Posts Tagged London

The White Tower

21 May 2012
White Tower with fragment of ancient Wardrobe Tower

When William the Conqueror started building his “white tower” in the 1070s, Londoners had never seen anything like it. It is difficult today to grasp the full impact the new tower must have had on the surrounding populace. It served as a chilling reminder to them that they had been defeated and were now governed by a foreign power.

The White Tower is the oldest part of the Tower of London and is over 900 years old. Its basic design was inspired by the castles and towers that William grew up around in his native Normandy, just across the Channel. The Tower’s stones were imported from there. The White Tower consists of four towers: one circular and three square.

The purpose of the White Tower in William’s day was three-fold: it was used as a fortress, a palace and as a powerful visual symbol.

As a fortress, the White Tower was the last line of defense and the most secure part of the Tower complex. Enemies of the king had to get through many obstacles and the outlying curtain walls before reaching this heavily-secured inner fortress. As a palace, it was used as both a place for the king to lay his head, to conduct official state business and to entertain his guests. As a symbol, it was a vivid visual reminder of the new king’s power and dominion.

Today within the 90-foot-tall gleaming whitewashed walls, visitors are treated to a magnificent display of royal armor – the armor used by Henry VIII being the main attraction. Other items on display are weapons used throughout the centuries and even an execution axe and chopping block. The “Line of Kings” exhibit displays life-size portraits of the kings of England.

Don’t miss St. John’s Chapel within the White Tower. It is built of Caen stone from France and is one of the earliest examples of a Romanesque church interior in England. This simple, serene chapel is where Lady Jane Grey is said to have knelt in prayer before her execution. The chapel was completed in 1080.

Note: Some of the staircases in use are original to the building. Visitors should exercise caution when winding up the steps, many of which are uneven.

Did You Know? The White Tower got its nickname in 1241 when Henry III had it whitewashed.

Mysteries of the Tower of London

25 April 2012

This segment of the Tower of London walk takes visitors through Traitors’ Gate, the Medieval Palace and the Bloody Tower.

Traitors’ Gate

In pre-Tudor days, the Tower of London was used primarily as a royal palace and not yet as a full-time prison. At the time, the river came right up to the Tower wall where today there is a wharf. The Thames River was the city’s lifeblood and provided a busy thoroughfare for commerce and trade. The river entrance to the palace was called “Traders Gate” and acted as a sort of tradesman’s entrance where vendors could pull up in barges, sell their wares, then push off again and ferry to their next stop.

When the Tower’s purpose took a more sinister turn, the river entrance offered a way to sneak the monarch’s more controversial prisoners into the Tower away from public eye. Princess Elizabeth made a low-key entrance through this “Traitors’ Gate” at the age of twenty-one when her Catholic half-sister Queen Mary Tudor imprisoned her on suspicious of inciting a Protestant rebellion. Elizabeth vehemently protested her innocence and, although Queen Mary’s throne was not considered secure as long as Elizabeth was alive, Queen Mary did not order her execution. After Mary’s death in 1558, Elizabeth acceded to the throne as Queen Elizabeth I and reigned for nearly 45 years.

The Medieval Palace

Just beside Traitors’ Gate lies the entrance to the Medieval Palace, where modern visitors can get a vivid sense of life at the Tower during the 13th century. The Medieval Palace is the collective name used for the three towers of St. Thomas, Wakefield and Lanthorn, where King Henri III and his successors Edward I and II lived at various periods during the Middle Ages.

In medieval times, kings and their courts traveled frequently, sometimes at a moment’s notice. All furnishings and decorations required portability. Rooms themselves had to be adaptable, since each chamber held multiple functions throughout the day, serving in turn as a bedchamber, dining hall and a place of entertainment.

Edward I’s bedchamber has been painstakingly restored to its medieval splendor with richly colored furnishings, wall hangings and a magnificent four-poster bed all based on descriptions of the palace found in surviving documents and in archeological research. Costumed interpreters bring the Medieval Palace to life through various speeches and sketches.

