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London and places of interest

London

London

London is the capital of Great Britain, its political, economic and commercial centre. It is the chief port of Great Britain. It is one of the greatest cities of the world. Its population is about 9 million people.
The origin of the city may be dated as the beginning of the 1st century A. D., when a tribe of the Celtic family settled near the Thames. The Roman town, LONDINIUM, grew up on the two hillocks near St. Paul’s Cathedral and Cornhill, not far from the Tower of London. The English are very proud of the long history of their capital. The city became extremely prosperous during the 16th century. Then in 1665 and 1666 two catastrophes occurred: the first was epidemic of plague which killed 100,000 citizens, and the second was the Great Fire which destroyed the whole of the City, including St. Paul’s Cathedral. London is a real museum of architecture. Most of the finest buildings date from the second half of the 17th century. At the beginning of the 19th century England was at the height of her power. During Queen Victoria’s long reign (1837 — 1901) the construction of the Underground began. And the first line between Paddington and Farringdon was opened.

At the same time the City became exclusively a commercial centre. The City is one part of London. Traditionally London is divided into: the City, the West End, West-minster and the East End.
The City is the heart of London, its financial and business centre. The City was described as a «busy emporium for trade and traders» as early as Roman times. The City has within its square mile such famous institutions as the Bank of England, the Stock Exchange, the Royal Courts of Justice and Guildhall. The City has its own Lord Major and Corporation as well as its own police force. Few people live in this part of London but over a million come here to work.
There’s a lot of famous ancient buildings within the City. The most striking of them is St. Paul’s Cathedral, Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece. It was built between 1675 and 1710 to replace the 13th-century cathedral which had been destroyed by the Great Fire.
The City of Westminster is one of the most famous historic areas in London as it contains both the seat of Government and the crowning place of kings and queens. Westminster was the first important inhabited area outside the City.
The Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey face each other across Parliament Square. Westminster Abbey is a beautiful Gothic building. In the 11th century Edward the Confessor founded a great Norman Abbey. But nothing is left of this church. Henry III wanted a brighter and bigger building. Master Henry, John of Gloucester and Robert of Beverly succeeded in the work of constructing Westminster Abbey. The work went on until the 18th century when Nicholas Hawksmoor altered the facade and added the towers. Almost all the monarchs since William the Conqueror have been crowned in Westminster and many are buried there.
There are memorials of many statesmen, scientists and writers in Westminster. Westminster Abbey is not a Cathedral. It is a «Royal Peculiar», royal property. It is dependent directly on the monarch.
The Houses of Parliament — the seat of British Parliament, which is officially known as the Palace of Westminster.
The first building was constructed as early as the 11th century (the magnificent Westminster Hall was built between 1097— 1099 by William Rufus). Most of the old palace was destroyed in a fire in 1834. The present Houses of Parliament were completed in 1865. The Houses of Parliament comprise the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The division of Parliament into two Houses goes back as 700 years.
The West End is the centre of London. There are historical palaces, museums, beautiful parks, large department stores, hotels, restaurants, theatres and concert halls in this part of London. One of the most beautiful palaces is Buckingham Palace, the official residence of the Queen. The Palace takes its name from Buckingham House which was built in 1703 as the home of the Duke of Buckingham and then bought by George III in 1762. Today the Queen lives at the Palace for only part of the year and when she is in her residence the Royal Standard is flown. Although the main palace is not open to the public items from the Royal Collection can be seen at the Queen’s Gallery.
The oldest of all the royal residences in London is the Tower of London.
The Tower today bears the official title of «Her Majesty’s Palace and fortress of the Tower of London».
Founded by William the Conqueror in 1078 the fortress was enlarged several times. Now it is a museum, which houses the national collection of armour and the Crown Jewels. For many centuries the Tower has been a fortress, the Royal residence, the Royal Mint, the first Royal Observatory. But it is perhaps most famous for being a prison.
The Yeomen of the Guard (Beefeaters) were originally formed to be a bodyguard for Henry VII. They still wear the Tudor uniform chosen by the King and now give guided tours of the Tower.
The ravens whose forefathers used to live in the Tower still live there. The Yeomen Raven Master is responsible for feeding and caring for the ravens at the Tower. There is a legend that if the ravens disappear the Tower will fall.
The broad Mall leads from Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square. Trafalgar Square, named to commemorate Nelson’s great naval victory of 1805, is dominated by the Nelson’s Column. On its pedestal there are four bronze reliefs cast from captured French cannon, representing scenes from the battles of St. Vincent, the Nile, Copenhagen and Trafalgar. The bronze lions at the corners of the pedestals are the work of Landseer.
From Trafalgar Square it is only a short way to Piccadilly Circus. In the centre of Piccadilly Circus is a bronze fountain. It was designed by Sir Alfred Gilbert in 1893.
Downing Street, 10 is the official residence of the Prime Minister.
London is very rich in art galleries. The National Gallery is one of the most important picture galleries in the world. The Tate Gallery is the right and necessary complement to the National Gallery as it contains modern and contemporary works particularly by English and French masters.
Cultural life of London would be impossible without the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Festival Hall, the National Theatre and a great number of museums: the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Geological Museum, the Museum of Mankind, Natural History Museum and others.
If you go to the east of the City, you’ll find yourself in the East End. This is an industrial part of London. The Port of London is also in the East End.
A great amount of space in London is devoted to parks and gardens. Most of them used to be private gardens or hunting forests of kings and queens. Later they were transformed into their present design. Today nothing could be more relaxing and peaceful than a walk in a beautiful park.

