We had lunch near Buckingham Palace (my last meat pie!), then traveled to the Tower of London. Like most things on this trip, I was verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry excited to go there. I’ve heard frequent complaints from people that it was ” so small,” but I thought it was quite impressive. So many of the things I’ve read have had the Tower in them at some point, and it was so crazy to be walking on such rich historical grounds. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to scream or cry. We got a fabulous view of the Tower Bridge as we walked along the wall.The White Tower was built by William the Conqueror in late 1066 and was the first structure built on the grounds. The outer walls and buildings were added by later monarchs.
For me, the most significant thing to happen in the White Tower was the murder of the two princes and their [disputed] burial under the steps there. After King Edward IV died (the king to Elizabeth Woodville’s queen and detailed in The White Queen – IT ALWAYS COMES BACK TO THESE PEOPLE), his son became King Edward V. Edward IV’s rotten younger brother, Richard, wanted the throne for himself, so he was managed to have Edward and Elizabeth’s marriage declared invalid by finding people to claim that Edward had a pre-contract for marriage to another woman before he met Elizabeth.
Mean Richard took young King Edward V (age 12) and his little brother, also Richard (9), and imprisoned them in the tower in 1493. They then completely disappeared never to be heard from again. In 1674 two sets of bones were found in a staircase and declared to be [disputed of course] the two princes. Below is the place they [allegedly] were found. Mean Richard became Richard III, and the site serves as a terrible example of how a desire for power can lead people to do truly terrible things.
After the White Tower, our next stop was to see all of the Crown Jewels in the Waterloo Barracks. Those were some RIDICULOUS diamonds. Absolutely unnecessary. And I wish they were mine. One of the places I had to see was the Church of St. Peter ad Vincula which is where Anne Boleyn is buried. Sari and Anne (not Boleyn) wanted to go see the ravens and check out a shop, so Chris and I went to the chapel. I was really excited because he had a lot of questions about Henry VIII and his legacy, and since no one really ever wants to talk to me about it, I was thrilled to have someone to chat history with.
After her execution [the exact location is still disputed, but widely believed to have been at the entrance to the Crown Jewels above (the Waterloo Barracks)] she was buried in an unmarked grave in the chapel. Later renovations identified her remains [also disputed], and she now has a marker on the marble floor. The area where she is [allegedly] buried is roped off, but I could see it and a picture of her stone is below.
I felt exceptionally sad being there because her death is a tragedy. She did nothing wrong other than marrying A TERRIBLE MAN. Part of her end was due to a falling out with the powerful Thomas Cromwell because she thought the money raised from the fallen monasteries should be given to charity (and he wanted it to go to the king). See? Good queen. I also have pity for Catherine Howard because she was a teenager who was married to an old fat man because of her power hungry family, but she actually made some terrible choices (again, she was really young and I can’t blame her for what she did even though doing that while married to a murderer was not a good idea. Also, I can’t say it enough, but SCREW YOU TERRIBLE JANE BOLEYN). Being a woman was a hard business.
We then walked over to the execution site where there is a memorial for ten people who were executed on the Tower grounds. These were private executions (many were royals) where the public was not allowed to watch [Anne was not beheaded in this place despite her name being listed on the memorial]. This memorial reminds me a lot of Cinderella (a glass shoe belongs on that pillow) and I kind of hate it.
I also made sure to see the the Traitor’s Gate which is where many Tudor prisoners entered the Tower, including Sir Thomas More and maybe Anne Boleyn [this is disputed].We had about 30 minutes left before the Tower closed, so we wandered around trying to see as much as we could. The Tower was probably my second favorite thing after the play because it has so much historical relevance to the people I most enjoy reading about. After the Tower, we rode the tube over to the play and had some snacks beforehand.
The play ended spectacularly and I was so happy with it. I laughed, I sobbed, and I had moments of sheer terror. I hope it comes here so I can see it again. The kid who played Scorpius was amazing, and Noma Dumezweni as Hermione was fantastic. She perfectly captured Hermione’s intensity and intelligence, while also exuding the compassion and care that really define her character. So SCREW ALL OF YOU JERKS who thought a black woman couldn’t be a perfect Hermione because SHE WAS.
Also, HELLO to Sarah who recognized me and came over to chat at the play. She’s off frolicking about in Scotland and Ireland now, so let’s all be jealous of her. So many things that happened felt like real magic, and it was such a high-quality production. Go see it if you can! They also have super cool merchandise!
This trip was so fun and I am so glad we got to spend so much time with Anne and Chris. It could not have been better and my face hurt all day from laughing. We really had almost too much fun because we only slept a few hours each night. The last night we got home around one am, packed until around two, then got up at six to go to the airport. I had major feet problems the last few days of the trip because they had swollen so much from all of the walking that a lot of skin had been rubbed off and my shoes felt like a vice. I was hobbling around the last two days, and I almost cried in the airport because I could barely move, but I made it. I was so thrilled to sit on that plane. Sari and I had a nine hour flight to Vancouver, and I slept for so much of it that I barely finished a single movie.
We got home Saturday night at seven, then were in bed asleep by 8:30. I woke up early on Sunday, and spent the day unpacking, washing clothes, meal prepping, and going through emails. I tried to keep busy so I wouldn’t be tempted to nap which actually worked quite well. I went to bed at 7:30 on Sunday night and had an amazing night of sleep until I had to get up at 5:30 am. I honestly don’t know how people can come home from a long trip on Sunday and go to work on Monday. I need that buffer day to get my shit together mentally and physically.