Never miss to try a Fish n’ Chips while in London. This traditional dish consists of fried battered fish and hot chips. It is a common take-away food. In London fish and chips shops traditionally use a simple water and flour batter, adding a little baking soda and vinegar to create lightness as they create bubble in the batter. Other recipes may use beer or milk batter, where these liquids are often substitutes for water. This one is a must try while in London.
River Thames intersects the city of London into two. One can enjoy a walk along its banks and can have the nice view of the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge. Tower of London is a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. The white tower which gives the entire castle its name was built by William the Conqueror in 1078 and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new ruling elite.
Tower Bridge, the iconic symbol of London is a combined bascule and suspension bridge built in 1886-1894. The bridge crosses the River Thames close to the Tower of London. The bridge consists of two bridge towers tied together at the upper level by two horizontal walkways.
Buckingham Palace is the London residence and administrative headquarters of the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom. Located in the city of Westminister, it has been a focal point for the British People at times of national rejoicing and mourning. The palace chapel was destroyed by a German bomb during World War II and in 1962 the Queen’s Gallery was built on the site and opened to the public to exhibit works of art from the Royal Collection.
The Victoria Memorial was created by sculptor Sir Thomas Brock in 1911 and erected front of the main gates of the Buckingham Palace.
St Paul’s Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of London and the mother church of the Diocese of London. The present church, dating from the late 17th century was designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren. This Anglican cathedral is one of the most famous and most recognizable sights in London.
The London Eye the giant Ferris wheel, is located on the south bank of the River Thames. Also known as the Millennium Wheel this 135 meter tall wheel has diameter of 120 meter. The wheel’s 32 sealed and air-conditioned ovoidal passenger capsules are attached to the external circumference of the wheel and rotated by electric motors. Each capsule can hold up to 25 people, who are free to walk around inside the capsule, though seating is provided.
Big Ben the Great Bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminister is officially known as the Elizabeth Tower. The tower holds the second largest four-faced chiming clock in the world and is often referred as the most prominent symbols of the United Kingdom.
Hampton Court Palace is located on the Richmond upon Thames in England 19 km south west of Central London. Along with St James’s Palace, it is one of only two surviving palaces out of the many owned by Henry VIII, the Tudor King.
Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of York, Chief Minister and favourite of Henry VIII, took over the site of Hampton court Palace in 1514. Previously it was the property of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. Over a period of seven years, Wolsey spent around 2,00,000 gold crowns to build the finest palace in England at Hampton Court. He rebuilt the existing manor house to form the nucleus of the present palace. Very little of Wolsey’s building work remains unchanged, today. The first courtyard, the Base Court, the second inner gatehouse which leads to the Clock Court (Wolsey’s seal remains visible over the entrance arch of the clock tower) were his creations. The Clock Court contained the very best rooms – the state apartments – reserved for the King and his family. Henry VIII stayed in the state apartments as Wolsey’s guest immediately after their completion in 1525. Wolsey was only to enjoy his palace only for a few years. In 1528, knowing that his enemies and the King were engineering his down fall, he passed the palace to the King as a gift. Wolsey died two years later in 1530.
Within six months of coming into ownership, the King began his own rebuilding and expansion of the palace to accommodate his court consisted of over thousand people and transform Hampton Court to his principal residence. The first step towards this goal was to build vast kitchens. The architecture of King Henry’s new palace followed the design precedent set by Wolsey, perpendicular Gothic-inspired Tudor with restrained renaissance ornament. Between 1532 and 1535 Henry added the Great Hall and Royal Tennis Court. The gatehouse to the second inner court was adorned in 1540 with an astronomical clock. This gatehouse is also known today as Anne Boleyn’s gate, after Henry’s second wife. Work was still underway on Anne Boleyn’s apartments above the gate when the King, who had become tired of her, had her executed.
During the Tudor period, the palace was the scene of many historic events. In1537, the King’s much desired male heir, the future Edward VI, was born at the place and the child’s mother, Jane Seymour died there two weeks later. Four years afterwards, while attending Mass in the palace’s chapel, the King was informed of his fifth wife’s adultery. The Queen, Catherine Howard, was then confined to her room for few days before being sent to Syon House and then on to the Tower of London to be executed. Legends claims, she briefly escaped her guards and ran through The Haunted Gallery to beg Henry for her life but she was recaptured.
