London: Churches

St Paul’s Cathedral

My feet hurt. When will this feel real?

 

St. Paul’s Cathedral was the first place I went in London. When I exited the Tube station I discovered how tourist friendly London is, there are signs right outside of many Underground stations that point you in the right direction of popular tourist attractions.

 

 

 

I came around the back of the cathedral and this started the trend of my site seeing in London where I came behind the building instead of having my grand entrance.  As I walked along the side of the church I recognize it though I doubted I had identified it correctly. I think I was still processing the fact that I was in London.

 

I sat on the west front steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral and took it all in, in front of me was the Queen Anne Statue. A red double decker bus drove by, the first one I had seen being in London.  Here I sat on steps of a building originally built over 700 years ago and rebuilt many times since then, most recently over 300 years ago after the Great Fire and repaired less than 100 years ago after damage done by the Blitz.

 

 

 

Behind me where the doors that Lady Diana walked through with her long veil to marry Prince Charles.

I eventually made my way inside and was amazed at the beauty, the baroque style and architecture. While inside the church I saw the pulpit where Dr. Martin Luther King performed a sermon. I saw the tomb of Christopher Wren and Alexander Fleming.  It is a truly beautiful building and work on art.

 

 

Westminster Abbey

Beautiful. Historic. Royal.

 

Before going to London most of my knowledge about Westminster Abbey had to do with the royal family. It is where Queen Elizabeth II married Prince Philip and it is where the Queen’s coronation was held. Princess Diana’s funeral was at Westminster Abbey and her eldest son, Prince William and Catherine Middleton were married there.

 

On my first full day in London I saw Westminster Abbey from the London Eye and a couple days later I briefly saw it from the top of a double decker tour bus. I didn’t see it up close until day four of my London adventure.

 

 

 

The church is beautiful, it was my favorite church I went to.  It’s gothic yet elegant and nothing short of spectacular.  I fell in love with this building immediately upon seeing the exterior and I fell more in love as I toured the inside.

 

At first, I had the song Maria from the Sound of Music stuck in my head because of the line “I’ve even heard her singing in the abbey”. Though after turning on the audio guide and hearing Jeremy Irons as the voice of the tour I instantly got Be Prepared from The Lion King stuck in my head the rest of the tour.

Only a few steps into the church I saw the graves of Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton.  Stephen Hawking is going to be buried close to where these other amazing scientist are laid to rest. Walking through Westminster Abbey I was overwhelmed with history, beauty, art, royalty and the powerful need to learn more about everything that was surrounding me.

The coronation chair used for all British and English coronations for the past 700 years is in Westminster Abbey.  It’s an old wooden chair but looking at it it’s more than that, it’s full of history.

 

 

The only place you are allowed to take pictures in Westminster Abbey is in the Chapter House, toward the end of the self-guided tour. The ceiling is covered in beautiful stain glass windows.

 

 

 

 

 

As you leave the Chapter House the oldest door in Britain is to your left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen Mary I, Queen Mary II, and Mary, Queen of Scots are all buried in Westminster Abbey. As well as Anne of Cleves, the fourth wife of Henry VII, she is the only wife of Henry VIII to be buried in the Abbey. Every time I saw the grave effigy of a member of the royal family I was familiar with I was in awe. I was seeing the history right in front of me.

Taking pictures inside wasn’t allowed in either St. Paul’s Cathedral or Westminster Abbey but I don’t need pictures, those memories are staying with me forever.

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