Tower of London visit 28th of April 2009
Report by Witchypoo
Any excuse for an educational outing! This time we were in the midst of a project on the Middle Ages so it would have seemed just plain rude not to visit the Tower. A group of us met up at Farncombe station to get the 9.28 train and congratulated ourselves for not only being up and dressed at such an early hour but also loaded up with packed lunches and equipped with bad weather gear. Between Godalming and Guildford we kept an eye out for the rest of our party and soon had the end of one carriage over run with excited children and even more excited parents! The concept of home edded children being hidden seemed ludicrous as we couldn't have been more noticeable if we'd tried! One poor lady became a captive audience for information about home ed and interestingly, dinosaurs. Not usual bed fellows but seeing as dinosaur top trumps were doing the rounds some of the kids felt they ought to keep her up to date on the latest dino-facts.
We arrived at the Tower to collect the rest of our party, as well as our "Education Visitor" stickers and then went on through the gate. We had decided not to stick together as a group as each family wanted to see something different although we caught up with each other at various places. We made straight for the bloody tower where the children were regaled with stories of ravens picking through the flesh of traitors, looked at some delightful instruments of torture as well as marveling at the huge amounts of school children and foreign students who didn't seem the slightest bit interested in their period costumed tour guide.
Next it was onto the White Tower where there was an exhibition on Henry VIII's armour ... my goodness that man had a thing for cod pieces. My 3 yr old was particularly fascinated with it and we ended up skirting a very delicate subject about why King Hal might want to protect that particular region of his anatomy in front of yet another party of school children!
The different areas of the Tower were really well resourced, with plenty of information to read out. We did the wall walk which took in an exhibit about the Peasants Revolt and I was very VERY thankful of the Mei Tei back carrier I acquired for my 8 month old a few days before, as trying to man handle a buggy round the tower would have been a nightmare! We were very pleased to discover that all the staircases were either original or properly restored as they curved the right way; twisting right and upwards to favour a right handed swordsman coming down the stairs whilst defending the castle. Anyone who didn't know this fun fact soon became aware of it if they were anywhere in the vicinity as it was a major topic of discussion every time we used a spiral staircase ... and trust me when I say there are A LOT of spiral staircases at the tower.
The medieval lords rooms, reconstructed over Traitors Gate was the next stop before seeking out the rooms where it was thought Lady Jane Grey was held. As a Leicester lass, Bradgate Park was a major part of my childhood and that of my children and that is where her family home is. I tend to become a bit of a LJG geek so it was interesting to see where the young girl was kept before her subsequent execution.
We briefly met up with others from the group for lunch and regularly bumped into each other with recommendations of where to go next through out the day. It was generally decided that ignorant foreign students, with or without headsets for the audio tour, were the bug bear of the day and some of us wished we had paid a little more attention to our French teachers as when we wanted to ask a charming group of boys who insisted on barging through a tightly packed room, pushing adults and children alike, to stop shoving our children, the only phrases we could remember were the rude ones! All that aside we had a fantastic day, it rained a bit but then it was April. Many pictures were taken of crenellations, cannons and home edders standing or grouping round various famous landmarks. The Tower educational team gave us a fantastic discount, equal to the one available to schools and I think we all agreed that the Tower of London still remains a fantastic day out. Educational as well as exciting and in places ... a little bit grim!
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