Our group of 25 Astronomy magazine readers, led by Melita Thorpe of MWT Associates and accompanied by me, started our English adventure Thursday, August 8, 2013, after resting for a day following our flights, mostly from the United States. We will get into the astronomy starting tomorrow; today was a day for orienting folks with the city of London and offering some of its prime attractions for sampling.
The iconic Tower Bridge as viewed from the Tower of London, with fragments of a Roman wall also visible inside the tower, London, England, August 8, 2013.
Our tour began with a thorough viewing of the Tower of London, including the magnificent Traitor’s Gate, the Bloody Tower, the original White Tower (dating to 1078), and the execution site where Lady Jane Grey, Catherine Howard, Anne Boleyn, and others took place. We marveled over the famous ravens and saw the Crown Jewels, which include the two largest diamonds in the world. Our group toured the White Tower, which included all manner of arms and armory and also the chilling site of the discovery of the chest containing the bones of the two murdered princes, Edward V of England and Richard of Shrewsbury, who were thought to have been killed in 1483 on order of their uncle, Richard III.
A cruise up the River Thames gave us a fantastic view of the city, its principal buildings, bridges, and historic sites. We then made our way to Buckingham Palace to see the celebrated changing of the guard, and then on through the government district, Whitehall, to see a variety of buildings such as Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament (and Big Ben), 10 Downing Street, and more.
The group then trekked to St. Paul’s Cathedral, the masterful work of Sir Christopher Wren, and many of us climbed all the way up for an amazing view of the city that lay below us. We then retreated for high tea at Harrod’s, the famous department store that prides itself in stocking anything and everything, and then made our way back for dinner. And so the opening salvo has been fired, and we get into things astronomical tomorrow morning.
For all the photos of the English Astronomers tour, visit our Trips & Tours page