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.
In 1224 four Franciscan friars came to London. For 15 days they stayed as guests of the Dominicans and then took a house on Cornhill given to them by John Travers, Sheriff of London. The following summer the friars were given land in Newgate Street close to the City abattoir by John Ewin, mercer. It was here that they built a monastery in 1225.
The heart of Queen Eleanor of Provence, wife of Henry III, was buried here in 1291 and from then on royal patronage was assured. The simple life of the Greyfriars, so called because of the colour of their habits, and of whom there were 80 by 1243, attracted many admirers and benefactors, notably Margaret, second Queen of Edward I. Margaret began rebuilding the church in 1306 but she died before the work was completed and was buried before the high altar. Other benefactors included Queen Isabella of Provence, wife of Edward II, and Queen Philippa of Hainault, the 14-year-old wife of Edward III. The church was finished in 1348 and was second in size only to St Paul's.
In 1349 about 100 friars succumbed to the Black Death. Among those buried here were Queen Margaret (1318), Queen Isabella, (1358), her daughter Joan de la Tour, Queen of Scotland (1362) and Elizabeth Barton, the Holy Maid of Kent, who was hanged at Tyburn in 1534. Many people were buried in monks' habits, as was the custom of the time, to ease their passage to heaven.
A library was built between 1421 and 1425 at the expense of Richard Whittington, Lord Mayor of London, who presented it with £400 worth of books.
After the Dissolution of the Monasteries (1535-1540) the church was used for storing the spoils of war taken from the French and most of the monastic buildings were turned into private dwellings. All the tombs and gravestones were destroyed in 1547, and the alabaster, marble and brass sold for £50 to the then Lord Mayor, Sir Martin Bowes. The church was renamed Christ Church and a parish formed for it from the parishes of St Nicholas Shambles, St Ewin and St Sepulchre. The parishioners only used the choir of the church, as the King's printer had set up his presses in the nave. The decaying buildings were repaired in 1552 and the following year Christ's Hospital, a school for 'poor fatherless children' and others, was established here.
Christ's Hospital was founded by Edward VI ten days before his death. The distinctive long blue coats and yellow stockings, which the pupils still wear, date from this time. The colour of the stockings is said to have been chosen to keep away the rats from the boy's ankles. Before long there was a school attached to the orphanage, with a grammar master, writing master, music master, two other teachers and a matron for the girls, who became fewer and fewer as time went on. The school was, and still is, known as the Blue Coat School because of the uniform. In the 17th century the children were often hired out as mutes for funerals.
The church was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666 and some of the hospital and school buildings were damaged. The church was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren between 1677 and 1687 on the foundations of the old chancel and the hospital and school buildings repaired. It was one of Wren's most expensive churches costing £11, 778, 9s, 6d. Wren put steep sided galleries inside the church, presumably so that the masters of the hospital could keep a watchful eye on their charges. The library, which had escaped the fire, was faced with brick in 1778.
In 1897 the school moved to Horsham, Sussex and the remaining monastic buildings were destroyed soon after when the General Post Office was extended over the site.
Apart from the steeple, which dates from 1704, Christ Church was destroyed during the Blitz of World War II. The ruins are preserved in a landscaped garden on the site in Newgate Street.
Two rival ghosts are said to haunt the ruins of the church.
The site is an ancient burial ground where lie the remains of ''The She-Wolfe of France', Queen Isabella, wife of the English King Edward II. With her lover, Roger Mortimer, she instigated the deposing of the King and had him imprisoned at Berkley Castle. On the night of 21 December 1327, he was brutally murdered by way of a 'kind of horned funnel.....thrust into his fundament through which a red hot spit was run up into his bowels'. His screams could be heard outside the castle walls, and are still heard to this day on the anniversary of the horrific event. Following Mortimer's execution by the king's son, Edward III, in 1330, Isabella retreated into polite retirement. She died in 1358, her last years having been racked by violent dementia. She was buried at Greyfriar's with the heart of Edward II placed on her breast. At twilight, her beautiful, angry ghost flits amongst the trees and bushes, clutching the still beating heart of her murdered husband before her.