The Wakefield Tower includes a throne room complete with a throne replicated from the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey as well as a small oratory (or prayer room), where Henry VI is thought to have been murdered while at prayer.

Did You Know? The Crown Jewels were displayed in the Medieval Palace from 1870 to 1967.

Bloody Tower

The Bloody Tower, formerly known by the more prosaic name of Garden Tower, enshrines in its walls the secrets of its many prisoners. Chief among its secrets is what happened to two young princes once imprisoned there.

At King Edward IV’s death in 1483, his 12-year-old son acceded to the throne as Edward V. But things went downhill for him after that. On his way to London, Edward was met by his uncle Henry, the Duke of Gloucester, who escorted him to the Tower of London where he was to be kept until his coronation. Edward was joined by his brother Richard, age 9, a few days later. Before Edward has a chance to be officially crowned, his uncle declared his brother Edward IV’s marriage to the young princes’ mother unlawful, making the boys illegitimate offspring and therefore ineligible for the throne. The Duke of Gloucester then declared himself king and reigned as Richard III.

The princes at the Tower were seen less and less frequently until they seemed to disappear altogether, never to be seen again. Foul play on the uncle’s part was suspected, as William Shakespeare depicts in his play Henry III, but nothing was ever proven. Fueling rumors that the boys were murdered was the discovery of two small skeletons, presumably of two boys around the princes’ ages, in the White Tower 200 years later. What really happened to the young princes remains one of the Tower’s darkest mysteries.

The Bloody Tower is also known as the place where the great poet and explorer Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned for 13 years, accused of treason by King James. Despite his long imprisonment, Raleigh lived in considerable ease and comfort and managed to write his History of the World before his beheading in 1618.

Prayer Points — Tower of London

20 April 2012

These prayer points and points to ponder will be inserted at corresponding points of the Tower of London section of the Crime & Punishment chapter.

Point to Ponder – Tower of London

Dungeons, torture devices, beheadings and executions all seem like a thing of the past. The natural tendency when walking around the Tower grounds is to think, “Whew, glad I wasn’t around when all of that was going on!” But did you know that torture of a different type takes place still today? Consider how often we place others in the prison of unforgiveness or use the torture of silent treatment or commit murder in our hearts.

In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus says that if we are angry with our brother or speak harsh words to someone, we are just as deserving of judgment as someone who kills.

Pray that God will give us the strength to forgive as we have been forgiven and to love others with the same unselfish love that God has lavished on us (John 15:12).

Point to Ponder – Our Fortress and Strong Tower

King David often compared God to a fortress, a strong tower and a refuge in times of trouble. The Tower of London may have provided shelter for kings and been a stronghold against their enemies but it had flaws and weaknesses. On the other hand, we have a Fortress that never fails.

“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” (Psalm 18:2)

Point to Ponder – Crown Jewels

Crown him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne! As you gaze at these emblems and symbols of the Kings and Queens of England, consider the glorious upcoming ceremony of the Coronation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Consider the words of Revelation 19:12, “… and on His head were many crowns.”

Prayer Points – Tower of London

Matthew 6:13, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Many of the power struggles in history, and the Tower of London’s history in particular, were caused by the same vices that mar the human heart today.

  • Pray against the Tower’s pervasive legacy of hatred, greed, envy, pride, selfishness, caprice, murder, adultery and lies.
  • Pray against the weapons of torture and imprisonment we use on one another through the silent treatment, bitterness, harsh words, gossip and resentment.
  • Pray that power struggles between Christians would dissolve and that we would learn to love others as Christ has loved us.
  • Pray against the murder we commit in our hearts through the thoughts we think and the words we speak.

Point to Ponder – Wall Walks

There are about 75 instances each of the words “fortress” and “strong tower” in the Bible, most of which are metaphors for God. Praise the Lord for his faithful protection in our times of crisis and need! Quote these verses as you walk along the walls of the Tower.

