The Great English Roadtrip: Part Three

As we become more experience travelers, Tristan and I have learned that we don’t always have to check off every item on our daily itinerary. Oftentimes, we set out for a packed day with intentions of visiting every destination, but ultimately we one place is more desired than another; or we don’t want to cross that busy road; or we don’t want to pay for a taxi; or we’re just too damned tired and want to take a nap – so we do. This simple realization has saved us so many arguments and frustrations.

Day two in London saw us skipping a pretty big item on our list for many of the those reasons. We began our day as the day before, setting out in the early crisp morning air, coffee from the stand in hand as we waited for the train to take us into Waterloo station. At Waterloo, we hopped the Tube to London Bridge stop for our first visit of the day: The Clink Prison Museum.

On the our walk down the road, we passed a replica of Sir Francis Drake’s ship: The Golden Hinde which was sponsored by Queen Elizabeth I to sail around South America. We then passed the ruins of the Winchester Palace. Once again, I was excited how the modern London was built around these 13th century ruins instead of knocking them down to make way.

Sources: Wikipedia

We had a delightful little breakfast at a Bill’s Clink Street near the museum (highly recommend! Tristan had multiple bowls of their oatmeal), before stepping into the museum.

Luckily, I work with nurses that have lived in England, which made bugging them for recommendations easy. The clink was mentioned multiple times, and once I perused the website, I knew we had to add it to our list. The oldest prison in London (non-operational prison, of course) did not disappoint.

It’s thought that the name “The Clink” came about in the 14th century. There’s some debate about the origins: perhaps it was the sound of the hammer against iron as manacles sealed a prisoner’s fate; or maybe a derivative of the Dutch word “klink” – meaning “latch”. The name continued on and gave nickname to all other jails.

The Clink has imprisioned many throughout the years, most notably being Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger (rebelled against Queen Mary), John Rogers (during the reign of Queen Mary I, he translated the bible from Latin to English), as well as Puritans who eventually became settlers of the Plymouth, Massachusetts.

The site of the museum only holds a single wall of the original prison. It had been rebuilt multiple times, in 1381 and 1450, after it was destroyed during rebellions. Burned to the ground in 1780 by Lord George Gordon and The Protestant Associates, it was never rebuilt.

Source: The Clink Prison

We all had a great time reading the history posted throughout the museum. But the most fun was had by Kevin and Tristan, both of whom enjoyed sticking their feet in the metal boots and manacles, and swinging the weapons. It was very interactive, and the museum was quiet.

While we were in the area, we strolled past the original site of The Globe Theatre, as well as the new.

The Globe Theatre that stands today is clearly not the original – it’s actually the third! It’s a modern recreation constructed in 1997 by Sam Wanamaker, an American actor and director. It’s isn’t too far from the original, but easily seen from the Thames. It’s modeled after the original Globe: the infamous “O” with a missing central roof.

Built in 1599, the original Globe was built by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, a company that William Shakespeare wrote for as well as part owned. The theatre lasted only 14 years before it was burned to the ground by a misfired prop gun in 1613. The play being performed? Henry VIII.

The second theatre was opened within a year and operated until 1642 when it was closed by a parliamentary decree.

The original site of Shakespeare’s Globe is found nestled behind a fence and in between homes and businesses. As you can see from my photo, all that is left are dark stones outlining what had been the foundation. A tasteful plaque signifies its importance while the new Globe Theatre carries on the influence, creativity, and magic of the performing arts.

Source: Shakespeare’s Globe

The next location on our itinerary was a bit down the river. Typically we’re walkers, however we were beginning to tire by this time (we averaged about 10 miles per day). As we’d passed along the Thames, we’d noticed Uber boats, and there was a dock pretty much in front of the Globe Theatre. We hopped on and made our way up the river to The Tower of London.

What we noticed first was the bridge most confuse as the London Bridge, but is actually Tower Bridge. Construction of this bridge began in 1886, finishing in 1894. It was originally a steam powered draw bridge, but became electrified in 1976.

Source: Tower Bridge

The outer lying building’s of the Tower came into view first; then the White Tower breached the skyline. As with the rest of London, and much of the old European world, the modern shrouds the old like a cloak.

The Tower has seen an incredible amount of history since its construction after William the Conquerer invaded and defeated England in 1066. William I built the Tower using stone from France and a lingering Roman Wall (ruins of which can be seen near the Tower campus. The Tower served as both a fearful fortification and an awe-inspiring dominance of the skyline.

During the reigns of Henry III(1216-1272) and Edward I (1272-1307), the fortress was expanded by adding more defensive walls and a bigger moat. Eventually the Tower became an imposing concentric castle that housed royalty, political criminals, clergymen, crown jewels, a flock of ravens, and a Royal Menagerie.

Many were held captive in the tower, including Queen Elizabeth I during the reign of her older sister Queen Mary I. And while Elizabeth escaped with her head, there were those that found their deaths waiting for them on the Tower Green, most notably the second wife of Henry VIII and Elizabeth’s mother: Anne Boleyn.

Read more about our visit to The Tower of London here.

Sources: Historic Royal Palaces, History Extra, Britannica

Our group of three separated out: the boys toddled off, pestering each other and out from under my feet. We meandered the Tower grounds for a good few hours before we all decided it was time for lunch.

For as long as Tristan was able to watch television, he’s been a fan of Gordon Ramsey. Tris and I would often watch his cooking and competition shows, especially Masterchef Junior. Any new recipe I cook, Tristan will look me dead in the eye and ask, “What do you think Gordon would say?”

While I would usually respond with the usual “shut up and eat your dinner,” I knew we had to visit one of Gordon’s restaurants before we left London. Though a little pricey, I highly recommend Bread Street Kitchen – excellent food, drinks, and service. Tristan thoroughly enjoyed himself.

The end of our last day in London was a bit of a dud in that we scrapped plans to cap the day off with all things Jack the Ripper. Unfortunately for us, a great deal of roadwork had shut many of the roads into the East End down. We could have walked, yes, but riding in a black taxi was much more fun, so we just had our taxi driver turn around and take us back to Waterloo Station.

While the boys hung out in the hotel room, I did my usual evening walk around the neighborhood. I’d considered walking the mile to Hampton Court Palace through the park along the river, but ultimately decided against it.

The forth and final part of our Great English Roadtrip includes Canterbury and Dover!

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