Lady Alice Hungerford was considered a great beauty of the Tudor age and she too murdered her spouse, in her case, with a lethal dose of poison. In 1523 she paid for her crime by being boiled alive. She was laid to rest at Greyfriar's, where her beautiful, serene phantom was soon drifting through the cloisters and aisles of the monastery and following its dissolution through the burial ground that sprang up on its site.
And so the two ladies went about their nocturnal rambles, each blissfully unaware of each other's existence, until one night, in Victorian times, they met among the tombs. Eyeing each other with curiosity; then surprise and then finally hostility, they fought over their territory. Bemused witnesses could only look on in terror at the ghostly squabbling. One, a worker in the burial ground, was so frightened by the experience that he fled the scene and 'never......came back to collect his pay'.
If you walk past Leadenhall Market, make sure you go inside. One of the best bits about it is the Ceiling which is full of windows and brightly coloured panels.
Leadenhall originally got its name from a mansion that stood nearby that had a Lead Roof. This has long since gone, but the name remains.
The Roof/ceiling covers what is these days mostly a smallish shopping precinct which has permanent shops and some market stalls selling food.
The Royal Horse Guards will continue to perform their duties without a word. Please do not annoy them by trying to speak with them. They are just doing their job, which happens to include allowing a tourist, such as myself, the honor (honour) of taking their photograph free of charge. The Changing of the Guard takes place everyday, when the Household Cavalry rides from Hyde Park, via The Mall, to Whitehall for the 11.00 am changeover.
Mon-Sat: 11:00 Sun: 10:00
Dismounting Ceremony: daily, 16:00
Admission is FREE
Not as eleborate as the "Changing of the Guards" at Buckingham Palace, but also no where near as crowded.
On an impulse I decided that I should - just once - climb the Monument. Built in 1671 and 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London - it stands in Monument Street and celebrates the rebuilding of the city - (this time in brick!). A Doric column designed by Sir Christopher Wren, the 311 steps lead to a viewing platform. The Monument, still the tallest free standing column in the world, is 202 feet high - the exact distance from it to Pudding Lane (see other photo) - the site where the fire started.
Don't attempt the climb if you are feeling unwell - they can't stretcher you down!!! (I asked). It is a long steep, vertiginous climb and you will pay 2 pounds for the privilege. The view is worth it though! Oh and they give you a certificate when you get back down to prove that you made the climb successfully!
I am very much grateful to Andrew Duncan for having devoted one chapter of his “Secret London” book to the livery companies in London, which made me want to spend an entire day in The City and look for as many of their buildings as possible (together with a visit at the Museum of London).
Livery Companies are very unique to London, to the City of London to be precise. This is the London (Great Britain?) specific term for guilds and from what I have read it is more of a fraternity, as it involves a high degree of social commitment for their members. But that’s something I shall describe in the local customs section. Here I want to concentrate on and motivate you to walk around the City in search of the magnificent livery buildings.
According to Andrew Duncan, London has 108 livery companies, of which 36 still have the traditional halls, huge rooms, originally meant to feed their members, but still in use now for banquets and gatherings. Almost every livery building is not accessible for the usual visitor, however there are exceptions. But already the buildings are well worth to admire them from the outside. And it is fun to look at the coat of arms at the outside and try to find out how it came into being.
Andrew Duncan’s book has a map with exact location of the 36 halls, and I highly recommend to buy his book, but if you cannot get hold of it before you go to London, Wikipedia has also a list of all 108 and you might take note of their adresses already.
I found eight but my most favourite was the Cutlers’ Hall (photo 1 and 5) with a magnificent terracotta frieze on the façade.
The Mansion Houseis the Official Residence of the Lord Mayor of London. It was built in 1753 and is a famous London landmark.
There are some very impressive state rooms inside, including one built to an Egyptian theme.
Originally there were 11 prison cells inside and a magistrates court as the mayor was the chief magistrate in London! Emmeline Pankhurst who campaigned for women to get the vote was imprisoned in this building.
It is only possible to visit in a group, and this must be prebooked.