“And he said, the Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; the God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my savior; thou savest me from violence.” 2 Samuel 22:2-3,

“For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.” Psalm 31:3

“Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress.” Psalm 71:3

“I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.” Psalm 91:2

“My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me.” Psalm 144:2

“For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.” Psalm 61:3

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” Proverbs 18:10

Yeoman Warder Tour

19 April 2012

Yeoman Warder Tour of the Tower of London

After exiting the Crown Jewels exhibit, join the group forming at the Middle Tower, just inside the entrance gates, for an hour-long guided tour led by a Yeoman Warder of the Tower. The first tour is at 9:30 am and a new tour leaves every 30 minutes.

Yeoman Warder with group at Tower Green

You’ll recognize the Yeoman Warders by their distinctive uniforms and hats. They are an elite group of men (and one woman) whose traditional duty since the Middle Ages has been to guard the Tower. These days, along with their ceremonial duties, they act as tour guides and answer visitors’ questions.

Yeoman Warder in undress uniform

Their uniforms have two basic designs: a blue and red uniform – called the “undress” uniform – for everyday use and a scarlet and gold uniform worn only for special occasions. The dress uniform, with its trademark Tudor-style pleated collar, was originally designed in 1485 and is reported to be not only expensive but also very heavy and uncomfortable.

Although your guide may try to convince you it means “Extremely Romantic,” the embroidered monogram ER on the uniform actually stands for “Elizabeth Regina” – Latin for “Queen Elizabeth,” the current sovereign of England.

To be eligible for selection as a Yeoman Warder, one must have at least 22 years of military service and have reached the rank of Sergeant Major. A good conduct record for 18 years is also required.

Yeoman Warders are often called “Beefeaters.” No one knows for sure the origin of the term but it was presumably used as a derogatory nickname for the Yeoman Warders because of their daily ration of beer and beef. Only rich people could afford beef at the time.

Today’s Beefeaters are highly entertaining and give wonderful tours, shock full of stories – some truer than others.

Take a Break: The New Armouries Café

New Armouries Cafe

Inside the tower complex, try the New Armouries Café. Formerly the site of the royal arsenal, the New Armouries Café provides a spacious, pleasant environment for a lunch or afternoon tea. The service is cafeteria-style and prices are reasonable. Kids’ menus are available.

The Crown Jewels

17 April 2012

This segment of PrayerWalk London takes you from the Tower of London’s Opening Ceremony through the Crown Jewels in the Jewel Tower.

Jewel House Entrance

Once inside the front gates, resist the temptation to go on the first yeoman warder’s tour. Instead, go directly to the Crown Jewels exhibit. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200 just go directly – go, go, go! – to the Crown Jewels. You’ll enter the Jewel House just under the clock in the Waterloo Barracks.

The lines inside the Jewel House have a bit of a Disneyland feel. Large electronic screens on either side of the anti-chamber play scenes from the last coronation to date, that of Elizabeth II, to entertain the waiting hordes. But because you were very smart and came early, you will not be one of them! You can breeze through at the speed of light to the Crown Jewels exhibit.

In this room are displayed the regalia, scepters, orbs and swords used for coronations and other ceremonies of state. The value of the objects in this room is inestimable. They have been used through the centuries and are still in use today; in fact, it is not unusual to find one of the swords missing because it is in use that day for a knighting.

As to the age of the jewels, when Oliver Cromwell acceded to power as Lord Protector in 1653, he ordered the jewel collection of his predecessors – those powerful symbols and reminders of the monarchy – be destroyed, melted down and dismantled. Therefore, most of the regalia on display today date from 1661 and the reign of Charles II, whose first order of business was to replenish the royal jewel collection.

