Monday, July 22, 2013

Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived...

Track 7/21: William Byrd: Ave Verum Corpus
Track 7/22: The Who: "Going Mobile"

On Sunday we headed over to Waterloo station to grab some breakfast and nab a train out to Hampton Court Palace. Hampton Court, at the time a large farm estate, was acquired by Thomas Wolsey in 1514. He built a gallery and had new gardens and an entrance courtyard added, along with dressing the interior with hundreds of tapestries. Wolsey presented Hampton Court to King Henry VIII in 1525. Henry spent a fortune enlarging the palace and adding other features to it during his reign, and improvements and restoration continued through the reigns of monarchs of the Tudor and Stuart dynasties and up through George II of the Hanoverians. It was most impressive to be exploring the halls where Henry VIII and his (mostly) ill-fated wives walked, and where Elizabeth I also stayed.

Henry VIII's food was prepared here!
Fountain Court

Wall paneling carved to look like books!
 The Great Hall:
The ceilings, the art, the tapestries, and especially the chapel; there is just so much to take in. Apparently, one corridor is referred to as the Haunted Gallery as there are many tales of staff and visitors who have heard the screams of Henry's 5th wife, Catherine Howard, as she was dragged back to her room from this area in an attempt to speak to the king following her confinement when she had been accused of adultery.

Ascending The King's Staircase on the South side of the palace leads one to William III's Apartments which are also quite stunning. I was floored by the decor of the Weapon Room, where armor, firearms, knives, swords and drums are so artfully hung on the wall that you see only the designs at first, and then do a double take when you realize what the individual elements are.
The murals of the King's Staircase were painted by Antonio Verrio

William III's Great Bedchamber
Canopy of State in the King's presence Chamber


There are many gardens on the property surrounding the Palace including a maze sculpted from 7ft-high yew trees that spans a third of an acre. We spent a bit of time in the Great Fountain Garden before we needed to catch a train to return to London. There is so much to see here, one day really isn't sufficient. We did procure some souvenirs to remember the experience, including matching charm bracelets that symbolize the fates of Henry VIII's 5 wives. This is certainly the most morbid piece of jewelry that I own - neat!

I totally stalked this jackdaw; they supposedly steal bright objects like jewelry. Back off, Jack, you can't have my bracelet! 

Blue dragonfly!

We returned to the city and had dinner at a pub before making our way back to Parsons Green where packing had to commence as we needed to figure out how to get all of our treasures back home... including the 2 pieces of taxidermy. The last week of my program starts back up on Tuesday, and Monday was check-in day at the dorm to get our things out of the storage areas and get back into our rooms, so the evening was slated for this activity. We started our morning by trekking to a Mail Boxes Etc. to get a few boxes (to ship our formerly live treasures home) and then hauled them back in the heat. This mid-80's-and-humid nonsense is killing me walking around outside all day. We then went to Covent Garden to do our last round of shopping... and almost died from heatstroke. We returned back to our B&B to pack up the boxes, and I chose a large one and wove an assortment of clothing around the weasel to make sure there was an abundance of cushioning on every side. We wrapped up the starling in his case in a similar fashion. I taped up the boxes and off we went back to Mail Boxes Etc. Unbeknownst to us, if a package is over 2 kilos (4.4 lbs), or the box is over a certain size,  then the package has to be sent by a shipping service which means the box is charged by volumetric weight - the weight of contents the box could potentially hold. So the Weasel in his spacious cardboard mansion was going to cost £219 to send home. Yikes. We managed to streamline the packaging and send the starling off (still for a small fortune) but I didn't really have any options at this point, right before closing, so we dragged the cumbersome weasel carrier back to the B&B again.
I'll have to figure something out later in the week... which means weasel needed to make the trip to the dorm with the rest of my luggage this evening to check back into my room. I had a cab pick us up in Parsons Green to take us and my things to Stamford Street, and we rode along the Thames, weasel in tow, to drop my things off.

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