Lucy goes around the world in 88 days: Day 31

Monday 28th July
Today Miss Hannaford and I travelled 35 minutes out of London by train to Hampton Court Palace. This palace is famous because it was the main palace where Henry VIII lived as well as his daughter Queen Elizabeth I. Miss Hannaford is really interested in this period of English history called Tudor England. So much of our history was changed at this palace 500 years ago!

As you walk into the palace- you can see 8 animals holding heraldic shields representing the family crests of Henry and of his third wife Jane Seymour.

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One thing I noticed as we walked through the gatehouse was a sign on the wall. I thought someone had spelt gatehouse wrong but apparently that is how the letter U was written during the reign of Henry and Elizabeth.

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When you visit Hampton Court Palace, you are given a free audio guide machine to borrow and you can choose different tours if the palace. The first tour we chose was a tour of Henry VIII’s kitchens because we could smell delicious roasting meat in the courtyard! Henry’s kitchen is enormous! A royal court of the King, Queen, Lords and Ladies and servants is many hundreds of people so the kitchens have to be able to cook lots of food for them all! The fire place where the meat is cooked is so big that whole animals can be spit roasted!

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The next space we got to see was the Great Hall where the King and all his court would eat their feasts. Have you ever heard of the word eavesdropper- someone who listens to private conversations? That word started in this room! At the bottom of the arches on the roof of the Great Hall- at the bottom of the Eaves are little carved and painted wooden heads called Eavesdroppers.

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In one of the other rooms, we actually encountered an actor playing Henry VIII so it made our visit really interesting because the actor was expecting everyone to bow to him and call him your majesty and you can see that the ceiling in the room is covered in real gold!

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200 years after Henry VIII died, George I started to demolish Hampton Court Palace from the back and built a completely different style of palace but he ran out of money to finish demolishing the rest of the old palace so it is very strange walking through a door in Henry’s Palace into a completely different kind of palace.

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While we visited the other half of Hampton Court Palace we saw examples of the kinds of clothes people wore at the court of King George. We also ran into more actors playing Prince George and Princess Caroline who lived at the palace and they took us on a tour of the building and later gardens.

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One of the special features of the garden of Hampton Court Palace is the maze made of living plants. It was too wet and muddy to go into the maze but it was possible to take photos of how the gardeners grow the maze as they are adding to the maze right now.

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Lucy goes around the world in 88 days: Day 30

Sunday 27th July
Today Miss Hannaford and I visited one of London’s oldest and most famous landmarks- the Tower of London. The Tower of London is officially known as Her Majesty’s Palace and Fortress but it is also known as the place where the Crown Jewels are kept as well as a prison and a place where people’s heads were cut off over 500 years ago.

The Tower of London was where the Kings and Queens of England used to live which is why it looks like a castle. It has a moat that used to have water in it and once you cross the moat, you can see where the portcullis with it’s long spikes goes up and down using rope wound around a crank to stop enemies from entering the castle. When we visited, teams of volunteers were putting clay poppies into the ground of the moat for the commemoration of the centenary of World War 1 in 1914. By November 11 2014, there will be 1 poppy for every British solider killed in the First World War.

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Since the Tower of London is the place where the Crown Jewels of England are kept, there are 2 groups of soldiers guarding them. The first group come from either the Grenediers, Colstream, Irish. Scots or Welsh Guards who wear the red uniforms and actual Bearskin hats. The hats are made from real Canadian black bears. These soldiers guard all the palaces and they also serve in the British army. The other group of guards are known as Yeoman Warders. They live 24/7 at the Tower with their families and they are retired soldiers but they wear a uniform design that is 500 years old.

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The Crown Jewels are kept in the Jewel House within the grounds of the Tower of London. All the famous crowns wore by the Queen and past Kings and Queens are kept here as well as many of the objects used in the coronation.
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The most important building in the grounds of the Tower of London is the White Tower. Here is where Kings and Queens lived over many centuries. Inside the tower is a display of suits of armour belonging to all the ancient kings- queens never wore armour. We got to see armour worn by King Henry VIII, as well as many different kinds of weapons that were stored at the Tower of London.

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The photo just above shows how much a knight wearing armour could actually see- which is not very much. The exhibition designers at the the Tower of London had cut a helmet in half so you could put your face in to see what the knights could not see!

The tower is also known as a place of execution. 6 people including 3 Queens of England had their head cut off by either an axe or a sword inside the tower grounds on Tower Green while hundreds had their head cut off on the hill just behind the tower. Their heads were cut off if they had been judged and found guilty of the most serious of crimes- treason against the king. Many innocent as well as guilty people had their head cut off. One of the axes and blocks is on display in the Tower of London and a sculpture has been set up on Tower Green to remember the innocent people whose heads were cut off.

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One of the unusual things about the Tower of London is that Ravens are always kept at the Tower. The superstition is that if the ravens leave the tower, the tower will fall and the monachy will end. 300 years ago, the English King decreed that the Yeoman Warders must always keep at least 8 Ravens at the Tower of London at all times. The Ravens are allowed to go wherever they like but their flight feathers are trimmed so they can’t fly away.

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After our visit to the Tower of London, Miss Hannaford and I went on a cruise on the River Thames to the London Eye. We saw Tower Bridge again, a strange new building called the Shard and eventually the London Eye- a huge Ferris wheel on the bank of the river.

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Our last stop of the day was a ride on the London Eye! It takes 30 minutes to go all the way around the wheel and the view of London is amazing!

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It has been a very exciting day- I am really looking forward to what we are doing tomorrow!- Lucy