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February 2017

London Day 8: Hampton Court Palace

Posted in Blog, London 2017, Travel by

Yesterday I had the privilege of wandering Hampton Court Palace. It was like everything else on this trip a surreal moment, especially when I walked up and had this moment of “I’m really here.” To speak a bit on my research, I focus on the First World War, but for a time I thought I was going to center my research on Tudor England (I know, a big leap in years). I still loving reading about Tudor England and to be at Hampton Court was again, a surreal moment.

According to my camera I snapped well over 300 photos, so to narrow down the ones I want show was difficult. Most of the photos below show architecture, which I will quote from school children touring the palace- divine. The palace has a combination of different time periods as updates and work have been done well beyond Henry VIII’s time. It is kind of interesting to see where those renovations were done- you can literally see history moving through time.

There were two things I was most excited to see, Anne Boleyn’s Gatehouse and the Great Hall. Anne Boleyn’s Gatehouse is interesting because it is one of the few traces left that Anne Boleyn had been in that palace. After Anne fell out of favor and lost her head, almost everything with Anne’s crest, initials- were taken down, though a few items were overlooked, including the initials in the Gatehouse. The initials read “HA” for Henry and Anne (Or, this photo may have somehow found itself flipped… it might appear “AH” on the ceiling). It is incredible to think that this was passed over and nearly 500 years later it still exists.

The Great Hall. I am horribly disappointed in my camera and myself. A lot of the photos from the Great Hall were terribly blurry, but I definitely will not forget what I saw. Some of the photos above show a few aspects of the Hall, including one of the huge stained glass windows of Henry VIII and like many rooms in the palace, the remarkable ceiling. The tapestries were also beautiful.

The rest of the palace was, just as everything else, spectacular. There was a moment when I was leaving Hampton Court Palace that I felt a bit of sadness, knowing that my trip is quickly coming to its conclusion. But then I reflected that it has been a life changing trip and it certainly will not be my last time here. If anything, this whole trip has pushed me to make things happen and I intend to do just that.


London Day 7: Research at the Imperial War Museum

Yesterday I spent some time in the Research Room at the Imperial War Museum. They were kind enough to pull some items from their archives for me. Let me say that if you are ever going to do research at the Imperial War Museum, they make it an incredibly easy and smooth process. All I had to do was search their collections online and fill out a form online with the catalogue information of the items I wanted. I cannot remember how long they say to wait for a response as to whether or not they can accommodate your request, but I heard back in less than 24 hours. In reserving a time, they have two time slots- 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm. Once they have approved your request, you receive an email with all of the instructions on how to prepare, as well as what you can and cannot bring.

I was a little nervous yesterday morning as I was not entirely sure of what to expect, but when I arrived at my designated time of 10am everything I requested was already pulled and ready to go. The woman who was there (I wish I could remember her name!) was friendly and great in explaining what I could and could not do. Their rules are extremely straightforward. I was allowed a pencil, paper and my laptop if I so chose. I was also allowed a camera, but three things: no flash, no shutter noise and it cost £10 for a camera pass for the day. I was going to purchase the pass before I sat down with the materials, but the woman who helped me gave great advice- look at what I have first and then get the pass if necessary as they do not offer refunds on the pass. After looking at the things they pulled for me, I ran and grabbed a pass right away. I wish I could share the photos of the amazing things I looked at, but per the agreement with the Imperial War Museum, I cannot digitally share the photos online. If I ever decide I would like to use the materials in a publication, the woman also gave me information on how I could go about it; however, this is not the case, so I cannot share the photographs.

You are allowed three items at a time at the desk space. I had three war nurse personal papers pulled. The first set of papers I opened ended up being more so focused on the Second World War. I scanned through the papers to see if I could find anything of interest for my research, but it was out of my date range and there really was not reference pertaining to my research. The other two items I had pulled are gold for my research. The first one is a sort of hybrid scrapbook-diary from a nurse in World War I. I think a lot of the written portions of the book were extracts from her diaries and personal letters and then she had so many newspaper clippings, photos, ration books, medical papers, pamphlets- it was everything any historian could ever dream of, and it was right there in my hands. The book contains about a 100 pages (maybe more), so for the sake of time, I followed the advice of my professors and snapped photos of everything before sitting and reading. That process took some time, but it was well worth it. Now I have the pages to go back to and look at more in depth. After photographing for my research, I sat and just took in the book itself, slowly scanning the pages and looking at each item this nurse chose to include.

The other item I had pulled was a set of three journals from another nurse. These journals are difficult to read due to the handwriting, but I lucked out- there was a partial transcription of the journals with the physical journals. I am excited to utilize these in my research as well.

I am set to return to the Research Room at the IWM before I leave London. I was originally scheduled for one more session, but the staff at the IWM helped me get another. It really has been an absolute privilege to have not only visited the IWM’s exhibits, but to research there has been a dream come true. I am eternally grateful for the opportunities I have been given.


London Day 6: Shakespeare’s Globe, Science Museum, & Victoria and Albert Museum

I have truly fallen in love with this city. Today (or yesterday as this post is going up a day later) was another day filled with history and (as I overly used in my last post) full of surreal moments.

