The Retirees go Abroad – Chancery Lane and the Silver Vaults

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I hope by now you have read my Remembrance Day post. You will have seen all the fabulous photos of the Poppies. Kerry took a video of the scene and posted it on Facebook. I have been unable to down load it for your enjoyment here but I have attached some other photos which I hope will interest you.

Apart from visiting the Poppies we undertook some guided walking tours of London. We can recommend these to anyone visiting London and wanting to understand what surrounds you. They are reasonably priced (9 pounds per person), you don’t have to book (you turn up and meet your guide at the designated spot) and they take about 2 hours but be ready to step it out as they push along at a quick pace. Check the timetable as the walks change from day to day and different times on different days.

We chose to do the “the Hidden Pubs of London” with Andrew, and “Shakespeare’s and Dickens’s London” with Corrina. I can recommend a visit to their website: http://www.walks.com.

We chose to travel to London via National Express Bus. We were able to get tickets from Nottingham return for 29 pounds; yes 29 pounds for both of us. Of course we had to make our way to Nottingham Bus Station and at the other end from Victoria Bus Station to Queensway in Paddington (the other side of Hyde Park). The ride down was uneventful until we got to Golders Green (clearly a Jewish precinct of London from what I saw) when the traffic became stop start. After Swiss Cottage (yes there is a precinct called Swiss Cottage) Kerry started to become car sick so by the time we reached Marble Arch all she wanted to do was get off the bus believing we were close to Queensway at this point.

After some discussion about catching a cab (dismissed obviously because Kerry was car sick) and consulting google maps, it appeared we were within 11 minutes walk from our hotel. Not so. We walked for about ½ an hour before coming to our hotel. After checking in and changing shoes, we set off to have some lunch and find the Silver Vaults and Temple Church. We purchased our oyster (the tube, bus and train card) and headed for Chancery Tube Station. By this time it had become another grey and drizzling day. Lunch at Nero’s (the coffee shop) then down Chancery Lane to the Silver Vaults.

This is an underground safe custody area. One of the vendors told us that before WW2 it had been used as a safe custody area for lawyers at the Inns and that during the bombing of London jewellers had moved their stock down there for safe custody and it had become a sliver ware jeweller’s market ever since. Entry is free and down stairs you are confronted by a huge safe door as the entrance to the market. No photos allowed so I will just have to explain it to you.

Inside the main vault are over 40 minor vaults all being used as a showroom shop for all kinds of silver ware: from silver galleons standing five feet high and six feet long to the finest of jewellery pieces, majestic timber and silver thrones to cufflinks. All too expensive for a pensioner. My favourite piece was a pair of candle taper holders with upright griffins holding up the taper. Exquisite and only 160 pounds! If we stayed we would spend our kids’ inheritance so we quickly moved on.

 

It was now dark outside but only 5 o’clock. Rain clouds had closed over London but unlike Brisbane they dripped rain in short squirts continuously through the night putting a damper on things. Undaunted we scurried through the showers along Chancery Lane until we arrived at Fleet Street and Middle Temple Lane. The building above Middle Temple Lane appears to be of Tudor origin with its exposed blackened timbers and quite out of place in a modern Fleet St. We were about to enter the past.

Past Middle Temple down the lane to the Temple Church. It closes at 4.00 o’clock so it went onto the itinerary for tomorrow. Still we took the opportunity to walk around the Inner Temple and the Middle Temple. For those of you who don’t know this is the Barristers precinct in London. We were going to learn a lot more later on our walking tour.

The tour started at the Temple Tube Station Entrance at 7.00 pm. We had some time to kill and it was wet and cold. We now moved into the Strand and came upon Somerset House setting up its ice skating rink for the winter. It reminded us of the Rockefeller Centre ice rink in New York. The just about across the road we spotted the Lyceum Hotel. It presented as a warm and dry shelter to partake of a meal and quench our thirst which opportunity we did not pass up.

In my next blog I will tell you about the Hidden Pubs of London.

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