London Marathon & Westminster Abbey
April 25, 2010

Watching the end of the London Marathon, walking through Westminster and attending an organ recital in Westminster Abbey.

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Finishing the London Marathon
Memorial to the Woman of World War Two Whitehall Westminster London England UK.
One of the newest monuments along Whitehall is devoted to the Woman of World War Two 

Sunday - day 2 (continued) 

We rode the double decker #24 bus south toward Westminster, but the route was stopped this day at Trafalgar Square because the London Marathon was running though the area. We left the bus and walked down Whitehall Street toward Westminster. Whitehall was closed to traffic to accommodate the thousands of people who had just finished running the London Marathon.

Along Whitehall Street, we worked our way through the crowd and passed many monuments and the end of Downing Street where the home of the British Prime Minister is located. 

Downing Street - London, UK
Downing Street - the official residence office of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is 10 Downing Street ("Number 10")

As we approached the Palace of Westminster, Bridge Street was completely closed off and the slowest runners in the London Marathon were still passing. We stayed for several minutes watching the runners and walkers pass (still being cheered by the spectators), before using the stairways to the Underground Stop to pass under the street to the Westminster Palace side of the street and on to Westminster Abbey.

2010 London Marathon
2010 London Marathon with the Palace of Westminster and the tower housing Big Ben in the background

2010 London Marathon runners

London Marathon runners
Near the finish of the London Marathon with the Millennium Wheel in the background

We were a little early for the 5:45PM organ recital at Westminster Abbey, so we lounged in a nearby park and investigated the Methodist Central Hall Westminster. We learned that it was opened in 1912 as a monument to mark the centenary of John Wesley's death and that the Methodist Central Hall has the largest organ in Europe (which is not confirmed on their web site and does not appear to be correct), but were not allowed to enter the church at that time. We would have returned the next weekend to attend an evening worship service at the Central Hall, but the evening services are not held in the Great Hall where the organ is located.

Methodist Central Meeting Hall Westminster
Methodist Central Meeting Hall

Finally, it was time for the organ recital at Westminster Abbey. On Sundays, the church is only open for programs and worship. I had attended and enjoyed Evensong at the Abbey during my first trip to London, but our schedule wouldn't permit our staying that late this day.

The actual name of the Gothic church is The Collegiate Church of St. Peter at Westminster. I think that Westminster Abbey is magnificent, not so much for its size and beauty (though it has plenty of both), as for the history. It is filled with memorials, monuments and the burials of hundreds of historic figures, authors, poets, scientists, engineers, politicians and British monarchs. Many British Kings and Queens have been coronated here. There is something fascinating every few feet.

Photography is forbidden, and while it would have been easy to cheat, I respected the parish's wishes.

This evening's recital was by Richard Mayo (Director of Music at Dulwich College). Westminster Abbey was the perfect setting for the music.

Westminster Abbey (The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster)
Westminster Abbey (The Collegiate Church of St. Peter at Westminster)

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copyright 2010 by Keith Stokes.