London, England: Sep 15-18, 2019

Updated: Mar 6

Activities and locations included in this blog:

  • Buckingham Palace

  • St. James Park

  • 'The Comedy About a Bank Robbery'

  • Drinks in SoHo at Rupert St bar

  • Thames River Run

  • The British Museum

  • 'The Mousetrap'

  • St. Paul's Cathedral

  • 'The Woman in Black'

  • Westminister Abbey


This wasn't our first trip to London; we had stopped here briefly in 2013 as part of our trip to Edinburgh and Switzerland.


Day 39

Our AirBnb was located in the Hammersmith neighborhood, an incredibly convenient location for getting in and out of the city. After dinner we decided to walk and get a feel for the neighborhood.


The Hammersmith Bridge, opened in 1887, was indefinitely closed in April 2019 as a result of “critical faults” found by safety sensors. It was closed to all motorists including buses but remains open to pedestrians and cyclists.

The Hammersmith Bridge in London opened in 1887

A great sunset along the Thames taken from the bridge.

Sunset along the Thames in Hammersmith neighborhood in London

Day 40

  • Buckingham Palace

  • St. James Park

  • 'The Comedy About a Bank Robbery'

  • Drinks in SoHo at Rupert St bar

It doesn't matter how many times you visit London, it great to walk around Buckingham Palace and the surrounding parks.


Wellington Arch, one of London’s best-known landmark, was built in 1825–1827 and was originally intended to be located at an entrance to Buckingham Palace. At first it stood facing the Hyde Park Screen, but it was moved to its present position in the 1880s. Its original design was never completed and a controversial giant statue of the Duke of Wellington was erected on top of it in 1846. After public protest the 'ugly' statue was removed and in 1912 was replaced with the quadriga (ancient four-horse chariot) sculpture that still crowns the arch today.

Wellington Arch, one of London’s best-known landmark, was built in 1825–1827

The Victoria Memorial to Queen Victoria was designed in 1901, unveiled in 1911, but not completed until 1924. It was the centerpiece of an ambitious urban planning scheme, which included the creation of the Queen’s Gardens and the refacing of Buckingham Palace.


At the top stands a gilded bronze Winged Victory, standing on a globe with a victor's palm in one hand. Near the base, a statue of the Queen sits facing the city. At nearly 82 ft it is the tallest monument to a King or Queen in England.

Gilded bronze Winged Victory statue on top of the Victoria Memorial in London completed 1924

At each corner of the monument is a massive bronze figure. Below are pictures of the statues representing Progress (a nude youth holding a flaming torch) and Peace (a female figure holding an olive branch). I didn't take pictures of the other two statues.

Massive bronze statues representing Progress a youth holding a flaming torch at the Victoria Memorial in London
Massive bronze statues representing Peace, a female figure holding an olive branch at the Victoria Memorial in London

The building at the core of today's Buckingham Palace was originally known as Buckingham House, a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703. It was acquired by King George III in 1761 as a private residence for Queen Charlotte. During the 19th century it was enlarged with the construction of three wings around a central courtyard. Buckingham Palace became the London residence of the British monarch on the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837.

Buckingham Palace was originally known as Buckingham House, a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703

We walked to St. James Park and found a couple of chairs to relax in the sun and enjoy the perfect weather. Luckily, the chairs were located near a pastry vendor.

Walking toward Piccadilly Square, we came upon the Guards Crimean War Memorial which commemorates the Allied victory in the Crimean War of 1853–56. The monument was unveiled in 1861 and consisted of the statues of three Guardsmen, with a female figure referred to as Honor. The bronze statues were made from melted down cannons captured at the siege of Sevastopol.

Guards Crimean War Memorial in London which commemorates the Allied victory in the Crimean War, bronze statues made from melted down cannons
Female bronze statue referred to as Honor atop the Guards Crimean War Memorial in London

Once in Piccadilly Square we searched for tickets to an afternoon show.

Piccadilly Square in London

It was an easy choice - 'The Comedy About a Bank Robbery'. The show, which is set in 1950s America, centers on a plot to steal a precious diamond from a small-town Minneapolis bank. As expected, complications quickly develop and things don’t go according to plan.

