An English Teacher's Guide to London



In order to get our sabbatical approved, we had to make plans to visit locations that would benefit our teaching. I have taught all levels of English (7-12), but British Literature has been a staple class during my ten years of teaching. Because of this, I knew that London would be on the top of our list of places to broaden my knowledge through travel. It did not disappoint. There's a reason London is touted as the best city in the world and there's also a reason so many literary greats have called this beautiful city their home. This was my first time visiting London (and surely won't be my last!), so I'm not an expert. However, I did do quite a bit of research to make sure that I experienced as much as possible to make myself a better English teacher.

Must-visit sites in London for English teachers: 


1. Shakespeare Sites- There's much ado about Shakespeare in London! If I had to pick locations that I learned the most from in regards to my curriculum, it would have to be the Shakespeare sites throughout England. In London, you can find an exact replica of The Globe Theatre and walk in the footsteps of Shakespeare himself.
My English teacher friend wasn't wearing earrings. Could it be a Shakespear haunting!?
I actually met up with an English teacher I met on Instagram, and we took a tour of The Globe together. Though the original Globe burned down in 1613, it was still amazing to see the playhouse exactly how it would have looked back then. I've never been in an open-air theatre before, so it was really neat to experience what the theatre felt like as an upper-class citizen as well as a groundling. Our tour guide (pictured top right) was so knowledgeable and taught me how Shakespeare wrote for this specific stage. He worked with the audience and the emotions they projected as they stood within inches of the players.
Don't mind the "under construction" look. This was purposeful for a play that was being put on later the night I toured. I would have loved to see a play here, but they weren't offering one I was interested in at the time. Next time! (Luckily I got to see A Midsummer Night's Dream in NYC earlier in the year)

While The Globe tour was highly educational, I felt more of a surreal feeling of "WOW SHAKESPEARE'S SPIRIT IS HERE" when I hung out at The George. First off, this place is in a really cool part of London close to Borough Market and as soon as you walk into the little ally, you are instantly transported back in time.

The George is an old coaching inn and still serves as a pub and restaurant today. There are lots of picnic tables outside, and the inside is everything you want an old English Inn and Pub to be. In Shakespeare's day, creatives would gather here to partake in a drink and bounce ideas off of one another. They would also perform plays in the courtyard (people could stand on the balconies pictured above to watch the plays). Hundreds of years later, this place still has the cool vibes that attracted Shakespeare and others!


Also in London, you can lay eyes on Shakespeare's First Folio at The British Library.


I got to learn lots more about Shakespeare on this trip, but the rest of these locations were outside of London. I will link up a post about Stratford-Upon-Avon here after I write it!

2. Westminster Abbey- Holy wow. This place took my breath away. You aren't allowed to take pictures on the inside, but I will never forget what I saw inside. We opted for an audio tour rather than just walking around and looking, and this was for the best. I learned so much my hearing and seeing all of the histories throughout this immaculate church.
I honestly loved everything about this tour, but of course, I spent the most time in Poet's Corner. As I said, you aren't allowed to take pictures (which I'm happy about because it ensures a respectful air during your visit), but here are some pictures I found on the internet: 

It was truly surreal to pay my respects to so many legends in literature who are commemorated or laid to rest in one area. This was the last part of the tour, so I felt like I could really take my time here.

3. The Theatre- Being from rural East Tennessee, I've had few opportunities to see real theatre. I guess you could say I was saving my theatre budget for THE BIG ONE all these years, ha! Seeing Harry Potter and The Cursed Child in a London Theatre will go down as one of my top experiences of all time. It was my first real theatre experience, and I feel like I have a little more cred when I go to teach The Crucible or Macbeth the next time. But more than that, I have a story to tell. You see, my students know what a huge Harry Potter fan I am (my classroom even has a Harry Potter theme!), so when the book Harry Potter and the Cursed Child came out, I had lots of students ask me if I was going to read it. I would always respond with "no because I intend to see it live first." Where I'm from, this was a laughable response--deserving of an "oh sure you are" reply. At the time, I don't think I really even believed in this dream. But, as they say, your words inspire action if you say them often enough. So, yes, the ungodly amount of money I spent on getting Harry Potter and the Cursed Child tickets from StubHub (the regular priced tickets were long ago sold out) was WORTH EVERY CENT.
You aren't allowed to take pictures during the show of course, but I had to snap this one during intermission:

There was a very special young man sitting in front of us who was on an outing with his father. The joy that radiated from his face was infectious. I don't think I've ever seen such happiness for such an extended period of time (the play is 6 hours long!). He was obviously an avid reader because he pulled out his book and read before the play started and during both intermissions until the very last minute before showtime. Aaron and I both cried then, and I'm crying again now thinking about what magic books can hold for those who care to open them. 💗

Me with my mentor teacher ;) 

4. Harry Potter Sites - Continuing on the Harry Potter Love Fest Train, another must-visit site for English teachers has to be the Harry Potter Studio in London (If you are an English teacher who doesn't like Harry Potter, then I'm not sure we can be friends). I didn't really know what to expect from this tour, and to be honest, I thought it might be too Orlando-esque. I WAS WRONG. I hate to admit it because London is so rich in history and culture, but because I've now heard it from so many others, I feel like I can just say it--visiting the Harry Potter Studio was honestly one of the highlights of my trip to London. It was like walking into the brain of one of the most creative authors of all time. The amount of imagination that went into the books and movies paired with childhood nostalgia was emotionally overwhelming. There were people there from all different nationalities who shared one common interest. Tears were streaming down the faces of everyone around me, and I was so emotionally moved that I had to fight against my ugly crying face for at least the first 30 minutes we were there.

We decided to buy tickets for a tour that included a bus to the studio which is about an hour outside of the city and a tour of Oxford. This was fine and convenient, but I wish we would have gone to both places on our own via public transportation (we booked our tickets in advance before we realized how quick Aaron would pick up on figuring out London's train station). I was struck by how HUGE the studio is, and I could have easily spent another two hours there. I also wish I had more time at Oxford since some of the most brilliant minds of all time have studied at this iconic college.

I'm going to use this picture when teaching Gatsby to "prove" I studied at Oxford ;) 
I will write more about what I learned at Oxford when I do a post on literary places to visit throughout England. 


5. The British Museum (and others!)- The really good thing for teachers who visit London is that most of the museums are free! One of the most exciting things I saw was the Sutton Hoo at the British Museum. I can't tell you how many times I've stared at this mask on the cover of our literature textbook and every time I teach Beowulf. Finally getting to see textbook pictures come to life was really amazing!

I also really enjoyed getting to see THE ROSETTA STONE (!!!) which is held here as well. This stone was the key to unlocking the ancient Egyptian language. How amazing!

Depending on what you teach, the British Museum offers a teacher's guide that you can browse here: Teacher's Guide to the British Museum 

 Those are my top 5 places to visit in London for English teachers! You can also find some more literary places on this list: Literary Spots in London that Every Book Nerd Needs to Visit 

I'm sure I missed some, so please leave your recommendations about other literary sites in London! I will add them to my list for next time!

-Ashley


 You can ask us questions via our Instagram page @TeacherTravelSabbatical , email Ashley.Bible@teachertravelsabbatical.com, or leave a comment on this blog post!

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Comments

  1. Thanks so much for sending me the link! Totally loved this. I'll have to do a "Gatsby' and take a photo at Oxford as well!

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  2. Thank you for helping to everyone, cause now English is on first priority. In these everyone is looking for English Tuition Teachers, schools has been made a law that everyone will be talk in English otherwise they will be fined.
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    David Nu

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