The Crown Jewels are displayed in five glass cases. Visitors pass them on a sort of moving sidewalk. No photos are allowed. When you’re done, hop off and have another go at the moving sidewalk, congratulating yourself once again on beating the crowds.

Be sure to notice:

  • St. Edward’s Crown. This is the crown that the Archbishop of Canterbury places on the monarch’s head at the moment of coronation. It weighs nearly five pounds and contains 443 precious and semiprecious stones.
  • The Sovereign’s Scepter. The largest cut diamond in the world, Cullinan I (a.k.a. the First Star of Africa) is set in this scepter. The diamond weighs 530 carats.
  • The Imperial State Crown. Used annually by Queen Elizabeth II for the State Opening of Parliament, this spectacular crown contains the legendary “Stuart Sapphire,” the “Black Prince’s Ruby” and “Queen Elizabeth’s Pearls.” It includes 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires and 11 emeralds.
  • The Crown of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. This crown contains the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond from India, which weighs 106 carats. It belonged to the Queen Mother, who died in 2002.
  • Queen Victoria’s Diamond Crown. A tiny crown, it weighs only 4 ounces and was commissioned in 1870 by special request of Queen Victoria. It cost £50,000 to make.
  • The Anointing Spoon. The oldest surviving piece of regalia on display in the Jewel Room, the anointing spoon is from the 12th century and is used to pour holy oil.

Point to Ponder. Crown him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne! As you gaze at these emblems and symbols of the Kings and Queens of England, consider the glorious upcoming ceremony of the Coronation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Consider the words of Revelation 19:12, “… and on His head were many crowns.”

Tower of London — Visitor Information

16 April 2012

This segment of PrayerWalk London takes you from Tower Hill to the Tower of London’s Opening Ceremony.

Follow “Tower of London” signs down the steps to a tunnel that takes you under busy Tower Hill Street. Take a right after the tunnel and follow signs to “Tickets.” Soon you’ll see the ticket booth for the Tower of London.

NOTE: Be the first to arrive at the Tower of London in the morning. You’ll be glad you did. Arrive twenty minutes before opening time, especially if you did not order tickets online or pick them up early. Lines will form quickly and ticket kiosks open exactly at nine.

2. Tower of London.

Visitor Information. Tues-Sat 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Sun-Mon 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; last admission 5:00 p.m. Adult £20.90, Child (under 16) £10.45, Family (up to 2 adults and 6 children) £55, Children under 5 are free. Audio guides £4. Tickets can be booked ahead online or by phone. Be aware that some prices include a “voluntary donation.” www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon. 08444827799 (from UK); +44(0)2031666000 (from outside UK).

Have you ever wondered what life was like inside a moated fortress? Visitors to the Tower of London are often surprised to find that it is exactly that: a thousand-year-old fortress complete with moat, armory, torture chambers, a dungeon – and not just one but dozens of towers.

William the Conqueror built the Tower in the 11th century as a way of demonstrating his strength and frightening his new subjects into submission. Through the years it has been a place of torture, confinement and execution but also a place of refuge for kings and a royal palace. Many of Britain’s most innocent and infamous prisoners were held and executed here, from Lady Jane Grey – a queen for just nine days, whose only crime was being born on the wrong side of the royal family tree – to the notorious criminal Jack the Ripper.

Full of mystery and intrigue, the Tower is bound to top the list of every family’s favorite London destinations. Little princes of all ages will enjoy exhibits of ancient weaponry, squirm in fascination at the gruesome details of imprisonment and torture while little princesses will delight at the yeoman warder’s romantic tales of prisoners in love, shiver at the heartbreaking stories of innocent victims held captive within the towers and gaze in awe at the glittering crown jewels.

Did You Know? The Tower of London is home to a whole community of yeoman warders and their families. They live here full time in a little village around Tower Green, complete with a church, a doctor and their own little pub, the Yeoman Warders’ Club.

Fun Fact. The Tower of London, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, welcomes over 2 million visitors every year.

