After a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast we met up at the coach for yet another trip into London for a tour around Buckingham Palace. Bernard, one of our fellow travellers was nominated to collect the ticket (1 ticket for 47 passengers so we had to keep together until we got in the Palace) because parking restrictions meant our driver couldn't leave the coach to go and collect it himself. After going through airport type security to get into the grounds of the Palace we were each given an audio set for our tour around the various rooms. Unfortunately, yet again, photography in the Palace was prohibited so I am having to borrow images from Google again.
We entered the Palace through the Ambassador's entrance, then up the Grand Staircase leading to the first floor through the Green Drawing Room into the Throne Room.
The Throne Room, sometimes used during Queen Victoria's reign for Court gatherings and as a second dancing room, is dominated by a proscenium arch supported by a pair of winged figures of 'victory' holding garlands above the 'chairs of state'.
It is in the Throne Room that The Queen, on very special occasions like Jubilees, receives loyal addresses. Another use of the Throne Room has been for formal wedding photographs.
Princess Elizabeth & Phillip Mountbatten's Wedding 1947
We continued through the Picture Gallery, where painting by such artists as Holbein, Rembrandt, Rubens, Canaletto can be seen, into the Silk Tapestry Room, The East Gallery and on into the Ballroom which is used for banquets on the first day of state visits.
Each year the Ballroom is also the setting for twenty investiture ceremonies, at which the recipients of honours published in The Queen's New Year and Birthday Honours Lists are invested with their insignia by The Queen, this is where The Beatles received their M.B.E.s and Sir Patrick Stewart (of Star Trek fame) was knighted. Examples of the civil and military insignia are on display when the Palace is open to the public during August and September.
On leaving the Ballroom we passed through the West Gallery and State Dining Room, Blue Drawing Room and into The Music Room, which was originally known as the Bow Drawing Room and is the centre of the suite of rooms on the Garden Front.
Four Royal babies - The Prince of Wales, The Princess Royal, The Duke of York and Prince William - were all christened by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Music Room. It is also used for formal recitals but one of its more formal uses is during a State Visit when guests are presented to The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and the visiting Head of State or for receptions.
The great advantage of this series of rooms on the west side of the principal floor is the view of the 16-hectare (40 acre) garden. Late summer afternoons find them flooded with sunlight and filled with fesh air, often carrying the scent of new-mown grass and instilling a unique sense of rus in urbe, the phrase which was carved on the cornice of the Duke of Buckinham's house on this site. The initials of both William IV and Queen Victoria appear in roundels in the cove.
We carried on into the White Drawing Room where at each end of the room two pairs of ebony-veneered cabinets with gilt-bronze mounts are built into the wall beneath tall mirrors and one of them (in the north-western corner) was incorporated into a concealed door. When opened, the mirror and cabinet move as one to provide members o f the Royal Family with a discreet means of entering the state rooms from the private rooms beyond.
From there we continued down the Minister's Staircase into the Marble Hall, the Bow Room and out into the magnificent gardens at the back of the Palace where all the Queen's Garden Parties are held.
Obviously there was no garden party taking place on the day we were there but this next photograph (courtesy of Google Images) show people assembled for a garden party at the back of the Palace.
Of course there is so much more to see in the magnificence that is Buckingham Palace, I have only shown you a very small part but I hope you've enjoyed it.
By the time we had finished our tour it was almost lunchtime and we had four hours free time before we had to meet the coach to travel back to our hotel so we hopped on the Tube to Tottenham Court Road and walked the short distance to Great Russell Street where the British Museum is located and popped into this pub (below) for a quick lunch before we went in the museum.
Last time we went to London we went to the British Museum but I felt quite ill within a few minutes of being in there so we had to come out without actually seeing anything, therefore I was determined if we had free time we would visit again.
One item I particularly wanted to see in the Museum was the Sutton Hoo Helmet. Sutton Hoo is a group of seventeen certainly identified burial mounds of the 6th-7th century, overlooking the River Deben and the town of Woodbridge in Suffolk. Mound 1 was excavated in the early summer of 1939, initially by Basil Brown from Ipswich Museum, for the landowner Mrs Edith Pretty. He uncovered the remains of a ninety-foot long, clinker-built wooden ship of the 7th century, outlined by its iron rivets in the sand.
It contained a fabulously rich burial, generally taken to be that of Raedwald, leader of the Wuffing dynasty of the East Angles, dated to c.625 A.D. The dig was completed under the direction of Charles Phillips, and the finds were given to the nation by Mrs Pretty, for conservation by the British Museum.
MWM took these two photos seperately but put them side by side to show the original and the restored version together.
The Sutton Hoo Helmet is remarkable but the face mask is the most remarkable feature of the helmet: it has eye-sockets, eyebrows and a nose, which has two small holes cut in it to allow the wearer to breathe freely. The bronze eyebrows are inlaid with silver wire and garnets. Each ends in a gilt-bronze boars-head - perhaps a symbol of strength and courage.
Placed against the top of the nose, between the eyebrows, is a gilded dragon-head that lies nose to nose with a similar dragon-head placed at the end of the low crest that runs over the cap. The nose, eyebrows and dragon make up a great bird with outstretched wings that flies on the helmet.
The helmet was badly damaged when the burial chamber collapsed. By precisely locating the remaining fragments as if in a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle, the helmet has been rebuilt. A complete reconstruction has also been made.
The museum houses some fabulous Anglo-Saxon treasure such as these solid gold collars which were found in Wales.
We came across a table containing some anglo-roman artefacts dated from the 4th Century AD, which we were allowed to hold, watched over by an employee of the museum of course. To be able to actually handle something so old was a dream come true for me and a huge attraction at the museum as you might imagine.
Another artefact I particularly wanted to see was The Rosetta Stone and see it I did.
Soldiers in Napoleon's army discovered the Rosetta Stone in 1799 while digging the foundations of an addition to a fort near the town of el-Rashid (Rosetta). On Napoleon's defeat, the stone became the property of the British under the terms of the Treaty of Alexandria (1801) along with other antiquities that the French had found.
The Rosetta Stone has been exhibited in the British Museum since 1802, with only one break. Towards the end of the First World War, in 1917, when the Museum was concerned about heavy bombing in London, they moved it to safety along with other, portable, 'important' objects. The Rosetta Stone spent the next two years in a station on the Postal Tube Railway 50 feet below the ground at Holborn.
The term Rosetta Stone is now used in other contexts as the name for the essential clue to a new field of knowledge.
We looked at lots of other things in the museum - mummies and other Egyptian artefacts - but there is so much to see one would need so much longer than a couple of hours to see just a small part of what is on display.
There was another famous London landmark we wanted to see, so we caught the Tube again to Knightsbridge to have a look at Harrods and here I am standing just outside the famous store (I'm just near the plaque on the wall).
MWM bought me some of my favourite perfume for my birthday, (which isn't until November but it was a golden opportunity) because I wanted a Harrods bag. Unfortunately Jo Malone comes in it's own bag so I didn't get one! After a mooch round the store we headed up to Hyde Park Corner to make our way to the meeting place for the coach but as we were a little early we sat outside an Armenian Bistro and enjoyed a glass of wine and some delicious pitta bread, hummus and olives, then it was time to board the coach back to the hotel.
We thoroughly enjoyed our day, I hope you did too. Do join me for our visit to Windsor Castle and our journey home.