Sunday, 3 February 2013

The morning after the night before. Thursday 24th January

Westminster Abbey, the tower of Big Ben...
What better way to clear the head after the previous night’s wining and dining than to climb the 334 limestone steps up the newly named Elizabeth Tower to view famous Big Ben – close up and personal. Interestingly like Pisa it is apparently also a leaning tower – though 9” is somewhat less noticeable to the casual tourist than 12’ 10”!
This is an exclusive visit up London’s best known landmark.  Big Ben is of course the bell, founded in Whitechapel as a recast and smaller replacement for the first bell from up north that cracked.  The huge clock mechanism is interesting to watch – a major feat of engineering but with the timing ultimately controlled by a pile of old pennies. 

Actually I have been up at least twice before so whilst other Marketors were counting the steps up and down (more than Pisa!) others (joined later by the weary climbers) were having coffee within Parliament hosted by Stephen Metcalfe MP, later showing members the hammerbeam roof of medieval Westminster Hall and the beautiful little Chapel of St Mary Undercroft – a hidden gem not open to the public. Suffragette Emily Davidson famously hid in a broom cupboard in the chapel on the night of the 1911 census, so substantiating her address as the House of Commons and laying claim to equal rights to men.  Tragically she threw herself under the King’s horse at the Derby just two years later in the same cause.

We all then adjourned to the new Cellarium Restaurant in Westminster Abbey for lunch, briefly looking at the Abbey before departing.


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