Great Britain

Geographical location, state organization and population of England. Its remarkable sights and ancient monuments. King Henry VIII and British history religion. Newspapers, Radio, TV in Great Britain, British Broadcasting Corporation, pop and rock music.

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Язык английский
Дата добавления 12.10.2009
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3. London

Now we shall speak a little about the capital of England, of its history, what was the sight of the city several centuries ago and who built it. It's political, economic and commercial centre. London is one of the largest cities in the world and the largest city in Europe.' Its population is about 8 million.

London is one of the oldest and most interesting cities in the world.

London was founded by the Romans in 43 AD. It was called Londinium. The history of London is different from the history of other great cities if the world. The splendours of Babylon and Nineveh cost little, for there were thousands of slaves to do the work for scarcely more than the cost of their food. Rome was made splendid by emperors who ruled all the known earth. They had countless slaves. They robbed every country to make their own city gorgeous, and with the great wealth of the world they built palaces and halls and theatres and circuses grander than any which have since been made. Florence was built by rulers who loved art and beauty. They lived in an age when the greatest sculptors and painters could be employed for as little cost as an ordinary workman of today.

London was a wilderness when the Romans came here. Had they stayed they would have made it a great city. But they were called home to defend their own capital, and London was burnt again and again by the rough men from over the seas. The Saxons and Danes were an uneducated people, who thought of little more than war and the chase, not of building noble cities. The Normans, who conquered England, in the eleventh century, were a more educated people, and we find traces of their buildings in London and many parts of England. But their kings were warlike men who never thought of making a beautiful London. When the tome came for giving London wealth and power, the people were too busy with trade and travel to think much of making a stately city.

It is impossible to point out all English historical buildings to be the work of this or that architect or builder. The Westminster Abbey, for instance, was begun on the site of older churches built by Edward the Confessor, who died in 1066. A foreigner, William the Conqueror, was crowned King of England the same year in the cathedral where Edward wanted to bury his own bones. During the reign of several kings the building of Westminster Abbey was continued. Sir Christopher Wren (1632 - 1723) built one of the most beautiful additions. Nearly all English kings and queens were crowned in the Abbey since the time of the Conquest, while there are buried in it thirteen kings of England and many queens.

Here is an extract from Mark Twain's "The Prince and the Pauper":

"It was four o'clock in the morning of the memorable Coronation day. We find the torch-lighted galleries already filling up with people who are well content to sit still and wait seven or eight hours till the time shall come for them to see what they may not hope to see in their lives -- the coronation of a King. Yes, London and Westminster have been astir ever since the warning guns boomed at three o'clock, and already crowds of untitled rich folk who have bought the privilege of trying to find sitting-room in the galleries are flocking in at the entrances reserved for such as they!

The hours drag along tediously enough. All stir ceased for some time, for every gallery has long ago been packed. We may look here and there and yonder, through the dim cathedral twilight, of portions of many galleries and balconies being cut off from sight by intervening pillars and architectural projections. We have to view the whole of the great north transept -- empty, and waiting for England's privileged ones. We see also the ample area of platforms, carpeted with rich stuffs, whereupon the throne stands. The throne occupies the centre of the platform, and is raised above it upon an elevation of four steps. Within a seat of the throne is enclosed a rough flat rock -- the stone of Scone -- which many generations of Scottish kings sat on to be crowned, and so it in time became holy enough to answer a like purpose for English monarchs. Both the throne and its footstool are covered with cloth of gold.

Stillness reign, the torches blink dully, the time drags heavily. But at last the lagging daylight asserts itself, the torches are extinguished, and a mellow radiance suffers the great spaces. All features of the noble building are distinct now, but soft and dreamy, for sun is lightly veiled with clouds.

At seven o'clock the first break in the drowsy monotony occurs; for on the stroke of this hour the first peeress enters the sept, clothed like Solomon for splendour, and is conducted to her appointed place by an official clad of in satins and velvets, whilst a duplicate of him gathers up the lady's long train, follows after, and, when the lady is seated, arranges the train across her lap for her. He then places her footstool according to her desire, after which he puts her coronet where it will be convenient to her hand when the time for the simultaneous coroneting of the nobles shall arrive.

The scene is animated enough now. There is stir and life, and shifting colour everywhere. After a time quite reigns again; for the peeresses are all come, and are all in their places. There are all ages here: brown, wrinkled, white-haired dowagers, who are able to go back down the stream of time, and recall the crowning of Richard HI and the troublous days of that forgotten age; and there are handsome middle-aged dames; and lovely young matrons; and gentle and beautiful young girls with beaming eyes and fresh complexion.

