January 13: London, Megan D.

Saturday, January 13, 2018
By Megan Dworsky, junior alto

I woke up this morning with a renewed sense of excitement in visiting London. Since I had already seen both sites we were to visit when I was here five years ago, I was interested to see how a few more years of life and experience shaped my perceptions. I found that this time around I was better able to appreciate all of the time, work, and artistry that went into these structures, especially Westminster Abbey.
What struck me when we arrived was the row of statues just above the entryway. These sculptures were added during the cleaning and renovation of the Abbey in 1996. They represent twentieth-century martyrs, including Oscar Romero abd Martin Luther King.
Upon entering Westminster, the vibrant blues and deep reds of the stained-glass windows not only brought life and color to the space but also told the story of the Abbey and of the Minarchs who have been crowned here. As we continued down the nave we approached a very ornate stone screen that was decorated with green, blue, red, and lots of gold.
Besides being the burial place of Britain’s monarchs from the twelfth century onward, many world-renowned scientist, writers, political leaders, and musicians have either found their final rest or are honored with plaques. We were happy to note that composers such as George Fredric Handel, Henry Purcell, Benjamin Britten, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Charles Villiers Stanford have been memorialized in this way. It was an incredible feeling to be standing in the resting place of so many amazing artists and people. Just to imagine all of the talent recognized at the Abbey was almost bone-chilling.
After a brief lunch break we continued to the Tower of London. Though it is called The Tower of Londo, there are actually 18 towers on the grounds. William the Conqueror built a single white tower as a means of protecting himself from the people had had vanquished. After realizing what great protection the tower served, later kings continued to add on more towers. Numerous imprisonments and executions took place at the Tower of London including the execution of Anne Boleyn, who was falsely accused of treason and adultery. One of the towers is referred to as the Bloody Tower because two young princes were believed to have been smothered in their sleep, at the behest of their uncle, Richard III, and their bones, which were later recovered, were hidden in the tower walls.
The rest of the day was free for us to go our separate ways and experience London in whatever ways we chose. I headed to Piccadilly to get high tea at Fortnum and Masons with a few friends. We all felt very posh with our English tea and we enjoyed scones and some really fancy deserts like a winterberries cheesecake and mandarin & grand Marnier crème brulee. We chatted about our experiences thus far. Sitting down and enjoying tea with friends allowed me to reflect on my trip and my immense gratitude for this amazing opportunity. It’s not every day that a young 21-year-old gets to explore London with her friends. I will truly remember this trip forever.