Day 19, London

The main wish for today was to visit the Tate Modern, which we did. At the Tate, the permanent collection was thematically arranged, and I thought the Artist and Society exhibition was quite strong. Some images from that are included below. Afterwards, I wanted to be sure to visit St. Paul's Cathedral and to find Temple Bar, which is an old city gate separating the city of London from Westminster. It had been moved, but preserved, and is now located right next to St. Paul's Cathedral. The church bells at St. Paul's were deafening, so we took the #23 bus to Hyde Park to relax in the shade. 

Calvin's description of Temple Bar (in a letter to his wife):

"We came so far from our landing place to get out of the city as it is called, for the gate of Temple bar is the barrier between London proper or the city as it is called and Westminster. It spans the street that on the court side is called the Strand and on the other fleet street— and woe betide the claim to gentility that is found on the wrong side of Temple bar. Those below are called cockneys. Great ceremony is observed on Lord Mayors day at this place when he makes his splendid parade through the metropolis. We passed through [. . .] Victorias red coats tho’ they looked formidable stood quietly at their arms. Formerly the heads of great criminals, or those suspected by the king had their heads put up over this gate— now they do not cut off heads but give their great rogues pensions & titles to quiet them."

Day 18, London

Yesterday was spent in transit from Amsterdam to London via Brussels. We took the Eurostar through the chunnel. Today we set out to visit the major sites that Calvin and Octavia visited, starting with Charing Cross and Trafalgar Square. From there we walked through St. James Park (where Octavia collected a flower for her book of relics), to Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Parliament and the river. 

Here is an excerpt of Calvin's letter to his wife Temperance:

"The first objects I saw were the Tower and the London bridge, and the shipping that nearly choked up the river, and the huge warehouses of St. Katherine's dock, where we landed and had our baggage for the 4th or 5th time overhauled by the custom house officers— nice chaps these, very expert in rummaging a trunk, but not very particular good hands in repacking it. Of course they were no great favorites of Sis, who values herself on the order of her arrangements. But here they pounced upon some gew gaws she had purchased at Paris— they pronounced them French goods and made her pay half a guinea, which she did not like at all. We took a cab and drove 4 miles up the city by the Tower, St. Paul's, the Bank, etc. and through Temple bar to Charing Cross, where we took lodgings at the Albion Hotel. We are now I think just in the middle of the world— at least just in the center of all the noise and bustle of it, but just where strangers ought to be. We have full before us the Nelson monument 150 feet high. The Duke of Northumberlands palace. The National gallery, King Charles statue (where new kings are proclaimed etc.). Charing Cross, a large open square is the terminus of the Strand, Whitehall street, Pall Mall and the Haymarket, the greatest thoroughfares of the city and through which it would seem all the world was pouring into this great Babylon...

We have seen a few lions, spent some hours among the monuments of Westminster Abbey, rode over the city and through the parks and I attended the galleries of the two houses of parliament. In the Lords I heard speeches by the Lord Chancellor Lyndhurst and the Lords Dalhousie Whaincliff and Campbell— and in the Commons Sir Robert Peel, Lord John Russell, Mr. Villiers, Col. Libthorp & Lord Stanley. They would not admit Sis (women are not admitted for the most extraordinary and unfounded reason, that it is suspected they would talk! O, these Englishmen) but she consoles herself by saying she got a salute from the Duke of Wellington whom we met going into the parliament house as we were coming away, and that in Westminster abbey she sat in the chair in which Victoria and all the kings of England have been crowned! So now!"

And more from Calvin:

"This morning I went early into St. James Park which is very near Charing Cross. A long row of cows are tied up there; a girl asked me if I wanted a glass of milk. She milked a tumbler full for which I gave her a penny... St. James Park, I will add a word to say, is perhaps 3/4 of a mile long and 1/2 wide with a lake of irregular shape more than half its length— two Islands in it— and it is full of all sorts of aquatic fowls. You will see them at the shores eating crumbs out of the childrens' hands. Then one walks around the lake and to see crowds of men women and children walking on one side of the lake while you are on the other is delightful. Sometimes the walk is fenced off from the Lake by iron railing and the space planted with trees and shrubbery, which increases much the fine appearance of the living moving masses on the opposite shore. St. James Palace a jumbled mass of old buildings is on this Park. The Queens great palace of Buckingham is on the rising ground at the head of this Lake, 2 or 3 hundred yards from it...The River here presents a striking contrast to the Seine at Paris. There the broad quay on both sides was a most pleasant promenade— no banks or boxes— no shipping— here you cannot but at places get a view of the river— all the way blocked up with warehouses, goods, shipping and all the streets near it choked up with wagons, horses, drays, goods and human beings— dog carts would do a bad business here."