Opening Ceremony

If you arrive early enough and have your tickets in hand, be at the main entrance by 8:45 am to witness the unlocking ceremony. It isn’t an elaborate ceremony but features a small military contingent escorting the Yeoman Sergeant as he opens the Tower gates for the day.

Tower Hill

6 April 2012

Step out of Tower Hill station and follow “Tower of London” signage to street level. Take time to look at the displays in this area.

1. Tower Hill.

Public executions were considered popular entertainment in the Tower of London’s heyday. Tower Hill, a few minutes’ walk from the actual Tower of London, was the main place of execution for prisoners of war and traitors to the king or queen. Royalty and prisoners for whom public exposure was considered too high a risk would be executed more quietly in Tower Green, within the walls of the Tower complex, which you will see later in the tour.

With no TV or radio, and precious little time or resources for leisure, the working classes would rush to Tower Hill when a bell rung out one hour before the scheduled execution. Acrobats, jugglers and other performers entertained the eager, often blood-thirsty crowds as they waited for the prisoner to appear.

There would be a scaffold here, scattered with straw, equipped with gallows if the execution were by hanging and a chopping block if it was to be a beheading. Prisoners were brought up to the platform and, by permission of the king, given a chance to speak a last word to the crowd. Prisoners were expected not only to forgive their executioners but also to pay them. Priest or religious representatives would be present to offer spiritual encouragement to prisoners in their last moments.

Execution by beheading was actually considered merciful in contrast to other forms of execution, which included being hung, drawn and quartered or being burned alive at the stake. Execution by beheading took two forms: by axe — by far the most common — and by sword, reserved for nobility because it was considered swifter and less painful. The pain a victim of beheading endured depended much on the sharpness of weapon as well as the skill and experience of the executioner. One poor noble woman is said to have endured seven strokes before the fatal blow.

Among the victims executed on Tower Hill were William Wallace, popularized in the movie Braveheart; Thomas More, advisor to Henry VIII, who fell out of favor for opposing the king’s first divorce; the alleged co-conspirators of Ann Boleyn’s, Henry VIII’s second wife, whom Henry accused of adultery; and other conspirators against reigning kings and queens, such as Guildford Dudley, husband of the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey.

Next stop: Tower of London

A Visit to the London Mosque

24 March 2012

London Mosque from Regent's Park

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the London Central Mosque with a group of students from a Christian university in the U.S. who were studying the topic of Middle East relations. As we arrived at the mosque, the air was filled with a mixture of nervousness and anticipation: this was a new experience for most of us. What would it be like?

Our Guide Omar

We waited a few minutes at a guard station for Omar, our escort, to arrive. The women we saw were all much more heavily veiled than we were, even though the women in our group had taken care to dress modestly and to cover their heads with scarves, as had been recommended to us when the tour was set up.

We seemed to stir up a bit of curiosity among the mosque-goers. Omar, who is the chief PR person for the mosque, was an excellent and genial host. He had a heavy beard, was very young (probably mid-20s), of Afghan background and therefore darker skinned, with a white skull cap. He was in Western dress – a button-down shirt and trousers.

A Lesson in Mosque Etiquette

Before we walked into the prayer hall, we were required to remove our shoes and put them on shelves – a shoe rack of sorts. I wish I’d had time to read the sign that outlined mosque etiquette but we were moving too quickly. At a glance, I saw that one of the first rules was that anyone coming for prayer should refrain from eating onion or garlic or anything that would cause bad breath and distract other people. That might be a good rule for our churches as well! They were also admonished to wear clean socks. Women should refrain from wearing perfume because it might excite desire among the men.

After removing our shoes, we all sat down on the carpeted floor in the middle of the prayer hall to listen to Omar. It was a stunningly beautiful room, more beautiful and full of light than any cathedral I’ve ever seen. But, then again, I kind of overdosed on cathedrals as a child growing up in France so perhaps what I admired was the novel aspect of the architecture.

