Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Carly's Mad March: Westminster Abbey vs. Tower of London

Controversy Alert:
Now that I'm here in London and seeing the sites I've longed to see since I first watched A Hard Day's Night, I'm wondering to myself why in the hell I would ever place these two against one another. This was worse seeding than this year's NCAA tournament bracket. Nonetheless, full of regret for doing so, I must choose a here we go.

Tower of London
I fell madly in love with the Tower of London after a tour by a hilarious Yeoman Guard, the ceremonial guardian of the Tower, otherwise known as a Beefeater. The tour was informative, funny and quite disturbing, but most importantly fascinating! From torture and beheadings to the burial sites of Anne Boleyn and Kathryn Howard (two of Henry the VIII wives executed there) to the Crown Jewels, it was everything a girl from central Illinois could ever want.

One interesting point of the Tower that stayed with me was the housing of its ravens. The Beefeater explained that legend has it the kingdom and the Tower will fall if the six resident ravens are to ever leave the fortress. This of course led to the natural position of "Ravenmaster" which ensures the birds are well taken care of and protected. Funny enough, the guide told us that the Ravens were briefly removed from the Tower during WWII during the German attacks for safety reasons. This temporary maneuver was kept from the public until the mid 1990's as the country is rather superstitious. Remember now, they believe(d) that if the Ravers were to ever leave the Tower, the kingdom would fall. Had the public known the ravens were removed, during the historic WWII, this of course wouldn't be good for Britain's morale. PR at its finest.

As we exited the vast Tower (much larger than I ever conceived), I told my parents that this had to be my favorite by far. I was positive it would advance to the final challenge, but then came Westminster Abbey.

Westminster Abbey
I first want to state that I'm not a religious person, but I could not help but be moved by the beauty, elegance and history of this church. Construction began in the late 1080's and today houses the remains of many notable figures of history: Kings and queens (including Queen Elizabeth I), poets (Chaucer, Tennyson, Dickens) and scientists (Newton, Darwin).

At one point of our tour, we were asked to stop and take a moment of silence in prayer. Again, not being the most religious person, I was surprised at how touched I became. Toward the end of the tour, a choir began singing which could move the even the coldest of hearts.

As a reminder, a certain small wedding will take place here next month, and so when I watch Kate come down the aisle, I will not only think, "that so should've been me," I will also remember how beautiful tradition and history can be.

All in all, this was a lousy match up on my part as they both deserve to advance. If I could, this most definitely would be a tie, but since I must choose, Westminster Abbey pulls the win with a crazy-style buzzer beater.

Winner: Westminster Abbey

Editors Note: Charles Darwin buried in one of the world's most famous churches makes my soul smile a bit.

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