Sunday, April 20, 2008
A Very Busy Tuesday. First, The Legal Leg ...
This is our destination ... the Inns of Court, the legal heart of London.
Well, when we got in last night, we were pretty hungry after our full day. We stopped at a fish and chips place on the corner, about a block away from our street. I got fish and chips and Wry got some fried chicken. We took it back to the room to eat.
When we got to the room, the window was always open, curtains blowing gently in the breeze, which made things nice and refreshing. It would have been too chilly, but the bathroom door was always closed, and that kept it nice and toasty -- yet another benefit of the warmed towel rack.
So we ate our dinner, perched on the bed, watching the BBC. Wry said that his chicken was great, which was nice, because my dinner was completely inedible. Really. Awful. So, I drank tea and ate some trail mix that I brought from home. The BBC seemed to be showing the same five or six news stories, over and over. Maybe this is true for CNN as well-- I wouldn't know, because I am not home watching it for any extended period of time.
We did the usual uploading of pictures and plugging in of chargers, preparing the next day. I have to say that the first part of the trip had been somewhat besmirched by a very sore foot. I had stumbled some months back, hard enough that I needed x-rays and the x-ray tech had said that I had a "wicked" heel spur, and didn't it bother me? I shrugged and said no, I did not feel it at all.
Guess when it chose to impinge upon my consciousness? When I was in London! Spending all day walking! Woot!
So, by the time that we got to our room, I was seriously wondering how I was going to make it for the rest of the trip. So, I used the free internet (Thanks Jesmond Dene!!) to investigate my problem. I read that I needed to do some stretches and get some anti-inflammatory medication, apply ice, and get some insoles. QED, you might say.
So, we slept well and got up early. We talked again to the kids -- mostly Wry and the kids amused each other, using the video capture. They got the cat involved on the webcam to great hilarity. She was not amused by their antics, which made it even funnier, I guess.
We went down to breakfast, which was still yummy. Wry did try the lemon marmalade, but went back to orange. We went back up and got prepared for the day. The hand warmers had been such a success that I made sure that we each had a couple -- they lasted all day.
We got to the train station and took a right at the Boots on the corner. They did not have insoles. So we got on the train and took the Central line to Chancery Lane. It is less crowded today, because we waited about a half an hour so as to avoid the crush of rush hour.
So, you ask yourself, what are these?
These are the holes in the ceiling as we go down the escalator in the Tube station. I am not sure why so many of the stations had ceilings that looked like this -- it looks like little hortas have been tunneling around. It does not inspire a lot of confidence. The escalators are really steep, so steep that you have to watch yourself and lean back as you go up or down.
Each stop has its own take on the Underground symbol. I think fondly of Rowan and how much she liked seeing the Bank of England.
Today we were going to tour the legal part of London. The last time I was here, I saw the Royal Courts of Justice, but did not really know what I was seeing. Now I knew that I wanted to see the Temple Church and some of the old buildings in this very old part of London. I found this tremendous podcast called Free Audio London Walks. We are going to see the Temple church (which used to be fairly unknown, but was made famous by the Da Vinci Code), the knights templar in marble effigy, and the Temple Inns. I am excited.
The tour started at Chancery Lane. Exiting from Underground, on the south side of High Holburn street, we get a nice view of the street. The narrator starts out by telling us about the unusual timber framed building that dated from 1555, immediately to our right. I think that it is going to be a great time. The tour just keeps getting better and better. The narrator is a barrister and tells little stories about the buildings and about his life as well. I cannot recommend this enough, if you go to London.
Wry and I walked along, each listening to an earbud of my iPod, like middle-school kids. We marveled at the buildings and wandered through the gardens, which were just beginning to bloom.
This building looked like a church, but it wasn't one.
The old patent office.
And these wonderful old Georgian buildings lined the road.
There are two types, the red brick buildings and the white stone buildings.
Wry found this bike amusing and took a picture.
This is a wonderful old square, just before the Lincoln's Inn Chapel.
