Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday Reflection...

Last week's Sunday Reflection was about the message I heard at Westminster Abbey on the subject of wisdom. I receive two devotions by e-mail every day, and I found it interesting that last Wednesday's devotion was titled A Dose of Wisdom.

It was based on Proverbs 1:7 "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline [training]."  The Hebrew meaning for fear in this scripture is reverence and awe, not terror or fright.

Walter Lippman said: "It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf."

The fool is like a deaf audience.  He has no way to gain wisdom because he doesn't understand or respect the way to wisdom, which is the Lord.  When we fear the Lord and walk before Him in respect, He gives us wisdom.

May God bless your week!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Visiting the City of Westminster

From Kensington Palace we traveled on the tube to the City of Westminster, London.   

It was our intent to attend Evensong at Westminster Abbey, but due to my error we missed it by a half hour.  Not to worry, we still had one more Sunday in London, so we added Evensong to our May 10th itinerary instead.  In the meantime, we noticed the abbey had an organ recital scheduled for 5:45 p.m., so we decided to attend that.  With a little over two hours to kill, we walked around the area to see some of the sights.

Westminster Abbey is the traditional place for coronations, funerals, and burial place for several monarchs.  It is also the site for other royal occasions, including 16 royal weddings - the latest being Prince William and Kate Middleton's.

Construction of the present church began in 1245 and was completed in 1517.  The two western towers were built between 1722-1745 in a Gothic Revival design.  Further rebuilding and restoration projects have occurred since.

Westminster Abbey is the Church of England - Anglican [Episcopalian] - Royal Peculiar, meaning it is under the direct control of the sovereign.  A full schedule of services and activities take place at the abbey daily.

I toured the abbey in 2007, but we didn't do it this visit.  It's a ceremonial cemetery not only for kings and queens, but aristocrats and great figures of British culture, including poets and authors. A total of 3,300 people are buried or commemorated at the abbey, and their crypts and sculpted effigies can be seen in the undercroft.  It is one of the most visited tourist sites in London.

Just over the Westminster Bridge on the south side of the River Thames is the London Eye [or Millennium Wheel]. When it was erected in 1999 it was the world's tallest ferris wheel.  It contains 32 sealed and air-conditioned passenger capsules, which can hold up to 25 people. One rotation takes 30 minutes.  Opened to the public in 2000, it's the most popular paid tourist attraction in the U.K.  'The Eye' is to London what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris.  I rode it in 2007, but Lori said she'd pass.  ;-)

~ Red double-decker buses are everywhere ~

Elizabeth Tower, more commonly known as Big Ben, stands at the north end of the Palace of Westminster, the seat of government.  The Gothic Revival clock tower, which stands 315 feet tall, opened in 1859. Tours are available to U.K. residents only, and are sponsored by a Member of Parliament or Member of the House of Lords.  There is no elevator, so getting to the belfry requires climbing 334 steps - a definite workout! ;-)  Clock Tower was renamed Elizabeth Tower in 2012 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

The new Houses of Parliament were built between 1840 - 1870 in a Neo-Gothic style designed by Sir Charles Barry.

~ St. Margaret's Church ~

As we were walking around we found a statue of Abraham Lincoln in Parliament Square. We weren't the only ones a long way from home!  ;-)

We returned to Westminster Abbey to stand in line [queue] for the organ recital.  

~ An inscription at the front of the abbey ~

The abbey organ was built in 1937.  We couldn't see it from where we sat, but we enjoyed its beautiful sound.  The organist walked to the edge of the balcony and bowed when the recital was finished.   No photography is allowed inside the abbey.

After the recital we got back on the tube and headed to Knightsbridge. We ate a quick dinner at Burger King, and then walked to our hotel.      

~ End of day #3 ~


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Kensington Palace Part III

The final exhibition we saw at Kensington Palace was Fashion Rules - rare and exquisite dresses worn by Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret [her sister], and Diana, Princess of Wales during the 1960's through the 1990's.  

There were several gowns displayed for all three royals, but I only took photos of two gowns and one coat worn by Queen Elizabeth II.  Even though they were pretty, I didn't take any pictures of Princess Margaret's gowns 

~ The next three gowns were worn by Princess Diana ~

When we finished the fashion exhibition, we made our way to the gift shop.  A new café and gift shop were included in the recent palace renovation.

When I visited the palace in 2001, my hubby bought me a cup and saucer that was part of the Historic Palace China Collection.

On this visit I bought a plate to match so I'd have a trio.  The design features the rose gardens of Hampton Court Palace, the famous Gold Gate at Kensington Palace, the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London, and the Reubens ceiling at Banqueting House.

