Westminster and Ripper Day

This morning we were out early to beat the long queues at Westminster Abbey.  Pro tip, though: even getting there twenty minutes before opening on a Monday morning, the lines was really, really long.

Thankfully it moved pretty fast. Sadly, no pictures were allowed inside. But I will tell you this: it was one of the most moving experiences I’ve had, and I’m not religious. It was simply staggering in scale and beauty and history.

Neve, Maddie, and I each lit a candle in the nave and paused to take it all in. Then we moved through, taking care to read as many of the tombs as we could.

We lingered over the tombs of Elizabeth I and her sister Mary, and I’ll admit I got a bit emotional, having studied her for so long and finally being that close to her earthy remains. I also reached past the rail and put a hand on her marble crypt. It was an experience I’ll not soon forget. Just a foot or two, some marble, and a few hundred years separated us.

We left the Abbey amazed at how close we had come to nearly a thousand years of history, and headed for lunch at a cafe in the crypt of a different church, St Martin-in-the-Fields.

Yes, they have a cafe in the original crypt. Yes, there are still burial stones and markers in there. No, it was t creepy. And the food was well-priced and very, very good.

We managed our way over to Oxford and Regent streets so Maddie could find the London Coach Store, and then we browsed a Top Shop and Marks and Spencer.

We’ve also gotten very adept at navigating the Underground. We love it!

We planned some time to try the Eye, but it was rather expensive, honestly, it would have cost more than our tour of the Abbey had, and that hadnt been cheap at £40. Instead, we found a nice little cafe called “Giraffe”, and had a nice early dinner before meeting a group for a Jack the Ripper tour.

Our guide, Lindsay, was fantastic. She works for Scotland Yard as well as for the tour company, and she’s met descendants of the Ripper’s victims. She has research coming out soon, and she’s been interviewed many times for documentaries.  We went to each spot where the victims’ bodies were found, and she showed us photographs of how each place looked at the time of the murders. The sky had gone grey and it was windy, with a nice chill and the smell off woodsmoke in the air. It was perfect!  It was one of our favorite things we’ve done, for sure.

The last thing we did was stop at The Blackfriar Pub next to our hotel for a last pint in the UK, as we leave in  the morning for Paris.

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We were right under Big Ben on our way to the Abbey.image

On Whitehall Rd.

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The Cafe in the Crypt

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The floor of the cafe

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Big Ben and Parliament from across The Thames

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Church in Spitalfields from the Ripper tour.

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The Spitalfields Market, which was there at the time of the killings.

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We ended the tour just under The Gherkin at “Ripper Corner”, the site of the second-to-last murder.

Such a fun night!

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