This week, my family and I returned from a whirlwind trip to London and Edinburgh. Needless to say, we had a terrific time. When you’re a history buff/nerd like I am, it’s hard not to have a good time in those places. Every corner bears witness to another time. Every weathered floorboard makes one wonder who walked there before.
(Remnant of the ancient Roman wall in London, or as it used to be known, Londinium.)
Although it wasn’t planned, this trip ended up being a tribute to some of history’s oddities. We tried very hard to stay away from the tourist traps. We’ve done them all before and love them but we really wanted to explore those hidden gems, the dark nooks and crannies.
Take, for example, the Old Operating Theatre in Southwark. Its strange collection of medical artifacts held our attention for a while.
There are areas in London that appear forgotten, ruined even, and yet the city bears a healthy respect for what has passed. I am always amazed by what has been documented. We were delighted to happen upon the ruins of the Christchurch Greyfriars Garden. On the site of a former Christopher Wren church, a beautiful rose garden now marks the boundaries of this old place of worship.
Scotland had its own share of alluring corners. The city of Edinburgh is full of dark alleys, known to the locals as “closes.” We walked through several. Others appear so lonely you wouldn’t want to stroll their lengths, and certainly not at night.
If you follow me on Instagram, you may remember me mentioning the amazing Priory Church of St. Bartholomew the Great. Founded in 1123, it is a testament to craftsmanship, devotion and beauty. We were able to explore this church in near silence. There were only a few people there at the same time and I truly felt as if I’d slipped into history. With its crumbling walls and gold statue of the flayed St. Bartholomew, it sweeps one away to another time.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip. I know I will treasure the memories and the sights. And, if all goes well, some of these oddities will one day make it into a book.