Theatre marquee for 'The Comedy About a Bank Robbery' play in London’s Piccadilly Square

Dave ran to a candy store and bought some snacks before the show started.

It was a fun show with plenty of laughs. Afterwards we stopped at a few bars on Rupert St.

Rupert Street gay bars in London

After quenching our thirst, we took the tube back to Hammersmith and enjoyed a home cooked meal. It was a great first day in London.

Hammersmith underground tube stop sign

Day 40

  • Thames River Run

  • British Museum

  • 'The Mousetrap'

It was a perfect morning for a run along the Thames. As usual, Dave ran further (5 miles; left screen shot) than I ran (4.17 miles; right screen shot).

Even though it was mostly overcast, it was great to view SW London from the river banks.

Boats along the Thames in Hammersmith Neighborhood of London

During breakfast we decided to see a second show and purchased tickets for Agatha Christie's 'Mousetrap', but our first stop today was the British Museum.


The British Museum

The British Museum is a public institution dedicated to human history, art, and culture. Its permanent collection of some eight million works is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence, having been widely sourced during the era of the British Empire.


The museum was established in 1753, largely based on the collections of the Irish physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane. It first opened to the public in 1759, in the Montagu House, which sat on the site of the current building. Its expansion over the following 250 years was largely a result of expanding British colonization.

Main entrance to the British Museum in London

In 1998, the departure of the British Library to a new site created the opportunity to redevelop the vacant space in Robert Smirke's 19th-century central quadrangle. The new area which opened in 2000 is now referred to as the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court – the largest covered square in Europe.


The original 1753 collection has grown considerably. Altogether the British Museum showcases less than 1%, or approximately 50,000 items, of its entire collection. There are nearly one hundred galleries open to the public, representing two miles of exhibition space.

Queen Elizabeth II Great Court in The British Museum – the largest covered square in Europe

The roof is a glass and steel construction built by an Austrian steelwork company with 1,656 uniquely shaped panes of glass.

Glass roof over the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court in The British Museum

In 1753, the British Museum was the first of a new kind of museum – national, belonging to neither church nor king, freely open to the public and aiming to collect everything. However, its ownership of some of its most famous objects who originate in other countries is disputed and remains the subject of international controversy, most notably in the case of the Elgin Marbles of Greece and the Rosetta Stone of Egypt.


The Rosetta Stone is inscribed with three versions of a decree issued in Egypt in 196 BC during the Ptolemaic dynasty on behalf of King Ptolemy V Epiphanes. The top and middle texts are in Ancient Egyptian using hieroglyphic and Demotic scripts respectively, while the bottom is in Ancient Greek. The decree has only minor differences between the three versions, making the Rosetta Stone key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs.


In 1801, after the defeat of the French forces under Napoleon at the Battle of the Nile, Egyptian antiquities including the stone were collected, confiscated, and shipped by the British army to London. It has been on public display at the British Museum almost continuously since 1802.

The Rosetta Stone on public display at the British Museum almost continuously since 1802

The museum houses the world's largest and most comprehensive collection of Egyptian antiquities (with over 100,000 pieces) outside the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Active support by the museum for excavations in Egypt continued to result in important acquisitions throughout the 20th century until changes in antiquities laws in Egypt led to the suspension of policies allowing finds to be exported. The seven permanent Egyptian galleries at the British Museum are only large enough to display 4% of the museum's Egyptian holdings.


The colossal red granite statue of Amenhotep III is a granite head of the 18th Dynasty ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep III. Dating from around 1370 BC, the statue is just one of the huge number of statues that he had ordered to be built in ancient Thebes (Luxor).

The colossal red granite statue of Amenhotep III in the British Museum in London.  9 feet tall weighing 14500 pounds

The head is over 9.5 feet tall and weighs approximately 14,500 pounds.

