Saturday, April 7, 2018

England 2018, Day 1

My mother and I dropped our bags at the Arriva Hotel near King's Cross and after a quick cuppa at a nearby Costa, we headed to the heart of what Londoners call the City.  We had great difficulty finding our goal, the Temple Church, partly because my phone took us in circles and partly because it was hidden away, but it was awesome once we found it.  It's a late 12th century church, church of England's four ancient societies of lawyers and was built by the Knights Templar as their English headquarters.  We especially enjoyed an exhibit on members of the church who had found (and most of them died) in World War I with moving personal accounts, primarily from letters and diaries.
First we found St. Dunstan's on Fleet Street and a statue of Queen Elizabeth I

The Temple Church was magnificent!  The chancel was designed to recall the holiest place in the Crusaders’ world: the circular Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

I should credit Edward Eager, Sharon Kay Penman, and Elizabeth Chadwick for my interest in Bad King John and William Marshal.   Coming across their stone effigies was almost like seeing old friends (well, maybe not exactly - they didn't show pleasure at seeing moi!).

Traditional entrance of the Temple Church
Many lawyers still have chambers in the vicinity of the Temple Church.  Just yards away in what is known as Dr. Johnson's Building, my mother caught a glimpse of a name eighth from the top that excited her:

Simon Tolkien is the grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien and was an English barrister before moving to California to write full time.  

Our next stop was the British Library, back near the King's Cross.  It's in an attractive modern building which houses the national library of the United Kingdom and holds over 170 million items. 

This stunning six-story tower above houses George III's 65,000 book and 19,000 pamphlet collection in the center of the British Library.   Admittedly, the American view of George III (not helped by his depiction in Hamilton) is not of a devoted reader, but he wanted a collection fit for a king!  It was inspired by a similar structure at Yale's Beinecke Library.

The British Library also contains many intriguing items that are not books.   Two of my favorites were Sir Thomas Wyatt's (focal point of my undergraduate thesis) notebook (rough drafts of sonnets) and an envelope on which Paul McCartney had scribbled the lyrics of Michelle.  No pictures allowed in this very special exhibit!

Finally, we stopped at King's Cross to see Platform 9 3/4 but the line was hideously long so we gave up and went to dinner at a small Italian restaurant nearby. 

Church count: Two
Miles walked: 6.4 according to the Health App on my phone

1 comment:

NCM :) said...

Glad you are having fun!!