Day six in London began on the tube, as it does every day. I think I finally have the tube system down. I was nervous when I first arrived that I would not be able to figure it out and somehow find myself lost, but it really has proven simple- and very quick. But I digress. I made my way to Blackfriars Station and after a lengthy walk, I was at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

Unfortunately I do not have any photos from the inside. The Company was rehearsing a new production of The Taming of the Shrew and no photographs were allowed; however, if you have never been, take my word for it that it was incredible. I was told by the guide that everything, while constructed in the 1990s, was constructed as it would have been when the first Globe Theatre was constructed in the the late 1500s- even down to the roof, which apparently is the only one like it in the city of London since the type of roof they have has been illegal since the 1600s, at least according to the guide. Apparently it took a decade (or more) to get the city of London to grant permission to have such a roof. Maybe it is banal, but I thought it was interesting.

Following my time at the Globe, I made my way to South Kensington Station and explored two museums: the Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum. My interest in the Science Museum was due to an exhibit they currently have on display called Wounded: Conflict, Casualties and Car. The exhibit discusses just as it is titled and focuses on the First World War. Just as with the Imperial War Museum, my research came to life. I will post more about my research, but it deals with not only the First World War, but the wounded in the war, so this exhibit was another moment of connecting with my research. I took well over 100+ photographs of the exhibit. Though relatively small, I was in it for nearly two hours and walked through it a second time.

If I have time I want to go back to the museum and go through the exhibit again- take some more photos and notes while I am there.

After the Science Museum (which has a number of other amazing items and exhibits) I went to the Victoria & Albert Museum. I must admit I was highly overwhelmed by how much they have there. That is definitely an all day trip if you want to see everything- if that is even possible. I spent a few hours there, but did not even skim the surface.

The pieces they have in the museum are spectacular, but I think the museum itself, the building, is stunning. As with the Science Museum, if I have time I am going to go back; however, I think I am going to do a little bit more research, seeing what they have and prioritizing.

Tomorrow morning (or when this post goes up- today) I get to research at the Imperial War Museum. They have a few items waiting for me and hopefully I can get a few more pulled. After more research I have found a number of other items I really want to see and possibly use in my research. Hopefully they will be able to help or maybe they can pull the items for my second appointment that I have before I leave.

Anyway, I am off to try and figure out my last week here. I have a lot left to do and want to be sure I plan out my days to get the most out of them.


London Days 1-5: Imperial War Museum, Conference, & More!

To see each photo in a larger scale, simply click on the photo!

Oh my goodness, I cannot believe my trip to London is almost half over. It has been a crazy whirlwind of surreal experiences. This city is one large historical sight. Every new place I see I am in awe over. After years of reading about these places, seeing only photos, I am finally here, living the experiences for myself. So much history has come to life for me.

I won’t make this a terribly long post, but I thought I would go over the last five days as best I can with some photos below. From here on out I will be posting each day, so I will have lengthy posts on each day and more photos dedicated to each place I go. But for now, here is a (somewhat) brief overview.

I landed early Thursday morning and succumbed to jet lag, but Friday I was determined to not let it get the best of me. I decided to go to the place I was most anxious to visit- the Imperial War Museum. It was incredible seeing my research literally come to life in the First World War exhibit. I go back tomorrow (Wednesday, 2/22) to research in their archives, but plan to go through the First World War exhibit for the fifth (…maybe sixth and seventh) time to take some photos and notes. And yes, I went though the exhibit four times on Friday and am not ashamed to say so!

Saturday (2/18) was the day of the conference I was accepted to, the HOTCUS Winter Symposium. It was the first time I presented on my current research, which I will do a post about soon. The conference was an absolute pleasure- wonderful papers and panels, but more importantly wonderful people. I could not have asked for a better conference experience. Thank you to Dr. Jane Potter and HOTCUS for taking the photos below! I am happy to have them.

Sunday (2/19) I wandered around London. First, I went to Trafalgar Square and saw the Lord Nelson column. Then I went to the National Gallery and saw so many of the famous works I have only seen in books and digitally. I think my favorite piece from the National Gallery is Monet’s The Thames below Westminster. Afterwards, I caught my first sight of Big Ben, Parliament, and Westminster Abbey. It slipped my mind that it was Sunday, so Westminster Abbey was not open for tourism, but I plan to go back sometime before I leave. I also caught sight of the London Eye. I have been struggling with whether or not to actually ride the London Eye, but I think my fear of heights wins out; however, it still does not take away from seeing it.

Yesterday (Monday, 2/20) I started off my day in Trafalgar Square as I did Sunday. This time I went on the other side of the National Gallery and saw the Edith Cavell memorial. I then went into the National Portrait Gallery. As with the National Gallery, I saw so many pieces that I have only ever seen in books and digitally. It was surreal (which is definitely the word for this trip). After a brief stint in the gift shop, I wandered to the Tower of London and that too was, again, a surreal moment. I walked around for hours and I know I barely saw everything. I decided last night to dish out the extra pounds to visit again before I leave.

Today was another amazing day at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum, but I will do a separate post that will go up tomorrow- and I will have plenty of pictures to share.