The colossal red granite statue of Amenhotep III in the British Museum in London.  9 feet tall weighing 14500 pounds

The largest Egyptian sculpture in the museum represents one of Egypt's greatest kings - Ramesses II, 'ruler of rulers', who reigned through most of the 13th century BC. The colossal granite head from the Ramesseum mortuary temple in Thebes depicts the 19th Dynasty (1270 BC) Pharaoh Ramesses II wearing the Nemes head-dress with a cobra diadem on top. The damaged statue has since lost its body and lower legs. It is one of a pair that originally flanked the Ramesseum's doorway. The head of the other statue is still found at the temple.

The largest Egyptian sculpture of Ramesses II in The British Museum originally flanked the Ramesseum's doorway

The Gebelein predynastic mummies are six naturally mummified bodies which date to approximately 3400 BC. The well-preserved bodies were excavated in the 19th century from shallow sand graves near Gebelein in the Egyptian desert.

The Gebelein predynastic mummies date to approximately 3400 BC in The British Museum

Large stone sculptures and reliefs were a striking feature of the palaces and temples of ancient Assyria (modern northern Iraq). The winged human-headed lions (lamassu), standing over 11 ft tall, flanked an entrance to the royal palace of King Ashurnasirpal II (883–859 BC). The lamassu were often placed at gateways to ancient Mesopotamian palaces to protect them from demonic forces.

In The British Museum is a winged human-headed lions (lamassu) flanked an entrance to the royal palace of King Ashurnasirpal II

The British Museum houses more than 140 Egyptian mummies and caskets, but due to space and preservation restrictions only a select few are on display. It is the largest collection of mummies outside Cairo.

Egyptian mummy and casket on display at The British Museum
Egyptian mummy on display at The British Museum

The British Museum Department of Greece and Rome has one of the world's largest and most comprehensive collections of antiquities from the Classical world. These range in date from the beginning of the Greek Bronze Age (about 3200 BC) to the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine I in 313 AD.


The Parthenon (438-432 BC) was built as a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena. The temple's great size and lavish use of white marble was intended to show off the city's power at the height of its empire. The Parthenon Marbles also known as the Elgin Marbles are a collection of Classic Greek marble sculptures from the east pediment of the Parthenon,


The sculptures were removed in 1805 by Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, in an attempt to save them from further degradation. However, the British Museum’s possession of the Elgin Marbles, as they came to be called, is very controversial. Elgin claimed to have obtained an official decree in 1801 from the central government of the Ottoman Empire which ruled Greece. This decree has never been found in the Ottoman archives despite its wealth of documents from the same period.

On display in The British Museum are the Parthenon Marbles also known as the Elgin Marbles are a collection of Classic Greek marble sculptures from the east pediment of the Parthenon
On display in The British Museum are the Parthenon Marbles also known as the Elgin Marbles are a collection of Classic Greek marble sculptures from the east pediment of the Parthenon
On display in The British Museum are the Parthenon Marbles also known as the Elgin Marbles are a collection of Classic Greek marble sculptures from the east pediment of the Parthenon

Colossal statues (over 9 feet tall) of a man and a woman, from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, are traditionally identified as Artemisia II and Mausolus. Mausolus was King of Caria (377–353 BC) located in present day Turkey. He is best known for the monumental shrine, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, erected and named for him by order of his widow (who was also his sister) Artemisia. The Mausoleum, which was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is so impressive that the word 'mausoleum' is now used for many monumental tombs.

play in The British Museum are colossal statues (over 9 feet tall) of a man and a woman, from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

For height comparison, Dave is 6 feet tall.

On diOn display in The British Museum a colossal statue of Mausolus, King of Caria (377–353 BC) located in present day Turkeys.  Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.

The famous version of the 'Crouching Venus' (1st century AD).

On display at The British Museum the famous version of the 'Crouching Venus' (1st century AD).

From the British Museum Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, Hoa Hakananai'a is a moai statue carved by the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island between the years 1250 and 1500. Typical of these statues, Hoa Hakananai'a features a heavy brow, blocky face with prominent nose and jutting chin, nipples, thin, lightly angled arms down the sides and hands reaching towards the stomach.

On display in The British Museum Hoa Hakananai'a a moai statue carved by the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island between the years 1250 and 1500

The double-headed serpent is an Aztec sculpture (1400-1500 AD) made of cedro wood and covered with mosaic made of turquoise and red thorny oyster shell. The teeth in the two open mouths are made from conch shell.

