August 16, 2015
This entry was written by Katie Franz
News flash! The pilgrims of St. Peter’s have landed in London.
After a slightly delayed but uneventful flight from Philadelphia, we gathered at Heathrow Airport, there to meet with our tour operators Clive Richardson and Ann Grey. We have been most fortunate to have Clive and Ann lead us on all our choir pilgrimages and were greeted as old friends.
Before heading to the hotel, we had the opportunity to tour Hampton Court which is famously known as the home of Henry VIII. It is an amazing property, displaying the best of Tudor and Baroque architecture, as over the centuries it has been modified to suit monarchs from Henry in 1515 through George II who reigned until 1760.
Some of the highlights of the visit for me were visiting the Great Hall, which was lined with amazing tapestries, probably hung there in the mid-1500s, and the Chapel Royal, which has been in continuous use since being built by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey almost 500 years ago. We were lucky enough to be able to hear an organ recital by the chapel’s organist, one of a number of special events marking this 500th anniversary year. Others included dramatizations of an exchange between King Henry VIII and a favorite musician, John Blanke, a black trumpeter shown in contemporaneous tapestries; an argument between Queen Jane Seymour’s midwife and the king’s doctor, each of whom wanted to attend the queen’s lying-in; and a rehearsal of the King’s Men led by Will Shakespeare.
After hopping back on our motorcoach, our friendly driver Matthew dropped us at the Crowne Plaza hotel in central London, near the Blackfriars Bridge and the famous, historic Blackfriars pub. I have a feeling that more than a few pints will be raised there before our return.
As I write this after settling into my room and doing some unpacking, we are looking forward to having dinner together tonight and a well-deserved rest. Tomorrow it’s off to Westminster Abbey for a tour followed by rehearsal and our first Evensong service.
Bless, O Lord, us Thy servants who minister in Thy temple. Grant that what we sing with our lips, we may believe in our hearts; and what we believe in our hearts, we may show forth in our lives, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.