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Exercised by Sir George Gilbert Scott - a trip report"

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Ossett, United...
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Exercised by Sir George Gilbert Scott - a trip report"

One day I will meet the man who worked out all the timings for the directions on googlemaps - he must have much, much longer legs than mine! but of that, more anon.

I'm taking a break from sifting through my 489 photos (trying to work out why my computer jumbles them up while claiming it's put them in date order) to write a little bit of my trip report.

Warning, it will have many parts.....

I took the coach from Leeds to Victoria on Wednesday. Straight down to Golders Green in 2.5 hours, then another 1.5 to get to Victoria. I'm sure it made sense in someone's mind! Of course, for all I know that could be the only road into Victoria from the north.

I had retained a vague memory, now almost 40 years old, that when you arrive at Vic. Coach Station, you're kind of straight out from the bus garage onto a small sidestreet. I was sure I'd either imagined it or things would have improved. Neither was the case, and I found myself in the small sidestreet. After a little rotating on my axis (direction not my strong point) I set off up Buckingham Palace Road, skirted one of the many construction/repair sites in London, into Buckingham Gate and up to Vandon House Hotel.

I got a really friendly greeting and an ironing board - I'd ordered a new work shirt (clerical) ready for the evening, and it had been delivered to the hotel. My room was a twin on the 3rd floor, the only one left when I'd booked, one of the very few to be en suite. I appreciated the en suite but if I'd spotted at the time of booking that I was paying the full rate - for a 2 person room, which I understand but also for 2 breakfasts, which really bugs me, I wouldn't have taken it, or would have asked for a reduction. I do understand why I had to pay the full, twin room rate but paying for two breakfasts seems a bit mean.

Anyway, changed and 10 minutes walk up the road to Westminster Abbey, where I was attending a special Evensong to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of George Gilbert Scott, a well-known architect, and the one who designed the church where I work. On the way up I took my first photo - a red telephone box designed by GGS's grandson, Giles. I smiled

Arrived and showed my invite to a steward. They were very friendly, in fact, I don't think I met an unfriendly person the whole time I was there. Evensong was wonderful, sung by a visiting choir. After the 800-1,000 attenders left, about 150-200 of us stayed on for a wreath laying on GGS's tomb, and a short service. I sat down and opened the supplementary service sheet - only to find my name there!!!! I was leading a prayer!

I approached another steward, "I find I'm in the programme. Is there a particular place I should speak from?" and he directed me to a lectern and microphone, and to (I think) the Precentor, who was round up a couple of other priests - none of us knew we were going to be "on".

I'm used to big crowds and big occasions but my goodness! It all but got away from me.....I'm leading prayers in Westminster Abbey.....(and breathe). Afterwards the Dean of Westminster shook my hand and said, "Thankyou for busking". The last person whose hand I saw him shaking was the Queen's, on TV..... and breathe. Then we had wine and nibbles in Poets' Corner.

Afterwards, I walked round the corner and gazed at Big Ben (yes, I know that's the bell's name). I took picture after picture of it this trip. Funny, the Eiffel Tower had the same effect on me the first time I went to Paris. Iconic to the point of kitsch but somehow very powerful.

Along to Trafalgar Square, where I picked up a sandwich in Pret a Manger - more nice people. Again, more icons. Those lions really got to me, I could hardly believe I was seeing them. Couldn't see too much of the square, there was an opera being shown.

Back up The Mall and home, getting some good pictures of the Palace en route.

A wonderfully comfy bed, and I saw no more until 06:30 the next day.

To be continued.....

London, United...
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1. Re: Exercised by Sir George Gilbert Scott - a trip report"

What a fun time! Is it your connection with the church that lewd to you having such an honoured role in the ceremony? What church is that?

> paying for two breakfasts seems a bit mean <

I agree. That's a black mark for the hotel. I do hope it didn't leave a bad taste (if you see what I mean) to spoil the trip.

Ossett, United...
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2. Re: Exercised by Sir George Gilbert Scott - a trip report"

It's a Church of England church, one of many (100s? not sure exactly) that GGS designed in a prolific career.

Some members of the GGS society cae to visit it last month, I'd made welcome packs and they could see I was an enthusiast, about my own building anyway, and told me about this service, if I could get away. I didn't have a summer trip booked, so decided to treat myself. No way did I ever expect to be included!!!

As to the hotel - it collected a couple more black marks before I left but I'm waiting until I hear back from the manager before I post a review, I don't want to be prematurely mean!

Nothing, but nothing spoiled my trip!

