Today was a rather exciting day for our little group of Bostonians, we were heading to London.
As you all know we’ve been singing daily Evensong in Ely Cathedral in Ely since Monday. Now, part of our choir’s agreement with the cathedral is that they provide us with one day off, and today was the day. So, our intrepid tour director, Anne, arranged for us to get down to London and hit up some of the biggest sites. While it was a lovely day, my only regret is that we couldn’t have had more time at some of the sites. However, I understand that it was necessary to do what we did if we wanted to see all that we did.
There were two groups for today just because our group of 44 people is a bit too bulky to maneuver easily around the city. At first, one group went on a Shakespearean walking tour from St. Paul’s Cathedral to the Globe Theatre and another group went to the Tower of London. I was in the Tower group as I really wanted to see the crown jewels and take one of the famous yeoman tours. The interesting thing is that I was the only one in our group who went to see the crown jewels, the others decided to take the tour as we had only a little over an hour there and the line to see the jewels would probably be quite long.
That never happened, though. It took me all of 5 minutes to get through the line and in to see the jewels which, I must say, were breathtaking.
After our brief sojourn at the Tower we headed to the reconstructed Globe Theatre, which was quite an interesting place. While it is not actually built on the old sit of the theatre (the original is partly under a road and thus was impossible to put the new one there) it is an almost exact replica, the only changes being made were to make it conform to fire code, not easy being that it’s made entirely of oak and has a thatched roof. It was a fascinating tour (our tour guide was excellent) and we even got to put on a little performance of our own, with the permission of those running the place. That’s right, Mr. Ian Abodeely has performed at the Globe Theatre in London. Granted, it did consist of our choir singing something quite short, but it still counts!
After our time at the Globe we drove over to the area around Westminster Abbey and we divided into Choir I and Choir II, Choir I going into the Abbey on a tour and Choir II going on a walking tour of the area with Anne our tour leader. We walked from the Abbey to Buckingham Palace, then to the Royal Parade Grounds, saw the Equestrian Guards, and then walked down the Mall (pronounce “maw”) to see Whitehall, No. 10 Downing Street, and Big Ben before ending back up at the Abbey.
To be perfectly honest, the tour of the Abbey wasn’t the greatest, only because we were so pressed for time. We were chastened by one of the vergers (basically one of the head honchos who direct daily operations in churches in England) for being five minutes late and were then pushed through the Abbey at breakneck speed. There is no photography allowed in the Abbey however we were not told that when we entered, which is why one of my fellow tour members took the following glorious picture:
After this picture was taken, and a cellphone of one of our tour members went off, our tour guide was treated shamefully by one of the vergers who proceeded to give quite a bit of lip to our longsuffering guide, Sue. I realize, of course, that it was at the end of a very long day and he had been dealing with tourists all day, but I would hope that would instead have the result of making them more resilient to this sort if stuff, especially since they’re in a church. Because of the time limit I also couldn’t stop to pray at St. Edward’s tomb, except for a very quick prayer as we were being herded away. I did manage to break free towards the end and light a few candles, but I only just made it back to the group in the nick of time. It’s unfortunate that those who wish to go places as pilgrims are forced into a little “tourist” box, it made me quite sad to be unable to spend time with St. Edward.
After all that we headed back to the coach and started our 2 hour trek back to Ely. Let me tell you, I was so glad to be coming back here to this little city. My spirits lifted considerably when I saw the towers of this great cathedral rising above the wide open fields. It was almost as if St. Etheldreda was welcoming us back to her city, for I felt spiritually glad to see the cathedral. If I could live here, I really think I would. Who knows, perhaps God might lead me back here someday. I certainly hope he will, at least. It is a peaceful place.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost be with us now and forevermore. Amen.