A damp and exceedingly grey afternoon in which we found ourselves standing beneath glass roof of Liverpool Street Station. Our original intention of the day had been thwarted, so we were both feeling a little dejected. This was somewhat like the author, of the song with the same name as the station! We, therefore, decided to make the best of it and take a hike through the City of London, to see if we could link up where we had walked previously 🙂. As we turned into “Bishopsgate” road, I began to wonder where the name came from. Hundreds of years ago a gate once stood here in the City Wall, it was only in C12th its original name of “Porta Episcopi”, was anglicised to Bishopgate. We began to see a that this road was a hotch-potch of historic and new buildings. Across the way, a small Medieval Church stood magnifcently against a C20th Office Building, “St Ethelburgas”. Although it was a C12th building, the Church that stands today has actually been only open since 2002 after it was carefully rebuilt. The Church managed to survive WWII with little damage, but the entire building was largely destroyed by a IRA bomb in the mid 1990’s. Apparently the inside has been substantially altered whilst the outside has maintained it original walls!
I looked along the skyline of Bishopgate and I could see above the old church the Gherkin towering above it, what an amazing juxtaposition of images! We turned off Bishopsgate and started to walk down “Threadneedle Street”. Pondering once again about the name of the road, I pictured a number of ladies threading needles and making some amazing Embroidery 🙂 . In reality the street derived its name from Needle makers and Merchant Tailors. In C13th a community of French Protestants established a large school on the street, a number of notable people were educated there, including Thomas More who was the acting as Lord Chancellor during the reign of Henry VIII. The face of the street changed, from Cloth and Education, in the mid C17th when the Fire of London swept through the city, destroying many of buildings and most of the city. The area was to become the financial district of London when the Stock Exchange relocated here around 1733, shortly followed by the Bank of England a year later.
|From 2014 – 05.04.2014 – London Walk|
At the end of Threadneedle Street, we spotted a large domineering building, which was presumably the Bank of England. It did not look to me much like a bank but an old court house with its large pillars and sweeping concrete steps. It had an old Georgian feel about it as did the entire area I almost envisaged Ladies and Gents of the era milling about on the grand entrance! It was only the modern traffic that knocked me out of my reveries. The Bank of England earned itself a nickname, the “The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street”, following a cartoon by caricaturist James Gillray in 1797. The Bank of England had been characterised as an old lady sitting on a box of bank notes whilst the then Prime Minster attempted to retrieve its contents. The cartoon supposedly refers to when the Bank of England was required to give loans to finance a war against France. We crossed the road and saw a sombre C18th looking Church called “St Mary WoolNoth”. A Church captured in the words of writer T.S. Eliot…
“…And each man fixed his eyes before his feet,
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours,
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine” The Wasteland, 1922. T.S Eliot
This Church was built and designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, who had started his career as clerk to Sir Christopher Wren (who notably built St Pauls Cathedral). We thought we would quickly look inside this church, and we did so, some musicians were organising themselves ready for a rehearsal. As we turned away from them I thought that one of them maybe playing as I swore I heard some singing…
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.Amazing Grace, John Newton, 1779
My imagination, had swept away with me once again, as I had spotted John Newtons memorial on the wall. John Newton was in his own words “Once an Infidel and Libertine, A servant of slaves in Africa , Was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour… Preserved, restored, pardoned”. John Newton was a hardened Slave Trader in the C18th, but this was to change after suffering illness and encountering a violent storm at sea in 1748. This was a large turning point in his life, leading to him write the hymn “Amazing Grace”, words he reflected on for the rest of his life. Eventually he was very influential on the abolition of the Slave Trade. We left the Church, and walked down King William Street and turned into Clements Lane. As we did so we passed By “St Clements”, I thought I heard some loud Church bells…. “Oranges and lemons / Say the bells of St Clement’s” are these the bells that are referred to in this famous nursery rhyme? Another Church claim this to be true, St Clement Danes Church, Westminster. Leaving King William Street, we turned into Cannon Street.
|From 2014 – 05.04.2014 – London Walk|
As we walked along I noticed a crowd of people gathered around what seemed to be a “plaque”. Odd thing to do I thought, I just had to investigate! Behind an iron grill and beneath the plaque, was a rock. This was the “London Stone”. This not very large block of Clipsham limestone dates back as far as the early C12th. The stone has many myths surrounding it, from it marking the centre of London, to being a Roman Milestone, others believing whilst it stood London would not perish. Whatever the purpose of the stone, it is quite amazing how long it has survived! Wandering past the stone we eventually reached Mansion House and turned into Queen Victoria Street. Whilst walking along I spotted some beautiful flowers, so attractive that I strolled into the gardens. “Cleary Gardens” was created from an old WWII bomb site, the instigator of the site was so successful that the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother visited the site in 1949!
As we followed the road along we were treated to the view of St Paul’s Cathedral from afar. We had reached the “Millennium Bridge” which looked extremely crowded to cross. Therefore we decided to walk underneath it and continue along this side of the river instead. Under the bridge I spotted a very strange metal obelisk. This was the “Millennium Measure”, which had been a gift from the Court & Livery of the Worshipful Company of Scientific Instrument Makers, to the City of London, to commemorate the Millennium. We now found ourselves walking along the “Thames Path” and watching the world go by on their boats. As we walked on, we came across another obelisk, this time it was a lot older than the Millennium itself, it was a “Cleopatra’s Needle”. It had been standing for centuries in the warmth of the Egyptian Desert and but was whisked away to the United Kingdom during Queen Victorias reign in the C19th. It is now standing much colder climes in front of the River Thames, it is nice is still good to look at 🙂 Further down the path, from the Needle, we came across a very impressive bronze “Battle of Britain” Memorial which was quite stunning to walk around.
|From 2014 – 05.04.2014 – London Walk|
We had now reached “Westminster”, where the gothic towers of the “House of Parliament” and “Big Ben” towered above us. We had to circumnavigate the Houses of Parliament in order to reach the Thames Path once again and as we did we had a closer inspection of the building. The structure is full of intricate detail in the way that it has been crafted, the stonemasons must have been highly trained in order to create such an amazing building! Just past the Parliament, we walked into “Victoria Tower Gardens”, known to be home to a number of memorials celebrating several forms of freedom. We were greeted by a large statue of Emiline Pankhurst commemorating the gaining for votes for women. As we walked into the Park, I noticed a large stone which looked like an empty base of a monument. In fact the statue had been removed for display elsewhere, it was Auguste Rodin’s “The Burghers of Calais” which represents freedom earned for the people of Calais. We turned away from the Rodins sculpture only to spot a very large Gothic monument, known as the “Buxton Memorial”. Charles Buxton built this monument to commemorate his fathers work to bring about the “1833 Slavery Abolition Act”. This obviously reminded me of John Newton in the first part of our walk!
As we left the gardens I spotted a very large building on the other side of the road, which we decided to explore, this was the “Tate Britain”. This Art Gallery has only just reopened its doors in this renovated Victorian Grade II building. It houses various different art from Modern Sculpture to Classic Artists such as JW Turner. We did quickly pop in to have a nose around the art museum and to warm up! As we made our way towards Victoria Station to end our walk for the day, we were still seeing sights along the way, including Battersea Power Station!
All the photos are here –
|2014 – 05.04.2014 – London Walk|
Our route was –