Gypsy Ways Update 9 – London and the UK

Gypsy ways update 9 begins with us just arrived back in the UK from our adventures in continental Europe. At this point we joined my Mom who had never been to the UK before. She arrived a few days before we did, and in that time she visited the Sandringham Estate, which is the Queen’s home in Norfolk.Sandringham House 23-05-2011

[Sandringham House by Karen Roe via Flickr]

While she enjoyed the Estate and the grounds (and their delicious apple juice), the setting is informal, and she was also wanting to see a little Imperial opulence. So we took her to Windsor Castle!

Parts of Windsor Castle truly are spectacular. Despite the volume of visitors it receives, the grounds and gardens are immaculate,gypsy ways update 9 - garden at windsor castle

and the State Apartments are stately, indeed.The Crimson Drawing Room - State Apartments at Windsor Castle England

[The Crimson Drawing Room by mbell1975 via Flickr]

In November 1992, a fire destroyed or damaged more than 100 rooms at the Castle (the Crimson Drawing Room shown in the photo above was completely gutted). There are fascinating tales of chains of people, staff and volunteers, passing furniture, works of art, and manuscripts to safety, and the restoration work is a tribute to the craftspeople who executed it so beautifully.

Mom and I spent two full days in London. We started with museums, namely the massive and impressive Victoria and Albert Museum with it’s emphasis on art and design. The V&A is so big that I asked her to pick out one part of the museum that she wanted to see in particular, and she chose the Jameel Gallery of Islamic art. In that gallery is the beautiful Ardabil carpet that no other than famous designer William Morris recommended that the museum purchase.The Ardabil Carpet on display in the Jameel Gallery, V&A

We also went to the unique and unusual Sir John Soane’s museum. He was an architect who collected objects of art and architecture from around the world. His home is full of these pieces, and “in 1833 Soane negotiated an Act of Parliament to settle and preserve the house and collection for the benefit of ‘amateurs and students’ in architecture, painting and sculpture.” It was a fascinating place. antiquities gallery at Sir John Soane's museum

[Antiquities Gallery at Sir John Soane’s Museum by Arwen O’Reilly via Flickr] 

Of course, we visited the area around the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) and Westminster Abbey.Houses of Parliament & Westminster Bridge.

[Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge by Apostolis Giontzis via Flickr]

We toured Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, the modern construction of the original Globe Theater from Shakespeare’s time. The new theater is about 750 feet from the original building that was torn down around 1644. Here you can see that much of the roof is open to the sky, and the floor of the theater has no seats – it’s standing room only!gypsy ways update 9 - shakespeare's globe theater

We went to Greenwich, home of the Old Royal Naval College with it’s twin domes designed by Sir Christopher Wren. The Cutty Sark resides there, and the Royal Observatory that houses the Greenwich Meridian at 0 degrees longitude is less than a mile away. However the real stars are the Chapel and the Painted Hall.

The Chapel interior was originally quite plain, but after a fire in 1779, it was redecorated in the Greek revival style you see here:
Inside the Old Royal Navy Chapel

[Inside the Old Royal Navy Chapel by Nicholas Schooley via Flickr]

The Painted Hall is a real treat. It was originally intended as a dining hall for naval veterans, and it took the artist James Thornhill 19 years to paint the interior. At completion in 1727, the space was deemed far too grand for it’s original purpose, so it sat mainly unused for most of the next 70 years. Today it is open to the public and used as a space to hire for formal dinners and occasions.
The Painted Hall, Greenwich, London, England

[The Painted Hall, Greenwich by Joe Daniel Price via Flickr]

The last location we visited in London was the beautiful and sobering “Blood Swept Land and Sea of Red” at the Tower of London. One ceramic poppy was handmade for every British fatality in World War I and all 888,246 poppies were installed in the moat around the Tower gradually between July 17 and November 11, 2014. All of the poppies were sold and the proceeds were split between six service charities.gypsy ways update 9 - poppies at the tower of london

After our time in London, my Mom had to go back to the States, but my husband and I did a little more traveling in the UK before we boarded the Queen Mary 2. We visited a family member who lives in the lovely town of Bovey Tracey in Devon. From there, we drove into Dartmoor and had a pub lunch in the beautiful, tiny, and ancient village of Widecombe in the Moor.
Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Dartmoor

[Widecombe-in-the-Moor by Baz Richardson via Flickr]

We also visited a friend who lives in Meads Village, Eastbourne near the chalky cliffs of Beachy Head. Another pub lunch was had in the nearby town of East Dean, famous for being the retirement spot of Sherlock Holmes. In the photo below, the house he “lived in” is at left in the fore of the photo, and the Tiger Inn pub is easy to see with it’s bright umbrellas.
Tiger Inn, East Dean

[Tiger Inn, East Dean by Dave_S. via Flickr]

The next post will be the final chapter of these travels, covering our time on the Queen Mary 2 and our trip back across the US on our way home. Stay tuned!

(Here’s a link to the previous Update 8, and to the next [and final] Update 10)