The best way to explore London, they kept saying, is on foot. That’s one thing that our hosts, London’s Hyde Park Ward youth committee, were most emphatic about.
In preparation for our coming, the committee had examined the four famous “walks” of London—“royal,”“history,”“museum,” and “zoo”—and had concluded that since there were so many things to see, they would create a fifth “walk”—the Hyde Park youth committee walk. So, the “walk” was set.
Present that day were our appointed hosts: Erica Karpaiya, 13, MIA officer; Ray McConnell, 23, London Stake missionary coordinator; Glenn Millar, 13, deacon; Jonathan Howes, 13, deacon; Louisa Karpaiya, 15, MIA sports director; J. B. Breckinridge, 18, new convert; Nicole Levreux, 18, visitor from the Chatilion Branch in Paris; and Pauline Wong, 23, MIA counselor. Doyle L. Green, director of all Church magazines and photographer of this feature, and myself, New Era managing editor, were the guests.
We soon found out why walking is the best way to see London. Strolling down the winding streets, breathing the misty air, slowly drinking in the legends, traditions, pageantry, and customs makes you more than just a spectator—you become a participant in a great adventure that fills you with pride and respect for the British people.
As we headed for our starting point—Trafalgar Square—our hosts reviewed a smidgen of Britanic data; since the summer of A.D. 43, when Roman processional elephants and legions crossed the Thames and set up camp, there has been a London. The name is from the Celtic word Londinion, most likely a personal name. Romans, Saxons, Danes, Normans, Tudors, and others came and left their marks, each helping to mold what became one of the great cities of the world, the heart of the empire that ruled the largest dominion in the world’s history. Greater London today covers more than 700 square miles. However, the fabled old City of London covers about a square mile—677 acresof walls, towers, guards, gardens, gates, river, statues, and monuments, with more history crammed into the lore of its public buildings than perhaps any equivalent spot on earth.
As we neared Trafalgar, our lesson in history closed. Our hosts were now ready to show us London. Here is what we saw:
Our tour ended. But even now its spirit lingers on. For me, London is more than a place, more than a city. It is a spirit of an indomitable people. London is an attitude, a feeling toward human dignity and learning and arts and manners that has profoundly influenced all civilized peoples. The world owes much to this city and its spirit, more than any of us can ever repay.
Whether you are conscious of it or not. London is a part of you, wherever you are.