Our fourth day in London began at the wonderful British Museum. We met in the Enlightenment Wing and talked about the significance of this part of the museum. This wing of the museum celebrates the Enlightenment, an age of reason and learning that flourished across Europe and America from about 1680 to 1820. It is housed in the King’s Library, the former home of the library of King George III. Objects on display reveal the way in which collectors, antiquaries and travelers classified objects from the world around them. The displays illustrate how our understanding of the world of nature and human achievement has changed over time. Students were given one of the major new disciplines of the age: Religion and Ritual, Trade and Discovery, Birth of Archaeology, Art History, Classification, Deciphering Ancient Script,s and Natural History. The students chose an object from their assigned category that was linked with our course themes and their thesis. They took turns presenting their object and thoughts about it to the class.
After everyone had finished, we took some time for lunch and then took the tube to Westminster Abbey. We met our guide, Mark, for a private tour of the Abbey. Since the coronation of William the Conqueror in 1066, all coronations of English and British monarchs have been in Westminster Abbey. Westminster Abbey is the final resting place of 17 monarchs and is one of the most important Gothic buildings in the country, was founded in 960 AD. Mark did a wonderful job taking us through the Abbey and telling us about its fascinating history. We were not allowed to take pictures inside the church, but you can see some images here: https://www.westminster-abbey.org/visit-us/photo-gallery/ We even visited the graves of Charles Darwin and Charles Dickens whose lives and work we have focused on all semester. Tomorrow we will spend the day at Down House. the home of Charles Darwin, and the evening at Dickens House Museum, the former home of Charles Dickens.
After our tour of the Abbey, Mark took a group to see Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square. In the evening. some of us went to a show (Chicago…plenty of human nature on display there!), and others spent some time exploring other areas of the city. We look forward to another busy day tomorrow. Cheers from London!