Shrine to the Tyburn Martyrs on our way thru Hyde Park

Shrine to the Tyburn Martyrs on our way thru Hyde Park

Once we had gotten our bearings (and our coffee and a breakfast nosh) after the horrendous night train, we decided to head toward our hotel near Victoria Station. From Paddington, this is not a far walk (about 2 miles) but a good stretch of the legs after having been on a train all night. The weather was glorious and, altho we had our bags, they were both rolling cases, so it wasn’t too much trouble.

As we cut thru Hyde Park, we spotted the Tyburn Convent with its Shrine to the Martyrs killed during the Protestant Reformation (1535-1681). This convent houses the Benedictine Adorers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, an order of religious sisters who spend all day in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, praying for the world.

The shrine memorializes the 350 men and women martyred during the Protestant Reformation. The almost 150 years of martyrdom are a sad reminder of religious intolerance … but these folks stayed true and would not recant what they believed.

What an amazing testament to the faith!

Passing thru Belgravia, past Embassies and chi-chi shops, we found our new “home” for the next couple of days: the Stanley House Hotel. This hotel is perfectly situated two blocks down from Victoria Station and a quick 5 minute walk to Westminster Cathedral for Mass while still being off the really noisy streets. After putting our bags away … and having been refreshed by the walk from Paddington … we were itching to explore a bit of London, especially since the weather was absolutely perfect – sunny and low 70s and no humidity!

Our first stop was Buckingham Palace, just about 6 blocks from our hotel. We were too early for the changing of the guard, but did enjoy snapping pix in front of this famous home and also people-watching (an endlessly fascinating pasttime when on holiday).

Gates of Buckingham Palace

Gates of Buckingham Palace


The Queen Victoria Memorial set right outside the gates of Buckingham Palace

The Queen Victoria Memorial set right outside the gates of Buckingham Palace

We headed to our next “bucket list item”: the Churchill/Cabinet War Rooms. On our way toward the WW2 bunker, we caught our first glimpse of Big Ben … one of those iconic things Maggie had on her “must see” list.

Our first, but not last, glimpse of Big Ben

Our first, but not last, glimpse of Big Ben

The Cabinet War Rooms hold a special memory for me. The first time I ever went abroad (1984), I went by myself to Great Britain for two weeks. I traveled everywhere on train and have amazing memories of the entire trip; that said, one of my most favorite sites was stumbling across the newly opened “Cabinet War Rooms” … so new, it wasn’t even in any of the guide books I had! That day (and that whole trip) I learned such an important lesson: such a cool experience that I might have missed if I had been with a group … or worrying about getting from place to place instead of enjoying my surroundings.

So Maggie and I headed to the Cabinet War Rooms/Churchill Museum (they have added the Churchill Museum since I was here in ’84).

Where Churchill met with his Cabinet ministers during the stressful days of WW2

Where Churchill met with his Cabinet ministers during the stressful days of WW2


"Guard" standing outside the Prime Minister's office in the bunker

“Guard” standing outside the Prime Minister’s office in the bunker

We learned so much about Churchill … both personally and politically … as well as tons about how the war was waged from this bunker. The exhibit is set up to show the individual staffers’ rooms, offices, and leisure space. We even saw the phone “booth” Churchill used to chat clandestinely with FDR before we officially entered the War. The museum gives a great overview of Churchill’s life, private and public, and really shows just how much he and his wife loved each other and supported each other. He was definitely the right person at the right time to lead Britain thru the travails of war.

We even had a bit of fun:

Proof that all cool people have big heads -- an exact replica of the bowler Churchill always wore fits me pretty darn well!

Proof that all cool people have big heads — an exact replica of the bowler Churchill always wore fits me pretty darn well!

#10 Downing Street - where the Prime Minister ministers.  You used to be able to get closer ... but ....

#10 Downing Street – where the Prime Minister ministers. You used to be able to get closer … but ….


You used to be able to get closer to the Minister’s House, but this was just a couple of days after Brexit, so that could be why the heightened security?

We continued around this part of London, heading toward Big Ben and stopping and shopping and window gazing.

As the day clouded over, Maggie got a great shot of Big Ben

As the day clouded over, Maggie got a great shot of Big Ben

We headed back to the Stanley House for a quick cleanup/change and then back out to Westminster Cathedral for Evening Mass.

Westminster Cathedral

Westminster Cathedral


The cool thing was that they had the corpse of Robert Southwell, a Jesuit martyr (and one honored at the Tyburn Shrine we saw in the morning – interesting closure to the day).
Robert Southwell's relics lying in state

Robert Southwell’s relics lying in state


Tomorrow … our last full day in England …


Enjoy!

Enjoy!

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