Tower Bridge

Before our buses departed from King’s College dorm, there was one last thing I had to do: walk across the Tower Bridge. I was really happy that I was able to do everything I wanted to do this trip to London. So note to future tourists, you’re going to need an entire month! Despite marking everything off my list, there are so many things I want to do again!

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Lions and Pie

After our morning with the Olympic Torch, we had some pasties and tea at the Pie Minister. I tried the asparagus and mushroom, which was pretty good! In Alabama we mostly eat pecan pie (and lots of it!), so it was interesting to try something a little bit different.


Then we traveled to Trafalgar Square one last time to touch the lions, which we had heard would ensure that we must return to England. I’ve already begun planning my next trip, hoping to spend more time in Scotland and Ireland next time.

After our outing we headed to the Thames for a riverboat cruise. There was an Irish band and “barbecue.” What they call barbecue, I call a cookout, so I was pretty disappointed when I got on board. This tells you how homesick I was for Southern food. The river boat cruise was lots of fun though and all the librarians attempted Irish jigs. It really was a great way to end our trip!


Kensington Gardens

On one of my last days in London I finally visited Kensington Gardens. It was absolutely beautiful! I really wish I had been able to visit earlier and spend more time there.

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Later that night I stopped by the National Theatre and saw the fire garden that everyone had been talking about. It was beautiful but difficult to get a picture of!

All Things Harry Potter

Just to brag, these are all the Harry Potter things I got to see/visit:

  • Millennium Bridge
  • J.K. Rowling’s original Harry Potter manuscript
  • The restricted area of the Hogwart’s Library (aka The Bodleian Library)
  • Hogwarts Infirmary (Bodleian again)
  • A spiral staircase somewhere in the first film (St. Paul’s Cathedral)
  • Inspiration for the Great Hall (Christ Church)
  • The Elephant House where Rowling wrote Harry Potter
  • Greyfriars Cemetary where rumor has it Rowling got her character names from tombstones
  • Where Hagrid’s cottage scenes were filmed
  • Where the flying car scenes were filmed
  • Where the quidditch scenes were filmed

All of this means I’m having a Harry Potter weekend ASAP when I get back to the States!

Royal Geographical Society

For our second stop of the day, we popped into the Royal Geographical Society. I didn’t really know what to expect when Dr. Welsh told us we would be visiting their archives, but I really enjoyed the visit and saw some amazing artifacts!

In all honesty, I wasn’t really sure what the Royal Geographical Society was. But, the archivist/librarian did an excellent job describing the history and foundation of the RGS. It was founded in 1830, by a group of men who had previously formed a dinner club around the topic of travel. They decided to create a more formal society in order to collect geographical knowledge from around the world and disseminate that knowledge to those who were interested. The archive began as people returned from their expeditions and donated objects from around the globe.

The archive is mostly made up of cultural items, scientific instruments, and belongings of explorers. The archive is also focused on a few main areas: Africa, the Polar regions, and the Central Asia. The RGS has funded expeditions to climb Mount Everest and to discover the origins of the Nile! Currently, the archive and library hold over two million items, including: more than one million maps, half a million images, numerous globes, 250,000 volumes, correspondences, planning documents, and a special collection on individuals and instruments.

The best part of the visit was hearing the stories Eugene told about the explorers. We learned all about David Livingstone, Richard Burton, George Mallory, and more. We got to see Dr. Livingston’s hat and George Mallory’s boot plus many more interesting artifacts!

Mallory’s Boot, Maps, and a Geographical Instrument

Déjà Conservation Studio

For our very last class we headed back to the Conservation Studio at the British Library. Our second tour was much more management focused and we learned a lot about how items are brought into the Conservation Studio and how they are protected.

The studio has a quarantine room for foreign items that may bring in bugs or other potentially harmful biological elements. The room utilizes low oxygen levels and freezers to kill off plants and bugs. They also have several strong rooms with low oxygen to prevent fires from spreading, rather than using damaging sprinkler systems (books/maps + water do not mix!). The studio also spends a lot of time maintaining a hospitable work environment for its materials. The building’s humidity level and temperature are constantly monitored, but management is looking into Greener alternatives than their currently costly and non-eco-friendly set-up. We also learned a lot about the Preservation Advisory Board which works to develop best practices to preserve materials. They also work to share this information and host training events.

There was a short tour of the studio again, and we learned that they make their own water, strive for minimum intervention, and binding correspondences helps to prevent theft yet still make the book functional.

British Library
Image via Wikimedia