On display in The British Museum an Aztec sculpture (1400-1500 AD) made of cedro wood and covered with mosaic made of turquoise and red thorny oyster shell

Turquoise Mosaic Mask, Mixtec-Aztec, Mexico, 1400-1500 AD.

On display in The British Museum a turquoise Mosaic Mask, Mixtec-Aztec, Mexico, 1400-1500 AD

These statues were made by the Huastecs, a people conquered by the Aztecs in about 1450. Goddess statues like this were erected throughout Huastec territory and were the main focus of their religion. After the conquest nearly all objects bearing Nahua, the language of the Huastec, were destroyed. As a result, extremely little is known about the Huastec and their culture; we still do not know who these goddess depict.

On display in The British Museum statues made by the Huastecs, a people conquered by the Aztecs in about 1450

From the British Museum Department of Asia. A life-sized glazed pottery sculpture of a luohan (historic disciples of Buddha) dating to the period of the Liao Dynasty (907–1125). The luohans were discovered in caves at I Chou, south of Beijing, before World War I. They have been described as "one of the most important groups of ceramic sculpture in the world. The circumstances of the find and the subsequent events as to how the figures reached the art market have been the subject of much scholarly investigation.

On display in The British Museum a life-sized glazed pottery sculpture of a luohan (historic disciples of Buddha) dating to the period of the Liao Dynasty (907–1125)

The figurines below were buried in the tomb of the Tang general Liu Tingxun, who died at he age of 72 in 728 AD. The figurines are among the tallest known to have survived from this era. In the back are two Buddhist guardians; in front are two earth spirits. These figures were created to serve and protect Liu Tingxun in the afterlife.

On display in The British Museum figurines below were buried in the tomb of the Tang general Liu Tingxun, who died at the age of 72 in 728 AD

From the British Museum Department of Britain, Europe, and Prehistory. After watching a BBC documentary on the Sutton Hoo archeology sight, I headed straight to the Sutton Hoo and Europe gallery.


Sutton Hoo lay within the kingdom of East Anglia (today the region of Suffolk and Norfolk). It is the site of two early medieval cemeteries, from the 6th and 7th centuries. Archaeologists have been excavating the area since the 1930s, but it was the discovery in 1939 of an undisturbed ship that dates from around 600 AD that profoundly exploded the myth of the 'Dark Ages'.


The wealth and quality of the burial objects had never been seen before in Britain and gave a vivid insight into the life of the Anglo-Saxon elite. It caused historians to re-assess the idea of a primitive 'Dark Age' that followed the end of Roman rule. The burial objects demonstrated that Anglo-Saxons were capable of great sophistication and had a network of international contacts beyond Britain itself.


The ship-burial discovered under Mound #1 contained one of the most magnificent archaeological finds for its size and completeness, far-reaching connections, and the quality and beauty of its contents. Although practically none of the original timber survived, the form of the ship was perfectly preserved. Stains in the sand had replaced the wood and preserved many construction details. Nearly all of the iron planking rivets were in their original places. Using the 'sand casting' of the ship, it was measured to be 89 feet long. In the center of the ship was a chamber containing a collection of gold and silver brooches and other rich grave goods, including silver bowls, drinking vessels, gold coins, clothing and weaponry.


It's believed these objects were produced for a patron who employed a goldsmith the equal of or better than any in Europe. They had been designed to project an image of imperial power and wealth. There was no sign of a body at the excavation but soil analysis demonstrated that a person had been buried but the remains had decayed in the highly acidic soil. Many scholars believe Mound #1 to be the burial site of King Rædwald of East Anglia but the British Museum continues to vaguely state 'the burial site of a King of East Anglia'.


One of the most important pieces discovered was the Sutton Hoo helmet. Actually only fragments of the original helmet were found. The helmet had rusted in the grave and was shattered into hundreds of tiny fragments when the chamber roof collapsed. Restoration of the helmet involved the meticulous identification, grouping and orientation of the surviving fragments before it could be reconstructed. The helmet was first displayed following an initial reconstruction in 1945-46, and then in its present form after a 2nd reconstruction in 1970-71.