I love the detail on the buildings. You can see the brick and plaster work.
Each of the chimneys are different from the others -- almost Byzantine.
This is a little better view of the chimney tops.
And this one -- the details are marvelous, aren't they?
The brickwork looks like cross-stitching.
We had paused the iPod for a few minute as we were taking pictures and came upon these amazing arched pillars -- like an underground parking lot, but lovely. For a moment, we just walked around, staring. I don't know how I managed to not get a picture, but I found this on the internetz.
It turns out that this is the undercroft of a church.
We walk around the front of the building and find that we are at a church, The Chapel in Lincoln's Inn Fields. It dates back to 1623. The Chapel bell pre dates the Chapel at 1596 and is the source of the quote from John Donne of 'for whom the bell tolls'. He preached here in 1616.
So this is the Chapel, as seen from the garden across the street.
The outside is a bit plain, but the stonework is wonderful.
A closer up of the front of the church.
A knight keeping watch, I imagine.
Again, I am amazed that one can just walk into these places. Londoners are so spoiled. It is almost completely empty, except for some people who were talking church business.
We take some time before going in, just looking at the lovely plaster work.
And up the stairs into the Chapel.
A plaster rosette that adorned an arched window.
We walk up the stairs and push open the heavy wooden doors. It is just lovely inside the chapel.
This is the view of the stained glass window at the front of the chapel -- the one we saw from the street.
A bit closer look at the window at the front of the chapel.
The pews are high and you have to step up into the box.
This is what it looks like, when you are sitting in the pew.
The stained glass is lovely.
"Most of the pews in the chapel are the original pews made in 1623 by "Price the Joyner" for £220;
"and there is much fine stained glass in the windows, including the figures of the Apostles, reputedly by the Van Linge brothers."
The organ was put in later.
A view when standing in the middle of church.
Wry soaking it in.
And back down the stairs. It is austere, compared to the lovely interior. Plain, but still lovely.
We step outside and turn back on the audio tour. Thank heavens that we did, or we would have missed the next bit. The narrator tells us to go look at the round hole in the street.
Okay. We look. And then we turn around and read the plaque.
We read that the Chapel was damaged by a bomb blast in WWI
You can see the marks where the shrapnel hit the wall.
A last look at the Chapel at Lincoln's Fields. It was an unexpected, delightful detour.
An appropriate, fierce guardian, I think.
We continue on our walk. We turn into a garden. Not literally. The daffodils are again poking up their little green spears.
I wonder if they ran out of names -- the street is called Old Buildings street.
More wonderful old chimneys.
We walk around a bit, and come through an archway. I recognize where we are -- it is the back side of the used law book store that Rowan and I saw last year. We go in and I look for a gift for my oldest son who just competed in a Mock-Trial competition. I think he will like the book I got him.
We come out of the archway and are across the street from the actual Lincoln's Inn.
Lincoln's Inn was founded in or before 1422. Its magnificent lawns and trees make up six separate gardens, comprising the North Lawn, Benchers' Lawn, New Square, Gatehouse Court, Kitchen Garden and Stone Buildings. Each garden has been almost completely replanted over the last five years.
We walk along the narrow road, with Lincoln's Inn on our right, white buildings on our left.
I love the detail on the building.
This is tucked into the corner, just before we exit out onto Fleet Street.
We get out onto the main thoroughfare. The Royal Courts of Justice are on our right.
The narrator says that we should pause the audio tour and resume once we cross the street.
One of the arches at the Royal Courts of Justice.
And some nice architectural details.
And the view of the Royal Courts of Justice from across the street.
A nice monument to Queen Victoria. I remember fondly that Rowan was sure that I would get hit by a car, when we were here last.
We look up the street and see that time is passing. It looks like it might be lunchtime soon.
You might ask what this is, and I believe that it is now a bank. I don't know what it was before, but it is really beautiful.
Not only are the colors wonderful, but the textures are great. The columns are smooth and cool, with interesting swirls and ridges.
