S. Worthen (owlfish) wrote,
S. Worthen

Tower of London

Although I have a Tower Hamlets library card, I have yet to check out any books from the system. Instead, the first thing I checked out with my library card was the Tower of London. Yes, the whole thing, moat, walls, towers, wardens, ravens and all.

For the first half of this week, admission to the Tower was only £1 for Tower Hamlets residents. Since it's normally £15, this was an excellent chance to go back and see more of it without being extravagant about museum admission. ewtikins met me in the midst of pouring rain and biting wind. We waited ten minutes for the weather to clear: this is proof that we are in England. If we'd been back in the prairies or the midwest, we would have been more likely to presume the weather had set in for the day and wasn't likely to change.

The last time I was at the Tower, we toured the outdoors, the ravens, the medieval castle, and the jewels. This time, my tour companion and I concentrated on the White Tower and the chapels, with a tour of the medieval castle as well. The medieval castle was populated by recreationists. A helpful monkishly robed man was distributing baskets of medieval objects to schoolchildren in a bedroom filled with portable recreation furniture. In another room, a king sat lonely on his throne, a minion announcing his presence to passers-through. Several women had their photos taken with the shiny-crowned king while we admired the brickwork and doorways. A display room of medieval governance artifacts smelled inexplicably of cinnamon.

At the White Tower, a tour was about to begin. We followed the chatty commentator up to the Chapel of St. John, where Norman arches surrounded us in barren elegance. It would be a lovely place to keep vigil, as once was done by kings of England before their coronations. Entertaining anecdotes about the building's history and kings' armor kept us going through the main rooms on the first floor before our guide took his leave. We explored gunpowder on our own.

The last time I was at the Tower, the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula was closed the whole day; thus, one of my goals in returning was to see it. It was blocked off earlier in the day, but as we emerged from the White Tower, it stood open. One nave, one aisle, an organ and its spyhole, a piscina tucked away by the altar - and then the chapel was closing for the day, along with the rest of the complex. For future reference, the building is available during the day by tour only; but open to anyone during the last 45 minutes of each day, plus services on Sunday.

You see? It's worth having a library card to one's local library system.

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