Letter to a son….
I hope you’ve had a nice week. I went to London with Aunty Ruth. She wanted to see Lincoln’s Inn and Grey’s Inn (because I sent her the books by C J Sansom, which are murder/mystery books set in the 16th century. The main character, Shardlake, is a lawyer who works at the Inns.)
We got the train to London Bridge and then walked up, past the Bank of England and Guildhall. We got a bit distracted at Guildhall. I told her about going to a function there and we decided to see if we could break in, so I could show her the really cool hall. We went into the art gallery bit first, because I thought we might find a route through into the hall. This was free and had some fantastic paintings. I was a bit surprised to see a miniature version of one of my favourite paintings – The Execution of Lady Jane Grey by Delaroche – do you remember me taking you to see the big version in the National Gallery? (We went when you were small enough to be persuaded to do things that I considered ‘good for you’.) Anyway, apparently Delaroche did this tiny painting first, as a sort of practice attempt.
There wasn’t a route into the hall but a nice security man told us that actually, we were allowed into the hall, we just had to use a different entrance. We found the right door, had our bags checked, and went into the hall. There’s a plaque on the wall that tells you about some of the famous people who had their trials there – people like Anne Askew (a heretic), Lady Jane Grey, and Henry Garnet (part of the Gunpowder Plot.) A lot of history, makes you think, to realise that it was real.
Something which I assume isn’t based on reality are two statues of Gog and Magog, who were two giants who fought Brutus on the site of Guildhall.
After Anne Askew’s trial, she was carried on a chair to Smithfield Market to be burnt. (She was carried because she couldn’t walk due to being stretched on a rack when tortured.) She was only 25.
We walked up to Smithfield Market to see if there was anything marking the spot where people were executed. (It’s very lucky that Aunty Ruth shares my interest in this stuff. Perhaps we had a weird childhood.)
Smithfield Market is a meat market, it has been one for centuries. There was nothing to show where they actually killed people, though there was another plaque giving information. It’s where William Wallace was hung drawn and quartered (you have seen the film, Braveheart, with Mel Gibson.)
It is also where people could sell their wives. Apparently, a few centuries ago, getting a divorce was very difficult, so men would take their wives to Smithfield Market and sell them! I assume that’s where the term ‘a meat market’ comes from (when talking about nightclubs or places with lots of available women.)
We then had a very nice lunch in Carluccios (email, in case you want to go there, is: email@example.com ) It was very relaxed and the food was good and we spent a very long time just chatting about when we were little. Aunty Ruth started with a coffee, but then she has been living in Canada for a long time now, so I guess some oddities are bound to appear.
We did finally make it to the Inns. Aunty Ruth was slightly nervous about just walking into places that had ‘Private’ and ‘Do Not Enter’ signs but I assured her that it would be fine, we could just apologise and leave, they don’t execute people anymore in the UK. I told her to try and look like either a lawyer or a criminal, so people would think we had business there. She took lots of photos, which rather spoilt the image. (Actually, according to the website, it is open to the public at certain times. But it was more fun when she thought we were trespassing.) It really is an amazing place, brilliant buildings and peaceful gardens right in the middle of London.
Walked back to London Bridge and got the train home.
Saw some lambs when I drove her back from the station – first ones I’ve seen this year. The sheep from the field next to the house have been moved, so Kia is a bit more relaxed this week.
The rats have destroyed FOUR duck eggs. Am very annoyed, I really want some more ducklings this year. I don’t know what to do now, whether to collect them (eggs, not rats) and hatch them in the incubator. But that is a month of incubating plus about a month of keeping them warm at night and I’m not sure if I am definitely here for a two month stretch. I might ask the boys in Sunday School if any of them would like to ‘baby-sit’ some ducklings in their garage for a week if I go away.
Love, Mum xxx
PS. When you wash your duvet cover, remember to do up the poppers first, then it won’t fill up with all your other washing. I do realise that there is a bit of an assumption there. If washing your duvet cover is not a regular event, I don’t need to know…
PPS. Please try to eat some fruit/vegetables.
Thank you for reading.
My sister’s letters can be found at:http://ruthdalyauthor.blogspot.co.uk
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A fun look at some of London’s history.
Made me want to visit!
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OK, what happened to Anne made me shudder. But what a wealth of history and stories you met up with. htttp://tabathamorrow.com