Friday, 15 September 2017

A Coincidence of Days Off

It happens very rarely that I and Ms Formerly Aldgate have any time off together, but the planets were in alignment last Thursday and despite her deep reluctance to venture back into the capital that was where we went. We made use of the famed Westminster Abbey Parish Pass. Until about 18 months ago I had no idea Anglican parish churches can apply for a Pass allowing members of the congregation free entry into the great ceremonial church - which is more like a mausoleum for lots of rich people some of whom you've heard of. It was just as well we got in gratis, as the entrance fee is now £22 a head, and what you get for that isn't so wonderful an experience. Visitors are funnelled along a rope-lined route and although a wet Thursday morning outside term time wasn't especially busy that still meant we were sharing a confined space with hundreds of other people all plugged into their complimentary audio-guides, trying understandably to get as much from their visit as they could. There are a few spaces where you can pause and look around, and the chapels were relatively calm as most visitors shuffled past them. Mass for the Conception of the Blessed Virgin was just beginning as we left, a couple of visitors among the throng in the nave dutifully crossing themselves  as the absolution was pronounced. We were glad to escape, really. The Abbey allows no photography within the building, as otherwise the whole circulation system would grind to a halt. This was the last snap I could take before we plunged into the interior. Pardon the reflection.

We thought of going to Leighton House until we discovered the entrance fee there, and decided to return when Ms FA has her National Trust card with her and can reduce the charge by half. However just around the corner in Melbury Road was Tower House, the self-built home of Gothic Revival madman William Burges and now of Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, which we went past without realising what it was, and, on the High Street, the old Odeon Cinema, a gorgeous Art Deco building now in the middle of a redevelopment scheme which is not uncontroversial in the area. 

Instead we made our way south to West Brompton Cemetery where several of the mausolea were haunted by disgruntled looking pigeons, trying, and failing, to look as sinister as the crows.

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