England Greenwich

It's about time to write my last winter report. My summer adventures are beginning shortly and I'm visiting new beautiful places. Greenwich. 

This name reminds us of the time and it's true indeed. We had a half an hour journey by train and by bus. Of course, you can travel by boat or by tube from London, too. ( We also have a plan, to take a boat tour here in summer) Our plan was to look at many interesting things, but it happened differently :) Although we started with sunny weather, the sky was getting cloudy on our way to the Observatory. 

 The building stands on a hilltop and can be seen all over London in good weather. First you can see a big watch at the entrance and the certified English length measurements in front of the main gate. 

If you enter to the yard, there runs the Meridian line, the 0 degree longitude. You can stand with one of your feet on the Western, the other on the Eastern side of the globe. 

 Otherwise, the line of Meridian is built through all of England. I have already seen it in East Grinstead, where a part of the line runs through the town hall building.  The museum has a very rich exhibition. 

 You can be see the oldest structure of clocks, the first telescopes, the discoveries of the old sailors, the device of planet researches and the atomic clocks. 

 As usual in England, a significant part of the exhibits is interactive, you can test, press move, which the children really enjoyed. (Of course, many adults can try them, too). You could take photos without a flash in the museum, but it was so dark in most places, that you couldn't enjoy them. You can spend a lot of time here but we bought tickets to the show of the Planetarium and we needed to go on. The Planetarium wasn't a big deal techniqually, no better than in Budapest but Zs. really liked it, because he has never been in such a place. The presentation showed the stars and planets on the December sky. I didn't understand everything, but the astronomer was very funny and everyone was in a good mood. 

After that we looked at an interesting photo exhibition. When we went out of the building late afternoon, there were dark clouds, heavy rain and wind storm so we finished our excursion and we ran to the bus station. I would like to go there this summer, because Greenwich has a lot of interesting things to offer still.

I could write about the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park ( This is the biggest Christmas Market in London which is actually an amusement park with food and drink), about a Christmas afternoon performance in a school, about the Christmas customs, but I think they have become outdated. I hope I'll be more diligent in summer.

London Covent Garden

On a beautiful sunny winter day we went for a walk at Covent Garden. Covent Garden is one of the oldest markets from the late 1600s until the 1970s in London.

 It functioned as a vegetable and fruit market. Because of the Great Fire of London in 1666, all the rival commercial centres were destroyed in the city, so Covent Garden has become the most important commercial centre of the country. 

It was the "vegetable garden" of the Westminster area. The market and its surroundings became one of London's famous red-light quarter in the 18th century. Nowadays Covent Garden is a tourist attraction, there is a huge crowd day and night. 

The shops sell souvenirs for visitors and you can buy craft products at a high price on the old Apple Market. 

Covent Garden is the only one area in London where it's officially allowed to perform for street entertainers. 

 The central square is overlooking the London Transport Museum 

and the back entrance of the Royal Opera House.

This area has many cafés, pastry shops, sandwich bars and small restaurants, where you can go to eat something and rest a little.

London St Paul's Cathedral

I still had enough time after my walk in Temple Quarter, so I walked on to St Paul's Cathedral. 

The Cathedral is surrounded by houses, so it isn't possible to take a photo of the entire building. 

The inside is really beautiful and monumental and of course, I couldn't take pictures here. (for this reason some photos are illustrations). There are guards almost at every point. 

 I thought, if I paied an expensive ticket, I want to see everything, from the basement to the roof. The cathedral was built on top of Ludgate Hill.

 It is the highest point of London and the Cathedral is the fifth largest church in Europe. The predecessor of today's church - the Old Paul's 
Cathedral - was built in Gothic style in the 13th century. A lightning struck the church tower in 1561 and the tower collapsed. The church burned to the ground during the Great Fire of London in 1666. The rebuilt Cathedral was handed over after three years of construction in 1669. The Cathedral is fascinating, so it's worth knowing some data.

