London, England

London is wonderful!

Top Left to Right: Big Ben, London Bridge, Ferris Wheel, The Shard

Bottom Left to Right: The Shard to The Gherkin

Big Ben: It was raised as a part of Charles Barry’s design for a new palace, after the old Palace of Westminster was destroyed by a fire on October 16, 1834. The new parliament was built in a neo-gothic style. Also known as Elizabeth Tower or the Clock Tower.

London Bridge: The first London Bridge was built by the Romans in 43 A.D. They built a temporary pontoon bridge which was planks laid across a row of anchored boats, or they may have used ferry boats. It was replaced in the early 19th century and a third time in 1967 when the existing bridge was built. On June 3, 2017, the bridge was the target of an ISIS attack. Three terrorists used a rented van to ram pedestrians walking across the bridge, killing three. The attackers then drove their vehicle to nearby Borough Market, where they stabbed multiple people, five of whom died. Armed police arrived on scene and shot the three suspects dead. In addition, 48 people were injured. As a response, security barriers were installed between the bridge’s pavement and road. Two years later, on Nov. 29, five people were stabbed, two of them fatally, in a knife attack carried out by Usman Khan at Fishmongers’ Hall, on the north side of the bridge. Several people fought back on the bridge, including a man who used a narwhal tusk as a weapon. The perpetrator was shot and killed by police.

The Shard: Designed by famed architect Renzo Piano in conjunction with Broadway Malyan. Piano started the design in 2000 under contract by Irvine Sellar. Sellar is a property developer in London that was intent on redeveloping the Southwark Towers that once inhabited the space upon which the Shard now stands. The construction began in 2009 and completed in 2012. It appeared in 2019 movie, Spider-Man: Far From Home.

The Gherkin: The beginning of the Gherkin’s birth started in 1992 as an explosion rocked the financial district of London. The Provisional IRA detonated an explosive device near the Baltic Exchange and catastrophically injured the building. The building was torn down and city officials decided to put a larger tower in its place. The Gherkin began as a much larger building that was dubbed the “Millennium Tower” but which failed to materialize. The original design of the building raised fears that it could negatively impact air traffic from Heathrow. There were also concerns that it may interfere with the sight-lines of St. Paul’s Dome from certain parts of the city. Once the original design was shot down, Norman Foster created the scaled-down version that now sits at 30 St Mary Axe. Construction began in 2001 and the Gherkin was finished in December of 2003. It didn’t open for the public until almost half of a year later.

Today, the Gherkin is primarily an office building. It is the headquarters of many large companies including Swiss Re and some of the offices of Sky News. Some very popular television shows and radio shows were filmed there or near this building.

The Houses of Parliament have had royal association since the early 11th century when Canute the Great of Denmark ordered a palace be built for him on the swampy banks of the Thames. Until a fire claimed the palace in 1512, English royalty stayed put next to the grand Westminster Abbey. Royal Council met next door in Westminster Hall, which was also the site of the first meeting of Parliament in 1265. Even up until the 16th century, it was little more than the king meeting with his nobles to raise money for war or to settle land disputes.

After the fire, King Henry VIII moved to Whitehall Palace and left the site for the new Houses of Parliament, which would evolve later that century into the House of Commons, the House of Lords and the Royal Courts of Justice. Never intended as anything other than a palace, in the original building, meetings and parliaments were held in the queen’s chamber.

In 1834, another fire decimated the original Houses of Parliament. Charles Barry’s Gothic Revival design won a competition to recreate the building. It was at this time a long waterfront terrace was added and later reclaimed by the river. There are more than 1,000 rooms in Barry’s building, all arranged symmetrically. It took about 30 years to complete the construction, and the building has required consistent repairs almost continually ever since.

Each of the clock faces on what is now known as Elizabeth Tower tower are 7 metres in diameter. The bell, known as Big Ben, first chimed in 1859 and continues to keep time with remarkable accuracy.

During World War II, the Houses of Parliament were hit 14 times (12 times on a single night), and it took until 1950 for all of the damage to be repaired. The complex has grown during the last century to accommodate more members of parliament, or MPS, as they are know.

The Westminster Abbey is a church in London that is the site of coronations and other ceremonies of national significance. It stands just west of the Houses of Parliament in the Greater London borough of Westminster. Situated on the grounds of a former Benedictine monastery, it was re-founded as the Collegiate Church of St. Peter in Westminster by Queen Elizabeth I in 1560. In 1987, the Westminster Abbey, St. Margaret’s Church, and the Houses of Parliament were collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Legend relates that Saberht, the first Christian king of the East Saxons, founded a church on a small island in the River Thames, then known as Thorney but later called the west minster (or monastery), and that this church was miraculously consecrated by St. Peter. It is certain that about 785 CE there was a small community of monks on the island and that the monastery was enlarged and remodeled by St. Dunstan of Canterbury about 960. St. Edward the Confessor built a new church on the site, which was consecrated on December 28, 1065. It was of considerable size and cruciform in plan. In 1245, Henry III pulled down the whole of Edward’s church (except the nave) and replaced it with the present abbey church in the pointed Gothic style of the period. The design and plan were strongly influenced by contemporary French cathedral architecture.

The western towers were the last addition to the building. They are sometimes said to have been designed by Sir Christopher Wren, but they were actually built by Nicholas Hawksmoor and John James and completed about 1745. The choir stalls in the body of the church date from 1847, and the high altar and reredos were remodeled by Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1867. Scott and J.L. Pearson also restored the north transept facade in the 1880s. The abbey was heavily damaged in the bombings that ravaged London in World War II, but it was restored soon after the war.

Since William the Conqueror, every British sovereign has been crowned in the abbey except Edward V and Edward VIII, neither of whom was crowned. Additionally, Westminster Abbey has a long tradition of royal weddings, beginning with Henry I’s marriage to Matilda of Scotland in 1100. The only other reigning monarch to be wed in the abbey was Richard II, who married Anne of Bohemia in 1382. The abbey was the venue for the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in 2011.

Many kings and queens are buried near the shrine of Edward the Confessor or in Henry VII’s chapel. The last sovereign to be buried in the abbey was George II (died 1760); since then they have been buried at Windsor Castle. The abbey is crowded with the tombs and memorials of famous British subjects, such as Sir Isaac Newton, David Livingstone, and Ernest Rutherford. Part of the south transept is well known as Poets’ Corner and includes the tombs of Geoffrey Chaucer, Ben Jonson (who was buried upright), John Dryden, Robert Browning, and many others. The north transept has many memorials to British statesmen. The grave of the “Unknown Warrior,” whose remains were brought from Flanders (Belgium) in 1920, is in the centre of the nave near the west door.

London Aquatics Centre: One of the main venues of the 2012 Summer Olympics & the Paralympics

British Museum

Science Museum

Buckingham Palace: The palace was originally built in 1703 as Buckingham House, a London home for the 3rd Earl of Mulgrave, John Sheffield. It became a royal residence when King George III purchased it in 1761 as a comfortable family home for his wife, Queen Charlotte. Fourteen of George and Charlotte’s 15 children were born there.

REFERENCE: Google Earth

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