The 4th plinth...
In Trafalgar Square there are four plinths...three have statues of military or naval hero's...but the 4th was vacant. Recently they introduced a yearly program of 'guest' statues. This years is of a disabled artist...I really like it...but its pure white marble is already attracting the bloody pigeons!
Plague! Plague! Fire! Fire!
The Monument to the Great Fire of London, 1666, is to be found next to - wait for it - Monument Station, and was built in the 1670s by the great London architect Sir Christopher Wren. He was charged with building over 50 new churches, and several other civic buildings, which had been totally destroyed in the Great Fire. In a way, had the Fire itself not happened, Wren may never have got his lucky break.
Now the story goes like this.
In 1665, London was visited by the most terrible outbreak of bubonic plague since the Black Death, borne by fleas that lived on the backs of Black Rats. Alas, when the first illnesses occurred, Londoners didn't realise it was a rat problem, and blamed the countless cats and dogs that were kept in the city. So they killed every single one - poor Fido. This of course meant that the rats were allowed to flourish unchecked - and the plague spread like news of Bill and Monica. A third of Londoners died.
And then in early September 1666, the baker Thomas Faryner, whose bakery was in Pudding Lane, left his oven on one night, and it started a fire. Not a big one, not one to cause any disturbance. In fact, the Mayor of London at the time refused to even get out of bed for the news, claiming that "a woman could pisss it out"!
Wise as ever. The Fire did spread, to the warehouses on the banks of the Thames, which were filled with brandy, pitch and other highly inflammable substances. Up went the flames, engulfing the densely built wooden houses, and within four days, the medieval city of London was gone forever.
Miraculously only nine people were killed! It finished off the rats, though, and the plague, and Wren got to rebuild London on a grander scale. The Monument is a testament to the Fire, and is crowned with a golden ball of flames. There are 311 steps to the top, and if the column (which is the largest 17th century column on Earth) were to fall, the tip of it would reach Pudding Lane, where the Fire began.
we will never forget...
a very sacred place to australians, and a recent addition to london. the australian monument is dedicated to all the soldiers of australia who have fought in the world wars under the flag of the commonwealth. i came here on a gloomy dark day, and it was so quiet and peaceful here, even though it's located on hyde park corner with cars buzzing around everywhere! it was a nice time to reflect, and to remember the brave people who fought hard not only for australia, but for britain and the commonwealth as well. for many aussies living in london, this is a MUST see spot, to sit, reflect and remember.
located on hyde park corner, close to wellington arch.
We had our backpacks from our mainland part of the trip but since we got a hire car in the UK we ended up buying an extra bag to put our extra clothes in (we got too cold in the UK so we needed warmer clothes). Take warm clothes, especially if you're going in the cooler months. :) A rain jacket and umbrella are also very useful... And good walking shoes are a must too!!! Take a lot of film or memory cards for the many photos you will take...everything seems expensive in the UK compared to Australia...