~ Love my new trio! ~

I also bought a CD of tea time music.

The items were placed in the commemorative bag below.

Exterior photo of the new gift shop, café, and patio dining area that were built on the side of the palace closest to the Orangery.

New winding landscape from the patio towards the Orangery.

The Orangery was built in 1704 by Queen Anne to protect her orange trees from the cold.

Interior of the Orangery.  The carved detail by Grinling Gibbons shows the orangery was not only to be used as a greenhouse, but for entertaining as well.  The center pastry display that used to be in the Orangery is no longer there. 

~ Notice their serving china!  I ordered a tisane - Wild Berries ~

Lori and I each ordered Banoffee Pie.  Yum!  Biscuit base, topped with caramel, banana slices, covered with a layer of cream, sprinkled with Dutch cocoa, and more bananas and caramelized sugar on top. Our server removed the calories before bringing it to our table!  ;-)

[Lori and Me]

Beautiful Sunken Garden on the palace grounds.  Queen Anne and Queen Caroline are credited for the gardens at Kensington.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Kensington Palace Part II - Victoria Revealed Exhibition

Princess Victoria was born at Kensington Palace on May 24, 1819, and was awoken at 6:00 a.m. on June 20, 1837 to learn that her uncle, William IV, had died and she was queen of Great Britain.  A huge responsibility for an 18 year old!

The exhibition is Victoria's story as a young girl, wife, mother, and monarch, told in her own words from letters, journals/diaries, and sketchbooks.  Quotes are woven, stitched, or painted onto carpets, walls, tables and other surfaces.

The rooms are themed, and the exhibition begins in the Red Saloon where her first Privy Council meeting was held when she became Queen.  Other rooms are Childhood and Family Life, Falling in Love, Duty and Work, and Mourning. The exhibition uses rooms where Victoria actually lived.

After becoming Queen she held court at Kensington Palace for three weeks, then on July 13th took up residence at Buckingham Palace. Kensington Palace was never used as a sovereign residence after that.

Childhood and Family Life Room ~

Victoria grew up alone with her controlling mother at Kensington Palace, and later said she had a lonely and unhappy childhood. Despite her loneliness she had many interests and hobbies. Pictured below is her dollhouse for her large collection of wooden dolls.

~ Princess Victoria with her mother, Victoria, Duchess of Kent ~

Queen Victoria stated, "I was brought up very simply - never had a room to myself till I was nearly grown up - always slept in my Mother's room till I came to the Throne." 

She enjoyed music, the opera, ballet, drawing [she was an amateur artist throughout her life], and horse riding.  She had ponies, horses, and dogs, and her favorite pet was Dash, a King Charles Spaniel.

Below is a family tree in the Childhood and Family Life Room.  Victoria was 16 when she first met Albert, who was her first cousin [her mother and his father were brother and sister].  They married in 1840 when she was 21 years old, and had nine children.

The quote of Victoria's on the wall reads:  "God knows how willingly I would always live with my beloved Albert and our children in the quiet and retirement of private life."

~ There are numerous paintings of Victoria throughout the exhibition ~

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were very much in love.  Below is what she wrote in her diary after first meeting him.

~ A fan that Albert gave to Queen Victoria ~

Queen Victoria's wedding gown  is pictured below.  She was very petite - barely 5 feet tall, and had a tiny waist.  She began the tradition that most brides follow to this day - wearing a white dress.

~ Prince Albert's Wedding Attire ~

~ The royal couple were dressed to attend a 1842 ball in the painting below ~

~ Painting of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert riding together  ~

Prince Albert died of typhoid fever at Windsor Castle in 1861.  He was 42 years old.  His death plunged Queen Victoria into overwhelming grief that she never got over.  She wore black mourning clothes the rest of her life. 

A mourning dress of Queen Victoria's with a 50 inch waist.  Quite a change from the size of her wedding gown - nine pregnancies took their toll!  ;-)

~ Queen Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in 1897 ~

She died in 1901 at 82 years of age, reigning for almost 64 years.  On September 9, 2015 her great-great granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II, will surpass her as the longest reigning monarch in British history.  

While it wasn't part of the exhibition, Queen Victoria liked tea, and held Afternoon Tea parties at Buckingham Palace.  She introduced the English to the Russian custom of adding lemon to tea after visiting her daughter in Russia. Victoria sponge cake, often served at tea time in England, bears her name since sponge cake was a favorite of hers. 

Tomorrow's post will be Kensington Palace, Part III - Fashion Rules, another palace exhibition featuring rare and exquisite dresses from 1960's thru 1990's worn by Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret [her sister], and Diana, Princess of Wales. The post will conclude the Kensington Palace series with tea at the Orangery.