The day after my adventure in the rain, I made a trip to The British Library, which wasn’t so much a trip as a stroll across the road, as my hotel was basically right next door to the Library. I’m nothing if not an efficient planner of accommodation in relation to tourist spots. The Magna Carta exhibition was on while I was there, which was to celebrate 800 years since the Magna Carta was first agreed on June 15, 1215 (which just so happens to be my birthday) (the June 15 part, not 1215, in case you thought I was a vampire or something). It was an amazing exhibition to see, which included two of the four original Magna Carta documents, as well as Jefferson’s handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence and one of the original copies of the US Bill of Rights. How many times do you get to see all of those things together? Apparently once in a lifetime according to all the signage.
But though that exhibition may now be over, I can still highly recommend visiting there for all the other things on display – including Shakespeare’s First Folio; Jane Austen’s writing desk, along with a hand-written page of Persuasion; a page of Jane Eyre written by Charlotte Brontë herself; handwritten Beatles lyrics; and a copy of Beowulf in Old English, just to name a few. It’s also worth gazing longingly at the King’s Library while you’re there, which runs up the middle of the main library. You can ‘t go in there, but you can salivate from afar – it’s amazing. Unfortunately there were no photos allowed, and being a stickler for the rules where those things are concerned I have no photos to devote a whole post to. So, on to the British Museum instead!
The British Museum is also located along Museum Mile (which I mentioned back here) and was
a short walk in the rain from my hotel. Again, despite the rain, it was a nice walk and I am proud to say I navigated the streets like a pro (I didn’t even need to use Google maps on the way back to the hotel!). I also sang – in my head – Michael Bublé’s rendition of ‘A Foggy Day (In London Town)’ the whole way there because of that one line that goes, “the British Museum had lost its charm”. Sorry if that’s stuck in your head now. Also, that song is a liar because I don’t see how the British Museum could ever lose its charm.
There are lots of things to see here. The first room I saw was the Enlightenment room, which houses thousands of objects from around the world “to demonstrate how people in Britain understood their world” in the period from 1680 to 1820 (britishmuseum.com). This room actually used the be the King’s Library prior to its relocation to the British Museum. The room is “91m (300 feet) long, 12m (41 feet) high and 9m (30 feet) wide, with a central section 18m (58 feet) wide” (britishmuseum.com). Imagine that filled wall to wall and floor to ceiling with books. Don’t mind me – I can wait while you recover from passing out at the thought of that.
Other objects of note include the Rosetta Stone (which was used to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics), walls and walls of Assyrian lion hunt reliefs, sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens, Egyptian sarcophagi, and more sparkly pieces of treasure than you can poke a stick at. I was probably a little bit museumed out at this point and rushed through a lot of it, but on reflection I did really enjoy my day here. Again, I can highly recommend grabbing an audio guide if you ever visit – they really are the best.