The cathedral is 175 metres long, the nave is 28 metres high. The 31 metre 
diameter dome, is less than 11 metres smaller than the St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome. The inside corridor of the dome is 30 meters high, which could be walked round. The circular corridor is called Whispering Gallery. 

The name comes from the fact, if you whisper something on one side of the barrier, I can hear it on the other side clearly. 376 steps lead up to the Stone Gallery and another 152 steps to the Golden Gallery. I climbed them. The reward is a full panorama of London on the top.

I'm sorry, but the view isn't so beautiful for me from above. I don't like it, when you are erect skyscrapers in a historical quarter or among centuries-old buildings. And the permanent constructions. 

You can experience in the whole city while you go on foot, but it's even more striking from above. Of course, you can interpret it as a positive thing, but it's very complicated to make a photo where a crane doesn't protrude into the picture.

From the 111 metres high dome you can see the whole London. A golden sphere is on top of the dome. It is 6 metres in diameter. The 17 ton Great Paul church bell is in the south tower, it was made in 1882. The chimes have been in the north tower since 1878.

 The cathedral didn't suffer extensive damage in the II. World War, the main altar got a bomb hit only, but it was restored in its original state. The first church organ of the cathedral was built in 1695. The composer Handel played its Messias oratorium in 1759 here. The present organ was built in 1870, 

They used up some old pipes of old organ. The largest crypt of Europe is standing underneath the whole Cathedral. Here was buried for example the former prime minister Sir Winston Churchill,

the inventor of penicillin Fleming, admiral Nelson and the Duke of Wellington here. 

The cathedral is the residence of the Bishop of London. Queen Victoria and Queen Elisabetht II. celebrated the diamond jubilee of theirs reign, Cahterina of Aragon (the future wife of Henry VIII. ) and Prince Arthur got married before the big fire in 1501 here, and Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer got also married here in 1981 here.                                            


England, Richmond upon Thames

I have a lot of books about English history and I read lots of stories about Richmond Palace in these. I looked at a map in December and I saw that the town is not so far from my accommodation. I knew that the Palace was destroyed, but I'm interested in the spot. So we planned a trip to the town.

Richmond was a royal residence from 1327 to 1649. At that time there was a village in county Surrey. Today it's a part of London Borough, a popular resting place and residence. Many people organise excursions there on weekends.

The first inhabitant of the palace was Edward III in his childhood . According to old documents, the furniture and decorations of the palace were splendid. The tapestries showed the heroic deeds of kings.
There is a survived old blueprint from 1649. According to it the building consisted of rubble stone, it was three storeys high, and had 14 gun towers. The large hall was 30 ms long and 12 ms wide, and there was a Chapel in the same size and a large library room.

Henry VII. died in 1509 here. 

There was the residence of Mary Tudor, Henry VIII.'s older daughter in 1533. Henry VIII. gave the palace to his fourth wife, Anna Cleve, as a divorce present in 1540. The palace was the favorite place of Queen Elizabeth I., who died in 1603 here.

Charles I. established the Richmond Park (Old Deer Park) in 1637, where there are more than 600 deer without restriction these days, too. 

Charles I. was executed in 1649, and the Parliament sold the palace a few months later. After that the significant part of the palace was demolished during 10 years, the materials was used elsewhere again. The remaining ruins had never been rebuilt. Today the Gate house of the palace and some of the old street signs remind us of the former palace.

Richmond Park belong to the Royal Parks. It is the largest of the eight Royal Parks. The area is 955 hectares and it is the second largest park in London. The park is a nature reserve, too.

The Parliament announced that the park is a public park in 1872, but it's not allowed to collect firewood. This law is still valid. The 10 buildings and the fence are under extra protection today.

Thatched House Lodge was the London home of U.S. General Eisenhower during the Second World War. Since 1963 it has been the residence of Princess Alexandra.
Edward VIII was born at White Lodge in 1894 and his brother Prince Albert, Duke of York (the future George VI), and the Duchess of York (later Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother), lived there in the 1920s.

