It was another rainy day in London today, and with a couple of hours to kill before a tour of the BBC (which I booked before I left Perth), I decided to visit Westminster Abbey as it was indoors and there was no queue. I did try to visit the Abbey on the first day I arrived, but the queue was ridiculously long and I didn't want to spend my first day here standing in a line for a couple of hours.
The Abbey was well worth it. I was completely blown away by the intricate Gothic architecture, and the lavish interior. I was just in awe at how old the place is. The Abbey was founded over 1000 years ago in 960 AD, but the current building which was built by Henry III is 769 years old. Beneath my feet were the many tombs and memorials of notable British people, including Kings, Queens, Prime Ministers, Aristocrats and of course the poets, playwrights and writers that are buried in Poets Corner.
The Abbey has several smaller chapels, and a few of these were not accessible to the public as the Abbey is still a working church, and many people come to here every year seeking God's forgiveness, healing and wholeness, as part of their journey as followers of Jesus Christ.
The Sacraments of Reconciliation (confession) and the Anointing of the Sick (with laying-on of hands) are also offered at Westminster Abbey for any who wishes to receive them. Every hour for one minute, there are prayers made to God for Peace on Earth, which all visitors are encouraged to take part in.
Unfortunately, photography was not permitted in the Abbey, but I was allowed to take photos in the Cloisters and outside the building.
Next I headed off to the BBC for a tour of Broadcasting House. Opened in 1932, this was the first purpose-built broadcasting facility in the UK. In 2003 the building was extensively renovated, and a new eastern wing was added and named the Egton Wing. The name was changed to the John Peel Wing in 2012 in memory of the legendary Radio 1 DJ.
In 2010, a new wing was added to the rear of Broadcasting House that joined it with the John Peel Wing and created a public plaza between them. This new wing is now home to the BBC Newsroom, which is the largest newsroom in Europe.
The buildings are home to BBC News, BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 1Xtra, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 4 Extra, BBC Arabic Television, BBC Persian Television and the BBC World Service. BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 6 Music are located in nearby Western House, and BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra are located at MediaCityUK in Salford. The original building also houses the BBC Radio Theatre from which many classic BBC radio programs were made & broadcast, including music, comedy, variety, sketch shows, and quizzes.
The facility is now equipped with the very latest technologies for both TV & radio, and the scale of it is just incredible. The newsroom was particularly impressive with all of the BBC News departments together for the first time.
The tour was very well presented and informative, however it didn't include any of the working radio studios or the TV news studios. I'm assuming this was because a tour group would have been too distracting for the presenters. At the end of the tour, our group participated in the recording of a radio drama, complete with foley sound effects. Such fun!
After the BBC, I ended the day with a river cruise up the Thames to Greenwich. This was a great opportunity to see many of London's landmarks from a different perspective, and fortunately the rain held off so I was able to sit on the upper deck for the best views.
Even though I had been to Greenwich on Day 4, it did give me the opportunity to walk along the Greenwich Foot Tunnel from Greenwich to the Isle of Dogs. This is a 370 metre tunnel under the Thames that was opened on 4 August 1902. The tunnel is lined with 200,000 white tiles, most of which are badly stained and dirty. A majority of people that I met in the tunnel were either jogging or riding bikes (even though you are meant to walk your bike through the tunnel). It was a weird feeling walking under the Thames River, knowing that all that water was just above you.
Time for a beer. Kate Bush tomorrow night!