About nine, the clouds suddenly break away and a shaft of sunshine cleaves the mellow atmosphere, and drifts slowly along the ranks of ladies. Presently a special envoy from some distant corner of the Orient, marching with the general body of foreign ambassadors, crosses this bar of sunshine, and we catch our breath, the glory that streams and flashes and palpitates about him is so over-. powering; for he is crusted from head to heel with gems, and his „slightest movement showers a dancing radiance all around him.

At last, the deep booming of artillery told that the King and his grand procession had arrived at last; so the waiting multitude rejoiced. All knew that a further delay must follow, for the King must be prepared and dressed for solemn ceremony. All the peers were / conducted ceremoniously to their seats and their coronets placed conveniently at hand; and meanwhile the multitude in the galleries were alive with interest, for most of them were beholding for the first time, dukes, earls, and barons, whose names had been historical for five hundred years. When all were finally seated, the spectacle from the galleries was complete.

Now the dressed and mitred great heads of the church, and their attendants, filed in upon the platform and took their appointed places; these were followed by Lord Protector and other great officials, and these again by a steel-clad detachment of the Guard.

There was a waiting pause; then, at a signal, a triumphant peal of music burst forth, and the little king, clothed in a long robe of cloth of gold, appeared at a door, and stepped upon the platform. The entire multitude rose, and the ceremony of the Recognition ensued.

At last, the final act was at hand. The Archbishop of Canterbury lifted up the crown of England from its cushion and held it out over the king's head".

Of course, Mark Twain describes the ceremony of the coronation using his own fancy, but not only that: he had read old Chronicles and followed them.

Another old historical building in London is the Tower, the oldest fortress-prison in this city and in the whole Europe. Much of the buildings which we can see today, standing in gloomy strength overlooking the Thames, has stood there almost 900 years. But under the present tower are remains of another fortress, which is a thousand years older than this.

London was always the first important place to be seized when enemies invaded the land, and the site of Tower was seen by all soldiers to be the best for defence. They say that Julius Caesar has built a fortress at this place. Certainly the White Tower is built upon Roman foundations; and remains of Roman walls are to be found in other parts of the Tower. London was often burnt and pillaged -- it was once so ruined by the Danes that the whole city was desolate, with no one living in it, for thirty years. But when people returned and the wars died down, they always gathered about the Tower as a place of defence and strength. Alfred the Great was the founder of modern London, and he is said to have built another great fortress where the Romans had first built the tower.

But it was William the Conqueror who began the Tower which is so famous today. Although he had conquered England, he felt that he would never be safe until he had built himself a great castle in which he could be surrounded by troops who would keep him safe in case the Saxons should rise in rebellion against him.

And who do you think he got to built the Tower for him? It was a monk. His name was Gundulf, and he was bom in Normandy in 1024, and was forty-six when William called him to England to begin this great work.

Gundulf was a learned man. He had made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and by living in the East had learned many of secrets by which the Saracens made their buildings beautiful. Ha had closely studied the simple grandeur of Norman architecture, too, and was able to combine the two styles. He had lived many years in monasteries in Normandy. Life to him was very sad. He did not believe that Christian men ought to be happy. He was always sorrowful and when at work or at prayer, at meals or when resting, he was so often given to tears that he was called Gundulf the Weeper.

No matter how he wept, he was a great and grand builder. He founded the Tower. He made a strong fortress for his king who rewarded him by letting him build Rochester Cathedral and become the first bishop of Rochester.

He built first a great watch-tower, or barbican. From this the surrounding country could be viewed, and the approach of an enemy sighted in time to prepare for defence. That old tower is now the Hall Tower, or as it is commonly called, the Jewel Tower. In it the King keeps his crown and all the state jewels.

Another tower which Weeping Gimdulf built was the White Tower, you may still see it nowadays in good order.

Afterwards the English kings (beginning from William Rums) taxed the people without mercy to continue the work of building the Tower. The people complained that the Tower was beginning to the big and strong not for defence of London, but so that the king might have a strong place, in which to defy the people when he did wrong.

It was a strange and savage age when the Tower was rising to strength and size. An old writer says that the mortar in which the stones were set was mixed with the blood of beasts. Blood enough of human beings flowed in the Tower to make the blood of beasts unnecessary. Most of the terrible deeds of which we read in the history of England were done in the grim Tower. Though kings were bom and lived and were married there, it was in the Tower that kings and princes, and queens and princesses, were murdered; that great and good men imprisoned, tortured, and sometimes killed. Had Gundulf the Weeper known what a place of agony he was creating when he built the Tower, he would have wept still more, and with better reason.

