday strip mall!

Royal Arcade- smaller, but just as (if not more) charming. Piccadilly has several Arcades, each with their own qualities. Keep your eyes open, though! they are very easy to miss!

Liberty's. This store was built in 1924 and designed to look like a Tudor-era building, inside and out! The detail work everywhere was lovely, but unfortunately the prices were out of the roof! They sell fabric, so we had hoped to buy some, but at £20/metre (approx. $35/yd.) for cotton lawn, that was outside of our budget! Disappointed and hungry (since we skipped lunch), we contemplated tea in their cafe but it was (unsurprisingly) expensive. Enter one of the Riggenbach family quirks- while traveling, we have two objects: to get enough sleep and see lots of fun things. If you'll notice, eating is not included.* So, since it was 3:30, we decided to wait to eat until supper and instead head on to the National Portrait Gallery. Wow!! The NPG was another good choice! Absolutely stunning!! The Tudor gallery alone was worth the trip! While researching for Reformation Day outfits, I have looked at countless pictures and during our trip to London I've been able to see many of them. I now have a huge regard for Hans Holbein. I admired his work online, but the detail of the real paintings is unsurpassed! His attention to every pin and almost every thread also make learning about the way clothes were worn much easier, too.... :-)

After walking through most of the Gallery, our feet were protesting very loudly! So we called it quits and went to a nearby Italian restaurant and enjoyed a delicious meal while sitting down. :-)

After soaking our feet, we went to Courtney's room for a fun evening of toenail painting and chatting. All things considered, a wonderful (if tiring!) day!

Next up: Victoria and Albert Museum and a performance at Shakespeare's Globe!

*Please don't think I'm complaining, on the contrary, I have been raised so well that this is the way I prefer to travel, but we have found that it is terribly uncommon... ;-)


  1. "non-gargoyliness" hehehe

    I would love to see a pic of you gals in the clothes you wore that day... you must have looked darling to get so many compliments☺

  2. Lily,

    Thank you for sharing about your trip. I can't wait to visit with y'all in person and hear all about your travels and adventures.

    Love, Mrs. P.

  3. I haven't even read all of Part 3. I felt the need to skip ahead and simply say, WOW!, with respect to:

    >>>After the service, we were able to look around the Abbey for 15 minutes until the next service. Providentially, we were seated in the Poets' Corner, so we were able to see the graves of all sorts of people from Robert Adam to Handel to Dickens to Chaucer to Laurence Olivier! If we ever go back to London, I would love to go back when we have more time to see the whole Abbey.<<<

    I can't imagine being near so many historic figures of the arts all in one place. I don't want to deify men, but still, that's quite a roll call of talent.

  4. Okay, now that I've read the whole post, I continue to be jealous.

    Also, I know exactly what you mean. Painting my toenails...that is some supremely fun stuff. (Very much joking!)

  5. This American thinks your style of dress is great. Thanks for sharing all these wonderful pictures. I hope to one day get a chance to travel overseas. England would be my first stop.


  6. Here's one thing I regret about America - we don't have as many of those REALLY old buildings!!

    By the way, Persuaded - don't they always look darling??

  7. Persuaded,

    Well, we were wearing our typical vintage-inspired dresses and hats, but this day we added an oh-so-stylish accessory: running shoes! So, I guess if you want to call that darling, you can. For myself, I call it a necessity for hurting feet... ;-D

    Mrs. Pickle,

    We can't wait until y'all make it up here! We've been having a few tea parties this week, and they have been reminding us of the pictures on your blogs of all your lovely parties... :-)