Rule Britainnia, at the top of our lungs

Saturday, June 12, was a busy day for Kristine and me.  Victoria here, to tell you about a couple of experiences to add to the list Kristine has already provided.  This was the day she arrived in London, Saturday, when we visited Apsley House, saw the naked bike ride and walked to Horse Guards in Whitehall, not far from Trafalgar Square.  We didn’t have enough energy left to walk any farther, but we had enough oomph to sing!

I am getting ahead of myself, however. As we walked east on Piccadilly, we found the Athenaeum Hotel (at the corner of Down Street). As you can see at above, right and below, it is a vertical garden. This is a lovely idea and has caught on in other cities, so watch for more of them.

A bit farther east, we turned down St. James Street and left on Jermyn St. to see the statue of Beau Brummell.  Here is Kristine with one of her heroes — not Artie, but nevertheless…

After the Beau, we struggled onward to look at Waterloo Place, almost at the site of Prinny’s Carlton House. Today it is not very busy, flanked by the cream-colored buildings of Carlton Terrace and leading to steps down to the Mall. It is the end (or begining) of Regent Street.

The center column is a memorial to the Duke of York, second son of George III who was chief of the army most of his adult life.  Sometime we need to do a blog on this character too.  His mistress, Mary Anne Clark, sold her influence with him to various officers seeking favors — and it was a great scandal. I am not sure he would have had this column if it hadn’t been for the Duke of Wellington.

As we walked along, we passed this building which had the old-fashioned open flame gas lights on either side of the main door.  I think my pictures actually show the fires.  Look closely. We were amazed. It is apparently the home of the Reform Club, 104 Pall Mall, but nothing as tacky as a name plate was posted.

 As we walked, slowly, drooping more than a little by now, into Trafalgar Square, I asked Kristine if she’d like to see if there was a concert at St. Martin’s in the Fields church. She said, “Yes, and I want them to play Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks.”

Well, dear readers, we were just in time to buy tickets, visit the loo and sneak into the back row as they began a program of Handel, Mendelssohn, with a full choir and orchestra.  Designed like the Prom concerts at Albert Hall, this one also had a sing-along section. And of course a suite from the Royal Fireworks music was included. We both had the chills at that! And it was thrilling, glorious music, every note of it.

Well, at least until the sing-along when we jouned in.

I was quite naughty and stood up to take a picture, but please don’t tell anyone.

So what did we sing? The Old 100th Hymn, and the verses to Rule Britannia. The conductor instructed us not to change the word rule to rules, so we didn’t.  Here is the refrain: “Rule Britannia, Britannia, rule the waves; Britons never will be slaves.”

We also sang three verses of the National Anthem:
God save our gracious Queen, -Long live our noble Queen, –
God save the Queen! – Send her victorious – Happy and glorious, -Long to reign over us; God save the Queen!

Thy choicest gifts in store – On her be pleased to pour, -Long may she reign:  May she defend our laws,- And ever give us cause – To sing with heart and voice – God save the Queen!

Nor on this land alone, – But be God’s mercies known – From shore to shore: Lord, make the nations see – That men should brothers be, -And form one family,- The wide world o’er.

Very nice sentiments indeed.  We also sang that staple of Prom concerts, Jerusalem, by Parry. I’ve heard it many times and always wondered exactly what the words were. Here are the two verses we sang:

And did those feet in ancient time – Walk upon Engl
and’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God – On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine – Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here – Among these dark satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold! – Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O Clouds unfold! – Bring my my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight, -Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem – In England’s green and pleasant land.

Well, there it is!  Perfectly Victorian. The orchestra and chorus ended the concert with a rousing version of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus from The Messiah.

When we left the church, there was a large crowd still hanging around in Traflagar Square, but we had heard no shouts of victory. When we returned to the pub next to our apartment, we found that the US and England had tied — a draw.  Yes, it was the World Cup visit to London for us — everywhere people were mad for it.

Frankly, we were prepared, if the US had actually defeated England, to say we were from Canada.  But since it was a draw, we sat down with a couple of very cute young guys and downed a pint or two. No one was really down in the dumps over the game, but they were not happy either.  Turns out that at least one of these fellows was an arborist from northern England, in London helping set up for Taste of London in Regent’s Park, which went on the weekend we left for Waterloo.  Be assured that our conversatons were sufficiently motherly!! They were definitely of an age with our kids!!

A long, but absolutely fabulous day. Need I tell you we were exhausted and slept like babies?

3 thoughts on “Rule Britainnia, at the top of our lungs”

  1. Oh, Vicky . . . I got the chills all over again reading your post.

    BRITONS never, never, never will be SLAVES!!!!

    I'm SO glad you didn't mention the way we both teared up when singing God Save the Queen. That would have been too embarassing.

    And we should have taken a snap of the arborist smoking his pipe if we hadn't been so dashed tired. God, I miss our pints of 1664. And London. And Artie-fact hunting. And mounted men in uniform, and . . . .

  2. An interesting blog. Made me wish I were there.
    Jerusalem was written by William Blake who was late Georgian/Regency.
    Where is the information on the naked bike ride?
    Thank you for sharing.

  3. Lots of info on the World Naked Bike Ride if you just google it — or any search engine. It was a new concept to me, but has been around a few years. One article said there were 1100 participants in that London ride. And in many other cities as well. So surf away!

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