There are two Sutton Hoo Helmets on display in the gallery, the original and a replica showing how the original previously looked. The original helmet is extremely rare and is only one of four known complete helmets from Anglo-Saxon England. The helmet has a distinctive shape and a menacing face-mask with copper eyebrows that are inlaid with silver wire and garnets. Its elaborate decoration may have given it a secondary function akin to a crown.


Notice the winged dragon motif on the front of the helmet. The dragon's body is formed by the warrior’s nose, the tail his moustache, and the wings his eyebrows.

On display in The British Museum a replica of Sutton Hoo helmet from around 600 AD

While we are on the topic of helmets, the 'Waterloo Helmet' is an example of a pre-Roman Celtic bronze ceremonial horned helmet. The helmet was originally decorated with pieces of red glass and would have been even more visually striking when it was made but impractical for use in combat.


The bronze helmet was made between 150–50 BC and was found in the Thames River near the Waterloo Bridge. It is the only example of an Iron Age horned helmet to be found in Europe and the only Iron Age helmet found in southern England.

On display in The British Museum, the  bronze Waterloo Helmet dating back to 150-50 BC

The Royal Gold Cup or Saint Agnes Cup is a solid gold covered cup weighing 4.3 pounds and lavishly decorated with enamel and pearls. It was made for the French royal family at the end of the 14th century, and later belonged to several English monarchs before spending nearly 300 years in Spain. Much the most prominent decorations on the cup are scenes from the life of Saint Agnes.

On display at The British Museum the Royal Gold Cup or Saint Agnes Cup from the 14th century

Finally, it was time for the Lewis Chessmen. I had planned to see the chess pieces in the Stornoway Museum on Lewis but the museum was closed on the 2 days that we visited. So my last chance was to see them in the British Museum. The Lewis Chessmen are some of the most well-travelled objects in the whole of the British Museum’s collection. Many museums request them for loan to their exhibitions. Since 1995 various pieces have been shown in over 20 exhibitions, so hundreds of thousands of people have been able to see them.


The Chessmen are part of a hoard that was found (1831) in a sand dune at Uig Bay on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. It’s thought that they might have belonged to a trader who was traveling from Norway to Ireland to sell them, sometime between 1150 and 1200 AD. Almost all of the pieces in the collection are carved from walrus ivory but a few were carved from whale teeth.

On display in The British Museum the Lewis Chessmen uncovered on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides

The 79 chess pieces consist of 8 kings, 8 queens, 16 bishops, 15 knights, 13 rooks, and 19 pawns. Although there are 19 pawns (a complete set requires 16), they have the greatest range of sizes of all the pieces, which has suggested that the 79 chess pieces might belong to at least five chess sets.


All the pieces are sculptures of human figures, with the exception of the pawns, which are smaller geometric shapes. Pictured below, the King holds a sword across his lap and the Queen holds her right hand against her cheek. Both are seated in intricately carved thrones. Although there are different styles of Queen pieces, they all have the hand-to-face design in common. Several Pawns are positioned on the board.

On display in The British Museum the King on throne holding sword; Queen on throne with hand to face; Bishop wearing mitre holding staff and several Pawns from the Lewis Chessmen

The Rooks are standing soldiers or 'warders' holding shields and swords.

On display in the British Museum the Lewis Chessmen Rook standing soldiers or 'warders' holding shields and swords

The Bishops are wearing their mitre and holding the staff with both hands. The Lewis sets are the earliest that have been found that include any sort of clerical figures. The inclusion of the Bishops reflects the status of clerics in early Scandinavian and English society at the time.

On display in the British Museum the Lewis Chessmen Bishops are wearing their mitre and holding the staff with both hands

Here is a better picture of a King holding the sword across his lap with a stern face, head topped with a crown, and seated on a throne. The picture also shows yet another version of the Bishop.

On display in the British Museum the Lewis Chessmen a King in a throne and Bishop holding a mitre and bible

The Knight riding a horse and carrying a sword and shield; a third different version of a Bishop, and a Rook. What incredible detail on these pieces.