King Henry died in January 1547 and was succeeded first by his son Edward VI, and then by both his daughters in turn. It was Hampton Court that Queen Mary retreated with King Philip to spend her honeymoon after their wedding at Winchester. Mary was succeeded by her half-sister, Elezabth I and it was Elizabeth who had the eastern kitchen built, now this is the palace’s public tea room.
On the death of Elizabeth I in 1603, the Tudor period came to an end. The Queen was succeeded by the Scottish King, James VI who became James I of the House Stuart. He was succeeded in 1625 by his ill-fated son Charles I. Hampton Court was to become his palace and prison. It was also the setting for his honeymoon with his bride Henrietta Maria in 1625. Following King Charles execution in 1649, palace become the property of the Commonwealth presided over by Oliver Cromwell. While the government auctioned much of the contents, the building was ignored.
After Restoration King Charles II and successor James II visited Hampton Court but largely preferred to reside elsewhere. It was in 1689, England had two new joint monarchs, William of Orange and his wife Queen Mary II. Within months of their accession they embarked on a massive rebuilding project at Hampton Court. The intention was to demolish the Tudor palace a section at a time, while replacing it with a huge modern palace in the Baroque style retaining only Henry VIII’s Great Hall.
The country’s most eminent architect, Sir Christopher Wren, was called upon to draw the plans, while master of works was to be William Talman. During this work, half of the Tudor palace was replaced and Henry VIII’s state rooms and private apartments were both lost; the new wing around the Fountain Court contained new state apartments and private rooms, one set for the King and one for the Queen.
After the death of Queen Mary, King William lost interest in the renovations and work ceased. He was succeeded by his sister-in-law Queen Anne who continued the decoration and completion of the state apartments. On Queen Anne’s death in 1714 the Stuart rule came to an end. Her Successor George I and his son George II were the last monarchs to reside at Hampton Court.
Like in India there is a ghost story associated with Hampton Court Palace. The ghost of Catherine Howard is believed to frequent Hampton Court’s haunted gallery, where she was dragged back screaming to her rooms while under house arrest, accused of committing adultery by her husband King Henry VIII.
Catherine was the fifth wife of King Henry VIII and in 1541 was accused of adultery and put under house arrest in the palace. But she escaped from her guards and ran down the gallery looking for the King to plead for her life. She was caught and dragged back screaming to her rooms… and in due course executed in the Tower of London.
The Great Vine of Hampton Court – The oldest grapevine in the world
The Great Vine in Hampton Court Palace Gardens is the oldest and largest known vine in the world. The Great Vine is more than 240 years old and 36.5 meters long. It is believed to have been planted by Lancelot “Capability” Brown around 1768, during his time as Surveyor to George III’s Gardens and Waters. It was planted from a small cutting of Black Hamburg (‘Schiava Grossa’) from Valentine’s Park in Essex. The Great Vine was first planted in a glass house built to house Queen Mary’s collection of exotics from the tropics. Its roots were planted outside and its branches were trained inside the glass house, which measured 18 by 4 meters.
By 1800 the girth of the trunk was about 1 foot. In 1887, it was already 4 feet around the base and today it measures 12 feet around the base. Its longest rod is 120 feet. The current aluminum Vine House was built in 1969. The vine was first shown to public in the 1840s when Queen Victoria opened the gardens to the public. The Vine usually blossoms in early May with small & fragrant flowers. The harvest takes place in September which weighs 220 to 320 kg.
The grapes, which are black and sweet, have always been used by the Royal household as dessert grapes. However in 1930, George V started sending the grapes to hospitals and within 5 years they were being sold to visitors in the palace shops.
So if you are visiting in September you can buy these grapes from the counter. When I visited in May the Vine was all in blossoms.
I would like to express my special thanks to my friend Thomas Dsouza for making this visit a reality.
No trip to United Kingdom could possibly be complete without a visit to amazing Windsor Castle, located in the English county of Berkshire. The breath taking size of the Castle (13 acres) is in fact the largest and oldest occupied Castle in the world and it is where Her Majesty the Queen chooses to spend most of her private weekends. With so many areas to explore and enjoy the spectacular view of the surrounding country side from the top, please allow at least 3 hours for your visit.
