A guide book about several trips I made to Great Britain: London, Cambridge, Hastings and Canterbury.
Parenté : Europe
This page describes what I had the chance to admire in Great Britain during my several trips, in 1997, 2000, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012.
The main events that marked the History of Great Britain and London are:
- Around 50 AD: Londinium was established as a civilian town by the Romans.
- 1066: Norman invasion of Guillaume le Conquérant
- 1666: Great Fire of London, that lasted 3 days, from September 2 to September 5.
- World War II: London suffered serious damage from the German bombings.
The Shuttle is a convenient way to go from France to Great Britain through the Channel Tunnel, the longest underwater tunnel in the world, located 100 m under the sea floor. The tunnel was dug from 1987 to 1993. Buses, cars and trucks can travel inside special railway carriages. This way, crossing the Channel takes approximately 30 minutes.
The Eurostar trains cross the Channel Tunnel to link London to Paris and Brussels. They have 18 cars for people and two locomotives. Their length is 393 m and they use three different voltages. The total power of their 12 engines is 12 MW. They allow it to reach a peed of 300 km/h.
Some pictures of British trains :
Clichés about Great Britain
Great Britain is famous for its red phone booth, red double-decker buses, black taxis, fish & chips...
All the white houses in London were built on the lands of the Duke of Westminster. They are bought for a certain span of time and their price depends on the duration of that bail (3 times more expensive for a century than for 30 years, for instance). Those houses have to be facelifted every 4 years, which is expensive.
A lot of houses are double-houses: they share one wall, since it is far less expensive and less energy-consuming. They often have two gardens (in front of and behind the house) and sometimes a basement.
The Tower of London
This castle is more than 900 years old. The crown jewels are kept in the jewel house, in which each of the vault doors weights 2 tons! Twenty soldiers look after it at each moment and two million people visit it each year. It was a prison from which Alice Tankerville, charged with piracy, managed to escape (with helps) in 1533.
According to a legend, "the White Tower, the monarchy, and the entire kingdom would fall" if the ravens that live in the Tower should leave it. Thus there are always ravens around the Tower. They are fed by the Ravenmaster and their wings are clipped to prevent them from flying away.
The Tower Bridge
This bridge is just near the Tower of London and opened on 30 June 1894. Pedestrians and vehicles can cross it as long as it is not raised to let a boat pass. It is powered by an electro-hydraulic drive system.
In the 960s or 970s, a community of Benedictine monks were planted there by Saint Dunstan. Rebuilt in the 13th century by Henry III, it is the place where all the English kings were crowned since 1066 (except Edward V and Edward VIII, who had no coronations). So, this church is just like the basilica of Saint-Denis for French kings.
The Houses of Parliament
The 635 deputies are called MPs (Members of Parliament). The political system is a constitutional monarchy, in which the Monarch is the head of state and the Prime Minister the head of government. The Prime Minister, in 2008, is Gordon Brown and the leader of the opposition is David Cameron.
Big Ben is the name of the 13.5-tons bell at the top of the clock tower. The tower itself is roughly 100-meters high.
It is the palace of the Queen.
In front of it, we can see a scuplture called « Victoria Memorial ».
The Changing of the Guard
Also called "Guard Mounting", it is a ceremony with precise rules. It takes place every day in spring and summer and every other day in autumn and winter.
The guards have also had their own museum (The Guards Museum) since 1988.
The London Eye
Also called "Millennium Wheel", this giant wheel rotates slowly (0.26 m/s) to let the people inside the 32 transparent capsules admire the whole town during half an hour.
The British Museum
It is a huge museum with a lot of collections, located all around the largest covered square in Europe, called Queen Elizabeth II Great Court.
They come from various times and civilisations, from Assyrian to Greek, Indian, Chinese or Maya.
The Rosetta Stone
The original one is behind a glass, but a copy can be seen in another room.
This river passes through London...
The Golden Hind
It is a replica of Francis Drake's boat. It circumnavigated the world, which is a trip of more than 140.000 miles, between 1577 and 1580.