Point to Ponder: Pray Continually

Muslims pray five obligatory prayers per day, and are encouraged to do so in congregation with other Muslims. This encourages a discipline and builds a sense of fraternity and community among those who pray, and an opportunity for them to exchange thoughts and help each other with problems. Can you imagine the wonderful things that could happen if Christians prayed fervently five times a day, every day? Consider putting this theory into practice and setting an alarm on your phone or other device to go off at five preset times during the day as a reminder to drop everything and focus on what’s most important: God and prayer.

Barefoot Inside the Prayer Hall

It helped that the hall was decorated in my favorite color: blue. The room was domed and the ceiling painted in different shades of blue. Just below the domed ceiling were beautiful Arab inscriptions, also in blue. There were bookshelves along part of the wall. No icons, no pictures, no statues.

It was pretty quiet, this not being a Friday or the mosque’s most popular prayer time, with people (only males) praying or sitting in small groups. Some were lying on the floor (one guy was snoring until his mobile phone – another mosque no-no – woke him up).

Omar was a very good teacher, using a question and answer method. One of the first things Omar clarified was that removing shoes is in no way an act of worship. It’s just common sense: it’s to keep the carpet clean. He spoke for nearly an hour about the five pillars and I found his method of explanation very clear and easy to understand. I was struck by how sincere and passionate he was about devotion to God, about prayer, about giving to others, about fasting and about his own pilgrimage to Mecca.

A Poignant Moment

The atmosphere was quiet and peaceful as he spoke and there was a nice breeze floating in from the open windows. It rather reminded me of nursery nap time. A scene that really marked me was the sight of a little blond-headed boy, probably about two years old, kneeling to pray beside his dad.

A visit to a mosque, while perhaps controversial for some Christians, can be an excellent way of gaining insight into the Islamic faith and of praying for Muslims “on location.”

For a suggested half-day’s itinerary of the Regent’s Park area of London, see Walk 5: Parks & Recreation.

Interview with Mark Williamson prayerforlondon.com

22 March 2012
I’d always been interested in London, and learning about its history, and praying for God to bring revival to the city, since that would lead to a massive change across the whole of the UK, and maybe beyond. — Mark Williamson, Prayer for London

Prayerforlondon.com is a website that exists solely to help generate prayer for the city of London, England. On the site, you’ll find prayer points for the major spheres that affect British life, you can sign up to receive real-time prayer needs for London via Twitter or book guided prayerwalking tours of the city. The last item particularly caught my attention.

Mark leading tour in London

From a continent away, Mark Williamson answers my questions concerning the tours and Prayer for London.

Nathalie Jeter: What is the focus of these guided prayerwalks?

Mark Williamson: The walks have three aims:

1. Tourism – we wanted it to be a genuinely fun and informative walking tour around the sites of central London.

2. Intercession – we wanted to do some serious and strategic praying outside different places of influence.

3. Evangelism – we wanted others to see what we were doing, ask questions, even come and join us, and ultimately help introduce some people to a relationship with God. (We had one guy called Ivan meet us outside Buckingham Palace in 2009, and he gave his life to Jesus!)

NJ: How did this idea of guided prayerwalks of London come about?

MW: Some friends of mine coordinate a huge Christian festival in London in the week before Pentecost. The first of these was in 2008, and I remember thinking “what event can I bring to the festival?” Previously, I’d always been interested in London, and learning about its history, and praying for God to bring revival to the city, since that would lead to a massive change across the whole of the UK, and maybe beyond. So I got together with a friend (Vicki Sokolowski), we got introduced to two other people (Richard Smart and Sarah Bingham) [and we began to run these walks].

NJ: How long have you (and the other team members) been leading these walks?

