After wandering about Seething Lane, Les and I wandered through nearby Trinity Square Gardens and visited the Memorial to the Merchant Navy and those lost at Sea in WWI and II. It is a very touching monument, with Father Thames above it, on the side of the Port of London Authority Building, pointing the way to the River and out to sea. The engraved words convey the loss and loneliness of those whom these thousands of drowned souls left behind.
|"The twenty four thousand of the Merchant Navy and fishing fleets whose names are honoured on the wall of this garden gave their lives for their country and have no grave but the sea."|
|I love these two pictures above and below because one cannot tell if it the year 1314, 1514, or 2014.|
The gate at St. Thomas' Tower as it was originally known opened straight into the river, but the wharf was eventually extended across its front in later centuries. The entrance gate and a portcullis guarded the water filled basin beneath, which was deep enough for boats to dock.
In March 1554 during a thwarted rebellion against the unpopular Queen Mary 1 (Henry and his first wife Katharine's daughter raised as a devout Catholic), she had her younger half sister Elizabeth imprisoned in the Tower and questioned as to her part--if any--played in the rebellion. Elizabeth is said to have said as she rose from the rocking boat and stepped out at Traitor's gate, "Here stands as a true a subject, being prisoner, as ever landed at these stairs."
Mary's councilors recognized her reign would never be secure as long as her Protestant half sister was still alive. Some of the councilors were working to bring the twenty one year old Elizabeth to trial for treason to the crown.
Fortunately the young princess had supporters of her own amongst the government and they convinced Queen Mary to spare her sister's life. After three tense and dismal months Elizabeth was removed from the Tower and held under house arrest in the gatehouse of Woodstock Manor for over a year.
|A menagerie was also kept at The Tower--animals given as gifts to the Sovereign. These incredible lions stand guard on one of the old walkways. They remind me of my friend Artist Rhea Giffin's papier mache pieces. I don't know how the artist created them but they are magnificent. Hard to believe they are created out of chicken wire!|
Of course the views up and down the Thames are amazing. There was also an exhibition titled The Sixties with large photos of 26 cultural icons. Les commented at one point that we were looking at his youth on the walls! The music was fabulous--early rock and roll, and the exhibit was wonderful. Les will write a post with further details about it soon.
|Looking up the Thames, from left to right: The HMS Belfast moored of the South bank, St. Paul's dome in the distance of the North bank; London bridge directly upstream.|
|The upper deck of the tower is enclosed in two linear sections. The far side displayed an exhibition of great bridges of the world. The near side in the picture above held the 1960's exhibit.|
|It's a spectacular view no matter how overcast the weather!|
We walked on across the bridge to the south side of the river and sat drinking very good Italian lattes and enjoying the ground view of the "Olive," which actually slants away from the Thames in the back like a wonky growth straight out of Alice in Wonderland.
|...and London City Hall--or the "Olive", from the North side of the river in front of The Tower.|