King Henry's Mound, a burial site. Henry VIII stood on the mound to watch for a sign from St Paul's that Anne Boleyn had been executed at the Tower and that he was then free to marry Jane Seymour.
The gates are open daytime, where car traffic goes, with max. 20 km/hour speed. The park is open for cyclists and walkers day and night.

Unfortunately we didn't have enough time to look around in the park, so I have to go again this summer.


England - Hampton Court

One day we travelled to Hampton Court by train. 

I was there a few years ago, but I had only one hour. It wasn't enough to look at this gigantic building and area.

 We were there befor Christmas, so there was a skating rink in the park to entertain the visitors and children.

Hampton Court can be found in southwest London, at the Thames bank.
Thomas Wolsey, the archbishop of York (later bishop) 

hired this area from the Maltese Knights for 99 years and he had a wonderful Bishop Palace built. At this time he still was Henry VIII'friend. He had separate aparments built for the visits of Henry and his royal household. Later the relationship worsened between Wolsey and the King bevause of the divorce of Catherine of Aragon 

and Henry VIII. Henry asked for the Palace as present for himself. Wolsey was forced to give it to him. But it wasn't enough either, because he became disgraced.
The building became one of the most luxurious royal palaces in Europe in 1540. There are tennis and bowling courts, a gigantic dining room, 

the kitchen had more than 3000 square metres, a vast number of rooms for the visitors and a chapel. The Palace had water pipes.
Henry's only one son Prince Edward 

was christened in Hampton Court. Mary (later Bloody Mary)

 spent the honeymoon here and Elisabeth I.

 held receptions for the foreign delegates.
The function of Palace has changed at the time of (Stuart) Jakab I. 

Jakab used the Palace as the place of his enjoyments. His son, Charles I. had a new tennis court built, he had the water led to the fountains of the Palace from 11 miles and he enlarged the collection of the royal art gallery. During the Civil War, in 1647 the King was jailed in this Palace for three months.

 During the years of the Republic and the Protectorate (1649-1660) they were destroyed the values ( everything what had some value ) in the spirit of Puritanism in utter confusion in England. But Hampon Court escaped from this because Oliver Cromwell the Lord Protector used the Palace himself. He kept the marriage ceremony of his daughter Maria in the royal chapel here.

Charles II. preferred the palace of Windsor, but one of his mistresses, Countess Barbara Villiers, lived here with their illegitimate children. The next golden age was during the reign Wilhelm III. and his wife Maria. The popular architect of this period, Wren was commissioned by the King to rebuild the Palace, as in the case of Kensington Palace. 

He had a conception to destroy the whole Tudor Palace, but fortunately he hasn't enough money and time for them When Queen Mary died, the construction were interrupted. There were continued when the Whitehall Palace burned down during the Great Fire in 1698 in London. At this time the baroque palace was built and the parks and gardens were renovated, too. Queen Anne preferred Windsor and Kensington. After her death, George I. became the King. He came from the royal house of Hanover, from Germany. He didn't speak English and he spent in Hanover much time. But his son, George II. and his wife took a liking this palace. The appartements of King and Queen were full of luxory

 and there was completed the Queen's staircase.

After the death of George II (1760) the palace never became a residence of the royal family. During the reign of III.György the palace was divided into smaller parts. The kind and servile subjects of the king moved to these appartments. In the following two centuries were a lot of various inhabitants in the palace. For example Lady Baden-Powell, the widow of founder of the Scout Movement and the famous physicist Michael Faraday, too. The young Queen Victoria opened the palace for the interested public in 1838.

 But the opening had an unfavourable side. The visitors tore off the wallpapers, many paintings and furniture were missing. But the reconstruction of the whole palace happened in 2 details till 1900 and the building was restored as it has been in the Tudor period. The last decades of the story of the palace were about the restoration again. The major part of the royal apartments was destroyed by fire in 1986. The reconstruction was completed in 1995.