I knew the National Archives is closed on Mondays, and so I planned to give myself a day to play tourist. London has an extensive train system — affectionately dubbed 'The Tube'— with Underground (subway) and Overground trains. The system map can be a little daunting when you first look at it, but the train station staff are generally very friendly and helped me figure out my route, so I took trains to and from the airport, and around town as well.
The Upminster Underground train, which oddly enough travels above ground a good deal of the time, took me to the 'City' of Westminster. Upon emerging from the subway station at Westminster Bridge, I first saw the Palace of Westminster, otherwise known as the Houses of Parliament. It is an extraordinary structure with a history of development and governance which spans over 900 years. When you gaze upon it you get a sense of 'Empire', and can easily imagine that Britain once ruled the world.
As usual, click on the photographs if you wish to view a larger version.
|As I emerged from the subway this extraordinarily carved edifice offered a taste of what was to come.|
|Look up, way up: Big Ben from the subway stairs.|
|The Clock Tower at Westminster, better known as Big Ben|
|The clock is very beautiful, but so too are the tiny figures (gargoyles) which you can spot across the entire building.|
|Not only is the makeup of the structure itself stunning, but the sheer size of it as well, and the fact that it stands directly on the shores of the river Thames.|
|The grounds, and a sign of the times, a heavily armed police officer.|
|I've turned the corner, but this is still the same complex. Jutting into the left side of the photograph is |
a bit of Westminster Abbey. In the light of the midday sun the buildings glow like liquid gold.
|The Sovereign's Entrance, Palace of Westminster|
|Even the metal gates are replete with symbols.|
|On either side of the Sovereign's Entrance you will find this Leontine creature.|
|Above the Sovereign's Entrance, a small sampling of the statuary, symbols, and gargoyles which are carved into the stone at various points all over the great structure.|
|On the side grounds: William the Conqueror.|
All photographs Copyright©J.Geraghty-Gorman 2011.