Monday, February 2, 2009

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

The manor house surrounded by the snow!

Barbara at the temple

A wintry day at the London Temple

It has been furiously snowing here since Sunday morning and England is essentially shut down. The buses, tubes, trains, and airports are shut down in London, so life has come to a standstill. It is the largest snowfall in the past 18 years and we are experiencing the coldest winter in English history. This storm they say is coming straight out of Siberia, so it is COLD!!! So glad that we were here to experience all of it!!! It truly is beautiful, though. We took a nice long walk in the snow, so I am sending you a few pictures of the beautiful London Temple in the snow. Last week we went to Hampton Court, which was built by Cardinal Woolsey in 1514. He later fell out of favor of King Henry VIII when he wouldn't approve a divorce for Henry when he fell out of love with Catherine of Aragon and wanted to marry Anne Bolyn. King Henry took the palace from Cardinal Woolsey and turned it into a royal palace for he
and his new wife, Anne. As you probably all know, he later had a few more wives, 6 in all. This is how it goes: Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. He was an awful man. The English, though, have a great big celebration planned for this spring to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Henry becoming king. Hampton Court is all being redone to be ready for the huge party. One of the magnificent things to see at the palace is the kitchen. In 1529, Henry Viii turned Hampton Court Palace kitchens into a giant food factory. There were 55 kitchen rooms covering 3350 square meters staffed by 200 people providing 600 meals twice a day. They say that 75% of Henry's diet was meat. Hence, he had gout and many other ailments in his later years. What a man! The palace is essentially made up of two seperate palaces built about 150 years apart. The front and the back parts of the palace are from two completely different time
periods and look it, too. King Henry VIII's part is a gothic design and William and Mary's part is very classical architecture. Mary described Henry's Tudor buildings as "Gothic monstrosities". King William and his wife Mary II decided to give Hampton Court Palace a big classical makeover in 1689. They wanted to make it even more fabulous than the French king's palace at Versailles. They hired the greatest architect of the day, Sir Christopher Wren, to knock down all Henry's buildings, except the Great Hall, and replace them with a brand new classical palace. Fortunately for us, there wasn't enough time or money. So Christopher only rebuilt the King and Queen's private rooms. Today you can see both styles of architecture and experience some of the history, intrigue, and phantoms that still exist at the palace. One of the ghosts said to frequent the palace is the ghost of Catherine Howard, Henry's fifth wife. Cahterine's rooms were
located at the top of the stairs entering the haunted gallery. Legend has it that on the night after she was arrested for treason, she ran shrieking down the gallery while Henry was hearing Vespers in the Royal Pew. She begged him to spare her life, but was caught by the guards who dragged her away to her execution. If you just happen to be there, in the later hours of the day, you too many hear Catherine, still running about wildly and shrieking, but now holding her head in her hands as she runs along. What a place. It has been interesting to visit these places and to try to imagine what life was like for these people. Some of you have probably seen the movie or read the book called " The Other Bolyn Girl". It is supposedly a true story. Aren't we all glad that we live today and not back in those days. We are keeping busy. I just turned in a report to the Church about visitations here at the London Temple Visitors' Centre. In
October, we had 1032 visitors with 45 investigators, In November, we had 1345 visitors with 60 investigators, In December, we had 1534 visitors with 75 investigators, and in January we had 1607 with 77 investigators so we are keeping very busy and introducing many, many people to the new Centre and to the Gospel. We'll see how February goes now. If it keeps snowing, it will be very slow, I'm afraid. So we shall see. Hope all is well with you. We think of you often with fondness. Have a great week.