MW: [We] started at Pentecost 2008, then did more at Pentecost 2009 and 2010. In 2011 other groups and churches then started hearing about it, and asking whether tours could run at other times, not just during Pentecost Festival. So we started to run a few more. And alongside that we’ve run various prayer meetings around central London, and started to meet other intercessors and networks with a heart for praying for London. So in January we said, let’s set up a website to advertise the walks, try and list all the many different prayer meetings actually happening for the capital. And that then led to us starting a blog, and trying to put a list of resources together. And who knows where God will lead us…?

NJ: What is the main thing you want people to know about this ministry?

MW: I’m actually not sure! We don’t know what it will end up becoming. But I guess we want people to know the website is there as a resource, that they can come to events or sign up to the Twitter account to get prayer points/ requests, and hopefully that there will be more prayer for London happening as a result of the site…

If you are passionate about prayer for the nations and want to find out more, check out Prayer for London.

 

PrayerWalk London: “Crime & Punishment” Highlights

20 March 2012

Walk 3

Crime & Punishment: Tower of London to St. Paul’s

Summary of Area

The Tower of London has stood as a powerful symbol of crime and punishment for nearly 900 years. In this walk, you will follow in the footsteps of condemned prisoners up to Tower Hill, gaze at the royal jewels and hear the Tower’s guards weave centuries’ worth of fascinating tales. You will then make your way through London’s busy financial district and criminal courts to contemplate the many crimes committed through the centuries for wealth and greed. Your tour terminates at St. Paul’s cathedral, where you will have leisure to ponder God’s grace and mercy that takes even the vilest repentant sinner and washes him white as snow.

 

The White Tower, Tower of London

Key Facts

  • Starting Point: Tower Hill (underground station: Tower Hill)
  • Finishing Point: St. Paul’s Cathedral (underground station: St. Paul’s, Mansion House, Blackfriars Station)
  • Days to Avoid: None, but note the City is deserted on weekends
  • Length of Walk: 2.5miles
  • Time Needed: 4 hours at Tower of London + 2 hours for other sites

Walk Highlights*

1. Tower Hill. With no TV or radio, executions were the popular entertainment in the Tower’s heyday. A bell rang one hour before the execution and crowds would rush to watch the gruesome proceedings on Tower Hill, where all but the highest profile prisoners would meet their fate.

2. Tower of London. William the Conqueror built the Tower in the 11th century as a way of showing his strength and cowing his enemies. It has been a place of torture, confinement and execution for the most innocent and infamous prisoners of British history – from Nine Days’ Queen Jane Grey, whose only crime was being on the wrong side of the royal family tree, to the notorious criminal Jack the Ripper.

3. The Monument. This 202-ft-tall monument designed by Sir Christopher Wren commemorates the place where the Great Fire of London began in 1666. If the monument were laid flat in a westward direction, it would end at the spot where the fire broke out in a bake shop on Pudding Lane.

4. Financial District. At the heart of the original Roman settlement of Londinium, where later during the Middle Ages wealthy and powerful merchants gathered into guilds, lies the vibrant modern business district of the City of London. Today’s Royal Exchange has been transformed into a luxury shopping center but its neighboring Bank of England, nicknamed The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street,  still busily carries out its original mission and purpose.

5. Old Bailey. The Central Criminal Court of England and Wales, nicknamed Old Bailey, treats London’s major criminal cases as well as major cases from other parts of the country. It has been featured in literature such as Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and more recently has appeared in movies such as Witness for the Prosecution and Patriot Games.

6. St. Paul’s Cathedral. Sir Christopher Wren’s great church and monument, St. Paul’s is one of London’s most beloved places of worship. Lady Diana Spencer chose this church in which to wed Prince Charles in 1981, although traditionally royals had given precedence to Westminster Abbey for their nuptial ceremonies. The present cathedral was built 300 years ago but there has been a church on the site for 1,400 years.

*As mentioned in a previous blog, this manuscript is a work in progress. Each highlight above currently links to Internet sites providing general information. Eventually they will link to relevant sections of PrayerWalk London.

 

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