On display in the British Museum the Lewis Chessmen a Knight riding a horse, Bishop holding a staff and bible, a Pawn holding a sword

Yes, Dave made fun of me for spending so much time looking over the Chessmen and taking way too many pictures but I had looked forward to seeing the pieces and wanted to really appreciate them. It's easy to see why the Lewis Chessmen were #5 in the list of British archaeological finds selected by experts at the British Museum for the 2003 BBC Television documentary Our Top Ten Treasures.


After more than 4 hours walking through this spectacular museum, it was time to leave. I can definitely see us spending more time here on another trip through London. Getting on the Tube heading toward the West End, we saw an advertisement for one of our favorite BBC shows, Peaky Blinders.

Peaky Blinders TV show advertisement in the London Underground station

We went to the Rupert St. bar for a mojito and began searching for a location to have dinner before tonight's show.

Rupert Street gay bar in London

The Mousetrap

‘The Mousetrap’ is a murder mystery play by Agatha Christie. 'The Mousetrap' opened in London's West End in 1952 and ran continuously until March 16, 2020, when the stage performances had to be discontinued due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The play has a twist ending and by tradition, at the end of each performance, audiences are asked not to reveal the identity of the killer to anyone outside the theater, thereby ensuring that the end is not spoiled for future audiences.

St Martins Theatre marquee in London for ‘The Mousetrap’ murder mystery play by Agatha Christie

It is the longest-running production in the West End as well as the world. The performance we attended was number 27,966.

Theatre marquee in London for ‘The Mousetrap’ murder mystery play by Agatha Christie

The souvenir playbook from the show. Christie did not expect ‘The Mousetrap’ to run for such a long time. In her autobiography, she states her initial thoughts were perhaps the show would run for 8 months; she was only off by 59 years.

Souvenir playbook for Agatha Christie’s play The Mousetrap.  Performance number 27,966

Day 41

  • St. Paul's Cathedral

  • 'The Woman in Black'

Another relaxing morning with breakfast and checking the latest news from the States. Incredibly, this was our last full day of the trip. In some ways it felt like we had been gone forever but in many other ways it felt like just yesterday that we had settled into our first Airbnb in Glasgow. To celebrate, we decided to make it three 'show nights' in a row and purchased tickets for 'The Woman in Black' but first we'd spend some time at St. Paul's Cathedral.


St. Paul's Cathedral

St. Paul's Cathedral serves as the mother church of the Diocese of London. It sits on Ludgate Hill at the highest point of the City of London. Its dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original church on this site, founded in 604 AD. The present cathedral, dating from the late 17th century, was designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren. Its construction, completed in Wren's lifetime, was part of a major rebuilding program after the Great Fire of London. On December 2, 1697, 31 years and 3 months after the Great Fire destroyed Old St. Paul's, the new cathedral was consecrated for use.


An interesting side note is that Christopher Wren is a name of one of the characters in 'The Mousetrap'.



An aerial view of St Paul's Cathedral.

By Mark Fosh - originally posted to Flickr as St Pauls, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46084308

The West Front of St. Paul’s is considered the main entrance and has a columned portico which is topped by an upper columned colonnade. The colonnade is topped by the pediment above which is the statue of St. Paul in the center and statues of St. James and St. Peter on either side.


Two Baroque-style bell towers, known as the West Towers, frame the portico on either side. The Southwest tower holds the clock known as 'Big Tom' installed in 1893. The northwest tower holds a set of 12 bells, the largest is known as the 'Great Paul' bell, originally cast in 1882. 'Great Paul' is the largest bell in England and weights almost 17 tons.

The West Front of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Two West Towers, holding the 'Big Tom' clock installed in 1893

A view from the South side of the cathedral highlighting the dome designed by Wren. The dome, which rises 365 feet to the cross at its summit, dominates views of the city. It was the tallest building in London from 1710 to 1963 and the dome remains among the highest in the world.

South side of the St Paul's Cathedral highlighting the dome designed by Wren. The dome, which rises 365 feet to the cross at its summit

The nave looking toward the quire. The nave is 91 ft high, 121 ft wide and 223 ft in length.

