A historical week for the United Kingdom

A historical week for the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has had an emotional week with Brexit. My Facebook feed has been taken over by upset posts – such a close vote! There is currently a lot of uncertainty. These next two years will bring a lot of changes and I hope my UK friends will still love their country in that time.

London has faced a lot of changes in it’s history.

While I lived in London, I experienced the Great Recession, when there were suddenly no graphic design jobs and I stayed in a job with the boss from hell. There was a lot of uncertainty about work and when things would improve. On a side note – when did it become named the ‘Great’ Recession?

I was there for the 2011 London riots with people smashing stores and looting. That evening I looked out my flat window and saw shadows sneaking past to join the drama in Clapham Junction. We were on Twitter for the latest news, as the traditional news media was too slow.

London has seen plenty of historical events. I was planning to write about London for my next blog and, after this week, have decided to write about London sights you can see that have historical importance.

Tower of London

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When living somewhere, the local sights no-longer become something to see straight away. I finally visited the Tower of London and wonder why it took me so long! Plenty of stories in these stones. You can stand where Queen Anne Boleyn was beheaded on Tower Green. You can see the richness of the crown jewels. You can listen to the Yeomen tell the fascinating history.

The London Wall and Museum of London

There are still parts of the original London Wall dotted around London and interlaced with the modern skyscrappers. I had originally stumbled upon them while working in the business district and doing my usual lunchtime walks. It’s fascinating to think that this inner city spot in Zone 1 use to be the edge of London. That they had a protective wall around the city and that it’s still there! While in the area, the Museum of London is worth a visit. It’s free and takes you through the history of London right from the first Roman city of Londinium, through the great fire and the black plague.

Guy Fawkes

This event has spread to other countries, but it’s impressive in the United Kingdom, with fireworks and burning of a straw effigy in November. It’s to remember Guy Fawkes who tried to blow-up government in the Palace of Westminster in 1605. The event is more extreme in the UK than in New Zealand or Australia, where personal fireworks are mostly banned in Australia and I’d never heard about burning a straw man on a bonfire before. See here for community display’s.

Nottinghill Carnival

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This festival is held every August in Nottinghill, London. It was originally an event to promote cultural unity. By 1976 the event was about Afro-Caribbean communities celebrating their cultures. I’ve made it a couple of times and love the atmosphere, music and food. The quirks:

  • This was the first time I’d seen police on horse back – watch out for manure.
  • A lot of the stores have temporary wooden boards covering the windows.
  • You can buy drinks and have them on the streets.
  • There are never enough clear plastic rubbish bags, so the rubbish piles up. I found most events are the same in London – too many people and security reasons.

I have the music playing in my head as I write this.

Blitz party

“Make your way to a wartime East End air shelter. Ration books replace bar tabs and the rooms will host the UK’s finest live swing bands, performers and DJs.” This is a chance to dress-up and feel what it might have been like during WWII… while drinking alcohol. Join their mailing list to find out more.

Abandoned Train Stations

Once in a while, there is a chance to see the abandoned underground train stations. This is something that needs plenty of planning, as it’s rarely allowed. If you can’t get a ticket, check out the history at London transport museum in Covent Garden. You will see the “powerful link between transport and the growth of modern London”.

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Are there other historically significant sights you would recommend seeing?

What are your thoughts? Please leave in the comments below.

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