Olivia and I had a fabulous tour of the Westminster area of London today. Here are a few fun facts and places I recall from the two-hour stroll.
- Constitution Hill: A street that runs by Buckingham palace. In 16th and 17th century London, the elegantly-clad high-class people would walk up and down this hill to remain in good health, as the doctors of the time recommended taking long walks. This walk became known as “Constitution Walk.
- Buckingham Palace: I do not think I need to explain.
- Horse Guards: Unfortunately, we did not get to see the famous changing of the guards, but the horse guards made their way up Constitution Hill. These guards are mounted troopers who protect Buckingham Palace and St. James’s Palace.
- We stopped by the Clarence House and the Lancaster House, which are both royal mansions right around the corner from Buckingham Palace. Prince Charles resides in the Clarence house with his wife. Meanwhile, the Lancaster house is so fancy that no one lives in it. It is often used as a stand-in for Buckingham Palace in film.
- James’s Palace: King Henry VIII had this palace built as a wedding present to his second wife, Anne Boleyn. The tour guide went into a deep history of King Henry VIII’s love life, which was just complete insanity. I found it surprising that the new monarch is announced at St. James’s, as per tradition.
- Horse Guard Parade: This is a royal gravel parade ground that hosts changing of the guards and is surrounded by beautiful buildings which contain a museum and offices. The building around the square were once more massive than they are now, but burned down in a huge fire in the 1800s.
- Westminster Abbey: The gothic abbey church that leads to the Palace of Westminster.
- Palace of Westminster (Parliament): Some pieces of Westminster are from the 600s, while newer parts are only 300 years old. The man who designed this grand building took 25 years to hand-design every single part of the building, from the ceiling to the floor. He went mentally crazy while in the process of designing it, and he did not allow the letter “X” to be in the building, as he saw it as an evil sign.
- Big Ben: the famous tower of Parliament is actually called Elizabeth Tower.
The first part of the tour ended and Olivia and I grabbed lunch at Villiers, an eatery with delicious fish and chips. You did not think I would visit England and not order fish and chips, did you?