On September 14th we went to the Globe Theatre to watch a production of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.” It was PHENOMENAL. I really loved it. So much, in fact, that I went again two days later with some friends. For five pounds you can get a ticket to stand next to the stage. Although my first ticket was more expensive, watching it up close was SO MUCH COOLER! The girl I was standing next to actually got spit on by three different actors, that’s how close we were :) Watching Shakespeare in the Globe was an out-of-this-world experience.
After H&M a man on the street gave us directions to the statue we were seeking. The route he gave us took us through a small park and some really great neighborhoods. We also passed a few embassies. We found the statue and discovered its name, Quadriga—‘quad’ meaning ‘four’ and ‘riga’ meaning ‘chariot.’ The statue depicts the Angel of Peace holding back the Horses of War. I really love this statue. It is very fluid in its depiction and symbolic in its message.
We set out from ‘Quadriga’ to Harrods…which was quite an experience. Harrods is HUGE. I don’t believe I will ever be wealthy enough to purchase anything there, but it sure was fun to look. It’s almost more of a museum than a store.
We ate lunch at a little sandwich and coffee shop called O’Keefe’s. It was just a little out of the way place, and it seemed to me like they probably didn’t get many tourists there, because as we sat to eat our Cornish pasties (a sort of a mix between a meat pie and a hot pocket) the man who worked there came to sit by us and ask about where we were from.
After lunch we rode the tube to St. James’ Park, a large park across from Buckingham Palace. We sat on a bench and read our books because the weather was beautiful. Our final plan for the day was to go to Fleet Street (home of Sweeney Todd) and eat dinner at ‘the only good Mexican restaurant in London’ but it turns out that Fleet Street is in a financial district, and therefore nothing is open on the weekends…not even Mexican restaurants. So we came home and ate Chinese instead. It was so fun to just spend the day killing time and seeing sights. I LOVE London.
In Southall we also visited two Hindu temples. I got a henna tattoo, which I was really excited about…I always wanted one of those. I felt a little weird when I went to church with it two days later though… That night for dinner we ate at an Indian restaurant. I found out that Indian food isn’t my favorite, but it’s not so bad.
September 9th was a day of many firsts for me. Not only did I see my first castle, but also my first cathedral. Visiting Canterbury Cathedral was a great experience.I especially enjoyed that we took a guided tour. At Dover castle we all wandered around and tried to find stuff we thought was cool, but at Canterbury we had a guide that was able to point out things of note and interest as well as provide background information about the history of the cathedral. It was really cool to hear my guide, Margaret, tell stories about the cathedral being rebuilt, things being removed or destroyed by differing groups, and the many styles of architecture.
One of my favorite things about the cathedral was how the history was so layered. These layers were physically manifested in the architecture, art, and even the layout of the cathedral. The cathedral and the buildings that were scattered around it had been constructed over several periods of time. The architecture went from heavy and Romanesque to tall, perpendicular Gothic. There was a small room in the crypt where a wall had been removed to reveal a space underneath where there were even older paintings. The cathedral has changed hands several times in its history, and each group that came through left pieces of itself. Or in the case of the Puritans, removed pieces (particularly heads of statues) left by previous groups.
The well-known story of the martyrdom of Thomas Beckett adds another level of interest to the cathedral. As we paused at the altar that had been constructed on the site of his martyrdom, I felt a reverence for this man who had the courage to defy a king and friend for his beliefs.Although I know that the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ was not actually upon the earth at the time, it is an excellent reminder that there have always been good men and women who were genuinely trying to live by the commandments of God.It is also a demonstration that the adversary has been fighting against good people and their values for many ages.
It was also interesting to me that, although the edifice we were inside was very old, the original cathedral that had been built in the time of St. Augustine was alive and was much older. Whenever I hear of a religious building that was destroyed, whether by nature or antagonistic men, and then rebuilt by the believers, I am reminded of the Nauvoo temple and the early saints. Although different Christian religions don’t always see eye to eye on matters of religion and religious administration, the willingness to show devotion to God and willingness to sacrifice for religious beliefs is a common ground. I have great admiration for the people who worked so hard to build that magnificent cathedral and great respect for the fact that parts of it have been rebuilt several times.
Canterbury was a very worthwhile fieldtrip and an excellent learning experience. I feel that my understanding of the history of Christianity in England, not to mention the roots of my own religion, was greatly supplemented by this opportunity to see firsthand this cathedral and hear stories of actual events that took place there.
On September 9, 2009 our group went to Dover. We spent the morning walking around Dover Castle, my first castle visit ever! It was a really incredible experience.
Dover castle was built over time, but it really began to take shape during the rule of Henry II (around 1200 AD). Although many people think of castles in terms of Disneyland and Cinderella, castles originally were built for defense first, and comfort second. Huge stone walls and minimal conveniences were characteristic of early castles.
The Dover Castle is built overlooking the English Channel and the White Cliffs of Dover. From the lookout point at the castle we could see France.
Dover Castle was an active military site until the 1950s and was an important point in WWII. Evacuation of French and English soldiers from France was coordinated from Dover Castle.
After the castle we drove down and spent some time on a ‘beach’ (there was gravel instead of sand, so I use the term ‘beach’ loosely) and walked down the wharf. The busiest shipping lanes in the world exist right there between Dover and Calais, France. It was a very cool morning.