Jack the Ripper, Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace

31 August: A large group of us went on a Jack the Ripper walking tour.

Tip IX: There are lot of Jack the Ripper tour’s out there, we used London Walks, and I highly recommend it.  It’s inexpensive, fun and informative.  Our guide literally wrote the book on the subject.

You not only get a great deal of interesting information about the murders, but you also learn a great deal about London during the late 19th century and surprisingly a fair bit about ancient London and how it’s layout affected the investigation.

4 September: Today we took another of our scheduled tours to Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace.  The Castle is everything a Castle should be!  high walls, arrow slits, portcullises, murder holes and imposing gates.  Though the mote has long since been filled in, it’s easy to see how formidable the defenses are.

We then went out to Hampton Court Palace.  On the way from Windsor, our guide Angie regaled us with the story of Henry VIII, his wives, and his tragic friendship with Cardinal Wolsey.  Wolsey ‘gave’ Hampton Court Henry VIII.  If you want to hear more of the story you can read a British history book or just watch the first couple season of The Tudors.

Hampton Court Palace is an enormous house that sits on the banks of the Thames outside of London.  For all it’s size and opulence , I honestly didn’t really care much for the house.  It lacks a cohesion in style and purpose that, in my humbled opinion, makes it gaudy rather than grand and it’s comes off ironically bourgeois.  Of course much of this comes from the houses history.  Cardinal Wolsey came from relatively modest means and built his house in imitation of the aristocracy rather than from true inspiration.  After the house became property of the crown, various monarchs made partial renovation, expansions, and revisions that leave the house with various, often clashing, architectural styles.

What the house itself lacks in elegance, is more than made up for by the gardens and the grounds!  The tour of the house took up most of our time and I’d really like to get back out there and wander the grounds more fully.  I did have time to see an amazing rose garden in full bloom and to make my way through to the center of the oldest hedge maze in the world.

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Filed under Autumn in London 2010, Study Abroad

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