After walking around for a while, and seeing the London Museum, I went to Postman's Park. This is a beautiful little park sandwiched in between several buildings. Its main point of interest is a wall that is a Victorian-era memorial to "heroes of everyday life". All the people memorialised died whilst saving someone else. They are often touching, sometimes funny, like the one that reads, "Saved a lunatic woman from suicide at Woolwich Arsenal Station, but was himself run over by the train." I took some pictures, which I will post on my website when I have better internet access (i.e. when I get back). I can send them to anyone who really wants them sooner.
I next saw the hospital of St. Bartholomew, which has a plaque on the wall outside to William Wallace (Braveheart). I also went inside the courtyard and stopped at the church of St. Bartholomew-the-Less. The chapel, too small to call it a true church, was very calm and peaceful, and pretty deserted. It was a good rest in the middle of my touring day, and contained many memorials to beloved doctors and beautiful stained glass windows.
St. Bartholomew-the-Great, across the square from the hospital, and also St. Bolotoph Church (next to Postman's Park) were supposed to be on my tour as well, but were both unfortunately closed to visitors.
I finished my day at St. Paul's Cathedral. I got there too late to scale the dome for a good view of London, so I went down to the cafe in the crypt and had a snack before returning upstairs for evensong. The service helped me put things in perspective, and the men of the cathedral choir sang the Tallis Lamentations I. It was so beautiful, I almost cried. Renaissance church music was definitely written for spaces such as this.
My first stop was at the Museum of London...
they had an excellent exhibit on "London's Voices" - it's oral history, tales and interviews from London residents. You can listen to whole interviews, or hear excerpts on many different topics. This is an ongoing project, and it seems pretty cool.
A very powerful exhibit was next - "After September 11: Images from Ground Zero" - photographs by Joel Meyerowitz, a NY resident and apparently a famous photographer. My thoughts:
These photographs spoke to me of the tragedy and the scope of the incident, but also of the decadence of American life in general, and how easily that can be destroyed. And yet, they speak of hope in the midst of it all. The colorful memorial that seems tiny in the midst of the wreckage. The rescue workers that are trying to smile, but cannot fully succeed; there is pain in their eyes, they're too serious. A prayer meeting of rescue workers in the street. The workers during a coffee break; they look so tired. The flag is everywhere, blurred in the wind.
The Sept. 11 exhibit leads right in to an exhibit of photographs documenting the London Blitz. Each of these pictures seem so small when compared to the NY tragedy, but then I realise that each picture is of a different building that has been destroyed, and over the space of more than a year. Entire streets filled with rubble. A single building, completely decimated. An aerial view from St. Paul's dome - of all the buildings visible, only one or two are whole. Many pictures of buildings where only a shell or a single wall remains. A mangled bus - I hope it wasn't occupied. A church interior - the stone is still standing, but the pews and the organ are in splinters. The most impressive picture is the one that catches a building in the act of collapsing.
It was a great day, and I was happy I did it. I plan on doing more next weekend. :)