Had a private tour after hours behind the scenes at Westminster Abbey. As a fascinating insight into more than one thousand years of British history, it couldn’t be beaten. And for me it was particularly intriguing to be allowed into areas where the public normally isn’t admitted, like the shrine of Edward the Confessor (after his appearance in Hereward), in the oldest part of the current abbey.
The tomb of Elizabeth I and her sister Mary, the tombs of a long list of English monarchs, the oldest garden in Britain, the ‘secret chapel’ of Saint Faith, and the Pyx Chamber where the Royals used to store their treasure – so much to see. And there’s going to be even more in a year’s time when the Abbey opens the upper levels looking down on the nave for the first time. They’ll be displaying the rarely-seen death masks of English monarchs and the body replicas that were paraded in front of the people when one of the monarchs died in Scotland and was brought south for burial.
The trip came as a pleasant break from finishing the final details of Pendragon before publication in July. The cover is now signed off and yesterday I approved the new typeface and sent details for the map designer. Your local bookshop will now be taking pre-orders or you can go here for a look and a ponder.
There’s a link between the trip and the forthcoming book. Pendragon is very much about how legend arises out of history and while it tackles the potential roots of Arthurian mythos, it’s also about our need for legends, heroes, and an ideal of the country we inhabit.