We walk along the curving road and consider our options for lunch. I liked the clock. It stood out.
There are lots of small places -- a Japanese-type place and Pret A Manger, which seems to be a successful British chain. No Indian food, but lots of sandwich places. We decided on sandwiches.
Wry had a nice tomato, cheese and basil sandwich with chips and a soda.
I briefly considered the clerk's recommendation -- a chicken Caesar sandwich (but that I can get at home, no problem) or a chicken avocado (but, let's face it -- as a Californian, that was just fraught with potential disappointment).
I ended up with a nice tuna mayonnaise with sweet corn and a lemon sponge cake. Again, I say that the British have it all over us when it comes to cakes. We begin to wander on -- I am needing a cup of coffee or something hot, and my foot is pretty much killing me. Across the street, we see the answers to these needs -- a Starbux and a Boots. We stop in Boots and it takes a while for me to find insoles and an anti-inflammatory. They don't have Tylenol, but do have Paracetamol. It is funny that you have to ask for it at the counter, but you can buy it with codeine, without a prescription. I am tempted to get some, just because I can. I have a pricey, but good, cup of coffee and we are off.
Have I mentioned the serious lack of trash cans in the UK? Once again, we are wandering down the street, looking for a place to dispose of our sandwich wrappings. I look up one of the narrow alleys and spy bags of trash, tidily tied up. I finally just untie one, dispose of the papers, and retie it. I feel vaguely bad about it, like I am stealing trash space, but I don't see the alternative.
Refreshed and reinvigorated, we resume our tour. We go in through one of the narrow alley ways into the Temple. It is located between Fleet Street and the Thames, and has parts that were built in 1184. It was the quarters of the Knights Templars, a religious order founded in the 12th century to protect the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The order was dissolved in 1313, and in 1346 it "was leased to the students of common law, and ever since it has been one of the Centres of legal learning and study in England ... It is constituted the Inner and Middle Temple, the Inner being within the City bounds, and the latter being between that and the Outer Temple."
"The Temple Gardens, running down to the Thames Embankment, are sometimes open to the public, and every early summer time has been held here the Flower Show of the Royal Horticultural Society, the finest show of the kind in London. It is said that it was in these gardens were plucked the red and white roses which became the badges of the houses of York and Lancaster in the protracted civil war that followed."
We did not see the gardens, but we did finally get to the Temple Church. I was very happy and excited to see it, as I was looking forward to seeing the marble effigies of the Knights Templar.
Unfortunately, the church was closed. Sigh. We decided to come back when it was open, and wandered around the lovely old square.
This is the front door. It is locked.
This is the view from the back. There is a small garden. The church dates back to the 12th century. It was badly damaged in WWII, but was restored.
I liked this view of the church. It is famous for the round tower. It is under this area that the marble knights lie.
The Knights Templar took their vow of poverty seriously. They rode two to a horse. (I feel kind of bad for the horse, to be honest.)
I am saving most of this for when we actually get in the church, but I liked the description of a Knight Templar:
"[A Templar Knight] is truly a fearless knight, and secure on every side, for his soul is protected by the armor of faith, just as his body is protected by the armor of steel. He is thus doubly-armed, and need fear neither demons nor men." Bernard de Clairvaux, c. 1135, De Laude Novae Militae—In Praise of the New Knighthood"
Once again, we are abjured to keep quiet.
We are walking out of the Inns of Court. This is a veritable alley, isn't it?
I like this take on razor wire.
We are once again out on Fleet Street. I see this sign, and even I know about the pub. It dates back to the 17th century and was a hang out of Samuel Johnson, who lived around the corner. I cannot help nipping in for a quick look, with Wry waiting patiently outside.
The stairs are really narrow. I toyed with the idea of running down and taking a picture of the bathroom, but decided against it.
The honor roll.
Up the street to Ludgate circus. I finally figured out that a circus is like a roundabout. It is like stepping into the modern era.
Can you guess where we are headed? Bonus haverer-points if you can tell.