The Tower of London

DSC_0119Her Majesty’s Palace and Fortress the Tower of London is one of three UNESCO World Heritage sites within Greater London – and should be on the itinerary of every London visitor.

Started by William the Conqueror in the 1080s, it was extended and reinforced throughout the middle ages to become the mightiest fortress of its time.

Today it is home to the Crown Jewels – conservatively values at some £20 billion – the Yeoman Warders (or Beefeaters as they’re known, even though they don’t like the term) and the ravens: legend has it that if the ravens leave the Tower than England will fall. But in the past it has been a royal palace, a menagerie, a prison, the Royal armoury and the site of the Royal Mint.

It is also the site of the execution of three queens, the murder of two kings and the burial place of two saints. It has ghost stories, tales of daring escapes (and tragic failures), suits of armour worn by Henry VIII and Charles I, and ancient ceremonies that still take place every day.

A visit to the Tower is a great way to spend some of your time in London – either as a trip in itself or as part of a full day tour, and I can help you make the most of your time there, showing you the best it has to offer and telling you some of its stories (do you want to hear about when the Crown Jewels were stolen? Or when Elizabeth I was imprisoned? Or when Guy Fawkes was tortured?).

Contact me to find out more.

St Paul’s Cathedral

DSC_0035Sir Christopher Wren’s baroque masterpiece arose from the ashes of the Great Fire of London of 1666. It has become one of the symbols of London, its elegant shape recognised around the world, and sightlines of its dome are protected by statute.

Witness to the funerals of Churchill, Wellington and Nelson, as well as the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, it is one of our national churches, the site of big state occasions and commemorations.

It is also astoundingly beautiful, both inside and out. You can climb to the Whispering Gallery and look down into the body of the church, or tackle all 528 stairs up to the Golden Gallery with its spectacular views of the City of London and beyond. Or visit the Crypt, and pay your respects at the tombs of great men and women from Britain’s past.

Contact me for details of tours of the Cathedral, either as stand-alone visits, or as part of a half- or full-day’s London sightseeing.

Westminster Abbey

wabbeyWalk through 1,000 years of British history in a visit to the country’s national church.

The site of coronations, royal weddings (including William and Kate in 2011) and the burial place of kings, Westminster Abbey is a ‘must see’ destination for any visitor to London.

You can see the centuries-old Coronation Chair, used for every coronation since 1308, visit the tombs of Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots, hear about the famous men and women commemorated in Poets’ Corner, and experience the sublime architecture of the Henry VII chapel. There is also a mosaic that predicts when the world will end, and the oldest door in the UK.

Westminster Abbey is open for visits Monday to Saturday. 0930-1530. Contact me if you would like a private tour.

The British Museum

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No trip to London is complete without a visit to the British Museum, one of the finest collections of objects of human culture in the world.

Join me for a two-hour tour of the museum’s highlights. The first half shows you treasures from the ancient world: mummies from Egypt from before the time of the Pharaohs, the mysterious Rosetta Stone, the all-powerful Rameses the Great, the exquisite carvings of the Assyrians, and the world-famous Parthenon Marbles – 2500 years old and still one of the crowning achievements of Western sculpture.

We’ll then look at objects found in Britain – from a time before the concept of ‘Britain’ even existed, a unique Roman mosaic, gold and silver treasures from 4000 years of history, including the Mold gold cape, Anglo-Saxon artefacts from Sutton Hoo that put paid to the idea of a ‘dark ages’ and two of the most astoundingly beautiful pieces of medieval craftsmanship you will ever see.

All these objects have incredible stories to tell, and you’ll discover what makes them so important. Contact me to book your trip.

Check out the latest walks to see if this is scheduled for a forthcoming Sunday walk.