Tower Bridge (named for the nearby Tower of London) which spans the Thames is my favorite bridge in London. I know London Bridge is the one everyone has heard of, but it is actually very plain these days. Once upon a time it was pretty fancy and has a remarkable history, but after burning down and falling down, getting rebuilt, then falling down over and over (thus the nursery rhyme “London Bridge is Falling Down”) it was rebuilt as a much more sturdy bridge, but inadequate for all the traffic it needed to carry. Ultimately the bridge was dismantled and rebuilt in Lake Havasu, Arizona and now is just a functional (boring-looking) bridge.
Tower Bridge, on the other hand, is very ornate and when built in 1886-1894 was a mechanical marvel, having a hydraulic system that raised and lowered the draw bridge to allow for tall ships to pass. The mechanics have been updated, but the bridge retains it’s splendor! The tour includes a presentation about the history and building of it, plus a look at the engine room.
Our afternoon was spent on a tour of Westminster Abbey. On the way there, we walked past by the Parliament building (of which the clock tower housing Big Ben is a part) and noted that the press was setting up in preparation for covering the Scottish Referendum on whether or not they wanted independence from the United Kingdom. It was exciting to be there at such a potentially huge time in history.
Westminster Abbey is beautiful, and in addition to being a working church, is the final resting place of many of England’s monarchs and dignitaries, and also houses memorials for poets, actors and other famous people in history. Photography is not allowed inside the Abbey, but you can find lots of them here…just amazingly beautiful.
We returned to our home away from home dead tired, but I stayed up late to watch the news coverage of the referendum. At 1am I finally gave in and went to bed. I’m a couple of days behind on reporting about my travels, so by now you know that the Scots rejected the idea of leaving the UK. I’d done my best to follow the arguments for and against, and had decided that if I were voting, I’d vote no, but it appeared to be a toss-up. It was a little nerve-racking! We woke up the next morning to learn they had voted to remain in the UK, so all my nail-biting was for naught!