In St Paul's Cathedral in London.  The nave looking toward the quire. The nave is 91 ft high, 121 ft wide and 223 ft in length.

From the transept area of the cathedral, you can see the great dome of St. Paul’s. The magnificent dome rises to a height of 214 feet above the main floor and is supported by eight piers made of Dorset stone with eight arches used to evenly disperse the weight of the massive dome (estimated at 67,000 pounds).

The magnificent dome of St Paul's Cathedral rises to a height of 214 feet above the main floor. The dome's weight is estimated at 67,000 pounds)

The dome is relatively restrained and decorated specifically to be different from Roman Catholic cathedrals. The dome, painted by Sir James Thornhill, depicts eight scenes from the life of St. Paul. Thornhill started in 1716 and completed his painting three years later in 1719.

Looking up at the dome of St Paul's Cathedral in London. It took Sir Sir James Thornhill3 years to completed the paintings.

The quire looking toward the high alter. The quire contains the stalls for the clergy, cathedral officers, choir, and the organ.

The quire looking toward the high alter of St Paul's Cathedral in London.

The vault of the quire is decorated with mosaics created by William Blake Richmond. He started work on the mosaics in 1891 and finished 10 years later. The mosaics represent scenes from Creation.

The vault of the quire in St Paul's Cathedral is decorated with mosaics created by William Blake Richmond

The cathedral survived the World War II; although it was struck by bombs on October 10, 1940 and April 17, 1941. The first strike destroyed the high altar, while the second strike on the north transept left a hole in the floor above the crypt. The latter bomb is believed to have detonated in the upper interior above the north transept and the force was sufficient to shift the entire dome by a small amount.

Courtesy of the Roman Anglican

The current high altar dates from 1958 and is made of marble and carved and gilded oak. It features a magnificent canopy (baldacchino) based on a sketch by Christopher Wren, which wasn't built in his time. It replaced a large Victorian marble altar and screen which had been damaged by the 1940 bomb strike.

The current high altar of St Paul's Cathedral dates from 1958 and is made of marble and carved and gilded oak

On the high altar is a large cross that stands nearly 10 ft tall with a silver enameled base embellished with amethyst. The cross is flanked by two 5 ft tall gilded candlesticks.

On the high altar in St Paul's Cathedral is a large cross that stands nearly 10 ft tall with a silver enameled base embellished with amethyst.

The crypt contains over 200 memorials. Christopher Wren was the first person to be interred, in 1723. The tomb of Horatio, Lord Nelson, the hero of the Battle of Trafalgar is located in the crypt next to that of the Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. The marble sarcophagus which holds Wellington's remains was made for Cardinal Wolsey but not used since the cardinal had fallen from favor with Henry VIII.

The tomb of Horatio, Lord Nelson, the hero of the Battle of Trafalgar is located in St Paul's Cathedral in London
The tomb of the Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in St Paul's Cathedral in London

There are a great many memorials on the floor of the cathedral. The largest being the monument to the Duke of Wellington. It stands on the north side of the nave and is topped by a statue of Wellington astride his horse. Although the equestrian figure was planned at the outset, objections to the notion of having a horse in the church prevented its installation until 1912.

The Duke of Wellington monument in St Paul's Cathedral shows astride his horse.

Left to right and top to bottom: Charles Marquis Cornwallis, Governor General of Bengal (d. 1805); memorial to Major General William Ponsonby from the Battle of Waterloo (d. 1815); Admiral Earl Howe (d. 1799) victorious over French fleet in 1794; Vice Admiral Horatio, Viscount, Nelson.

As part of the cathedral's commemoration to the Great War, two white cruciform sculptures, each over 19 feet tall were installed at the head of the nave. The twin sculptures display in their shape and color the thousands of white crosses placed in the war cemeteries across the world. On the arms of the cross are intricate models of contemporary and historical settlements decimated by conflict.

Commemoration to the Great War, two white cruciform sculptures, each over 19 feet tall were installed at the head of the nave in St Paul’s Cathedral in London

After viewing the inside we completed the 528 steps to the Golden Gallery that sits on top of the dome. It provided amazing views of the city.

