Happy Boxing Day! In England, the day after Christmas is also a national holiday characterized by massive sales (think Black Friday, but bigger) and football (soccer) matches. We are still not feeling 100%, so John stayed in the room while I got out and about a bit today. I stayed close to the hotel but got a closer look at the surrounding.
Charing Cross Station was just around the corner from our hotel, and I wanted to take a closer look. The station was opened in 1864, and a hotel opened in 1865 and provides the current French Renaissance facade facing the Strand.
The ornate structure is lovely, and concurrent with its construction was the reproduction of the Whitehall Eleanor Cross, which was demolished in the 1640s. This was such an interesting find: I had no idea that King Edward I, whose wife was Eleanor of Castile, had a dozen of the monuments created between 1291 and 1294. When she died and her body was transported to London, the monuments were set up to mark his wife’s nightly resting place on the route. Only three of the originals are still standing intact in Geddington, Hardingstone, and Waltham Cross.
The original location of the Eleanor Cross in Whitehall is now occupied by a statue of Charles I, but for centuries, distances in London were measured by proximity to the Eleanor Cross on Whitehall. So interesting.
I found a cute, narrow side street of the Strand to wander up and realized it led me back to Covent Garden, which looks entirely different in daylight. St. Paul’s Church, not be confused with the cathedral, is a Greek Revival reminder of faith looming over a very commerce driven environment.
St. Paul’s Church, completed in 1633, was the first church built in London after the Reformation, so it was built for the Anglican church and was never under the Roman Catholic church. Covent Garden Piazza was also constructed in conjunction with the church and was London’s first formal square.
A number of the shops at Covent Garden were open for Boxing Day sales, so I was able to finish up our holiday shopping. This included an adorable holiday shop that I missed on our first visit: I believe it is in what used to be a wine cellar.
One of the Christmas trees at an establishment on the edge of Covent Garden was more visible by daylight: it was the most extraordinary concoction of ornaments, moss, pine cones and live flowers. It was stunning and wholly invisible in the dark. Here is a detail of the tree’s composition. We will get the photo of the whole tree into the gallery for you soon.
I realized a few random differences about England today that seem to have no rhyme or reason: our TJ Maxx is TK Maxx over here; Abercrombie & Fitch is Abercrombie & Kent here; and for some reason that escapes me, toadstools are a big Christmas trend here.
It’s hard to believe tomorrow is our last day in London, and we know we have barely scratched the surface. We have so much more we would like to do and see. We definitely hope to come back. Thanks for stopping by!