Sky Garden, Tower of London, & Westminster Abbey

Despite my scratchy throat rapidly evolving into a full blown head cold, I pushed through our jam-packed first full day in London.

We awoke early in the morning and crossed London Bridge toward our first stop of the day, Sky Garden. Along the way, we admired some views overlooking the River Thames and the London skyline including some of its most iconic buildings, like The Shard.

Up in the air at Sky Garden

We arrived at the “Walkie Talkie” Fenchurch Building, where we took the elevator up to the 35th floor to the Sky Garden — an indoor landscaped public garden that houses two restaurants and offers views overlooking the city. We had reservations for breakfast at Darwin Brasserie, where I had a decent traditional English breakfast.

Witnessing history at Tower of London

After breakfast, we moved on to visit the Tower of London. I had been here once back in 2017 and recalled that it was one of my favourite things we did on that trip. We were able to get discounted tickets via the Days Out Guide, which offers 2 for 1 admission to various London attractions if you travel via National Rail.

This historic castle situated on the north bank of the River Thames was built by William the Conqueror in 1078 and has played a prominent role in English history. It has served variously as an armoury, a treasury, a menagerie, the home of the Royal Mint, a public record office, and the home of the Crown Jewels of England. Most notably, it was used as a prison from 1100 until 1952, with prisoners including Elizabeth I before she became queen.

On our way out of Bloody Tower, where the “Tower Princes” King Edward V and Richard of Shrewsbury are thought to have been murdered in the 1480s, we were surprised to come across the Tower yeoman gathered for a ceremony.

This turned out to be part of the accession proclamation for King Charles III, a ceremony convened to formally declare the death of the Monarch and the accession to the successor to the throne, so we had the chance to watch history in the making — pretty cool!

Crossing Tower Bridge

We wrapped up our visit to Tower of London following the accession proclamation, and crossed the iconic Tower Bridge back to the south bank. It’s possible to go up inside the bridge for a fee, but we opted out and just walked across outside, where we still got nice views.

Evensong at Westminster Abbey

We were quite full from breakfast so skipped lunch and rested at the hotel for a couple hours until it was time for evensong service at Westminster Abbey. This choral service takes place daily at 3 pm on Sundays and 5 pm on weekdays. We were lucky to be in London to catch the last Sunday evensong prior to Westminster Abbey closing to visitors in preparation for the Queen’s pending funeral.

Evensong is free to attend, although visitors are ushered in and out of their seats immediately before and after the service, so there is no opportunity to explore the Abbey. It was still very much worth attending. I really enjoyed the choir; although our seats were actually out of view, it was hair raising to hear the singers’ voices echo throughout this grand cathedral. There were a few prayers and a short sermon given as well. Photos weren’t allowed but I managed to sneak in one. 🤫

We also saw a few sights outside around Westminster Abbey, including St. Margaret’s Church and Big Ben.

I was feeling pretty rough at this point with my cold symptoms peaking, but was able to power on for Sunday roast at The Blacklock, where we had their “All In” roast with a mix of beef, lamb, and pork on a side of vegetables, roasted potatoes, and Yorkshire pudding.

After this, we went back to the hotel where I knocked myself out with a mug of Neocitron and slept for 12 hours before another big day ahead.