London in stone

My understanding of the world of architecture is meager, but I can be an enthusiastic appreciator of various styles while I work to remedy that defect. Here are a few buildings that caught my eye during our recent trip to London:

Westminster

Westminster Abbey façade

I learn that Westminster Abbey is mainly Gothic in style. Construction of the building began in 1245 under orders from King Henry III, who chose the site for his burial. Beginning in 1560 the church was no longer technically an abbey (no Abbot plus no monks equals no Abbey). Instead, it was designated a “Church of England Royal Peculiar,” which in itself seems quite peculiar, but means that the church is responsible directly to the sovereign rather than to a bishop.

The building known as the Royal Courts of Justice is an example of Victorian Gothic architecture. It was designed by George Edmund Street, and construction began in 1873.

Royal Courts of Justice

Royal Courts of Justice

 

 

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Royal Courts of Justice detail

Here’s a picture taken on a brighter day:

800px-Royal_courts_of_justice

 

St. Pancras Station caught my attention right away.

St. Pancras Station, plus awesome little magenta car

St. Pancras Station, plus awesome little magenta car

An example of Victorian architecture, it dates from 1868, though extensive renovations were completed in 2007. We were surprised that it’s called St. Pancras International, when it’s a railway station on an island, but then we remembered the Chunnel.

I talked a bit about our experiences at the British Museum  herehere, and here, but didn’t really give you much of a sense for how it looks from the outside, which I’m glad to do now:

 

Façade of the British Museum

Façade of the British Museum

The building was completed in 1852 and was designed by Sir Robert Smirke, in the Greek Revival style. The Great Court was completed in 2000, designed by Norman Foster and Partners.

British_Museum_Great_Court,_London,_UK_-_Diliff

 

Here’s one of London’s most recognizable landmarks:

Big Ben with little us: Fiddler, Ginger, Ninja, and me

Big Ben with little us: Fiddler, Ginger, Ninja, and me

It was grey and rainy for our pose in front of Big Ben, but Wikipedia had a lovely evening view:

Palace_of_Westminster,_London_-_Feb_2007
Big Ben is a nickname for the bell tower at the corner of the Palace of Westminster, where the parliament of the United Kingdom meets. It’s described as Perpendicular Gothic Revival style. There are some interesting things to learn about it here.

Our stay in London was short and rainy, which meant our chances to look around for interesting buildings was very limited. Alas, I guess we’ll just have to go again.

[Images: El Guapo, yours truly, Wikipedia]

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