Saturday, July 6, 2013

Medieval Gothic and Victorian Gothic

We began the day with a visit to the Palace of Westminster.

Many may consider the architectural style to be over the top, but I like it.

It is a grand building that exudes pomp and splendor. It was built in 1834 after a fire ravaged the previous old Palace.

There are wonderful motifs on the building including the Lord's Prayer.

The complex has 1100 rooms, but the only one I was able to photograph was the oldest - Westminster Hall. The hall was built in 1097 and has the largest hammer-beam roof in the world.

It has been the site of many important events in British history.  The trial of Sir Thomas More in 1535 was held in this hall.  Churchill lay in state here in 1965.  Nelson Mandela addressed both houses in 1996, and the Queen Mother lay in state here in 2002.

We went through some very intense security before entering the building, then gathered for our tour.  The 90 minute tour was endlessly entertaining and informative.  We got to see the rooms the Queen uses when she comes to deliver the annual government address including the Queen's Robing Room and the Royal Gallery. We walked through St Stephen's Hall and the Central Lobby with the widest stone roof in the world. We then visited the Members' Lobby, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons.  

Did you know that all the leather in the House of Lords is green, while it is red in the House of Commons?  When Tony Blair was Prime Minster,  my sister and I regularly watched "Prime Minister's Questions".  Politics aside, Mr. Blair was spot on with all the questions and not above a cutting witty response when appropriate. Here's a link for a video with images of Prince's Chamber, Royal Gallery and Robing Room.
After the tour, the day was still young and we were raring to go!

We crossed the street to Westminster Abbey.

Benedictine monks first came to this site in the middle of the tenth century,  and established a tradition of daily worship which continues to this day. Pope Benedict, himself a Benedictine monk, visited here. 

The Abbey has been the coronation church since 1066 and is the final resting place of seventeen monarchs including the sisters Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth I. The Abbey is also famous for its memorials to poets, playwrights, and musicians including Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Handel. 

The present church was begun by Henry III in 1245 and is one of the most important Gothic buildings in England.  The medieval shrine of an Anglo-Saxon saint, Edward the Confessor, is at its heart.  Prayers are held there daily.

On a hot day, the Cloisters were a welcome respite from the heat.

The central green plaza was restful and there is a small garden too.  

Since visiting the Minster at York I've become an aficionado of Chapter Houses. Westminster Chapter House has a central pole holding up the roof, while the Minster Chapter House roof is free-standing.  

And while the Westminster Chapter House has some nice details, I think the Minster Chapter House wins hands down.  Take a look back at the Minster if you want to compare for yourself.

So today's over-arching theme was Gothic.
True Gothic architecture at Westminster Abbey.  

Victorian Gothic architecture at the Palace of Westminster.


Barb said...

Such absolutely amazing buildings. Plus all that history. It is truly a trip of a lifetime that you are on! Again, thank you for sharing each day! I anxiously await your posts!

CalamityJr said...

So beautiful!

cucki said...

Woe it is so beautiful..truly amazing...
So nice to read about Nelson Mandela ..
Love x

Margaret said...

Love it love it! What fun you must be having, seeing all these famous places. Hope it's not too hot to make things miserable. supposed to be hotter tomorrow I hear.

Annette-California said...

Loved seeing The Palace of Westminster. honestly I thought there was only 1 church. I didn't know it was a Palace and all those rooms. Amazing! Hope you will have cool weather. If it's hot weather, take a wet wash cloth in a plastic baggie. Then if you need it - Flap it in the air and it will become cool again. love Annette

Marlene Jones said...

You should charge a fee to our tourist information for the wonderful way you are showing off our great City and country, your post are always interesting and your photo's are great. I am so glad you both are enjoying yourselves, and our weather is being so very kind to you.

Giovanna said...

Oh my, I've never been able to visit the Houses (they were always closed whenever I tried) - I'll just have to try again. But I've been to the Abbey several times. I love that memorial to Halley :-) Glad you're having such a good time.

Chris said...

Wonderful, such amazing architecture!

Vickie said...

Hey, I like Annette's tip for you. =)
Another gorgeous post Beth. So much you are taking in. Are you on overload? Or can you take it in and savor it, making wonderful memories for yourselves?

Mary said...

Wonderful photos.....tell us have you had any good food... or unusual food...I know England is not known for their food...maybe Cornwall and its pasties...or wonderful cream teas.... but anything stand out?

Susan said...

I am a sucker for Gothic architecture. Once again, thank you for the trip.