Monuments and Dust

Monuments and Dust

London Times: 6 Jan 1851

Sights in London for Visitors.


Sir, -- In The Times of this day there is an account of some of the sights which London has to show to some of our expected visitors next spring. I regret that they are not more numerous; but with your permission I think I can point out one or two not mentioned by you which are well worth seeing, and of a character to which our visitors are not accustomed.

In the first place, the interior of the White Tower, the Norman citadel of the Tower should be shown. Some years ago the lower part of this building was shown among the sights of the Tower, and I then saw it, and I shall never forget the impression the grand old keep, with the immense thickness of its walls (I believe 16 feet), made on my mind. Above this is St. John's Chapel, formerly used by the Sovereigns of England for their private devotion when the Tower was their palace and home. I do not know whether this chapel has of late years been generally shown, but, having occasion to examine a record, I was taken into it as the place where the record was kept, and had full time to examine the building. It is, indeed, a noble specimen of the time in which it was built, and is in perfect preservation. My first impression after I had observed the chapel was, how strange that I should not have heard of this more frequently, and stranger still that it should be kept shut up from general view. I do not dwell upon the thousand recollections of public and private history associated with the Tower; they will readily suggest themselves to the mind of every one; but what I wish to observe is, that the Tower as a whole, and its keep as not the least part of it, stands alone and without a compeer in Europe for recalling stories of bygone days of the deepest interest, and which are familiar to the reader of European history. I believe the lower part of the White Tower is now used as a magazine for gunpowder and the upper part as a depository of records.

Next, Christ's Hospital, with its boys in the dress of the founder's appointment, will, I think, be an interesting sight to our visitors; it certainly will be both new and strange to them. I had once the pleasure of travelling on the continent with two Frenchmen, father and son, members of one of the first families in France. I mentioned to them this establishment of Christ's Hospital, and of the old dress being still worn. The reply was, "It is worth coming to England to see."

Perhaps other subjects, either new or strange to our visitors, may be pointed out by your other correspondents; and if they be of historical interest besides, so much the better.

I trust that, by your insertion of this letter, some directions will be given by the proper authorities to rescue the White Tower from the degrading uses to which it is now applied, and to show it to every one, whether foreign or English, who may wish to see it.


Lincoln's-inn, Jan. 3.