Tower of London , tower bridge and Wembley
So today we woke to grey cloudy skies. The plan for today, first stop the
Tower of London
There has been a fortification here since the time of William the Conquerer. The Tower is actually a complex of several buildings set within two walls. Over the years it has served many purposes a royal palace, a prison, a zoo and now a days it houses the Crown Jewels.
The tower zoo first commenced during the reign of King John (1199-1216) the first arrivals were from Normandy , they are not sure what they were but over the years the gift of a wild beast from one sovereign to another became the thing to do, over the years the tower housed Elephants, Lions, Leopards Kangaroos, monkeys and even a polar bear. Unfortunately they really didn't know how to take care of the animals and their diets and habitats were not the best. Apparently when the polar bear was in residence it was not unusual to see it being led to the Thames by rope and allowed to swim in the river to catch its meal. They allowed the public into the Tower to see the Royal menagerie, however this resulted in some interesting consequences. At one stage they housed the monkeys in a room and allowed people to enter the room with them, this ended not very well when a monkey bit a child.
The Shape of the White tower changed a lot over the years with additions and demolitions depending on the purpose of the building at that time. In 1674 a forebuilding was demolished and it was during this demolition that they discovered the bones of two children beneath the stairs, they were believed to be the bones of the two lost princes and were subsequently interned at Westminster Abbey. The story of the Princes in the Tower is one of the most infamous stories related to the castle. after the death of their father Edward V (12 years) and his younger brother Richard were confined to the tower. Initially Edward was crowned king and his Uncle was declared lord protector. The princes were last seen alive in late Summer 1483, in July their uncle was crowned King Richard III.
Today the tower houses a pretty impressive collection of Military paraphernalia, including Henry VII's armour, canons, guns, the swords of the various monarchs and many many other things.
Above is the Traitor's gate. Many prisoners of the Tudors entered the Tower of London through the Traitors' Gate, this gate was actually built by Edward I to provide a water entrance to the tower. Some of the notable persons believed to have entered the tower via this gate include Sir Thomas Moore and Anne Boleyn , although this is now disputed.
The Tower of London was really interesting and well worth a visit. We enjoyed seeing the Crown Jewels however we did head straight there as soon as we entered so this gave us a lot of time to have a really good look. I did join the yeoman tour so got to go into the chapel, not accessible otherwise, were Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, Lady Jane Grey, Thomas Moore and Thomas Cromwell.
After leaving the Tower of London we headed to
Tower Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in the world. It was constructed between 1886 and 1894 to reduce traffic on the over burdened London Bridge. The bridge still opens up approximately 4 times a day to allow tall masted vessels to travel up the Thames. Originally there were walkways up the top for pedestrians, however this involved travelling up many flight of stairs, it was open to the weather and quickly became a favourite haunt of prostitutes and pick pockets so it was closed off 1910.
Today you can tour the Bridge, elevators take you to the top, where they have videos and interactive displays to learn more about its construction. They also have a glass floor so you can "walk" over the cars several metres below.
They also have the old steam driven system, that opened the bridge open for visitors to see.
This was really quite a good attraction, we both really enjoyed it.
One of the things that was on our bucket list was to see an English Football ( soccer) match whilst we were here. There was no local games being played the week we were in London , however there was a game at
Wembley stadium: England vs Slovakia
So we jumped on the Underground and headed out to Wembley stadium, somewhere oddly enough that we had both heard about and were keen to see.
The crowd was something like 65 000 ( apparently Wembley's capacity is about 85 000) and it was exactly what we both hoped for , initially the English crowd were a little quiet, it didn't help that Slovakia scored in the first 20 mins, but once they started it was pretty amazing, big drums and tribal chants resonated throughout this massive stadium. Fortunately England were the victors with a 2:1 win.
We we though considering the crowd we would head out if the stadium 10 mins before the end of the game, however as you can see by the image below
Everyone else had the same idea. The crowds were huge but the train system worked quicklyand efficiently to keep people moving towards there home. It was a great game. Very fast paced and I really enjoyed the atmosphere.