When we speak about London of late middle ages we must, of course, remember Mark Twain's charming book "The Prince and the Pauper". The story of changing the Prince and the Pauper in only the author's imagination, but to write the story he had to read many historical books and chronicles. And here is his description of London of the period when Edward VI had to change Henry VIII, and it is indeed very truthful.

"London was fifteen hundred years old, and was a great town -- for that day. It had a hundred thousand inhabitants -- some think double as many. The streets were very narrow, and crooked, and dirty, especially in the part which was not far from London Bridge. The houses were of wood, with the second story projecting over the first, and the third sticking its elbows out beyond the second. The higher the houses grew, the broader they grew. They were skeletons of strong criss-cross beams, with solid material between, coated with plaster. The beams were painted red or blue or black, according to the owner's taste, and this give the houses a very picturesque look. The windows were small, glazed with little diamond-shaped panes, and they opened outward, on hinges, like doors".

And now we shall remember the description of the London Bridge which was a town itself within London.

"Our friends threaded their way through the throngs upon the Bridge. This structure, which had stood for six hundred years, and had been a noisy and populous thoroughfare all that time, was a curios affair, for a closely packed rank of stores and shops, with family quarters overhead, stretched along both sides of it, from one bank of the river to the other. The Bridge was a sort of town to itself; it had its inn, its beer-houses, its bakeries, its haberdasheries, its food markets, its manufacturing industries, and even its church. It looked upon the two neighbours which it linked together--London and Southwark -- as being well enough, at suburbs, but not otherwise particularly important. It was a close corporation, so to speak; it was a narrow town, of a single street a fifth of a mile long, its population, and everybody in it knew all his fellow-townsmen intimately, and had known their fathers and mothers before them -- and all their little family affairs into the bargain. It had its aristocracy, of course - its fine old families of butchers, and bakers, and what-not, who had occupied the same old premises for five or six hundred years, and knew the great history of the Bridge from the beginning to end, and all its strange legends; and who always talked bridgy talk, and thought bridgy thoughts, and lied in a long, level, direct, substantial bridgy way. It was just the sort of population to be narrow and ignorant and self-conceited. Children were bom on the Bridge, were roared there, grew to old age and finally died without ever having set a foot upon any part of the world but London Bridge alone. Such people would naturally imagine that the mighty and interminable procession which moved through its street night and day, with its confused roar of shouts and cries, its neighings and bellowings and bleatings and its muffled thundertramp, was the one great thing in this world, and themselves somehow the propriators of it. And so they were, in effect -- at last they could exhibit it from their windows, and did -- for a consideration -- whenever a returning king or hero gave it a fleeting splendour, for there was no place like it for according a long, straight view of marching columns.

Men born and reared upon the Bridge found life unendurably dull and inane elsewhere. History tells of one of these who left the Bridge at the age of seventy-one and retired to the country. But he could only fret and toss in his bead; he could not to go to sleep, the deep stillness was so painful, so awful, so oppressive. When he was worn out with it, at last, he fled back to his old home, a lean and haggard spectre, and fell peacefully to rest and pleasant dreams under the lulling music of the lashing waters and the boom and crash and thunder of London Bridge.

In the times of which we are writing, the Bridge furnished "object lessons" in English history, for its children -- namely, the livid and decaying heads of renowned man impaled upon iron spikes atop of its gateways". (Mark Twain, "The Prince and the Pauper", chapter XII).

What is in London today?

Trafalgar Square

It's the heart of visitors' London, beating with tour buses, cameras and flocks of persistent pigeons. On the square's northern edge is the cash-strapped National Gallery, which has one of the world's most impressive art collections. Famous paintings include Cezanne's The Bathers and van Eyck's Arnolfini Wedding. Entry to the gallery is free, which means if you feel like dropping in and looking at just one or two pictures, you can do so at your leisure without feeling obliged to cover extensive territory.

Also in the vicinity are the National Portrait Gallery, a place to see lots of faces from the Middle Ages to modern times, and St Martin in the Fields, with an adjoining craft market and a brass-rubbing centre in the crypt.

Westminster Abbey

The resting place of the royals, Westminster Abbey is one of the most visited churches in the Christian world. It's a beautiful building, full of morose tombs and monuments, with an acoustic field that will send shivers down your spine when the choirboys clear their throats. The roll call of the dead and honoured is guaranteed to humble the greatest egoist, despite the weighty and ornate memorabilia. In September 1997, millions of people round the world saw the inside of the Abbey when TV crews covered Princess Di's funeral service. Since then the number of visitors has increased by 300%, and the visit is now more restricted, with some areas cordoned off.

