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The Sights of London Made by Kuzheleva V.V., School 1, Kirsanov
Queen’s Residence in London – Buckingham Palace Buckingham Palace is the main British monarch’s residence in London. It was built as a country house for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703, and was bought by King George III in 1762. Today it contains 600 rooms. The Royal Standard flying above the east front of the Palace indicates that the monarch is in the residence.
The Tower of London The Tower of London is one of the oldest buildings with a very long history. The Tower was built by William the Conqueror for the purpose of protecting and controlling the city around 1090. In the past it has been a fortress, a palace, a state prison and a royal treasury. Now it is a museum visited by about two million people a year. It is still a military fortress, and here you will see arms and armour. The oldest part of the fortress is the White Tower. The most infamous place is the Bloody Tower where many important prisoners were tortured. Many dukes, kings, queens and other aristocratic pretenders to the throne lost their heads on the block that stands in the Tower’s courtyard.
Beefeaters or the Yeomen Warders You may see the Tower’s tame ravens hopping about on Tower Green, the former site of the scaffold. There have always been ravens here, and a legend says the Tower will fall if they fly away, but it is unlikely because the wings of ravens are clipped. The Tower is guarded by the Yeomen Warders. They are also called by the people “Beefeaters”. There are two letters “E.R.” on the front of their tunics. They stand for the Queen’s name Elizabeth Regina. The uniform is as it was in the Tudor times.
Westminster Palace or the Houses of Parliament The Houses of Parliament are a beautiful building with two towers – Victoria Tower and St. Stephen’s Tower. The building seems at first as a complex of medieval spires and towers, but their look is misleading. Many people are surprised to discover that they were built between 1840 and 1852, except for the complex of Westminster Hall, which was first built in 1097-1099. Westminster Hall was part of an old palace. The present Houses of Parliament occupy the site of the palace and hence received the name the Palace of Westminster.
British Parliament The House of Lords British Parliament consists of two chambers – the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The upper House is the House of Lords. It has more than 1,000 members, although only 250 take an active part in the work of the chamber. Members of the House of Lords are not elected. The chairman of the debates is Lord Chancellor. He sits on a special seat called the Woolsack, a large bag of wool covered with red cloth. It is a reminder of the times when Britain’s commercial prosperity was founded on her wool exports.
The House of Commons The House of Commons is the lower chamber of the British Parliament. It is made up of 650 elected members, known as Members of Parliament (MPs). The chairman of the sittings is the Speaker. MPs sit on two sides of the hall, one side for the governing party and the other - for the opposition. It has greater powers than the House of Lords. The main function of this chamber is to make laws by passing Acts of Parliament, as well as to discuss current political issues.
Big Ben The Houses of Parliament contain the universal symbol of London, Big Ben. This is the name of the 13,5 – ton bell on which the hours are struck. Its official name is St. Stephen’s Tower. The great bell got its name in the 19-th century after Sir Benjamin Hall, First Commissioner of Works, when the Houses of Parliament were rebuilt in 1850. Sir Benjamin Hall was a very tall and stout man. His nickname was “Big Ben”.
Tower Bridge Not far from the Tower of London there is Tower Bridge – a masterpiece of engineering skill. Tower Bridge was built at the end of the 19-th century to match the medieval style of the fortress. The bridge is opened to let big ocean ships move up the Thames from the ocean. The territory between the Tower and the bridge is called the Pool for that reason.
Westminster Abbey Westminster Abbey is situated near the Houses of Parliament. The first church on this site was an abbey dedicated to St. Peter. “West Minster” means “western monastery”, showing its geographical relation to the City of London. In Westminster Abbey most British monarchs since William the Conqueror have been crowned, and here you can see the ancient Coronation chair. A lot of famous people – kings, queens, statesmen, scientists, writers and poets are buried in Westminster Abbey.
Trafalgar Square Trafalgar Square is one of the tourists’ centres of London. In the middle of the square there is Nelson’s Column, erected in the 1840s to celebrate the victory of Admiral Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The north side of the square is formed by the National Gallery, housing the national collection of art and some of the world’s greatest paintings. Trafalgar Square is a common place for marches and political meetings
The British Museum The British Museum is the best- known national museum of antiquities and ethnography. It is famous for its library and reading halls. The building of the British Museum was finished in 1948. It took 30 years and thousands of tons of stone to complete the building and 44 massive columns which decorate the front. The start of the museum was made when the collection of Sir Hans Sloane which included rare books, pictures, precious stones, stuffed animals, birds and butterflies, and ancient remains from all over the world was bought by the King in 1753.
