Lauren, Owen and I waited for a while inside (at least long enough for both of them to get reprimanded for taking photographs), and then proceded to do our own tour, part self-guided audio control, part hunt for answers to fill out the questionnaire the abbey provides for children -- with the promise that a completed form will earn you a gold coin at the gift shop at the end. (Pictured is Owen showing off what he thinks should be a new fashion trend in London -- rain poncho on shoulder with sleeves tied through front sweater pocket. He should probably stick to middle age weaponry.)
Westminster Abbey, as you may know, is the most famous church in England. The first church was built on this site somewhere between 960 and 970, but that building did not last long. One of the last Anglo-Saxon kings, William the Confessor, began construction of a new church on site in 1042. It was not until 1245, however, when King Henry III began construction of the present church. Apparently he had picked the location as his burial site, which may have added some sense of urgency for the builders.
The abbey is still a functioning church, but it is most famous as site for royal coronations and weddings, along with state funerals and burial site for monarchs, military heroes, prized scientists and writers. Among those buried there are Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and Geoffrey Chaucer.
Lauren and Owen did a very good job on our tour. They managed to be very quiet and respectful, all while trying to find out the answers to fill in their forms. (I will note that the stress level dropped substantially when I told them that this was not a test, that no one would grade their answers, and that I expected they would get chocolate pieces, regardless of what they wrote). The three of us kept checking the entrance, expecting to see Keri and her parents, but we never did. As we approached noon, we started to become concerned. So, we quickly wrapped up our tour, scurried to the gift shop, got the gold coins and headed out to see what was going on. (I'll concede at this point I had visions in my head of Elaine Benes stopping for a box of Jujyfruits upon getting word that her date had been in a car accident.)
We found Keri out front and learned that her parents had taken much long than expected to get their Passes, and were now in the Churchill War Rooms. We walked over to that museum, and saw a long line. With two hungry children, we had little option at that point but to get lunch, which we did at a forgettable "American Italian" (whatever that is) restaurant near Trafalgar Square. We then made our way over to the Houses of Parliament, hoping to catch an afternoon tour. Sadly, they were sold out, and we started making our way back to the tube to figure out our next step.
At this point, fate -- in the form of Keri's asthma -- intervened. It was a very windy day here and Keri, who had spent the better part of 90 minutes sitting outside waiting for us, had hit the wall. We came back to the flat and Keri took a nap -- which she never does. Lauren and Owen spent the late afternoon using the pens Lauren got from Hamleys to make their mother two lovely drawings.
Keri awoke close to 5, and was feeling much better. We still decided to stay close for dinner, making our triumphant return to Tozi, which was great yet again. Lauren was not as emotionally overwhelmed as she was the first time we had eaten there last week, but she was still quite pleased with her dinner. We hope to wake rested and refreshed tomorrow, ready to tackle the end stretch of our time in this wonderful city.