Edited: 16 July 2011, 23:32
Cardiff, Wales
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3. Re: Exercised by Sir George Gilbert Scott - a trip report"

A wonderful experience to be leading the prayers in the Abbey. Just as well you noticed before the service started! A very enjoyable report. I love Gilbert Scott's work but I must confess I am more entranced by his contemporary William Burges. This summer I am hoping to visit his Church St Mary Studley Royal in Yorkshire.

london
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4. Re: Exercised by Sir George Gilbert Scott - a trip report"

<< Vic. Coach Station, you're kind of straight out from the bus garage onto a small sidestreet >>

yes, I know what you mean, some things don't seem to change much ... my one abiding memory of a trip to London by car in 1971 was the Henleys Corner junction of the A1 and A406 North Circular ... when I came to live in London I was stunned to find this awkward junction was still exactly the same ... I live quite near it now and navigating that junction still sends shivers up my spine from my first memories of it ... they are only now in the process of improving it (well at least we hope we will end up with an improvement but right at the moment it's a nightmare)

Ossett, United...
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5. Re: Exercised by Sir George Gilbert Scott - a trip report"

So Day 2.

Up bright and early for the 07:30 breakfast. The breakfast room is clean and light. The food is perfectly pleasant but absolutely the same every day: some sliced cheese, some sliced ham, pats of butter, shrink wrapped cheese portions, sugary cereals, sliced bread for toasting, bagels, mini-croissants, 2 kinds of fruit juice, coffee from a machine. The bagels I can heartily recommend, and the coffee was pleasant enough.

Then off to the National Gallery. I'd decided to walk along Victoria Embankment but missed it somehow (me and googlemaps again) and ended up in a small park with the statue of the Burghers of Calais. It didn't go down to the river, as I'd hoped, so back out the gate, past Emily Pankhurst, and back down to Trafalgar Square the same way as I'd done last night. The square had been cleared of opera hoardings from the night before and was entirely litter free - nice to see; in fact, I saw very little litter all trip.

Took lots of photos of lions, and the giant ship in a bottle while I waited for the Gallery to open. The exhibition I was going to - Devotion by Design - was in the Sainsbury Wing. A collection of Renaissance Altar Pieces, very well hung and totally free. I am amazed at all the free art galleries and museums on offer in London. This one was very beautiful, and very worth a trip.

I had a 15:00 appointment at the St. Pancras Renaissance hotel to take the historical tour. My plan was to take the HOHO up for that leg of the journey, I think the Original tour goes to Euston Square(?) and meander through the streets to get there. Unfortunately, my memory and my sense of direction ran off hand in hand, and I could not not not find the Original Tour start point. Well, they're much of a muchness, so I took the BigBus one instead. By this time, time was marching on, so I checked the nearest point their route took to the Hotel, which was Baker Street. The cheery operative told me it was about 20 mins walk to the Renaissance St. Pancras, which was fine. She clearly works part time for googlemaps, because it was far more than 20 minutes.

It's worth noting that some of (BigBus's) routes are altered because of all the roadworks going on, so I had to change at Marble Arch. This was a bit of a blessing because I'd got on a bus with a live commentator and if I'd stayed on any longer than Marble Arch, one or other of us would have no longer been live - I have rarely heard anyone so blddy irritating! All according to one's taste, of course, but he wasn't mine.

Long wait at Marble Arch and then we crawled up to Baker Street, and I began my route march. At Euston Square my feet died, so I ducked onto the Tube, my first foray this trip, was delighted to find that my Oyster card worked, and I sped to St. Pancras.

I'd met Royden Stock, the Hotel Historian, at t'Abbey the day before, so it was nice to meet someone I kind of knew. About a dozen of us went round and the tour took about 90 minutes. Fabulous, fabulous building, beautifully restored, and Royden is a great enthusiast and great fun. The hotel was originally designed by George Gilbert Scott, btw, which was why I went - so he was exercising me again. :)

The tour ended with tea and pastries. The tea was great, though took so long to arrive we decided they were out plucking the leaves personally. I didn't try the pastries, as I already had a booking in the Gilbert Scott restaurant in 20 minutes time......

Edited: 17 July 2011, 09:59
London, United...
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6. Re: Exercised by Sir George Gilbert Scott - a trip report"

I am so pleased you are enjoying London. Thank you for sharing.

london
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7. Re: Exercised by Sir George Gilbert Scott - a trip report"

I never knew they did a historical tour of the hotel ... thank you for that, must look it up

Ossett, United...
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8. Re: Exercised by Sir George Gilbert Scott - a trip report"

https:/…20Tours_Web.pdf for details of the hotel tour.

Here's a link to the Day 1 photos. I've had difficulty working out facebook privacy settings, so if when you click on my name it reveals me as the baby-eating Bishop of Bath and Wells, would you be kind enough to let me know?

Ta.

http://www.facebook.com/#!/media/set/?set=a.202325639818331.62088.100001226906098

Edited: 17 July 2011, 13:16
Ossett, United...
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9. Re: Exercised by Sir George Gilbert Scott - a trip report"

www.facebook.com/media/set/…

Perugia, Italy
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10. Re: Exercised by Sir George Gilbert Scott - a trip report"

I'm really enjoying reading your report. What an experience at the Abbey! I love the Trafalgar Square lions too and always go and visit them when I'm there.