City of London - The Square Mile, London
One New Change is a new shopping center in the City next to St. Paul´s Cathedral - east of it. It has got a Roof Terrace with fantastic views of St. Paul´s Cathedral, I doubt that there are better views of the Cathedral than here on the Roof Terrace.
There is a restaurant and a bar on the roof, Madison, but the Roof Terrace is seperate from them and bringing your drink from the bar to the terrace is not allowed. While I was on the roof once some German guys were drinking and they were told to leave or stop drinking. This being so high up it is understandable that drinking is not allowed here. A security guard oversees that everything is ok up there.
The entrance to the Roof Terrace is free and it is a lovely place to sit and enjoy these fantastic views of the London skyline, especially on a sunny day. I went there on a warm day in February, 10 degrees, still and sunny. I sat there for hours.
The view of St. Paul´s Cathedral is unique, one can get a close look at the apostles, which look like they are quarrelling with the city.
There is also a good view of the smaller dome of the Old Bailey which matches with the dome of St. Paul´s Cathedral.
On a sunny day, with the sun so low in the sky, it was difficult taking good photos up there.
It is open 7 days a week from 10.
One New Change shopping centre is a glass pane building, very modern looking, on 8 floors, the public Roof Terrace being on the 6th floor. There are 60 shops here and offices.
In April 2014 I went up to the Roof Terrace with VT-members Sarah and Fergy after we had met up for lunch at All Bar One in Ludgate Hill.
Between Paternoster Square and St Paul’s Cathedral, behind a fence you will find this water pump inscribed thus:
“Erected by St Faith’s Parish 1819”
This got me wondering as I was not familiar with St Faith’s Parish – though to be fair, I am far from an expert on the parishes of London! On delving deeper I have ascertained the following but still not resolved why the pump was installed (clean water source for residents/visitors I imagine - was it common for churches to erect such pumps? Why was it erected by St Faith's as opposed to St Paul's or St Augustine's?). I would love to hear from anyone with information.
St Faith’s, as a church, has not existed since 1256 when it was demolished to make way for an extension to the Old St Paul’s Cathedral.
While the church disappeared the parish continued to exist – now called the Parish of St Faith under St Paul’s - and the parishioners, mostly booksellers in Paternoster Row, still held certain rights - such as special pews and burial rights – and used an area of the cathedral in the west crypt under St Paul’s Quire and later the Jesus Chapel.
After the Great Fire of 1666 when all vestige’s of the church under St Paul’s (together with a vast volume of books moved in under the Cathedral for protection against the fire) were lost with the cathedral itself, the parish was combined with St Augustine’s Watling Street which itself joined to St Mary-le-Bow in 1954.
When St Paul’s was rebuilt, post the Great Fire (the current St Paul’s), a chapel close the foundations of the original St Faith’s was dedicated to St Faith and as such St Faith Parishioners retained a link with St Paul’s. There are certainly records of St Faith burials in the cathedral in the 1800’s - post the date on the water pump. The Chapel of St Faith, in 1960 became the spiritual Home to the Order of the British Empire.
Where the pump fits in I am really not sure but it was previously situated nearby in St Paul’s Graveyard close to St Paul’s Cross and was moved to its current location in 1973. Very intriguing.
As squares go, standing in it, this one is a pretty ugly one surrounded by rather ugly modern buildings including the London Stock Exchange. I like to see grass and or other forms of greenery – even if the square is in the centre of London as this one is. The square is actually privately owned (with public right of way) by the Mitsubishi Estate Co so this may explain the preference for concrete which, I imagine, is cheaper to maintain than grass and plants.
That said, it does look much better when viewed from above. My main picture attached is taken from the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral. The Square itself does also allow for some interesting shots of St Paul’s.
The square takes its name from the medieval Paternoster Row where clergy from St Paul’s Cathedral would ambulate, rosaries in hand, reciting the Pater Noster or Lord’s Prayer.
