City of London - The Square Mile, London
If any of you have read my Local Customs tip on London’s Boroughs - http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/2415c4/
then you would have realised that I intend writing up some background info on some of the more interesting ones - and where better to start than ‘The City of London’.
As I pointed out in that tip, ‘The City’ or ‘The Square Mile’ as it’s also known, is not a borough in the strictest sense of the word because it’s always been administered differently to the other 32 boroughs.
Apart from that of course it’s the area where the Romans first created Londinium - and the rest is history as they say.
It seems quite possible that there was a settlement here before the Romans came, but it was the Roman city that made its mark.
The City’s boundary today is much the same as it was for Londinium, bordering Westminster to the west, Tower Hamlets to the east, and Camden, Islington and Hackney to the north, with the River Thames marking its southern boundary.
The City also has another distinction. Believe it or not it only has a population of around 7,600 - far smaller than any other borough. The reason for this is primarily because it is one of the most important financial centres in the world with modern banking and financial institutions competing for office space with large numbers of people employed in the legal profession. Although the resident population is small the daily commuting workforce swells its number to over 300,000, which is why it’s worth remembering that if you come here on a weekend the place is virtually empty with precious little open.
The Square Mile may roughly cover the same area as Londinium, but within its boundaries nearly everything has changed. In 1666 the Great Fire of London did serious damage and the Blitz during WW2 had a similar devastating effect.
One of the iconic images from the blitz shows St. Paul’s Cathedral surrounded by smoke and flames but still relatively unscathed. Today St. Paul’s and The Monument to the Great Fire of London are becoming dwarfed by modern structures such as ‘The Gherkin’, The Cheesegrater’ and ‘The Walkie Talkie’.
The City has been constantly changing over the years but it has also remained completely independent of the rest of London since before the Norman Conquest. Many traditions surround the City of London Corporation’s administration and demands a separate page to explain it all further, which I hope to do in the near future.
In the meantime I hope that this brief summary about The City will enable you to understand how this part of London became one of the most influential areas of the capital from its Roman beginnings right up until the modern day.
A tranquil spot to sit and relax is this small park that nestles between King Edward Street and St Martin's Le-Grand. The large building to its south side was the old General Post Office headquarters in King Edward Street and this is where the postal workers came to eat their lunch , hence the name.
Under the shelter is a Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice, a grade 2 listed building which has 42 ceramic plaques recognising the self sacrifice of those who lost their lives attempting to rescue others. All are from Victorian times or just later but just one is a new one that dates from 2007.
The nearby church of St Botolph is an interesting church - appropriately for this website , St Botolph was the patron saint of travellers.
The first coffee house in London it’s just behind St Michael’s church in Cornhill in the Square Mile of London.
It’s in a small alley surrounded by very old buildings and medieval courts.
It was opened by a servant called Pasqua Rosee believed to be born into the ethnic Greek community and born in Sicily was brought in England in 1651 by a merchant which it was a member of the Levant Company and a trader in Turkish goods.
Pasqua Rosee opened the coffee shop in 1652 with Christopher Bowman as his partner which he was a freeman of London.
Traders and businessmen soon started gathering at the coffee house to exchange ideas and do their business as it was less rowdy than a tavern. It has become famous and successful in a fortnight.
The coffee house it’s grade II listed building and now trades as a Jamaican Wine House.
In the middle of London and within the churchyard of St Botolph's there it's a very unique Arabian looking building which it was used as Turkish Baths back in the late 18th century.
The building it was designed by the architect, Harold Elphick and opened on 5 of February 1895 by City of London Alderman Treloan for Henry and James Forder Nevill which they have built the baths on an existing popular bathhouse and which they have owned seven such branches in the City of London during the Victorian era.
The building has got beautiful terracotta work on the arched windows and doors. The mouldings on the top run all the way round in a beautiful symmetry line. It has got stained glass windows but I couldn't tell the story behind them.
On the top is an ornamental glass dome with a crescent and star emblem on top.
The premises now are used as a club with not very good reviews.
A small alley that runs from Lombard Street to King William Street but with so much history behind it.The first London General Post Office was located at The Post Office Court and that's were it has taken it's name from until 1829 when it was moved to St Martins Le Grand.
