Well, folks, it looks like London’s heat wave is over. It’s been cloudy and sprinkly all day, and I actually had to put a sweatshirt on before leaving the house this morning. What’s more, I actually NEEDED the sweatshirt! I can’t say I’m unhappy about the change in the weather; as I said in my last post, I hate hot weather. 🙂
I spent a good part of the morning doing something that I’ve wanted to do since I was in London last time: take a Yeoman Warder tour at the Tower of London. I tried back in 2009, but it started to rain about 15 minutes into it. They don’t do the tours in bad weather (at least, not in their entirety), so I missed out. It actually started to rain a little today…about 15 minutes into the tour. 🙂 I kept my fingers crossed, though, and the weather held out. I’m glad it did, because the tour was very interesting! The guide for my group was this guy:
He was a lot of fun. 🙂 I’ve always been impressed by the Beefeaters, every time I’ve gone to the Tower. They’re super friendly, always willing to answer questions or take pictures with tourists, and they really seem to like what they do. They present the history of place with a lot of enthusiasm, as if the Tower is a place they really love and not just where they live and work. You’d have to really WANT to be a Yeoman Warder, considering all they have to go through to get to that point (more than 20 years in the military, to start with).
So, what did I learn today? The Traitors’ Gate was originally called the “Water Gate,” leading to lots of jokes at the expense of the Americans in the group. 😛 The nursery rhyme that starts “Mary Mary quite contrary” was about Mary Tudor aka “Bloody Mary:” the garden mentioned in the poem is a graveyard. Also, only 6 people were actually executed inside the tower during its history, beginning with Anne Boleyn; most of of the executions happened outside of the Tower, at Trinity Green on Tower Hill. That’s just a sampling of the facts and stories we learned today; if you want more, you’ll have to come to London and take a tour for yourself. 🙂
I was really, really surprised at how many people were in the tour groups today. I got to the Tower at about 10am, just as one was starting. There were easily 100 people in that group; probably more. I decided to wait until the next one, in the hopes that it would be smaller. I wandered around the Tower, and discovered that almost every single tourist there was in the group I had passed by. The rest of the place was really empty and peaceful, which was nice. The next tour group wasn’t much smaller, in case you’re wondering. I stand by what I said after I was in London in 2009: get to the Tower as early as possible, go on a weekday, and expect to share your Yeoman Warder tour with LOTS of people. The tours really are as good as people say!