Globe and Ripper

I got a bit of a slow start this morning, being very tired from the combination of jetlag and an obscene number of stairs yesterday. When I finally hauled myself out of bed, took some time getting dressed and ready for the day, then took the tube back to the Tower of London.

Why there? Mainly because it’s only one tube stop from my closest tube station1, and the sightseeing bus stops there, and that’s where I got off the tour yesterday. So, I got to ride the rest of the tour and, incidentally, find out where the theatre is for seeing The Book of Mormon tomorrow night.

I got off the bus around Picadilly Circus, with the intention of catching the red tour from the sightseeing company2. I managed to do that, though it took getting lost and finally making my way back to Trafalgar Square. When I got on the red tour, I found that it was the same as the yellow tour, but without a live guide – all commentary was on a recording, and I, not realizing that, neglected to get a set of headphones to listen to it.

By the time I figured this out, we were almost back to the Tower of London, so I figured I’d get off there and figure out what to do next. Turns out I was just in time for the 61-gun salute that the Yeoman Warders were firing in honour of the new princess. I stayed for that but, as a late arrival, I only managed to glimpse the guns themselves as I maneuvered around the edge of the crowd. Easy to hear, though. And to smell – huge clouds of smoke drifted over to us every time the guns fired.

That took about twenty minutes, in all, and I still hadn’t figured out what to do. So, I wandered down to the pier, and saw that there was a river bus service that would take me right to Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. I’m heading there tomorrow for Romeo and Juliet, but I thought it would be nice to take a tour today, and wander around the area.

My first view of Shakespeare's Globe from the Thames.
My first view of Shakespeare’s Globe from the Thames.

The tour was awesome, led by an actual cockney named Mick. And he took us into the (mostly) empty Globe to show us the place.

The Globe is a working theatre. They are apparently building the set for Merchant of Venice today.
The Globe is a working theatre. They are apparently building the set for Merchant of Venice today.
The stage from the pit. This is where the common folk would stand after paying a penny. Shakespeare called them "penny stinkards." I'm sure you can figure out why.
The stage from the pit. This is where the common folk would stand after paying a penny. Shakespeare called them “penny stinkards.” I’m sure you can figure out why.
This is the stage as viewed from the middle circle of seats. This is about the best view in the house.
This is the stage as viewed from the middle circle of seats. This is about the best view in the house.

The theatre is constructed in Elizabethan fashion – uncured oak, with lath and plaster between the beams, and a thatched roof. Since the great fire in London, thatched roofs are illegal, but the Globe has special dispensation. Also, a whole lot of sprinklers on the roof.

After a quick stop at the gift shop3, I set out to wander through the area and see what there was to see.

Ship outta nowhere! Walking around the corner, there was a reconstruction of Raleigh's ship, the Golden Hinde.
Ship outta nowhere! Walking around the corner, there was a reconstruction of Raleigh’s ship, the Golden Hinde.
When I get street directions like, "Keep the Cathedral on your left," and you have ask , "Which Cathedral," you know you're not in Winnipeg anymore. This is Southwark Cathedral.
When I get street directions like, “Keep the Cathedral on your left,” and you have ask , “Which Cathedral,” you know you’re not in Winnipeg anymore. This is Southwark Cathedral.
The Shard is a cool, tapered building in London. It's apparently got shops, a hotel, a casino, and amazing views from the top floor. And you can see it from the same spot I took the picture of Southwark Cathedral. I love the mix of old and new.
The Shard is a cool, tapered building in London. It’s apparently got shops, a hotel, a casino, and amazing views from the top floor. And you can see it from the same spot I took the picture of Southwark Cathedral. I love the mix of old and new.
This very cool statue of the Holy Family sits in the corner of Southwark Cathedral grounds.
This very cool statue of the Holy Family sits in the corner of Southwark Cathedral grounds.
Crossing London Bridge from the south, you are greeted by a pair of dragons., These signify that you are entering the City of London, or the Square Mile, as it's called.
Crossing London Bridge from the south, you are greeted by a pair of dragons., These signify that you are entering the City of London, or the Square Mile, as it’s called.
Just over the bridge is the Monument, commemorating the Great Fire of London in 1666. Apparently, 80% of the buildings in the City of London were destroyed. There are 311 steps in the Monument, and you get a certificate of accomplishment if you climb all the way to the top. I guess I'll never know for sure.
Just over the bridge is the Monument, commemorating the Great Fire of London in 1666. Apparently, 80% of the buildings in the City of London were destroyed. There are 311 steps in the Monument, and you get a certificate of accomplishment if you climb all the way to the top. I guess I’ll never know for sure.

From Monument Station, it was just two underground stops to my home stop of Aldgate East. I had a bit of dinner and a bit of a rest, and uploaded the day’s pictures. While they were uploading, I went for my evening’s planned excursion: a Jack the Ripper walk.

It started getting overcast, and was beginning to sprinkle a bit of rain as the walk started, so I only got a few pictures. Although, to be fair, most of the actual sites we visited were radically changed from history, so there wasn’t much to photograph. That said, our guide, Phil, did an amazing job of painting the picture for us, and did a magnificent balancing act between humourous fun and dignified respect. I did get a few pics, though.

A lot of the streets we went down looked kind of like this. It's not that accurate a representation of the streets at the time, but it was still evocative.
A lot of the streets we went down looked kind of like this. It’s not that accurate a representation of the streets at the time, but it was still evocative.
The Frying Pan public house, where Polly Nichols was seen the night before her death.
The Frying Pan public house, where Polly Nichols was seen the night before her death.
The Ten Bells, a public house frequented by Annie Chapman and Mary Kelly. For a while, in the 70s and 80s, it was renamed Jack the Ripper, but apparently the tackiness of naming it after a murderer of local woman - and selling keychains and other souvenirs - proved too tacky. Business fell off, and the name was changed back.
The Ten Bells, a public house frequented by Annie Chapman and Mary Kelly. For a while, in the 70s and 80s, it was renamed Jack the Ripper, but apparently the tackiness of naming it after a murderer of local woman – and selling keychains and other souvenirs – proved too tacky. Business fell off, and the name was changed back.
Christchurch Spitalfields, where many homeless people of the district, would spend the days sleeping in the graveyard., At night, the graveyard was closed, and the unfortunates would have to walk the streets, because the police wouldn't let them sleep there.
Christchurch Spitalfields, where many homeless people of the district, would spend the days sleeping in the graveyard., At night, the graveyard was closed, and the unfortunates would have to walk the streets, because the police wouldn’t let them sleep there.
Across from Christchurch Spitalfields is the Spitalfields Market. It has nothing really to do with the Ripper, but thought Penny would like to see it.
Across from Christchurch Spitalfields is the Spitalfields Market. It has nothing really to do with the Ripper, but thought Penny would like to see it.

By this time, the rain was coming down pretty hard, so I put the camera away. We finished the tour, and I came home to post this. Pictures loaded very slowly, so I’m running late again.

So, goodnight.

  1. Aldgate East, if you care. []
  2. I’d been riding on the yellow tour. []
  3. Where I may have purchased a number of DVDs of performances here, but who can say? []

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