“She ran through the corridors and down the winding stone staircase, following the distinct scratches on the stone walls left by her lover, the Prince. Their affair had been discovered and she had been thrown into the Tower of London to rot, but her Prince had promised to rescue her. So here she was, running away in hopes of a happy ending. She reached the bottom of the staircase and saw one last message scrawled into the wall: ‘I will always love you.’ Touched but confused at the message, she turned to exit into the cool night air… only to discover a firing squad led by her prince in the courtyard.
So she fell to the ground, too in shock to feel the pain of her death…” But as I walked past the sight where she died, I swear I could hear her scream…
Okay, so I just completely made that story up completely, and it was creepy and weird, but that’s the sense you get at The Tower of London! It’s the sight where hundreds were executed over the ages, and supposedly the most haunted place in England (I bought a book about it). You can see the torture equipment that they claim to only have used rarely, the room where Sir Walter Raleigh was kept, and the sight where the two young princes were murdered by their uncle; the whole place has and aura of creepy ghost stories! And the pet ravens they keep don’t help either.
But of course, there is so much more to the Tower than that. You can view the armor worn by past kings such as Henry the VII & VIII, learn how to fight with the equipment that knights would have used (which felt really intense!), and of course, you can see the Crown Jewels. The Queen’s glittering crown and all of the Coronation regalia (my favorite being the coronation spoon- yes, spoon) are truly a sight to behold. You practically feel like royalty just standing in their presence!
And of course, one of the most beautifully heart-wrenching sights of the day was the thousands of ceramic poppies lining the moat- one poppy for each soldier who sacrificed their self in World War I. I can just picture families of veterans choosing one flower from the expanse and waving to it everyday as they pass by…
But that’s a whole other novel to write. The Tower was such an exciting and filling experience I almost feel like I should end my post there and call it a day! But that’s not where the day ended. Once lunch was over, we regrouped in front of the Elizabeth Tower (NOT Big Ben, as it is commonly called- that is the name of the bell inside the tower), and went into the Houses of Parliament! It was really exciting to see where all the law-making of Britain happens, as well as where the weekly Minister’s Questions takes place (a really cool BBC show where the minister is asked questions by members of the House so Britain knows what’s going on- why doesn’t America do this?). We first got to see all the glamour decorating the House of Lords (appointed for life), and then got to view the more plain, but still really cool House of Commons (elected, and where the Prime Minister sits). It all felt very official and was rather exciting, even despite the fact that for the whole duration of the 90 minute tour our feet were so tired they felt like they would fall off.
We rounded out and very long and educational day with a quick trip to 221 B Baker Street to view the Sherlock Holmes gift shop (not the Museum, we were too tired for that). When I finally arrived home I collapsed into bed and refused to move for the rest of the night, except to take a long relaxing bath. It was overwhelmingly difficult to reflect back over everything that had happened that day, and to absorb all the history we had passed through. England has so many treasures to behold, and I honestly don’t think I’ll be able to experience them all during the short time I’m here! Today was a reminder of how much I love London, and really could spend the rest of my life here. Maybe that’s just a pipe dream and not what God has in store for me. But maybe, just maybe, one day I’ll live in London….