Monday, October 11, 2010

Treasures of London

When I visited London this summer, it was like going back in history, because I spent every minute I could in places like Westminster Abbey, Hampton Court, and the Tower of London. Westminster Abbey was so glorious, I wanted to go back to hear a service there. I stood in the area where the choir sits, and imagined the music that Elizabeth I would have heard at her coronation.

Speaking of Elizabeth, I visited Lambeth Library, an awesome place with ancient texts. On this particular day the library hosted a traveling exhibition, and what a display it was. One of the five extant Gutenberg Bibles was on display, a huge volume with a bright red cover. We were told it may very well have been the first one from the Gutenberg press.

Terra Cotta figure

What I remember most vividly, though, was a document sealed in a glass case. It was one page, signed by Elizabeth I, for the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots.

I was privileged to take an archaeological tour in Hampton Court, which included a trip through royal apartments and up to the storage room. The tour guide, knowledgeable and friendly, was in charge of protecting and storing artifacts connected with the palace. He unveiled treasures from the past and allowed us to photograph the items.

He unwrapped a lovely (and rare) terracotta likeness of a queen (see accompanying image), and we all snapped pictures. It is believed to be of an eastern monarch, possibly Cleopatra. The roundel probably comes from the Holbein gate which was demolished in 1754.

Henry's bed

Another rare treasure was the lower part of Henry VIII’s bed, gilded and heavily ornamented (see image). As I snapped the image you see here, I could not help but think of the lovely young girls who may have lain beside him in this bed, later to find themselves in the Tower, awaiting their execution.                                                                        

If you could visit one place in London, where would it be?

Joyce's 3rd book, The Tapestry Shop, is due to be released Oct. 13th
    Of the book, Romance Reviews Today says:
. . . meticulously researched . . . Beautifully written, this is an excellent novel for the fan of historical fiction.


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Thanks for sharing this with us, Joyce. I hope to visit London in the future. What an exciting city, full of the romance of history!
There's so much I'd like to see that I can't select any one place in the city I'd especially want to visit.

Terry Odell said...

We toured London a few years back. Hubster was most impressed with the gold punch bowl in the Tower of London. Also enjoyed the changing of the guard (where one soldier lost control of his horse and it nearly stepped on an onlooker.) We also went to the Sherlock Holmes Museum, which was a hoot. Having read a lot of Brit-set mysteries, just seeing familiar names and places was fascinating.

Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Jacqueline: You really have to go. Just seeing Westminster Abbey and all the places I've read about in all the historical novels I've read, sent me to heaven. But I didn't care for the food. We kept going back to an Italian restaurant!

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Hi Terry: A week isn't enough, for me, at least, because I couldn't take my time everywhere. Guess I'll have to go back. Isn't the terracotta lady lovely?

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