The HMS Belfast
This war ship was launched in 1938 and was part of several operations in the Second World War and Korea War. It is now a museum.
This place is named after a famous battle, won by the English and lost by the French. Four black lions encircle Admiral Nelson's column. They are said to have been made with the bronze of the cannons of the French fleet.
In one side of the square is the National Gallery, which contains about 2,300 paintings from various periods.
This is a pleasant place where you can do shopping or have a drink in one of the numerous pubs or bars. It used to be a very important market. It is also a cultural place, with the Royal Opera House.
This is one of the biggest economic centres in Europe. Cars are now fined when they enter, in order to control the traffic.
The "Tube" is the oldest underground of the world since the first line opened in 1863. It has (of course) been improved since this date.
Quite a lot of animals can be seen there, from ducks and cormorants, in its lake, to squirells. Rock concerts took place in this park.
This big church was built by Sir Christopher Wren when the Great Fire of London destroyed the previous one, in 1666.
Shakespeare's theatre, the Globe Theatre, burnt in 1613. An identical theatre was then built nearly at the same place, financed by a rich American woman, and opened in 1997. Nowadays, it is still used to play Shakespeare's plays. It has a thatched roof, like the original one.
Near it, there is a study center about Shakespeare.
Tate Museum opened in 2000 in a former electric power plant. It is dedicated to modern and contemporary arts. The first artist whose work was exposed here was Louise Bourgeois, an alumni of Lycée Fénelon, in Paris.
It is the former port of London and was partially destroyed during the Second World War. In the 60s and 70s, a very poor population lived there. The reconstruction was decided by Margaret Thatcher. It now contains a lot of corporate headquarters and the flats are very expensive. Some people have their own boat just near their flat and the London City Airport is also very close to the quarter.
Hampton Court is another castle in London. It is a former royal palace.
It is possible to visit it's cuisines and the royal chapel with its starry ceiling. The king used to attend the mass from the first floor. The apartments of the king show huge stained-glass and a lot of deer antlers.
It is said that the ghost of Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII, still haunts the Palaces.
In the gardens, the remarkable elements are the astronomical clock and the vine, planted in 1768, that gives more than 300kg of grapes a year.
It is the palace where Diana and Margaret lived and where Queen Victoria was born.
The Royal Society is near St-James' Park.
Cambridge is a very famous city, especially for its education places, since the Middle-Ages.
There are 31 colleges depending on the University of Cambridge. Some of them are extremely famous, such as King's College, Queen's College and St John's College.
It was founded in 1441 by King Henry VI. Its motto is "Veritas et Utilitas" ("Truth and usefulness").
It was first founded in 1448 by Margaret of Anjou, and founded again in 1465 by Elizabeth Woodville. Its motto is "Floreat Domus" ("May this house flourish").
St John's College
It was founded in 1511 by Lady Margaret Beaufort. Its motto is "Souvent me Souvient" ("I often remember").
It was founded by Henry VIII in 1546. The statue of the founder can be seen on the great gate. Its motto is "Virtus Vera Nobilitas" ("Virtue is true nobility").
Corpus Christi College
It was founded in 1352 by King Edward III. Its motto is "Floreat Antiqua Domus" ("May the old house flourish").
The Fitzwilliam Museum
This free museum contains collections of antiquities and medieval and modern art.
At Cambridge station, it is possible to take the train to London.
Churches and chapels
The king Henry VIII lived there, with his six successive wives.
Hastings is famous for its smugglers.
It is also the place where Guillaume le Conquérant triumphed on Harold II, in 1066.
Canterbury is a city in Kent. It is famous for its cathedral.
This is the cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is the leader of the Church of England.
Dover is very well known for its white cliffs. Shakespeare compared England to a medieval castle whose defensive walls would be these cliffs.
Cette page en anglais a été créée par Peter à partir de notes de voyage, le 4 avril 2008 et modifiée pour la dernière fois le 8 août 2019. Son avancement est noté 2/3.