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wshaffer
Whitehall and Bath 
1st-Sep-2014 08:53 pm
important, lives
Well, my recounting of my U.K. trip was derailed a bit by traveling back to the States and then being a VMworld for most of the next week. Picking up our tale again on Aug. 17...

Sunday was a pretty low-key day, because I was still pretty tired and footsore from Saturday. We spent the morning in the British Museum, looking at some of the stuff we'd missed on our previous visit: primarily Asian and Mesoamerican works. And I remembered to take my camera along, so there will be pictures. By around lunctime, the crowds had gotten silly again, so we left.

After lunch, we took a stroll through Whitehall and visited Banqueting House, the last surviving fragment of Whitehall Palace, famous primarily for the fact that Charles I was executed just outside. Banqueting House is a really nice place to go in London if you want to just chill out or get out of the rain for a bit. The main attraction is the ceiling in the main hall, painted by Reubens. They have comfy benches and beanbag chairs, and you are very much encouraged to lounge there and contemplate the paintings for as long as you want.

On Monday, we went to Bath. We started with a visit to the Roman baths. They've put together a museum around the baths that has a lot of interesting stuff from the Roman settlement. I particularly liked a little display of written curses left by people at the temple - lots of "May something horrible happen to whoever stole my slave/lover/new bronze pot." They also had the only extant inscription in British Celtic. Pretty cool.

Afterwards, we visited Bath Abbey. The church has one of the coolest gothic exteriors I've seen - I really like the carvings of angels climbing Jacob's ladder on the front of the church.



The interior of the Abbey has some quite spectacular funerary monuments. Visiting it also gave me a lot of sympathy for the problems of trying to run an active community church and ministry in a place that is a) many hundreds of years old and b) a huge tourist attraction. There were lots of signs around explaining various parish projects, like that they are installing new flooring because the old flooring is collapsing due to all the burials under it. The new flooring is also allowing them to put in a new heating system that uses heat from the baths, which is pretty awesome.

The view from the Bath Abbey tower is supposed to be the best view in Bath, but you can only go up there with a guided tour, so we skipped it. Instead, we walked up to the hill to the Bath Fashion Museum. (You can get a combined ticket with the ticket to the Roman Baths that makes the Fashion Museum a good deal.) They had an exhibit of costumes from Downton Abbey, as well as an interesting selection of Regency court dress. I admit, we were getting a bit tired by that point, so we didn't linger as long as we might have in other circumstances.
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