I completely forgot to take a photo of the group on Saturday morning, which was a shame, as they were a top notch group. So instead, as I've been a little bit lapse in my 'Weekend Roundups' in April, have included a little collage of some of the people who have come on my weekend walks on previous weeks.
So ... last weekend was pretty momentous as far as Bowl Of Chalk is concerned, as two people completed THE TRILOGY ... which is to say, they have now done all three Weekend Walks. The first was Adam who came on the walks incrementally over a number of months or even years ... I can't actually remember when he came on the first one, with Saturday afternoon being the final installment. On that walk, he was also joined by Andrea from Canada, who took a rather different approach by completing THE TRILOGY in one weekend. Over the course of two days, she subjected herself to listening to me warbling on about London for about nine hours. I should also mention that Courtney, from the States, who was also on the Saturday afternoon walk was on her second walk with me. Here are Saturday afternoon's group on top of New Change, with St Paul's cathedral behind them.
On Sunday it unfortunately rained pretty much non stop for the entire walk, so the first stop was for people to purchase umbrellas. Here are the group on Rivington Street, in front of a piece by street artist Thierry Noir, a 56 year old Frenchman, who came to prominence in 1984 when he began painting an infamous wall ... the Berlin Wall, which he continued painting for five years.
Special award for completing 'The Trilogy' - Adam & Andrea
Youngest - Logan
Smallest - Logan
Quickest ever walk appearance - Lucy on Sunday morning
Most Australian - Mark, Amanda & Millie
Best moustache - No Winners
Yellowest trousers - Andrea
When I told my father the other day, that I'd been to The Jewel Tower in Westminster, he said "Aaahh ... the place you see on the news next to Parliament", which is quite true. College Green is where news reporters stand to interview MPs and do their straight to camera pieces with the impressive backdrop of Charles Barry's Houses of Parliament behind them. Quite often you can see the Jewel Tower creeping in to shot to the left, but largely spends its time in the shadow of its more famous, but much younger neighbour.
Built in 1365 within the private palace of King Edward III, the Jewel Tower began life as a huge safe, a secure repository for the most valuable possessions of the Royal Household. The palace took up the whole area, now occupied by the Houses of Parliament and Parliament Square, with the Jewel Tower, situated in a secluded garden to the west and hemmed in by a moat, encroaching on land owned by Westminster Abbey. You can get a good idea of the layout of the area from the picture below.
In the same way that the Queen today travels between her different homes, her predecessors would move between palaces, Royal manors and castles dotted around the country, or indeed visit friends and courtiers in their own houses. Such trips would have involved taking a huge retinue of people, but also items like plates, bowls, cups, goblets, tapestries and other decorative objects and things that might be needed. The job of the 'keeper of the Wardrobe in the Privy Palace of Westminster', sometimes known as 'keeper of jewels and gold and silver vessels' was based at the Jewel Tower and had the responsibility of making an inventory of everything that left, supervise the goods being loaded on to carts and barges and most importantly, to make sure that everything was returned.
When Henry VIII became King and the Royal Household moved away from the Palace of Westminster, the Jewel Tower effectively became a big junk store. On his death in 1547, an inventory was taken of 'tholde Juelhous at Westminster' and was found to be full of old clothes, bed-hangings, linen, gaming tables and old children's toys and dolls. In the 17th Century, the robust ragstone building became a store for Parliamentary records and by the early 18th century it was decided in a meeting chaired by Sir Christopher Wren that the Jewel Tower needed some serious repairs, which also included protection from fire.
The Jewel Tower managed to survive the fire of 1834 that burned down the Houses of Parliament, causing the loss of pretty much all of the old medieval palace. The new buildings, which you can still see today took about 26 years to complete and as we move in to the Victorian period, the the Jewel Tower gained its third use. A larger building was required for the storage of records, which Charles Barry accommodated in the design of the new Parliament and more specifically, the Victoria Tower, which still stands directly opposite the Jewel Tower today.
In 1864 the Standards Department of the Board of Trade, sometimes known as the 'weights and measures' moved in to the Jewel Tower and set about trying to determine the definitive values of units of size, weight and volume. Basically, these are the people who decided exactly how much beer goes in to a pint of beer ... amongst other things. They remained there until 1938, and in fact on the ground floor of the building today they have a display case showing the different measures or 'standards'.
The Jewel Tower was badly damaged by incendiary bombs during WWII, and the surrounding area has changed quite radically since then, meaning that the building itself, now an 'English Heritage' site, has been excavated, preserved and opened to the public. If you do visit, each of the three floors give you an insight in to the building's incredible 650 years of history, and next time you're watching the news, keep an eye out for it behind the reporters on Abingdon Street Gardens, otherwise known as College Green.
Alongside my regular 'pay what you want' weekend guided walks in London, I also do 'private walks' during the week, whereby I put together itineraries for people based on their interests, or what they'd like to see. As you'll see from the photos and brief descriptions below, from some of the walks I did in March, they can pretty much take any shape or form. If the idea interests you, please get in touch as I'm sure we can sort something out.
So, first up (from left to right) we have Carrie, her mum and brother outside the Market Porter pub in Borough Market, which was the end point of a shortish walk Carrie organised for her mum's birthday. In the centre, we have Silvio & Regina from Brazil, who I met at their hotel in Mayfair and explored around Mayfair, St James's, Piccadilly, Whitehall and numerous other central London locations. I took the photo of them outside Admiralty House at Horse Guards Parade (Silvio had worked the Navy). On the right, outside Buckingham Palace is Jenn & Jason who where visiting London for the first time from the States. Rather amazingly we actually saw the Queen earlier on that particular walk and Jenn managed to even get a photo of her, as she drove past.
There you go ... The Queen. Aside from not having a passport, the Queen doesn't have a driving license either, which I think must be why she spends a lot of time sitting in the back of cars.
Above we have, starting on the left, Nellie & Kang Wee from Singapore on St James's Street, just in front of St James's Palace, followed by Holly & Margo on the southbank with the silhouette of Big Ben in the background. They had popped over on a day trip from France and I left them just by the London Eye, as they'd booked tickets to go up ... or around. It was a nice day for it. On the right is Jennifer, who I met in the City of London, and we explored the area around St Paul's cathedral, Fleet Street, Temple and Smithfield. I took the photo of her in the courtyard of Somerset House.
One Thursday, I took 34 school kids (and their teachers) on a walk that started at the Tate Modern on Bankside, through Borough (where we stopped for lunch at the market) and Southwark, over the river and through part of the City of London to finish on the steps of the Royal Exchange. I met Kerry, Anna and Emilie at their apartment in Shad Thames, just south of Tower Bridge and spent a whole day together, which included a pub lunch and cup cakes in Covent Garden (see above centre photo). Last, but not least is Polly & John, who spent a morning with me during their short trip to London. I took the photo of them outside the replica of Francis Drake's ship, the Golden Hinde.
I'd also like to say a massive THANK YOU to everyone that has, over the last couple of years, taken the time to write rather nice reviews about my walks on Trip Advisor. At the current time of writing, Bowl Of Chalk is placed in the 'Top 3' activities in London.
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.