EXERCISES
I. Answer the questions.

1. What is the population of London?
2. What parts does London consist of?
3. What part of London can be called its centre?
4. What masterpieces of architecture in Lon-don do you know?
5. Who is the architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral?
6. What is the historical value of the Tower of London?
7. What is the residence of the Queen?
8. What does a legend about the ravens in the Tower say?
9. What events does Trafalgar Square commemorate?
10. What gallery has a vast collection of modern and contemporary works by English and French masters?

II. Choose the right answer
1. London became extremely prosperous during .. .
a) the reign of King Alfred.
b) the 16th century.
c) the 19th century.

2. The construction of London Underground began . . .
a) in the 18th century.
b) in the 20th century.
c) during Queen Victoria’s reign.

3. The heart of London is …
a) Westminster.
b) the West End.
c) the City.

4. Westminster’s construction was completed in . . .
a) the 10th century.
b) the 13th century.
c) the 18th century.

5. The official residence of the Queen is . . .
a) Kensington Palace.
b) Buckingham Palace.
c) the Tower of London.

6. The oldest royal residence is …
a) Buckingham Palace.
b) the Tower of London.
c) Westminster Abbey.

7. The ravens in the Tower of London are taken care of because …
a) they are very old.
b) they are very rare.
c) of a legend.

III. Match the two halves.
1. The city became extremely …
2. The Great Fire …
3. In the 19th century England was at . . .
4. Almost all the monarchs have been crowned . . .
5. The seat of the British Parliament is . . .
6. When the Queen is in residence . . .
7. The Tower of London used to be …
8. The Mall leads to .. .
9. Downing Street, 10 is the residence of .. .

a) the height of her power.
b) the Houses of Parliament.
c) the Royal Standard is flown.
d) Trafalgar Square.
e) the Prime Minister.
f) prosperous in the 16th century.
g) destroyed the whole of the City.
h) in Westminster.
i) the first Royal Observatory.

IV. Complete the sentences.
1. The City of Westminster contains both . . . and ….
2. The early building of Westminster was built … .
3. Almost all the monarchs have been … in Westminster and many are . . . there.
4. The residence of the Prime Minister is . . .

Answers
II. 1. b; 2. c; 3. c; 4. c; 5. b; 6. b; 7. c.
III. 1. f; 2. g; 3. a; 4. h; 5. b; 6. c; 7. i; 8. d; 9. e.
IV. 1. the seat of Government; the crowning place of kings and queens; 2. in the 11th century; 3. crowned; buried; 4. Downing Street, 10.

(Великобритания: Тексты для устных ответов и письменных работ на английском языке. Авт.-сост. И. Ю. Баканова)