Paternoster Row, centre of the London publishing trade. was pretty much wiped by the 1666 fire of London and then again by aerial bombardment during World War II. Post World War II it lay undeveloped until 1967 but that development proved rather unpopular. Lord Mayor, Robert Finch described it thus in 2004 - "The old Paternoster Square was typical: ghastly, monolithic constructions without definition or character’.
I rather think the Mayor’s description is equally apt for the new Square.
For me the most interesting aspect of the square (though arguably not part of it at all) is the Temple Bar – see my separate review – the St Paul’s side, entrance to/ exit from the square.
The main feature within the square is the 23m tall Paternoster Square Column. This is a Corinthian column of Portland stone (matching the Temple Bar) topped by a gold leaf covered flaming copper urn which lights up at night. The column, in addition to being reasonably aesthetically pleasing, also serves as a ventilation shaft for an underground car park and a service road that runs beneath the square.
The Square has but a single sculpture entitled Shepherd and Sheep – by Dame Elizabeth Frink (originally unveiled by Yehudi Menhuin in 1975 and retained from the previous Square development).
This sculpture reminds one of the days when this square was the site of Newgate Meat Market until the Central Meat Market at Smithfield opened in 1868.
I am unsure as to why the shepherd is naked and un-endowed (in contrast to the front sheep (ram)!). As Frink was much better known for her well-endowed subjects perhaps she was somewhat influenced by the clergy of neighbouring St Paul’s in this instance.
Certainly have a wander through the square while you are in the area but nothing there to hold you too long.
Access to Middle Ages City of London was via one of a number of barriers/gates set up to control movement and regulate traffic into the City and protect trade within the City.
Probably the best known of these was the Temple Bar located where Fleet Street, City of London, became the Strand, Westminster. The Bar takes its name from the near-by Temple Church which had, by then, given its name to the surrounding area now home of two of the legal professions Inns of the Court.
The original Temple Bar, thought to have been a chain or bar across the road, is first mentioned in 1293. Over time the bar became more formal and by the late Middle Ages a wooden archway – complete with prison on top - was to be found here.
While the Temple Bar escaped damage in the 1666 fire of London it was replaced with the current and most famous Portland stone arch, believed (though not proven) to have been designed by Sir Christopher Wren and constructed between 1669 and 1672.
In addition to being a City of London entrance, during the late 17th and 18th centuries, the Bar was on occasion used as a pillory (Titus Oates and Daniel Defoe being victims) and became ‘the dreaded Golgotha of English traitors’ with numerous heads mounted on pikes and exhibited on the roof. The last heads to be so displayed were those of Towneley and Fletcher from the Siege of Carlisle in 1746. Horace Walpole, writing to a friend a few days later, wrote about how he had just been roaming in the City, and "passed under the new heads on Temple Bar, where people make a trade of letting spy-glasses at a halfpenny a look."
Traditionally and indeed occasionally still, monarchs wishing to enter the City of London would stop at the Bar ( or the Memorial replacing it today) and seek permission from the Lord Mayor to enter the City.
By the 1800 Temple Bar was the only one of seven principal gateways still in place (three were lost in the 1666 fire). In 1878, not wanting to destroy Wren’s historic monument but needing to remove it from its then current location to ease a traffic bottleneck the City of London Corporation dismantled the bar stone by stone and put the 2500 plus stones in to storage.
In 1880 the bar was purchased, at the behest of his banjo playing, barmaid wife determined to convince high society London of her respectability, by wealthy brewer Henry Meux and re-erected as a gateway to his country estate, Theobalds Park, in Hertfordshire. Lady Meux’s ruse worked and it is believed that she dined with Edward VII, the Prince of Wales and Winston Churchill in the room atop the Temple Bar. It remained at Theobalds Park until 2003 when the Temple Bar Trust had it dismantled once again and returned to London in 2004 as an entrance to Paternoster Square (adjacent to the north west Tower of St Paul’s Cathedral) where you see it today. The upper room is not open to visitors – unless you rent it out for a function. You are at liberty to use rather overpriced toilets in the Bar’s modern day basement!