Queen Victoria ruled Britain for over 60 years and there were many changes and innovations during her reign. A famous one was the invention of the postage system by Sir Rowland Hill. Of course to post letters, you need post boxes. When a post box is made in Britain, the initials of the monarch of the time are inscribed on the front of the post box. Well it isn't quite initials. The current queen is Elizabeth II, and the Latin for queen is Regina, so ER are inscribed. Likewise the Latin for King is Rex, so a post box made in the reign of King George VI would have GR. The oldest post box you can therefore have would be one made in the reign of Queen Victoria herself. This would have VR inscribed on the front.
I took this photo of this Post Box outside the Dickens Inn, St Katherines Wharf near Tower Bridge and the Tower of London
The Temple of Mithras was built by the Romans when they had occupied Britain, and when London was called Londinium. The temple was probably built in the 2nd Century AD.
It would never have been discovered had it not been for a World War II bomb, falling on what was above it and exposing the ruins of the old Roman Site.
Mithras was a god who was supposed to protect good people from evil. It was a popular place with Roman soldiers, and many artifacts were discovered within the ruins. Many of these can be seen in the Guildhall Museum.
It looks a little bizarre to see an old Roman Temple surrounded by tall modern high rise buildings!
As I explained in my previous tip, the Lloyds Shipping Insurance firm that resides in the Lloyds building, did not get its name in the usual fashion. The name came from the name of a coffee shop where deals were struck between insurance people and ship owners.
This coffee shop was built in 1693, and is no more, but there is a plaque on the wall of the building that now occupies its site. It is an interesting thing to see from a historical perspective.
It seems a shame, that there is no description by the plaque telling you why the coffee shop is relevant. Unless you know, you will just ignore the plaque, as otherwise, who really cares about an old coffee house?
It is still possible to see the occasional old Police Phone Box dotted around the City of London.
To the best of my knowledge, none of these actually work any more, but they are an interesting old curio from a by gone age.
The idea was that if you needed a Policeman, you could go to one of these Police Phone boxes and call for a Policeman. I guess when Public Phone boxes and '999' (999 is what the British dial to call the emergency services, it's 911 in the States) came out, the writing was rather on the wall for these Police Boxes, but now that most people have mobile phones, their use has well and truly passed!
You can see a good example of one near the Guildhall, if I remember correctly, I took this picture very close to Mansion House though.
In the City of London (this is a small 1 square mile area right in the middle of London) takes great pride in building various metal objects and then dating them and painting them in bright colours.
A good example of this are the traffic bollards, metal posts that stop cars driving where they shouldn't!
In this particular photo, the traffic bollard shown is dated 1989, which was also the year that the post of the Mayor of London had existed for 800 years, so these bollards have a special edition with the 800 years commemortion on them.
This photo was taken along the Old Bailey Road, and all the bollards along this road appear to have this design.
The Baltic Exchange is mostly famous today because in 1992 the IRA exploded a large bomb just outside it and blew away a large part of it killing several people.
A large part of the site has been redeveloped and the Gherkin has been there (see another tip for this). However some of the original Baltic Exchange has been restored to its original state.
The Baltic Exchange was originally built by the Georgians as a shipping exchange and was one of the most important financial buildings in the City of London. Due to its financial importance and also that it dealt with shipping, it is pretty natural to find it just across the road from the famous shipping insurers Lloyds (who have a famous landmark building too - see another tip).
The Jewel Tower was built in 1365 to house the treasury of Edward III and is one of the last vestiges of the medieval Palace of Westminster. Today Jewel Tower’s exhibitions describing the history and procedures of Parliament.
Ticket price is 2 pounds per person, open 10am-6pm from April to September, 10am-4pm from October to March.
This is the other name for the city of London because it's almost a square mile in area. You probably wouldn't notice when you leave the city of London and enter the City of Westminster or Islington etc... but The Square Mile has a coat of arms plastered next to the main street names on their signs. Also when entering the City from say London bridge you'll notice this little fellow on a pedestel before you cross London Bridge. He (or she) is the symbol of the city of london and he holds a shield with the St George (Patron saint of England) Cross on it, hence george and the dragon :)
The city has some of the strangest architecture, like the Lloyds Underwriters building (pictured) which looks like something out of star trek, which stands next to period buildings. Then there's the giant gherkin, which many refer to as something rude either way people will know what you're talking about... if you're ever lost look for the giant Gherkin and that will bring you to near Liverpool St Station.