A couple of weeks ago I decided to take advantage of the last few days left on my railcard (goodbye cheap train fares!) and head across to London for a little day trip.
After getting a super early train, my first stop was Westminster Abbey. In all of the time that I lived in London, I never actually visited, so I thought since I was having a tourist day, it was the perfect opportunity to cross it off my list.
I know that the abbey gets really busy but I thought that if I got there bang on opening time, I’d be OK. Wrong! I arrived to find the queues already all the way back to the corner of the building! They moved relatively quickly though, so after half an hour I was ready with audio tour in hand, ready to take in the amazing building and the insane amount of history associated with it.
The only problem was, when they were designing the abbey, they didn’t really take into account the hoards of tourists that would be visiting in years to come. The constant stream of people meant it was difficult to really take in many parts of the building, especially the many side chapels built off the main aisles as you felt constantly swept along by the stream of people (plus, Iâ€™m rather short, so seeing over other people was a bit of a struggle at times!)
Saying that though, I still really enjoyed my visit – the architecture and history of the building did not disappoint at all and I was glad to have finally made my way round (also, the staff there were very friendly and helpful).
Imperial War Museum
After a quick cup of tea, it was then over to Lambeth to visit the Imperial War Museum. Along with the Museum of London, the IWM is my joint favourite museum in London.
If you haven’t been yet, it really is worth checking out. The exhibitions are usually really interesting and the replica V2 rocket in the entrance lobby is immense, reaching all the way up to the top of the building. Itâ€™s actually rather scary to think of something like that being fired at our cities during the War.
The main reason for my visit was to view an exhibition of photographs taken by the famous society photographer Cecil Beaton during WWII. Taken on behalf of the Ministry of Information, the photos give a really unique glimpse of life at the time, not only in Europe and on the home front, but also from further-flung war theatres such as the Far East and India.
Although you have to pay to visit that particular exhibition, entry to the museum is free and there are a few very good exhibits there are at the moment that won’t cost you any extra. In particular, ‘Family in Wartime’ and ‘Secret War’ are worth a look and â€™War Story’ displays material gathered by the museum from service personnel currently serving in Afghanistan.
Tea, cake and shopping
After lunch, I was a bit history’d out so after stopping for cake at Konditor & Cook (my favourite London cake shop!), I went for a walk through the City and back to the West End. I mapped my walk later and I found Iâ€™d covered nearly ten miles throughout the day! After all of that, there was just enough time for some (window) shopping on Carnaby Street and Regent Street, and to have a final cup of tea before getting the Tube back to Paddington for my train back home.
(Picture frame image used under Creative Commons from hexadb)