While exploring the City of London on foot which it's the best way to explore and discover any new places I came across these amazing stone panels which originaly they were part of a building that stood on the same spot many hundred years before. They were decorative panels over doors and entrances.
The reason that the wall plaques have been saved it's because when The Corporation of London gave planning permission to demolish and build a new building it has become part of the condition to salvage and reinstated the stonework.
Trinity House has got 5 state rooms which includes the library room, Court room, Peppy's room, the Luncheon room and the reading room.At the entrance hall you come face to face with the most elegant and grand staircase with two stone statues one of Captain Richard Maples and the other statue of Captain Robert Sandes benefactors of Trinity House which also have been removed from the alm Hoses in Mile End Road.
The library room it's the biggest with stained glass windows and views towards Tower of London and Trinity Square Gardens and it has got a concealed book case behind doors which forms the panelling. The three East side stained glass windows are telling their own story whith some of them have been removed from Deptford old hall before it got demolished in the 16th century and transferred for safe keeping to the chapel alm houses in Mile End Road. Here also it's the collection of silverware.
The court room has got the second largest single woven carpet in the Isles and the ceiling it's painted in light marine blue colours and it has got a lot of maritime significance.
The Pepys room it's named after the famous diarist who twice held the office of master and mentions the Trinity House in his Diary it has potraits of Pepys.
Trinity House is an Independent corporation for the last 500 years in maritime safety.They are the General Lighthouse Authority for England, Wales, Channel Islands & Gibraltar and are responsible for the upkeep of lighthouses, lightvessels, buoys and maritime navigation systems.Trinity House was designed by architect Samuel Wyatt in 1796 and has views over Tower of London and river Thames.On the night of 29 December 1940 it was destroyed by an air attack and a lot of of the interiors destroyed and treasures lost, but it has been restored and was opened in 21 October 1953 by HM Queen Elizabeth.It has 5 state rooms, a grand staircase leading to the first floor with long corridors and marble jade coloured columns with gold on top.I had a rare opportunity to visit Trinity House when they had an open day to celebrate their 500 years anniversary, but they do guided tours also at 3.00pm at £8.00 per person and they are part of the Open House Weekend.
The dragon boundary markers are cast iron statues mounted on metal or stone plinths that mark the boundaries of the City of London.
The design is taken from the dragon statues that once were mounted above the entrance to the Coal Exchange, Lower Thames Street. The Coal Exchange was demolished in 1962 and the statues erected by Temple Gardens on Victoria Embankment.
The Corporation of London chose these statues as the model for the boundary markers, in preference the fiercer looking dragon by C B Birch that can be seen at Temple Bar, Fleet Street.
In addition to the dragons on Victoria Embankment and the one at Temple Bar, there are two at the south end of London Bridge, two at High Holborn and single dragons at Aldgate High Street, Bishopsgate, Mooorgate, Goswell Road, Farringdon Street and at the south end of Blackfriars Bridge.
The blue plaque in the photograph above is located on the Jubilee Walkway and pinpoints the site of Upholders' Hall which was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666.
But what is an Upholder?
The Worshipful Company of Upholders' is one of the many Livery Companies of the City of London, "Upholder" being an old name for "Upholsterer". Not only did Upholder's make and sell upholstered goods, they were also cabinet makers, soft furnishers, undertakers, auctioneers and valuers.
The Company was formed in 1360 and in 1626 was granted a Royal Charter by Charles I. The Company had the right to set the standards for upholstery in London and to search, confiscate and destroy any defective furniture found.
In 1645 a gift of £500 was made to the Company to be used for the purchase of a hall. The property bought was called Wingfield House and was situated between Lambeth Hill and St Peters' Hill in the parish of St Peter's Hill, in the Ward of Castle Baynard. The building was destroyed in the Great Fire of London and was never replaced and to this day the Worshipful Company of Upholders does not have a hall.
The Worshipful Company of Upholders arranged the funeral of Admiral Lord Nelson in 1805.
The Company is the 49th in order of precedence for Livery Companies and today they are actively involved in many of the City of London's charities and organisations. The Company motto is 'Sustine Bona' meaning 'Uphold the Good'.
The St Lawrence Jewry and Mary Magdalene Drinking Fountain once stood in Guildhall Yard, between the Church of St Lawrence Jewry to the south and the City Courts of Justice to the north.