If you came to this review via my London page and you have any knowledge of the Knights Templar, even if it be via Dan Brown’s novel, the Da Vinci Code you will have recognised the picture on that page as being the symbol of the Knights Templar – a horse carrying two knights. This symbol is situated atop a column outside the Temple Church.
Let me digress with a much abbreviated history lesson…….
The Knights Templar or to give them their full name the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon were a religious order of crusading Knights established in the early 1100s to provide safe passage for pilgrims to and from the Holy Land during the twelfth century Crusades.
Some two hundred years later the Order disappeared as quickly as it appeared following the loss of the Holy Land and it becoming a victim of its own success. The Order had amassed a vast fortune protecting pilgrims – a fact not lost on the almost destitute King of France. In 1307 many of the Order’s members were arrested, tortured and burned at the stake on the orders of French king, Philip IV and in 1312 under pressure from Philip, Pope Clement V disbanded the Order.
The vast fortunes didn’t eventuate for the French throne and the Order’s disappearance gave rise to speculation and legends, which have kept the "Templar" name alive ever since. Fascinating and a personal interest of mine but out of scope for this review.
Back to London and the Temple Church
The Temple Church, constructed by the Knights Templar, is one of the oldest structures in London and features one of the few circular naves still in existence and modelled on that of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. This key part of the church, the Round Church, was consecrated in 1185 by Heraclius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, with Henry II believed to have been in attendance (evidence of the Templar's power and importance at the time). The now main section of the church – the chancel was added in 1240. This Templar church/headquarters replaced a smaller one at High Holborn which had been established by Hughes de Payens on the site of a Roman temple.
With the suppression of the Templars in 1307, the Order’s property was passed by Edward II to the Knights Hospitallers, another religious order of the day, which rented the Temple to two colleges of lawyers which later evolved into the Inner and Middle Temples, two of the four London Inns of Court.
When Henry VIII took over the Church in 1540 following his suppression of the monasteries he appointed a new priest under the tile "Master of the Temple" ( a title still used by the Temple priest to this day) and the lawyers remained as tenants. In 1608, James I gifted by Royal Charter, in perpetuity, the total locale to the Inner and Middle Temple Inns with the proviso that they take responsibility for the Temple Church – a responsibility which they still assume. Interestingly a King James Authorised Version of the bible can still be found on every pew.
In the 1580s, the church was the scene of the Battle of the Pulpits, a theological conflict between Calvinists and supporters of the Church of England – the “C of E” triumphed. It also features in Shakespeare’s play Henry VI, Part 1 where it and the Temple garden are the setting for the fictional scene of the plucking of two roses and the start of the 15th century Wars of the Roses. In 2002 new white and red roses were planted in the modern gardens to commemorate this.
The most interesting and indeed peculiar inclusion in the church and its greatest draw-card from a visitor perspective are nine marble effigies of medieval knights located on the floor of the Round Church. Among the knights buried in the Round is William the Marshal, Earl of Pembroke (died 1219), adviser to King John and regent to Henry III.
Outside looking at the effigies, do give yourself an hour or two to explore what is a real treasure trove when it comes to the history of the Templars and the legal profession in the City. Look up too and admire (or recoil at) the grotesque heads placed at just above head height around the walls of the church and higher up the stunning vaulted ceiling. All in all a very beautiful church and somewhat out of the ordinary in terms of both looks and history.
While it escaped the Fire of London unscathed, the church and effigies were badly damaged in WWII when it also lost its original seventeenth century pipe organ (a Wren addition). Today the whole church has been beautifully restored and while I didn’t get to attend a choral performance or an organ recital (the current organ was under repair), I am told they are not to be missed. Something for next time.
Entry to the church used to be free and the opening hours were rather erratic and unpredictable. An entrance fee is now charged (GBP4) and the opening hours – while still limited - appear to have stabalised – so you can reasonably expect to gain entry if you arrive during the prescribed hours. The introduction of an entrance fee hasn’t made finding the church in the first place any easier though.
For both the exact location of the church and opening times (which still vary) visit the churches very information rich website - http://www.templechurch.com/. I wont attempt to cover either here.
