Some of you may know of my grand passion for history, and my ability to bore
the pants off anyone willing to listen…
A few years ago I was delighted to share my knowledge and passion with my
lovely daughter Emily, then studying the Tudors for her History GCSE. I took her topic
as the perfect excuse for us to embark on a Grand Hysterical Historical Adventure – and
so off we went – London bound…
Thanks to a ‘super off-peak’ deal on train tickets with Chiltern Railways we
boarded the train from Kidderminster to London Marylebone, armed with breakfast
and guide books. Our plan was to visit the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and
the National Portrait Gallery, soaking up knowledge and insight along the way… little
did we realize just what an amazing experience we were to have!
Having successfully purchased day tickets and navigated the tube – way to go
country bumpkins – we arrived at Tower Hill and with great delight headed off in to the
famous, and infamous, Tower of London, a place steeped in history, tradition and intrigue.
Along with the hoards of school holiday tourists we joined the tour conducted by
the Yeoman Warder, commonly known as the Beefeater, and enjoyed his grasp of the
people and times of his home.
Eventually the tour arrived at the Scaffold Site, and we were regaled with gory
tales of sword and axe, guilt and innocence! And then, the highlight for me, we were
invited in to the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, this is the Tower church and burial place
of Queens Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Lady Jane Grey amongst other notable
figures I’ve encountered in the history books I love!
Being a talkative, and cheeky, soul I couldn’t help but ask about the Chaplain,
and whether there had ever been a woman as Chaplain. This proved to be a question
that sparked a long conversation with our lovely Warder, leading him to invite Emily
and I in to the crypt below the Chapel, a place normally strictly ‘off limits’ to the general
public. There in the crypt we saw the memorial shrine for St Thomas More, and
the mass grave of the some 1300 or so people ever executed on Tower Hill.
It was an incredible experience, and we both felt incredibly fortunate to be invited
in to this crypt, a privilege afforded to few.
As we travelled home later that night, with aching feet having completed our
days plan, I couldn’t help but think of what an amazing experience we were given… all
because of a ‘chance encounter’ and a conversation with stranger…
I wonder how many people we encounter think that church is a place that’s ‘off
limits’? That coming in to church is strictly by invitation only, for a select few?
We, as the faithful, as the Body of Christ, are in the position of inviting others to
join us in our walk with God. It is you and I who have the privilege of turning those
‘chance encounters’ of every day in to an opportunity to come to know God… be bold…