The fountain was given as a gift to the City of London from the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association and was originally erected in 1866. It was designed by John Robinson and the sculpture was carried out by artist Joseph Durham.
The lower half of the fountain was made of Portland stone, the sculpture of bronze and polished granite shafts were used to support the canopy which was decorated with the statues of St Lawrence and Mary Magdalene.
The sculpture depicts Moses striking the rock at Horeb and it was designed as the fountain part of the structure, which pumped water into a dish when a metal knob was pushed. The sculpture also shows a Jewish woman holding a cup to her child's lips. St Lawrence is shown with a grid iron, the instrument of his death and Mary Magdalene with the ointment jar with which she cleaned Christ's wounds.
During the redevelopment of Guildhall in the 1970's the fountain was dismantled and put into storage.
When the fountain was restored much of the original stonework was reused and lost or damaged portions replaced with new matching stonework. The original sculpture and bowl beneath have been retained and a new plinth with two steps has been added.
Restoration work was completed in 2010 and the fountain was rebuilt at the eastern end of Carter Lane opposite St Paul's Cathedral.
Relatively few of the hordes of tourists who flock to see St Paul's Cathedral realise that they can get this close-up view of its distinctive dome - a view, what is more, that won't cost them a penny! Take the lift to the sixth floor of the One New Change shopping mall just to the east of the cathedral and you emerge on to an open roof terrace with great views of the surrounding buildings and beyond these to the southern outskirts of London. In addition to the cathedral you can see the Old Bailey, the Shard and the distant Crystal Palace broadcasting aerial.
Protected by glass on one side of the terrace are four statues taken from the building that once stood on this site, a 1950's office block that housed the Bank of England's Accounts Department. The statues are by Sir Charles Wheeler and consist of two guardian lions and two representations of St George – St. George Combatant and St. George Triumphant. Photo five shows him combatant, sword piercing the dragon at his feet.
There are a few seats if you want to relax and enjoy the sunshine, and also a bar and restaurant, Madison, if you fancy a meal or a drink with a view. Prices reflect the location, but the view from the terrace is available to anyone and is, as I have said, free. So come on up and enjoy!
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.
Fen Court/St Gabriel's Graveyard is a courtyard in the City of London where St Gabriel Fenchurch was located. St Gabriel Fenchurch was one of the many churches in the City of London, which got destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666.
Some of the churches, which got destroyed by the fire, got rebuilt and some were not. These congregations then joined other parishes. The congregation of St Gabriel Fenchurch was joined with St Margaret Patterns. St Margaret Patterns became a Guild church in 1954 and St Gabriel´s parish was then joined with the parish of St Edmund and the King and St Mary Woolnoth.
The church was first mentioned in 1108 and a churchyard was recorded in 1331.
A sculpture was unveiled here in 2008 by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It is entitled "Gilt of Cain". The sculpture is a series of granite sculptures which commemorate the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade in 1807. It was made by sculptor Michael Visocchi and the poet Lemn Sissay made the gravings on the columns.
The columns represent stems of sugar cane, a crowd or congregation. And the engraved podium represents a slave auctioneer´s podium.
The reason for the statue being raised here is due to the fact that St Mary Woolnoth had a connection with the abolitionist movement. Rev John Newton, rector of St Mary Woolnoth from 1780-1807 was a slave trader who became a preacher. The parish of St Mary Woolnoth and the Black British Heritage instigated this project for raising the statue here in Fen Court.
I love walking around London and just wandering into different streets. It is like looking for treasures really as one never knows what is hidden from sight in all those courtyards and squares.
Fleet Street is the main thoroughfare from The Strand to St Paul's Cathedral. It's named after the largest underground river, River Fleet, and is synonymous with British National Press. For a long time British National Newspapers had their headquarters which some offices are listed on Fleet Street. Today it's mainly home to banking, legal and accountancy professions but some independent newspapers, press centres and publishing companies exist there. I would imagine during the week it will be busy with workers but on a weekend it's a quiet street.
You can read further information about the history of Fleet Street via this link
This inn occupies the site where Pasqua Rosee coffee house stood, which in 1652 was the first establishment to sell coffee in London. On Monday December 1660 , Samuel Pepys visited the coffee house and wrote in his diary "The first time that ever I was there and I found much pleasure in it "