In 2004 we visited England and Scotland. It was our first 10 day vacation. We visited London and Oxford in England and then took a train from Oxford to Edinburgh where we toured the city and took both a day trip and overnight trip to the lower Highlands.
On this visit we focused solely on London and took in quite a lot in four days.
We woke up on Friday to what some might consider traditional England weather: light showers, heavier showers, and wind. There is a four hour time difference between Massachusetts and England (at least until England switches to summer time.) Adjusting to the time difference is always a little tricky the first day or two. Melatonin is helpful and so is a nice nap!
We were both a bit under-the-weather on Friday most likely due to the lovely food served on our flight so our first day was low-key.
We visited Blade Rubber Stamps which is always a treat. During our 2004 visit I bought a selection of Stewart Gill paints at Blade. This was before Stewart Gill paints were readily available stateside. Ironically, I didn’t see any Stewart Gill paints in the store this time. I did, however, purchase three stamps made exclusively by Blade Rubber Stamps; a King and Queen inspired by the Lewis Chessman, some charms, and a crown stamp. The Lewis Chessman, carved from whale teeth and walrus ivory, can be seen at the British Museum and in Edinburgh at the National Museum of Scotland.
In turn, for visiting Blade, we ventured over to Turnkey Music, one of Europe’s leading music stores.
But the two treats for the day was visiting Pollock’s Toy Museum and the National Gallery.
Pollock’s retains its name from Benjamin Pollock who worked in the fur trade but loved to visit the shop of John Redington, which, among other things, was a theatrical print warehouse. Here Benjamin met his future wife, Eliza. When John Redington died, the Pollock’s inherited the business. They continued the business of creating theatrical prints and eventually became involved in the creation of toy theatres.
In the early 50’s, Marguerite Fawdry purchased all the plates, plays and theatres that lay in a warehouse. Some time after making this purchase, Mrs. Fawdry decided to create a toy museum along with selling the toy theatres. And it is in the museum’s current location, on 1 Scala Street, where you’ll find three floors and numerous rooms filled with toys from the 1800’s and 1900’s as well as toy theatres and some of the original tools used by Benjamin Pollock and his family to create the original theatres. It gives a fascinating view of the history of toys and how children used to entertain themselves. There are no video games here.
The National Gallery contains one of the best collections of Western European paintings. Here you’ll find paintings from 1250 to 1900 including Van Eyck, Botticelli, da Vinci, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, and Cezanne.
Did you know that all National British Museums are free? Though I haven’t found out the history behind this decision, I believe it may have some history with Queen Victoria and her support of the arts. Whatever the history behind this, I think it is wonderful that the museums are free to all citizens and visitors. After all, shouldn’t art be available to everyone? A donation of 3 pounds or $5 U.S dollars is requested and separate fees are charged for special exhibits.
Big Ben, at dusk, as seen from the entrance to the National Gallery. The National Gallery is located in Trafalgar Square.
Next: The Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and Spamalot.