14 September: Today we took another school sponsored tour. This one was especially relevant to us because today we toured London’s legal heart. For this trip we enlisted the aid of Victoria, solicitor and Blue Badge Guide extraordinaire!
We started at Lincoln’s Inn and wandered though Inner Temple and Middle Temple. The Inns are where law school graduates go to receive their practical Barrister’s training. Traditionally, the aspiring Barristers would physically reside at their Inn while they received their training. Even today, you’re required to physically travel to central London and eat so many dinners at the Inn before they will call you to the Bar! It seems like great tradition that provides an amazing networking opportunity and draws the profession closer together.
After leaving the Inns, we went to the Royal Court’s of Justice. It was my second time there, but it’s still just as beautiful as I remembered. This time, we had time to actually sit in on court and watch the Barristers present their cases. It’s pretty similar to our proceedings, with one notable exception. Court dress includes robes and wigs for the Barristers and the judge. There’s discussion about doing away with the formal dress, but I quite like it. Professor Fitzgerald would save I’m suffering ‘wig envy’. I guess I can own that. It was very interesting trip.
15 September: Destiny decided to visit Greenwich: the home of time, distance and astronomy. Greenwich is on the outskirts of the city and there’s no Tube stop remotely close. There is however…a River Taxi pier. So, after class we went down to the Victoria Embankment and boarded a Thames Clipper. The Clipper took us all the way from Parliament down to Greenwich.
Tip XI: Take a water taxi while you’re here. For less than £10 return, there’s no better way to see London.
At Greenwich we scaled the ‘hill’ to reach the observatory. There we were rewarded with a magnificent view of the London, particularly the business district.
We then checked out the observatory, where many of famous astronomers practiced their craft, include Edmound Halley of Halley’s Comet fame. We also got to see the definition of English distance measurements, and straddled the Prime Meridian. Really it was a fun way to spend an afternoon.
19 September: Another amazing sponsored tour! This time we took a coach to Blenheim Palace. It’s the only home that the Queen doesn’t live in, that is allowed to call itself a Palace. Frankly it’s earned it!
Constructed in 1705 as a reward to John Churchill (ancestor of Winston) for defeating the French at the Battle of Blenheim, it is absolutely breathtaking.
Tip XII: Defeat the French! It’s absolutely the best way to be made a noble, receive a stately home, and get an enormous monument made for you.
I really don’t have the words to describe Blenheim. I’ve never seen and I cannot imagine a more splendid home on a more picturesque piece of land.
Having left Blenheim, we travelled to Oxford University and toured it’s Christ’s Church college. The college was gorgeous and amazing in its own right, but for this slightly nerdy law student the highlight came before…at lunch.
When I decided to join the Autumn in London Program there was one thing that I KNEW I was going to do while I was in England. I was going to Oxford and eat at the Eagle and Child. The Eagle and Child looks like a normal quaint English Pub, and indeed it is. The food is standard pub fair and they have the normal assortment of drinks. What makes the Eagle and Child special is that it was home to the Inklings.
The Inklings were a group of Oxford professors who gathered together in the back room of the Eagle and Child and read excerpts of their writing to each other and gave each other feedback. Members included C.S. Lewis and much more importantly for me, J.R.R. Tolkien. In many ways, the Eagle and Child’s Rabbit Room was the nursery that nurtured the Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings.
I was around ten years old when I read the Lord of the Rings and I was enchanted with it. I’ve reread it more times than I can count and it was a dream of mine, even back then, to visit the place of its birth. I love all the amazing opportunities this program provides!