|Isambard Kingdom Brunel|
Then by double-decker bus via Marble Arch, formerly the royal entrance to Buckingham Palace, and then after it was moved next to Hyde Park, a police station until 1968. This was also the site of the Tyburn gallows where from the 12th century, public executions took place, the last one a highwayman called John Austin in 1783. Swerving round behind Buckingham Palace we peered over the wall and wondered why the Queen needed such a big garden.
Ben and Desdemona wanted to see their great x 5 grandfather, immortalized in Westminster Abbey. But entry to the 13th century abbey is expensive unless you attend a service. So during Holy Communion we admired the extraordinary Gothic architecture (‘All built without machines!’ said Ben), and whispered about the many coronations held here ever since William I on Christmas Day in 1066. We found our ancestor beside his friend the slave abolitionist, William Wilberforce (1759 –1833), watching over the audio-guide stall. Thomas Fowell Buxton MP (1786-1845) fought to abolish capital punishment (unsuccessful), reform prisons (some improvement), and founded the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (now the RSPCA). I hope his several hundred living descendants are still inspired by the inscription: ‘Endued with a vigorous and capacious mind, of dauntless courage and untiring energy.. he devoted his powers to the good of Man. In Parliament he laboured for the liberation of the Hottentots in southern Africa, and above all, for the emancipation of eight hundred thousand slaves in the British Dominions. The energies of his mind were afterwards concentrated on a great attempt to extinguish the slave trade in Africa…’ The white marble monument was paid for by friends, colleagues and ‘many thousands of the African race’. (see Your last paper five pound note History Girl)
|Thomas Fowell Buxton meets one of his many |
great great great great great grandsons in
|Andrea and history students in Westminster Hall|
After lunch in the vaulted Jubilee café, we crossed over Westminster Bridge (1862) and embarked on a Thames Clipper for a 45-minute history of river-side London. As it zig-zagged back and forth across the river, the twin-hulled catamaran cut through the incoming tide. After the Tate Modern, we shot under Waterloo Bridge (1945 - mainly built by women), London Bridge (first built by the Romans), and spotted the 13th century “Entry to the Traitor’s Gate” below the 11th C Tower of London. Passing under 19th C Tower Bridge we could see the underside of people walking across the glass walkway. Desdemona watched the skyline carefully, ‘Look there’s St Paul’s Cathedral! And do you see how the old and the new buildings are all muddled up?’ We talked about the 1941 blitz, dockers and shipping. We passed wharfs and warehouses now converted into apartments, including the fascinating home of History Girl Michelle Lovric. But as the waves grew and clouds descended, I feared the next stage of our journey would be a foggy white-out.
Entrance to the Tower of London
|Paddington Bear from Peru reminds young travellers about the importance of generosity to migrants|
Number 36 bus from Paddington to Buckingham Palace
Number 148 bus to Parliament Square
Houseof Parliament tour
Emirate Thames CableCar
London Underground- Tower Hill to Charing Cross.
No 15 bus Trafalgar Square via Piccadilly and Oxford Circus, to Paddington.