Live like a local.
Since we were about to go into another full lockdown, we decided to get out and explore. We started with Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Whatever you see or wherever you go, there are pieces of history you pick up that you didn't know before. In my case, lots of pieces.
Covid has been horrible for everyone. However, one silver lining is that there are no crowds. So we were able to go on and behind the stage! The columns that look like marble from afar are actually painted wood and the backstage is as small as it appears!
Now people have assigned seats, but in Shakespeare’s time, that was not a thing. They would cram as many people in as they could! More money! There were also no bathrooms or intermissions then. Our docent explained that most people could “hold it” and so there was no need to use the loo, but if you could not wait the two hours, you would just relieve yourself right there at your seat. Women might have had the advantage due to the long skirts they would wear.
When the play was about to start, they would raise a flag. Townspeople from London would take a barge over to get tickets and a trumpet would sound for people to take their seats. (The City of London banned any theatre INSIDE the city limits. Clearly too many undesirables.) The Globe Theatre is not “exactly” in the same spot as it was originally, but nearby. They did as much excavating and learning about it as they could and then reconstructed it exactly as it had been, which means they rebuilt it with no nails! It is something to see! Anyway, someday we will see a play there. If the theatre can stand the test of time during the Bubonic Plague (it closed 1603-1608 to slow down the spread), then it can get through Covid!
After the Globe, on our way to a quaint pub we had read about, we happen to walk by the Brunel Tunnel Museum. We would have just kept walking except I had just read about the tunnel the night before, and we were curious. It was practically the 8th wonder of the world, an amazing engineering feat -- successfully digging a tunnel underneath a navigable river! Others had repeatedly tried but failed. Marc Brunel’s tunnel was started in 1825 and was supposed to take 3-5 years. Instead, it took 16. Before constructing this tunnel, Brunel had been involved in many unprofitable engineering projects and was heavily in debt. He was sent to a debtor’s prison (where his family could join him!?*#?! Crazy, right?), but Arthur Wellsley recognized that he was too brilliant of a mind to lose, so he convinced the government to clear his 5,000 pound debt (that’s equivalent today to $724,775.00). You may remember Arthur Wellesley as the Duke of Wellington, the man who defeated Napoleon! Anyway, Brunel successfully designed a tunneling shield, a reinforcing wall in which miners could dig, and slowly the shield would be moved forward as the walls were reinforced, creating the tunnel under the River Thames. He had hoped that this amazing achievement would bring trade between the ports, but they could never find a way to get a horse and carriage down into the tunnel. Consequently, it was limited to a pedestrian thoroughfare charging 1 shilling to walk through. The news of the tunnel traveled fast and it was visited by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Within the first 4 months they had over 1 million visitors!
Today we use similar machines for tunneling, and yet 177 years ago this engineering marvel was limited to a tourist attraction. The tunnel, in Brunel’s lifetime, never made a profit or was used for what it was designed for, and so it's possible he never realized his contribution was recognized for its true importance. You can view the original tunnel, still being used, and its brickwork connecting the Rotherhithe and Wapping Stations (metropolitan line) in the rail maze of the underground called THE TUBE. This was a real find and if you have the time, I recommend the visit. Pre-Covid, concerts were performed down in the great hall. I would have enjoyed experiencing that. Maybe another day or another lifetime.
The Mayflower pub, near where the Mayflower would have taken off from, was across the street. They have a marvelous deck on the water’s edge, so we were able to eat outside. You could hear the splashing and slapping of the waves against the pilings. If you can prove you are a descendant from the Mayflower, they have a book you can sign. David should have been able to sign that book, but the documents necessary for proof were destroyed in a fire decades ago. The other fun fact is that it is the only place in England where you can buy a UK and a USA postage stamp. We did not actually challenge this fact and wonder if it is still so. We might have to go back for another pint and a postage stamp.
11/7/2020 02:59:12 pm
Decades? Centuries ago!
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Don't take life so seriously.
I'm Jody. I love to travel. I love to take pictures. I love to meet people and find interesting places. I also love to write about and post pix of what I've found. But, I've been told that I write like I talk - in streams of consciousness. So, if proper grammar and well composed sentences are a must for you - my posts will make you crazy. If you want to follow my journey as I learn about really cool places and offer some great tips about living abroad, read on!
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