I feel it rather fitting that this, my first tip on London, is about something upon which the successful future of the City is inextricably dependent.
According to legend, the London Stone (or what remains of a larger stone) is part of an altar built by Brutus, the mythical Trojan founder of Albion (Britain) and London. Associated with this legend is the saying:
“So long as the Stone of Brutus is safe, so long will London flourish”.
If this indeed be true one wonders why such a precious relic lies almost abandoned and unloved, hidden behind a grimy metal grate across the road from Cannon Street Station. Reminds me somewhat of Oscar Wilde’s play – The Importance of Being Earnest when Jack was discovered, abandoned, in handbag in locker at Victoria Station.
I first came across the Stone - a block of Clipsham limestone about 21 inches (53cm) wide, 17 inches (43cm) high and 12 inches (30cm) front to back - by chance some years ago and was rather taken by this Brutus story. Consequently, when I couldn’t find it again on a much later trip on an, admittedly quick, walk along Cannon Street I rang the alarm bells here on VT. London member Planxty answered the call and set forth in search of the Stone, which he found – London was safe!
At the same time as raising the alarm here on VT I also contacted The Museum of London having heard rumours that the Stone was there while development work was underway in Cannon Street. Somewhat after Planxty’s reassurance that all was well the Museum informed me that they could not confirm where the Stone was and that I might like to take the matter up with the City of London!
According to the Museum of London the Brutus legend was invented in 1862 and the Stone is most likely a Roman milestone marker and possibly the marker from which all distances from London were measured at the time. There have been many other theories and stories about the Stone and its history (first mention dating back to the 12th century). None of these can be verified, hence the Museum of London’s (and the British Museum’s) lack of more than passing interest in it though it is a Grade II listed structure.
Running with the more plausible milestone theory, having become somewhat of a traffic hazard on the south side of Cannon Street, in 1742 the London Stone was relocated to a position beside the main door of St Swithin, London Stone Church on the north side of Cannon Street – the former site of the building which still houses the Stone. In 1798 it was set into the wall of the Church. The Church was bombed in the Blitz and had to be demolished in 1962. Thankfully, for London, the stone survived. Recent development work in Cannon Street raised questions as to where the stone was going to be located and displayed – classic British bureaucratic bungling at its best. At least for now, London won and the stone has remained untouched and unmoved. It was hidden behind some scaffolding on my fleeting visit referred to above.
On my most recent trip, April 2013, I again went to 111 Cannon Street (currently a WHSmith Branch) and verified for myself that the stone is still there – not that I didn’t trust Planxty’s investigations.
While tens of thousands of people walk by the Stone everyday, very few Londoners and fewer visitors are aware of the Stone’s existence. Do go and have a look at this lesser known London attraction.
The Temple Bar - the oldest and only surviving gateway into the City of London - has been in this location only since 2004. It dates back to 1672. It was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, the noted architect who rebuilt St. Paul´s Cathedral and 51 other churches in the City after the Great Fire of London in 1666. Temple Bar marked the western end of the City.
This majestic gateway stood until 1877 on the junction of Fleet Street and the Strand. But it hindered traffic and construction in this area and was taken down stone by stone and meant to be erected in another place in the City. But no place could be found for it and ten years later Sir Henry Meux rebuilt it as a gate to his estate in Theobald´s Park. It started deteriorating there and in 1976 the Temple Bar Trust bought it and finally in 2004, to make a long story short, the Temple Bar was erected here behind St. Paul´s Cathedral.
The Temple Bar leads into Paternoster square, which was redeveloped in 2003. Here one can find the Stock Exchange of London, which moved here in 2004 from Threadneedle Street in the City. It is a beautiful square with a big column, the 23 m high Paternoster Square Column, a beautiful column with a bronze urn on top covered with gold leaf. It is beautiful at night as it is lit up. It also serves as a ventilation shaft.
There is also a statue on Paternoster square, Shepherd and Sheep, as there was once a lifestock market on this site.
