Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Day 3: London

So on our 3rd day in London, we had a bus ticket to Cambridge ready to leave around mid-afternoon. Our plan was to go to the British museum in the morning, but when when we got there, it wasn't going to open for a couple hours. Our new plan was to head over to the British National Library. It happens to be a horridly ugly building...and was also not open yet. We wandered down the street and stumbled upon this enormous gothic-esque building that turned out to be the Pancras Hotel. It was a little initimidating to go inside, so we took photos and then headed back to the library to wait in line for it to open. A middle-aged, friendly guy was in line next to us, and we ended up having a great conversation about the Pancras Hotel, it's history, the history of this section of London, middle-class English life, and kids (he had 5 from our kids' ages up to college).

Too bad we didn't sneak inside, because this is the grand staircase... (Photo from the hotel website)
(more photos from the site...)

Doesn't this look like a Wes Anderson set? I wish I had gone in...
In the courtyard in front of the British National Libary

This is the British Library -- It's not exactly hideous, but, really, in the midst of so much beautiful architecture from so many eras...

When we got in, we found out we could go into any of the reading rooms or have access to any books unless we had a library card. We almost left, but found a "treasures" room open to the public and free. We saw a note Michelangelo wrote to his dad telling him he had finished the Sistine Chapel's ceiling and was happy with it; Handel's "Messiah" written in his own hand; Bach's hand-written "Well-Tempered Clavier" manuscript; Jane Austen's writing desk where she wrote all of her novels as well her hand-written Persuasion novel; Shakespeare's first folio; Codex Sinaiticus -- the earliest complete copy of the New Testament; The Lindisfarne Gospels; Gutenberg's Bible of 1455; Diamond Sutra - the world's earliest dated printed book; A note that Henry the VIII and Anne Boleyn wrote to their cardinal asking for the King's divorce to get hurried along...in their own handwriting; The handwritten lyrics to "A Hard's Days' Night" written by John Lennon on the back of his son's birthday card; Leonardo da Vinci's notebook...and more. It was kind of mind-blowing. 

Then we made it to the British Library. We decided to go to the British/Roman treasures found in Britain and the jewelry and clocks rooms. 

Many things from Lincoln, England...

The dots are places where all these treasures were found...

1st/2nd Century Jewelry

Jewelry from a young child's grave, 1st Century

Londesborough Brooch, AD750-850; Popular type in Ireland, used to fasten a cloak.

Ring brooches from Ireland under Viking influence

Necklace from the Baltic Sea Region; influenced by Scandinavian Viking women's fashion

Early to mid-19th century, German

Gothic-style earrings, maybe made in Berlin around 1820

Diamond oak-leaf tiara from English, Hunt, & Roskell of London, 1855

A really fun clock run by weights on pulleys...fascinating to follow all the interplay happening to make it perpetually run...

A clearer photo with no people obscuring it...from a blog called Morgan Bakies

Ceiling of the British Museum opening room

British Museum entrance...it was about 4 times as wide as this...

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