The original castle was built in the 11th century after the Norman invasion of England by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I, it has been used by all monarchs. Inside the Castle walls is the 15th Century St George’s Chapel noted for its English Gothic design. Originally designed to protect Norman dominance around the outskirts of London and oversee a strategically important part of the River Thames, Windsor Castle was built as motte-and-bailey with three wards surrounding the mound. The present day castle was created during a sequence of phased building project, culminating in the reconstruction work after a fire in 1992. It is in essence Georgian and Victorian design based on a medieval structure with Gothic features reinvented in a modern style.
Windsor Castle survived the tumultuous period of the English Civil War, when it was used as a military headquarters for the Parliamentary forces and a prison for Charles I. During the Second World War the castle was readied for war time conditions. It was used as a safe haven for the king and queen from the German bombings.
At the heart of the Windsor castle is the middle ward, a bailey formed around the motte or artificial hill in the center of the ward. The motte is 50 feet high and is made from mud excavated from the surrounding ditch. Above that is the Round Tower originally built in 12th century and extended upwards in the early 19th century.
The upper ward of Windsor Castle comprises a number of major buildings enclosed by the upper bailey wall, forming a central quadrangle. The State Apartments run along north of the ward, with a range of buildings along the east wall.
The lower ward lies below and to the west of the Round Tower, reached through the Norman Gate. The lower ward holds St George’s Chapel. At the east end of the St George’s Chapel is the Lady Chapel and the west end of the lower ward is the Horseshoe Cloister, originally build in 1480 near to the Chapel to house the clergy.
The Changing of Guard
The privilege of guarding the Sovereign traditionally belongs to the Household Troops, better known as ‘the Guards’, who has carried out this duty since 1660. For operational and other reasons this privilege is periodically extended to other regiments of the British Army. The Guards consists of infantry regiments – the Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards – and two regiments of Household Cavalry – the Life Guards and Blues and Royals. Most of the Guards will have seen action overseas.
Changing of Guard, also known as ‘Guard Mounting’, begins with the Windsor Castle Guard forming up outside the Guard Room. In due course, the new Guard will arrive, led by a Regimental Band, Corps of Drums or occasionally by a Pipe Band. During the ceremony the handover of the duties will take place including the changeover of the sentries. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the old Guard will return to Victoria Barracks in Windsor Town.
I would like to express my special thanks to my friend Tintes Das for making this visit a reality.
Warwickshire has been named one of the best places to visit in Europe, according to the Lonely Planet guide. Warwick, the county town is famous for its magnificent castle and historic charm. Warwick castle originally built by William the Conqueror in 1068 is situated on a bend of the Avon River. The original wooden castle was rebuilt in stone in the 12th Century. It was used as a stronghold until the early 17th century, when it was granted to Sir Fulke Greville by James I in 1604. Greville converted it to a country house and it was owned by the Greville family, who became the Earls of Warwick in 1759, until 1978 when it was bought by the Tussauds Group. In 2007, Tussauds Group merged with Merlin Entertainments, which is the current owner of Warwick Castle. The castle have a large collection of armoury on display which is regarded as second only to that of the Tower of London.
Warwick Castle is 95 miles from London, and a 2 hour drive will take you there from London. Warwick railway station is approximately one mile from the castle.
The Warwick Trebuchet
Trebuchet is a machine used in medieval siege warfare for hurling large stone or other missiles. The trebuchet at the Warwick Castle is the largest in the world. In June 2005, Warwick castle become home to one of the world’s largest working siege engine. The trebuchet is 18 meters tall, made from over 300 pieces of oak and weighs 22 tons. The machine was built with drawings from the Danish museum Middelaldercentret, who were the first to recreate a fully functioning trebuchet in 1989. It was built in Wiltshire with expertise from the Danish Museum and now situate on the riverbank below the castle.
The trebuchet takes eight men half an hour to load and release, the process involves four men running in 4 meters tall wheels to lift the counterweight, weighing 6 tons into the air. It is designed to be capable of hurling projectiles distances of up to 300 meters and as high as 25 meters and can throw projectiles weighing up to 150 kilograms.
From the castle top one can get the amazing views of the charming city of Warwick with St. Mary’s church dominating its skyline. Also look out for the golden fields brightening the landscapes with the rapeseed farms with its yellow flowers. Rapeseed oil, sometimes called canola oil forms the third most important crop grown in the UK after wheat and barley.
Once through with the castle one should not miss a walk through the narrow streets of Warwick to explore some of the medieval buildings and traditional houses.
I would like to express my special thanks to my friend Tintes Das for making this visit a reality.