Saturday, 29 March 2008

Another Easter Candle (and the Cabinet War Rooms)

Two of us spent a day out in London today (Saturday). We started at St James's Church, Spanish Place for Mass and Confession. A result of the latter is that I now have to keep to my side of an "if you go to confession, I'll go to the dentist" deal. So I have an appointment to make on Monday ... If I remember correctly, St James's began life as an embassy chapel at a time when Catholicism in England was "underground". The sanctuary was beautifully decorated for the Easter Octave. The Easter Candle is shown alongside. Every Saturday, there is Mass at 10 am followed by Confessions - this IS a plug, if any one is on pilgrimage to the shops in nearby Oxford Street on a Saturday.

We then went on to visit the Cabinet War Rooms and the Churchill Museum, just off St James's Park. This is the underground shelter or bunker, very near to Downing Street, where the War Cabinet (the core Government ministers responsible for maintaining Government during World War II) met. The visit to the Cabinet War Rooms has an audioguide, where you press codes to hear the commentary at each point during the visit. At the cabinet room itself, you can listen to a reconstruction of an argument between Winston Churchill and his military commanders about a scheme to send a raid to Trondheim in Norway (Churchill wanted it, the military didn't, and the latter carried the day). At another point you can listen to extracts from the diary of the senior officer in charge of home defence at a time during the War when an invasion of England by the Germans was expected at any day. "Perhaps the Germans will invade tomorrow" gives an impression of how imminent invasion was thought to be, with a rather relieved "Perhaps the Germans will not attempt it" as the last extract given. In modern parlance, Churchill's management style would be described as "very hands on" (ie interfering in all the details). It is a very interesting visit, though I expect that it will be quite crowded during the main summer tourist season - even today, many of the visitors were overseas tourists.

No comments: