We walked the few blocks from our hotel over to the 9 AM service at the Hyde Park Chapel. It was a somewhat unusual sacrament meeting, because the England London Mission president was on the stand, as was the local stake president, as was the governor of Utah (Gary Herbert, visiting with some of his staff as part of a trade mission), as was Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Elder Cook and his wife are here, 7.5 months late but at the earliest date on which they could do it, to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary in the place where he served his mission and from which their ancestors came. At his initiative, he and I had a fairly brief but deeply gratifying private conversation.
Then our group began its tour of London. We walked past Royal Albert Hall and the Albert Memorial, then through the parks to Hyde Park Corner. We headed out to Borough, where Governor Herbert and his party joined us following a meeting, and we walked through Southwark, seeing sites related to Dickens, Shakespeare, the printing of the earliest English Bibles, and the first Latter-day Saint missionaries in London. (Southwark was a rather rough area. At one point, centuries ago, the bishop of Winchester, responsible for Southwark, actually licensed what were called “Winchester Geese” — which, being interpreted, meant “prostitutes.” I don’t see how anybody can deny, with narratives of the suppression of the Bible and episcopal management of prostitution — called “pimping” in less exalted ecclesiastical circles — that the church had gotten somewhat off the proper path in those days.) Strolling past the reconstructed Globe Theatre, we crossed the Thames via footbridge to Stationers Hall, the center for many years — very near Fleet Street — of the English publishing trade and of English journalism, important for the publishing history of the Doctrine and Covenants. Along the way, we passed by the old prison known as “The Clink” — from which stem our sayings about “spending time in the clink.” We ended our walk at St. Paul’s Cathedral, the vast and beautiful masterpiece of Sir Christopher Wren.
Over at St. Paul’s, we took in an organ recital by an eighteen-year-old Cambridge-bound student at Eton by the name of Richard Gowers. He performed three pieces by his nearly eighty-year-old grandfather, Patrick Gowers, who was in attendance, in a motorized wheel chair and a neck brace. Immediately upon completion of his third piece, young Richard walked over to his grandfather and invited the audience to applaud him. It was a touching gesture, following a powerful recital.
Members of the group dispersed at this point. Six of us — Debbie and myself, and our neighbors the Flacks and the Daytons — had an excellent Italian meal across the street from St. Paul’s, and then returned to our hotel via the Tube. Altogether, in addition to our travels on the Underground, we walked — according to one of our number who was wearing a pedometer — about seven and a half miles today. The weather has been unusually warm, and our feet are sore, but it was a good day.
Posted from London, England