Nov. 1, 2015

London in a Day

Saturday the 23rd was our last day.  We took the Eurostar From Paris to London through the chunnel and we were there in 2 1/2 hours.  Our two stops were the Tower of London and the Churchill War Bunker which were good choices for us given the theme of our entire trip.  

Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London.  We think of it as the "tower aspect" where political prisoners, cast off wives and other "enemies" of the crown were held and sometimes executed.  But it is really the royal palace and fortress built by William the Conqueror in the 1070's. Built from luminous Caen stone, William's "White Tower" was extended and strengthened by his successors – most notably Henry III and his son Edward I - throughout the Medieval period. By 1350 the Tower had taken on the impressive form we see today.  There is much to see here, everyhing from torture rooms to armor to the original Crowns and the Crown Jewels (priceless!).  I liked the grounds and how good a shape it is in.

After waiting line in the rain (naturally) our last stop was the tuor of Churchill's War Room (or bunker). This was built under WhiteHall near 10 Downing Street in the basement just after WWII had begun.  It was kept as a secret for most of the war, Churchill and his War Cabinet with their support staff worked there every day through the entire war.  Many lived there as well (Churchill only slept there a few occassions).  What makes this tour so special is that it is in exactly the condition it was when the war was over in September 1945.  Documents, letters, maps, pens pencils, everything is as if they are returning to take up on their work tomorrow.  For any student of WWII and the British war effort this is a must see.  An addition since I was last there in 1994 is a separate small Churchill museum exhibiting his life story.