London skyline viewed from the Golden Gallery on top of St Paul’s Cathedral in London
London skyline viewed from the Golden Gallery on top of St Paul’s Cathedral in London
West Towers and Main entrance to St Paul's Cathedral London viewed from the Golden Gallery

After spending the afternoon at the Cathedral we boarded the tube and headed to the Rupert St. bar again, found another restaurant and then headed to the Fortune Theatre.

Getting drinks Rupert St gay bar in London

'The Woman in Black' is a 1987 stage play, adapted by Stephen Mallatratt from the book of the same name by English author Susan Hill. The play follows the story of Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, as he journeys to the small market town to attend the funeral of a client, Mrs. Alice Drablow. At the funeral, he sees a young woman with a wasted face, dressed all in black, standing in the churchyard. Bemused by the villagers' reluctance to speak of the woman in black, Arthur goes to Mrs. Drablow's former home, an old building in the middle of a marsh, which is cut off from the mainland at high tide. Sorting through Mrs Drablow's papers, he finds a box of letters, and ultimately discovers the dreadful secret of the Woman in Black – to his own terrible cost.

Theatre marquee for play ‘The Woman in Black’ at the Fortune Theatre in London

After returning to the Hammersmith Airbnb, we began the process of packing everything up for the last time. We needed to completely pack tonight so that we would have enough time to visit Westminster Abbey in the next and last morning.


Day 42

It is incredible to look back at our six week long journey through Great Britain. In that period of time, we had driven over 3500 miles, traveled through 3 countries, stayed in 15 different Airbnbs, and spent almost every waking and sleeping moment together. It was an amazing time and I look back without regret at where we went and what we saw and experienced. With time, we'll determine if it's worth planning another 6 week trip or whether multiple shorter trips is more valuable. I often joke that we agree on the destination then I focus on the itinerary and Dave focuses on finding the most unique places to stay. If I may say so this agreement works out royally, to borrow an English phrase.


Westminister Abbey

As luck would have it, picture taking is prohibited inside Westminister. How fitting that on the final day and the last sight we visit, I can't take any pictures.

Towers andentrance to Westminister Abbey

According to written records of 1080, a church was founded at the site in the 7th century.

Between 1042 and 1052, King Edward the Confessor built a new church on this site. St. Peter's Abbey would provide Edward with a royal burial church. The building was completed around 1060 and was consecrated on December 28, 1065, only a week before Edward's death in 1066. In 1245 Henry III tore down the whole of Edward’s church (except the nave) and replaced it with the present abbey church.


Since William the Conqueror in 1066, every British sovereign has been crowned in the abbey except Edward V and Edward VIII, neither of whom was crowned. Additionally, Westminster Abbey has a long tradition of royal weddings, beginning with Henry I’s marriage to Matilda of Scotland in 1100. The only other reigning monarch to be wed in the abbey was Richard II, who married Anne of Bohemia in 1382. The abbey was the venue for the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in 2011.


King Edward's Chair, the throne on which English and British sovereigns have been seated at the moment of crowning, is now housed within the Abbey in St. George's Chapel near the West Door, and has been used at every coronation since 1308.


Photo courtesy of Kjetil Bjørnsrud - Own work, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=780325


Many kings and queens are buried near the shrine of Edward the Confessor or in Henry VII’s chapel. The last sovereign to be buried in the abbey was George II (1760); since then they have been buried at Windsor Castle. The abbey is crowded with the tombs and memorials of famous British subjects. The north transept has many memorials to British statesmen. The grave of the 'Unknown Warrior', whose remains were brought from Flanders (Belgium) in 1920, is in the center of the nave near the west door.


What a amazing way to end our travels through Great Britain by wandering around the great Westminster Abbey. But it was time to head back to Hammersmith and grab an Uber to the airport. Amazed that we fit everything for our 42 days including all the hiking gear and items we purchased in the suitcases, carry-ons and backpacks. What a perfect picture taken by Dave to sum up the entire trip.

Suitcases packed waiting for Uber to take us to Heathrow Airport after 6 weeks traveling through Great Britain

We had time to kill at Heathrow so we took a final GB selfie. Good bye London...hello Boston!


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