Everyone will have heard of the famous funeral of Princess Diana or Winston Churchill, but we cannot forget the funeral of Admiral Nelson. Perished during the battle of Trafalgar, the famous admiral was shot by a French shooter but managed to win that famous and decisive battle. His remains were brought home from his ship, the HMS Victory which you can now see in Portsmouth.
It is said that to preserve the corpse he was dipped in brandy, thus depriving the sailors of the Trafalgar of the usual drink. It seems that out of desperation several sailors sipped the brandy that contained the admiral.
Obviously, given the sudden death, there wasn’t much time to organise a state funeral, but the man was a hero and deserved a great funeral. It was then decided, given the fact that he was an admiral and used to water, to have his funeral on the Thames. His mortal remains were placed in a mortuary at the Maritime Royal Hospital in Greenwich and on January 8, 1806, Nelson’s body was placed on a funeral boat with a black canopy and accompanied by a fleet of over 60 boats.
Nelson was not in a coffin, but in four different coffins placed one inside the other. The smaller coffin was made from wood from Nelson’s ship during the Battle of the Nile. The three coffins were locked in a large golden and ornate coffin that was the only one that the public could see.
The funeral was not only big but also had a profound emotional importance, a bit like Princess Diana’s funeral nearly 200 years later.
We are now more critical of Admiral Nelson, a man produced by an imperialist nation who also justified slavery, but then he was a great national hero. The coffins were then taken to St Paul’s Cathedral for the religious funeral. The Thames procession was recreated in 2005 for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.
For the first time you can visit Buckingham Palace’s gardens
For the first time, the famous Queen’s Gardens at Buckingham Palace will be opened. Normally only the Royal Family and those invited to the Queen’s parties can see them. The reason for this decision is that this summer there will be no traditional opening of part of the building because of the pandemic and to compensate they open the gardens.
Visitors will be able to wander the garden paths and experience the calm of this garden in the heart of London. You will see Horse Chestnut Avenue, the plane trees planted by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and the famous lake with its bee island of Buckingham Palace. You can also have a picnic on one of the lawns. The gardens will be open from 9 July to 19 September but there are also weekend tours in April and May. You can book your tickets here.
The statue remembering the children of Kindertransport
You might have seen the bronze monument at the entrance to Liverpool Street Station. You may not know what it is. The statue depicts the children of the Kindertransport which brought over 10,000 Jewish children from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland to the United Kingdom.
We can see a little girl sitting on a suitcase with a teddy bear in her hand. The boy to her right holds a satchel and a violin case. The older girl behind him looks away as they wait to be picked up and separated.
The names of the cities on a stretch of track behind them show the places of origin of the children: Cologne – Hanover – Nuremberg – Stuttgart – Düsseldorf – Frankfurt – Bremen – Munich, Gdansk – Wroclaw – Prague – Hamburg – Mannheim – Leipzig – Berlin – Vienna
Between December 1938 and September 1939, nearly 10,000 Jewish children arrived on Liverpool Street via the port of Harwich and the Netherlands. Following the attacks on synagogues and German Jews instigated by the Nazi government at the Kristallnacht from 9 to 10 November 1938, the British government allowed children under 17 to immigrate, provided they found a foster family and a benefactor willing to give a deposit of 50 pounds.
The first to come were nearly 200 children from an orphanage that had been burned down in Berlin. The German authorities allowed children to carry a suitcase and a bag, with no valuables and only a photo. No adult escorts and no train station farewells were allowed.
10,000 children were separated and ended up in different places in Britain and few saw their parents again, many of whom died in concentration camps. A good number of the children decided to stay in Britain at the end of the war.
The strong tornado that destroyed London Bridge
Not many of you will know this story, but read on to find out about this extraordinary event that happened in 1091. Extraordinary not so much for having a tornado in London, but for its power.
On the morning of October 17, 1091, it seemed normal and no one was expecting a tornado. Not any tornado, but the strongest one recorded in London. In fact, it was probably a F4 or even F5 on the Fujita scale. Incredibly destructive with winds reaching 370 km per hour!
London was then almost entirely made of wood. There was just the White Tower of the Tower of London which was about ten years old and a few masonry churches. A tornado of this type blew almost everything away. Including London Bridge at the time that was partly destroyed by the tornado but also by the Thames current, which carried it away. It was still new having been built by William the Conqueror after 1066.
The famous church of St Mary-le-Bow was badly damaged, with the roof being thrown a certain distance violently. With so much force that the nine-meter-long beams were driven into the ground and only about a meter remained outside.
The river flooded the surrounding areas and not many buildings remained standing. London Bridge was rebuilt soon after, the main bridge connecting London with the southern parts of the country. The new bridge also had a short life, in 1140 it was destroyed by a fire.
Concerts coming up!
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