St. Paul’s Cathedral St. Paul’s Cathedral is the work of the famous architect Sir Christopher Wren. It is said to be one of the finest pieces of architecture in Europe. Work on Wren’s masterpiece began in 1675 after the Norman Church, old St. Paul’s, was destroyed in the Great Fire of London of 1666. For 35 years the building of St. Paul’s went on, and Wren was an old man before it finished. Sir Christopher Wren was buried in the Cathedral. From far away you can see a huge dome with a golden ball and cross on the top.
The interior of the Cathedral is very beautiful. It is full of monuments. The most important is dedicated to the Duke of Wellington. After looking around you can climb 263 steps to the Whispering Gallery, which runs round the dome and where whisper can be heard at a great distance. If you want to reach the foot of the ball, you have to climb 637 steps.
The National Gallery If you stand in Trafalgar Square with your back to Nelson’s Column, you will see a wide horizontal front in a classical style. It is the National Gallery. It has been in this building since 1838 which was built as the National Gallery to house the collection of Old Masters Paintings offered to the nation by an English private collector, Sir George Beamount. Today the picture galleries of the National Gallery of Art exhibit works of all European schools of painting from the 13-th to the 19-th centuries.
The Natural History Museum The Natural History Museum in London houses the finest collection in the world – 68 million species of animals, plants, minerals, rocks and fossils. The museum was opened to the public in April 1881. It was originally a department of the British Museum. Then during the 19-th century the natural history collections outgrew their British Museum accomodation, and a new building was designed and built to rehouse them in South Kensington. Today the Natural History Museum is famous all over the world for its beautiful galleries. Visitors can enjoy exciting exhibitions about the natural world ranging from “Ecology”, “Human Biology” and “Creepy Crawlies” to the “Meteorite Pavilion”, “Dinosaurs” and the “Origin of Species
The Tate Picture Gallery The Tate Picture Gallery is another famous museum in London. Its collection contains paintings by English masters of the 19-th century and the works of West European classics and modern artists.
Madame Tussaud’s Museum Madame Tussaud’s is a wax museum in London with branches in a number of major cities. It was founded by wax sculptor Marie Tussaud and was formerly known as "Madame Tussaud's“. Madame Tussaud’s is a major tourist attraction in London, displaying waxworks of historical and royal figures, film stars, sports stars and infamous murderers.
Some exhibits of the Museum
Piccadilly Circus Piccadilly Circus is a round square from which six well -known streets of the West End radiate – Piccadilly, Regent Street, Haymarket and Shaftsbury Avenue. Piccadilly Circus is famous for its lights of beautiful enormous advertisements. In the centre of it there is the statue of Eros. This square is the centre of entertainment and is always crowded, especially on the evenings of big football matches or other events.
Royal Albert Hall The people of the United Kingdom are fond of music, and concerts of symphony orchestras, folk groups and pop music are very popular. The Promenade concerts are probably the most famous. They were first held in 1840 in the Queen’s Hall. They still continue today in the Royal Albert Hall and take place every night for about 3 months in the summer, and the programmes include new and contemporary works, as well as classics.
On the south bank of the river Thames there is the South Bank Arts Centre which comprises the Royal National theatre and the Royal Festival Hall as well as the Museum of the Moving Image which traces the story of film and TV technology. Nearby is Queen Victoria Theatre (the Old Vic), one of London’s best known theatres. The Royal Festival Hall
The Museum of the Moving Image At the Museum of the Moving Image you will find all sorts of information about movies and television. In the beginning the invention of the movie and the technology behind it is explained. Also all kind of techniques for special effects are explained. A part of the museum is reserved for Hollywood and it's actors and actresses. Here you will find information about several famous movie stars, like Charlie Chaplin, Clarke Gable, Ginger Rogers and others. Next to that, there are several items that are used in well known movies like some of the robots from Dr. Who, Star Wars and so on. In the museum the guides are dressed in 'movie world style'. You can get 'hands on' experience, which makes it interesting for families with children. Everything is explained simple and easy to understand and if something is not clear enough, the guides in the museum are very eager to explain things to you.
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