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River Thames

After leaving the Tower of London, and the Bridge, we took a ride on the Thames.   The captain, an entertaining young man, kept us in stitches narrating the route.

The tides on the Thames change between 16 and 26 feet daily (depending on the phase of the moon) - a height difference that is quite visible.

Boat City Hall London Eye
Our river conveyance A consulting group charged £2M to determine a clever name for this building – and finally suggested “City Hall” River Thames from Waterloo Bridge, with the London Eye on the banks

At 450 feet tall, it’s the world’s tallest observation wheel.

Parliament and Big Ben

Big Ben

The boat stops in front of the Houses of Parliament, home to the famous clock tower and the Big Ben bell.   We were there at 4:00, just in time to hear it chime.  Not only does it sound the famous “Westminster” chime tune (duh), the chiming of the hour is unbelievably deep and loud.

Parliament from the River Big Ben Parliament from Westminster
Houses of Parliament from the river Big Ben Parliament from Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey has been the place of worship for the Royals since 960AD.    The present abbey, begun in the middle of the 13th century, wasn’t completed until the 16th century.  Occupying the site of the 11th century Benedictine Abbey, this church became known as the “west minster” to distinguish it from St Paul’s Cathedral (the east minster) in the City of London. It is also the location for Coronations, and weddings.   If you were expecting an ordinary church, you would be surprised!  Dark and very Gothic inside, it’s more like the inside of a giant mausoleum than anything else.  Everyone important in British history is buried here – in various chapels, crypts, walls, and beneath the floors. 

Westminster Abbey North Entrance Westminster Abbey West Front Chris
North entrance West Front of the Abbey Feelin' (or at least lookin') a little goofy
Abbey Floor Plan

Interior photos were taken from the official Westminster Abbey website

Westminster Choir

When Henry III died in 1272 the building of the Gothic Abbey was not complete and part of the Norman nave remained attached to the new work. The present nave was nearly 150 years in building. Flying buttresses on the exterior took the thrust of the walls and enabled the roof to be raised to a height of 101 feet (31 meters). Richard II and Henry V later provided finance to continue the building but it was not finished until 1517, when the west window was glazed.

Westminster choir
Choir, looking east Choir
High Altar Lady Chapel
High Altar Lady Chapel
 

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