Walking to Rome: Another Day in London

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Tomorrow Gail and I will make our way on foot from the Christian heart of London, Westminster Abbey, to Canterbury, a journey of some 120 kilometers over six days. We will roughly follow the trail pilgrims have followed for centuries. A trail colorfully described in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. A trail that, these days, is aptly known as the Chaucer Way.

As a head start, today we will be visiting central London sites significant to pilgrims past and present.

But first: breakfast. At The Wolseley, a former showroom for the once-famous Wolseley automobile company and now a posh eatery. For us, there is also a family connection so-to-speak as the Wolseley automobile shares its name with our Wolseley neighbourhood back in Winnipeg.

Energized on eggs Benedicts and coffee, we head for a morning in Westminster Abbey. Then a quick lunch in the Crypt restaurant beneath St. Martin’s-in-the-Field church on Trafalgar Square. A few kilometers down The Strand and Fleet Street takes us to a couple of smaller jewel-box churches, Saint Mary le Strand (James Gibbs, architect) and Saint Clement Danes (Sir Christopher Wren, architect).

We end at St. Paul’s Cathedral, also the work of Wren. It is, of course, a fabulous space. But I will perversely focus on two new additions to the Cathedral’s art collection. Tucked away in the back aisles on either side of the altar are two permanent video installations by the American artists Bill Viola. These are moving pieces, equal to their glorious setting, no less significant than the historic paintings and sculptures that adorn the Cathedral.