Part 6: War Room, Buckingham & Kensington


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The Trip

One interesting thing that we decided to do was the Churchill War Room used during WWII.  From there, we chose to go to Buckingham Palace and see a few things that were close by.  From there, we went to Kensington Palace and Hyde Park.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

Our travel path took us right by Big Ben again.  Ben is part of Parliament and the War Room was chosen to be close to Parliament.

Not surprisingly, most of the War Room was dark and cramped and therefore not really photo-worthy.  But, the story was engaging and it is worth a visit if you are in the area.  The photo above was a recreation of one of dozens of small, cramped quarters in the basement of a department store that was converted to Britain's command center during WWII.  Note the supporting wooden posts that were installed to help prevent cave-ins in the event of a bomb falling on the building above.  Churchill's quarters were about the size of my bathroom at home and only the main map room was much bigger.  Even then, that room was smaller than my kitchen.  These were difficult times and the British made do with what they had.

After the War Room, we headed into St. James' park and walked past the Park Ranger's quarters which are called "Duck Island Cottage".  This would be a great gig if you could get it.

We walked the length of St. James park to Buckingham Palace.  The changing of the guards had just completed, but we could hear the marching band as they were departing the area.

The gardens across the street from the palace were in full bloom and nicely kept.  Note the cranes on the skyline.  London is experiencing a huge sure in building construction.

The crowds parted long enough to get a relatively unobstructed view of the palace.  The Queen's standard is flying on the flag pole indicating that she is currently in residence in the palace.

The entrance drive into the palace area is expansive and ornate.

A Japanese tourist was nice enough to do a very good job of our photo using Steve's camera.  In case you were questing the strap on my hat, the wind was howling fast and strong causing our eyes and noses to be very unhappy.  Everyone in the crowd was sneezing from the pollen.  The strap was the only thing keeping the hat on my head.

Plenty of folks were attempting to take selfies at the main gate to the palace.  Instead, I used a little help from my friends.

The guards are active duty military with locked-and-loaded automatic rifles and fixed bayonets.

There were many buses full of French teenagers on tour.

The royal crest of the British Crown: the lion and unicorn.

Kathleen wanted to visit the Queen's gallery.  They were having an exhibition of garden-themed works of art.  I did not realize until after I took this photo that this is an original Rembrandt (not a reproduction).  The painting shows Christ's departure from the tomb.

Another interesting original, but too wide to capture in one photo.

This print caught Kathleen's eye and she insisted I take a photo of it and include it in this page.

This painting was solely in the mind's eye of the painter, Hendrick Danckerts, but was a reasonably accurate representation of one of the royal gardens.  This was done in about 1670.

This is an amazingly detailed painting of one of the royal garden parties.

From the Queen's Gallery we went to the Royal Mews to see some of the Queen's rolling stock.  There were a number of elegant carriages so in the interest of brevity I chose one that was representative.  Note the curved springs at the ends of the carriage.  The passenger compartment is supported by leather straps.

The royal crest with the latin equivalent of "No one can harm me unpunished".

This gold-leaf encrusted carriage weighs 8,000 pounds and is drawn by a team of 8 horses.

This was way over the top for me, but every icon and carving has some symbolic significance.

This is the only one of the Queen's limos that were displayed.

We hiked to the tube station and then went to Kensington Palace.  This was somewhat underwhelming, but it is actively occupied by several royals including William and Kate and their two children.  The front of the palace is a no-go for tourists, but the rear portion was open.  This is a side gate.  Kensington started as a "small" place in 1605 and was later purchased by William and Mary in 1689 and then "enhanced" over the years.

Several of the rooms were really quite spectacular.

There were a number of interesting paintings in the palace, but the lighting sucked.

This is not a regular painting but rather the ceiling of one of the chambers.  Given the dim lighting, I was lucky to get the photo.  The illumination in the center is part of the painting not lighting.

This is the ceiling of another cupola.  Notice the mouths of the faces: they are the source of the support for the chandeliers.

There was no attribution on this work, but I assume from the funky hat this is Mercury.

One of the more interesting staircases.

From an upper window, we could see the gardens and toward Hyde Park.

We walked the length of Kensington Gardens (it is big, it was a long way!) and came to the Albert Memorial.  Commissioned by Queen Victoria to honor her husband who died from typhoid in 1861.  This is one of the 4 corner statues.  Note the security equipment under the statue.

Another corner.

The center statue of Albert.

Steve standing in front of the crowd control fence gives a sense of scale.

Across the street is Royal Albert Hall.

Further into Hyde Park we reach the Princess Diana Memorial fountain.  The water runs around the perimeter in the troughs.  Given the Albert Memorial this was a bit underwhelming.

Our feet were crying the blues so we left Hyde Park and caught a cab outside of One Hyde Park.  Our cabbie told us these are the most expensive "apartments" (AKA condos) in London.

It was a great day and we saw some very interesting things.  Buckingham Palace is always impressive, but Kensington less so.  But, remember, it is an actual residence and the tourists were confined to the rear of the structure (with heavy security in place).

Next: A boat trip on the Thames to Greenwich and the Royal Observatory.

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