Houses of Parliament

The awesome neo-Gothic brilliance of the Houses of Parliament has been restored thanks to a recent spring clean of the facade. The building includes the House of Commons and the House of Lords, so the grandeur of the exterior is let down only by the level of debate in the interior ('hear, hear'). There's restricted access to the chambers when they're in session, but a visit around 6pm will avoid the worst of the crowds. Check the time on the most recognisable face in the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben.

Nearby, Downing St, the official residence of the prime minister (no 10) and the chancellor of the exchequer (no 11), has been guarded by an imposing iron gate since the security forces realised that the lone iconic bobby outside Maggie's door was not sufficient to stop the IRA mortar bomb attack in 1989.

Tate Britain

The Tate Britain is the keeper of an impressive historical archive of British art. Built in 1897, the Tate is currently undergoing an ambitious programme of expansion. When all is complete, there will be six new galleries for temporary exhibition and nine new or refurbished ones for the Tate's permanent collection of peerless Blakes, Reynolds, Gainsboroughs, Hogarths, Constables, Turners and Pre-Raphaelite beauties.

Its sister gallery, the brand-spanking new Tate Modern, is housed in the former Bankside Power Station. The Tate Modern displays the Tate's collection of international modern art, including major works by Bacon, Dali, Picasso, Matisse, Rothko and Warhol, as well as work by more contemporary artists. The building is as exciting as the art: gorgeous industrial-strength red brick with a 325ft-high (99m-high) chimney. The former turbine hall, below street level and running the length of the vast building, now forms the awe-inspiring entrance to the gallery.

Buckingham Palace

The Queen opened Buckingham Palace to the public for the first time in 1993 to raise money for repairs to Windsor Castle. The interiors range from kitsch to tasteless opulence and reveal nothing of the domestic life of the Royal Family apart from a gammy eye when it comes to interior decor. The changing of the guard is a London 'must see' - though you'll probably go away wondering what all the fuss was about.

Not far off and definitely worth a stroll is St James's Park, which is the neatest and most royal of London's royal parks. St James's Palace is the only surviving part of a building initiated by the palace-mad Henry VIII in 1530. Just near the park's northern edge is the Institute for Contemporary Art, a great place to relax, hang out and see some cutting-edge film, dance, photography, theatre and art.

Covent Garden

Once a vegetable field attached to Westminster Abbey, Covent Garden became the low-life haunt of Pepys, Fielding and Boswell, then a major fruit and veg market, and is now a triumph of conservation and commerce. The car-free piazza is surrounded by designer gift and clothes shops, hip bars and restaurants. Stalls selling overpriced antiques and bric-a-brac share the arcaded piazza with street theatre, buskers and people-watchers.

British Museum

The most trafficked attraction in Bloomsbury, and in the entirety of London, is without a doubt the British Museum. It is the oldest, most august museum in the world, and has recently received a well-earned rejig with Norman Foster's glass-roofed Great Court. The museum is so big and so full of 'stuff' collected (read: stolen?) by Victorian travellers and explorers that visitors often make the mistake of overdosing on the antiquities. See as much as you want to see, not as much as you believe you should. Highlights include the weird Assyrian treasures and Egyptian mummies; the exquisite pre-Christian Portland Vase and the 2000-year-old corpse found in a Cheshire bog. With the removal of the British Library to St Pancras, the Reading Room is now open to the public, sadly making Reader's tickets a thing of the past.

Bloomsbury is a peculiar mix of the University of London, beautiful Georgian squares and architecture, literary history, traffic, office workers, students and tourists. Its focal point, Russell Square, is London's largest square.

St Paul's Cathedral

Half the world saw the inside of St Paul's Cathedral when Charles and Di tied the knot here in 1981. The venerable building was constructed by Christopher Wren between 1675 and 1710, but it stands on the site of two previous cathedrals dating back to 604. Its famous dome, the biggest in the world after St Peter's in Rome, no longer dominates London as it did for centuries, but it's still quite a sight when viewed from the river. Visitors should talk low and sweetly near the whispering gallery, which reputedly carries words spoken close to its walls to the other side of the dome.

Victoria & Albert Museum

The Victoria & Albert Museum, on Cromwell Rd in South Kensington, has an eclectic mix of booty gathered together under its brief as a museum of decorative art and design. It sometimes feels like an enormous Victorian junk shop, with nearly four million artefacts on display. It's best to browse through the collection whimsically, checking out the Chinese ceramics, Japanese swords, cartoons by Raphael, sculpture by Rodin, the Frank Lloyd Wright study and the pair of Doc Martens.

