Travelling though time: London, York, and hotel bars with men
You cannot truly appreciate how much can change in half a century until you go back in time. Obviously, much changes, but it’s the little things that get forgotten and the big things that either evolve radically or stand the test of time. As I continue to trace my grandmother’s footsteps throughout Europe in the 1950s, I can’t help but compare our similarities and differences, the societies we live in, and the world around us.
12th June 1952 (continued)
Shows seen in London have been Ruth Draper, an impersonator and character performer which was thoroughly enjoyable, “The Merry Widow”, “The Loves of Four Colonels”, and the Royal Tournament – a never-to-be forgotten show of military display and ability.
Have visited St Alban’s Cathedral, built upon the site where St Alban was martyred and his tomb remains – a wonderful cathedral which though now in the Government(?) hands was one Catholic property.
Visited Hatfield House, where Elizabeth I first heard the news that she was to be queen. The old tree under which she sat when the news was given her still remains – propped up of course.
English countryside is very nice but the sameness becomes monotonous and I prefer the Irish countryside so far. There is more contrast of greens in Ireland – the intenseness of the greens of Ireland are delightful.
At Hatfield House among exhibits were the first silk stockings worn in England by Queen Elizabeth I. They looked like the present day lace mittens we wear at balls and were yellowed with age and would probably fall into pieces if handled. In addition to the stockings there was a garden hat and gloves which Queen Elizabeth used. The paintings in oils in the house were magnificent and doubtless worth a fortune. The standard used by Lord Nelson still hung in the Banquet Hall.
Another famous palace visited was Hampton Court – once the holiday house of Henry VIII and where he used to have such gay times. We visited this per medium at the ferry by the Thames River from Richmond and in the course of this trip went through a “lock”.
Hampton Court was certainly an interesting old place and boasts hundreds of very famous paintings of members of Royal families for centuries past. The bedrooms were particularly interesting and I could not get over the immense bedsteads and magnificent drapings of embroidered tapestries also the chairs which were also covered in gloriously designed silk to match the wall coverings which in some cases were also of silk. There were a few amazing looking little rooms presumably “bathrooms” with old style basins and taps. The armory of this court was beautifully arranged. Guns, swords, etc were all attached to the walls in patterns and it was only on a second inspection that you realised just what they were i.e. guns, swords, revolvers, etc. The paintings over the staircase and in fact on all ceilings were glorious.
Met Ian Dwyer and with another friend of his we visited Madame Tussauds Waxworks. I was caught expected when handed a catalogue by a “dummy”. It was an amusing incident. The dummy was so lifelike I was taken in completely and we did have a good laugh at it.
Went to a show with Ian – “South Pacific” – at Drury Lane which was a grand show. Rather crude as regards language – but so well produced and performed as to be made acceptable. Thoroughly enjoyable all together.
Visited the Tower of London one day with Jr Robbie and again with Jo and Mrs C. A place full of sordid history and bloody and headless entombed bodies. Saw the exact spot where people were beheaded, went through the White Tower and various towers. Also saw the Royal Jewels.
Visited Westminster Abbey and felt as though I was in a graveyard. There are hundreds buried there and far too many huge monuments inside the abbey, which, however, is a grand old building.
An interesting little feature: in the days when the monks had the abbey it was the custom to leave loaves of bread out for the poor widows of the parish each day or week and this is remembered by leaving loaves of bread in the same alcove now. Not that anyone gets the bread now.
Visited Westminster Cathedral. R.G went to confession here. A lovely old cathedral with the lovely peace therein, which we do have within our churches. Went up to the tower from where you obtain a grand view over London.
Been through the country of Oxford and up to Shrophine and Huddersfield.
Visited York Minister, a very famous old Cathedral. York is one the walled cities of England. It was a great thrill to visit this place and still see the Roman walls standing in pretty good condition and to drive through the gateway into the city centre. It is said that Guy Fawkes was christened in the church next to York Minister. There also are the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey and people were there digging away very carefully unearthing parts of the abbey and also looking for any interesting pieces of archaeological interest.
[Travelling through time – from grandmother to granddaughter: Read about my experience and ghost stories of York]
Visited David Brown tractor factory at Huddersfield and, while there, we lunched at “The Three Nuns” hotel, which has quite an interesting historical past connected with the story of Robin Hood – who is buried near to the hotel. An historical booklet was given us when we lunched there.
In England it is usual practice for women to go into hotel bars with the men, something which I felt very strange and it would take me a long time to become accustomed to.
Went for a drive through part of Kent and looked up Mary Price – much to her surprise. Mary was expecting a baby in four days’ time and not feeling too good. Living at a village called Weald.
Catch up on the series:
- Travelling through time: exploring similarities of grandmother’s travel journal and my own
- Grandmother’s travel journal: To London to visit the Queen 
- First impressions of London and ghost stories of York 
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