Set in the centre of the "City of London" is the centuries old Guildhall. Sadly that is rarely open to the public, but next door is the Guildhall Art Gallery which is open to the public and provides a good excuse to see the courtyard in which the Guildhall itself is found.
The gallery itself is not huge, but has some interesting paintings. Beneath the gallery you can visit the remains of London's Roman Amphitheatre. There is very little left and these remains were only rediscovered in 1988 when the Art Gallery building above was built, but as entrance is free it is well worth a visit. The sad thing is that most people have never heard of this Amphitheatre in the centre of London. I lived in the city for years and never heard of it until just weeks ago!
The gallery is open Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm and on Sundays from 12 noon to 4pm.
The City of London has various meanings, not all of which are entirely true. While Metropolitan London may be frequently referred to as a city, it is in fact a collection of municipal entities that have been fused together to form one of the world’s larger cities. The City of London is a small unit at the heart of the metropolitan area, one that houses a massive financial and legal industry. The City is therefore synonymous with the financial industry in the United Kingdom, although Canary Wharf has grown to become an important component of sector as well. The City of London has been in existence since the Anglo-Saxon era and, as a result, has often been the focus of construction and development activities in the heart of London. Despite this long history, the majority of the architecture here is not long-lived. Sections of the city’s Roman Wall remain, but otherwise the older buildings are from the Renaissance era or later, with a large collection of churches designed by Sir Christopher Wren. The City’s importance for the country’s financial system has meant that it was both subject to significant bombing during WWII and reconstruction campaigns, introducing a fair amount of modern architecture into the area, despite attempts to ensure that historical trends were maintained.
Christopher Wren designed St. Bride's Church in 1672 and has had a long connection with journalists and newspapers as it is in Fleet Street. Worshippers date back to the eighth century and as St. Bridget of Ireland it was probably founded by Celtic Monks. Wynkyn De worde set up a printing press next door in 1500 and London was the only city allowed by law to have a printing press until 1695.
Throughout London you can find several water pumps at different locations but the one in the photo is on the south side of Paternoster Square near the Temple Arch. This is dated 1819.
Others can be found at Shoreditch churchyard 1832
at Broadwick street is the pump that killed 500 people from a cholera epedemic
Queen's Square, Holborn has an 1840 pump with the coats of arms on it
Bedford Row, Holborn has another pump
Grays Inn Square yet another
New Square, Lincolns Inn
Outside the Royal Exchange in Cornhill with an inscription reminds us there was a well there in 1282
Paternoster Square was redeveloped by 2003 as it was deemed to be a bit of an eyesore before, but the Paternoster column is located there, 23 metres high, it doubles as a ventilation shaft for a service road that runs underneath the square. It is a Corinthian column with gold leaf covering a flaming urn and is illuminated by fibre optics at night. The London Stock Exchange and several investment banks are to be found around the square.
There is a police phone box still standing in St. Martins Le Grand, one of only a few left. Unfortunately it is no longer used but many years ago there were many to be found in the capital and were used to summon the police. The first police box in Britain was installed in Glasgow in 1891 but were not found in London until 1928 and increased to 685 by 1953 and eventually phased out in 1970 as the police were issued two way radios.
Note that Doctor Who had a bigger version than the one in the photograph.
Walking up Wood Street towards London Wall you will come across a tower in the middle of the street which is all that remains of St. Albans Church which possibly dates back to the 8th century during King Offa of Mercia's time, but was rebuilt in 1865, but destroyed during the Blitz leaving only the tower standing. It was dedicated to the first Christian English martyr, St. Alban, who was decapitated by the Romans around 300 A.D. The tower is actually a private house in the middle of the road. As recently as 2006 many of the clergy wanted St. Alban to replace St. George as Patron saint of England.
A blue plaque reminds us that the conduit supplied water to the people in 1471 onwards. The city installed 15 of them before the Great Fire. It was damaged during the Greta Fire but repaired afterwards and supplied free water to the people in the vicinity of the Guildhall until the 18th century. the plaque is on the wall at Aldermanbury Garden near the Guildhall.