Also on Cromwell Rd, the Natural History Museum is one of London's finest Gothic-revival buildings, but even its grand cathedral-like main entrance can seem squashed when you're confronted with hordes of screaming schoolkids. Keep away from the dinosaur exhibit while the kids are around and check out the mammal balcony, the Blue Whale exhibit and the spooky, moonlit rainforest in the ecology gallery.

Camden Markets

The huge Camden Markets could be the closest England gets to free-form chaos outside the terraces of football stadia. They stretch between Camden and Chalk Farm tube stations, incorporating Camden Lock on the Grand Union Canal, and get so crowded on weekends that you'll think you're in the Third World. The markets include the Camden Canal Market (bric-a-brac, furniture and designer clothes), Camden Market (leather goods and army surplus gear) and the Electric Market (records and 1960s clothing).

After Camden Market, the colourful Portobello Market is London's most famous (and crowded) weekend street market and is best seen on a Saturday morning before the gridlock sets in. It's full of antiques, jewellery, ethnic knick-knacks, second-hand clothes and fruit and veg stalls. Starting near the Sun in Splendour pub in Notting Hill, it wends its way northwards to just past the Westway flyover.

Hyde Park

Humongous Hyde Park used to be a royal hunting ground, was once a venue for duels, executions and horse racing, and even became a giant potato field during WWII. It is now a place of fresh air, spring colour, lazy sunbathers and boaters on the Serpentine. Features of the park include sculptures by Jacob Epstein and Henry Moore and the Serpentine Gallery, which holds temporary exhibitions of contemporary art.

Near Marble Arch, Speaker's Corner started life in 1872 as a response to serious riots. Every Sunday anyone with a soapbox - or anything else to stand on - can rant or ramble on about anything at all.

Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens, in Richmond, Surrey, is both a beautiful park and an important botanical research centre. There's a vast expanse of lawn and formal gardens and two soaring Victorian conservatories - the Palm House and the Temperate House - which are home to exotic plant life. It's one of the most visited sights on the London tourist agenda, which means that it can get very crowded, especially in the summer. And with nearby Heathrow continuously spitting out jets, there isn't much chance of total peace and quiet.

Off the Beaten Track

Hampstead Heath is one of the few places in London where you can actually forget that you're in the middle of an 800-sq-mi (1300-sq-km) city. There are woods, meadows, hills, bathing ponds and, most importantly of all, lots of space. After a brisk walk on the heath, pop into the Spaniard's Inn for a tipple or have a look at Robert Adam's beautiful Kenwood House and wander around its romantic grounds. You can lose the 20th century altogether in Church Row, Admiral's Walk and Flask Walk, which have intact Georgian cottages, terraces and houses.

Highgate Cemetery

Highgate Cemetery can't be beaten for its Victorian Gothic atmosphere and downright eeriness. Its extensive and overgrown grounds include cypress trees, Egyptian-style catacombs, enough chipped angels to please the most discerning Joy Division fan, Karl the more serious Marx brother and personalised tombs reflecting their eccentric inhabitants.

Kensal Green and Brompton cemeteries are also Victorian delights, complete with catacombs and angels.

Holland Park

Holland Park is both a residential district, full of elegant town houses, and an inner-city haven of greenery, complete with strutting peacocks and scampering bunnies, the restored remnants of a Jacobean mansion (now set aside for the world's backpackers), two exhibition galleries and formal gardens. Nearby, the Arabesque splendour of Leighton House is full of pre-Raphaelite paintings of languorous, scantily dressed Grecian ladies slipping their hands into the milky waters of public baths.

Brick Lane Market

Sunday morning means bagels for breakfast at Brick Lane market in the East End. The ground is strewn with blankets covered in everything from rusty nails to gold watches. Haggling's the key, though consonants drop off vowels faster than zeros drop off prices.

Ye olde Kensington Market is the place to go to replace your punk mohair jumper, bum bag and kilt, and why not get a haircut, tattoo, pierced upper ear and a new slogan painted on your leather jacket while you're there?

For a pot of treasure at the Victoria Line's end, head south to Brixton Market, a cosmopolitan treat made up of a rainbow coalition of reggae music, slick Muslim preachers, halal meat and fruit and vegetables. Its inventory includes wigs, homeopathic root cures, goat meat and rare records.

The list of the used literature

1. Г.С.Усова. История Англии: текст для чтения на англ.яз. СПб.: Изд-во «Лань», 1999.- 256 с.

2. Ю.Галицинский. Великобритания. СПб.: Изд-во «Каро», 1999 - 460с.

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