Walk 119: The City of London (2): The fascinating Western part

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 7.65 miles (12.31 km)

Time to walk: With stops etc it took us about 3 hours, but you could walk it a lot quicker if you didn’t want to explore all of the interesting places we’ll visit

Difficulty: All on hard paths & pretty flat

Parking: Just use public transport

Public toilets: Cafes, bars etc

Map of the route: 

This is the second part of our walk round the City of London. Earlier we looked at the eastern area & today we move across to the west. This is another route taken from the magnificent series of books ‘London’s Hidden Walks’ although, as always all comments, thoughts, & information is our own

There’s much to see so…

Let’s Walk!

1. This walk starts from outside Blackfriars station…as you can see the weather was quite ‘damp’!

Look across the road to the right to see one of our favourite London buildings, which also reminds us of the ‘Flat Iron’ building in New York

This is the Blackfriar which was built about 1875 on the site of a former medieval Dominican friary & then remodelled in about 1905 by the architect Herbert Fuller-Clark. The pub was nearly demolished during a phase of redevelopment in the 1960s, until it was saved by a campaign spearheaded by poet Sir John Betjeman

2. Cross over the road, go under the bridge, & walk up the wonderful Black Friars Lane – you see, who knew this existed & it’s why we just love these walks…

Pass Playhouse Yard where, 0n the right’s the Apothecaries’ Hall


Apothecaries Hall is the headquarters of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London, one of the livery companies of the City of London. It’s one of the largest livery companies & ranks 58th in their order of precedence. The building, originally part of the Dominican priory of Black Friars, was called Cobham House prior to its purchase by the society in 1632

The original building was destroyed in the Great Fire of London, although a significant extent of the 13th century buildings remain, including a 9 metre high portion of the walls, now incorporated into the north range of the Hall courtyard. A new hall was built on the same site & was completed in 1672. Apothecaries Hall is the oldest extant livery hall in the City of London

3. Walk back down to Playhouse Yard which is really named after the monastery dating from 1275 that was converted in the 1590’s to a playhouse. It’s thought that Shakespeare may have led a troupe of actors here

Continue eastwards up Church Entry…

4. Look out for the small alley on the left…

Hidden away up the alley’s a small garden which was once a graveyard that used to belong the church of St Ann Blackfriars

The church was built on part of the site of the monastery of the Dominicans which was dissolved by Henry VIII. Over the years it passed into many hands, but was finally destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. It was never rebuilt. The two graveyards were closed to burials in 1849, & both are now public gardens. It’s an extremely serene space 

5. Walk up into Ireland Yard, where Shakespeare bought a house in 1613 for £140. There’s a section of the old monastery wall here…

Bear left up narrow Friar Street…

…turning right at the top along Carter Lane. This really is an attractive little maze of streets & you’re unlikely to encounter any tourists. There’s also a number of unique shops & the whole area has a real bohemian, Dickensian &, even medieval feel about it

6. It also has a friendly disposition & people were saying “hi” as we walked around. The Rising Sun on the corner with Burgon Street is worth a visit if you want an early stop…

We really loved their windows painting, celebrating probably, one their customers receiving the becoming a ‘Freeman of the City’

Whilst the Honorary Freedom is indeed a recognition of lifetime achievement or high international standing, the Freedom of the City of London is open to a much wider section of society, & includes many who have achieved success, recognition or celebrity in their chosen field. Whilst undoubtedly a privilege, strict instructions are given that the Freedom of the City of London should not be presented to others as being an honour or award. It can be gained through membership of a livery company or by direct application supported by a suitably qualified proposer & seconder. Around 1800 Freemen are admitted each year by the Clerk to the Chamberlain of the City of London at a simple, but formal ceremony at Guildhall

There is a long-standing tradition of the City admitting women to the Freedom. Although nowadays usually called Freemen as well, the historically correct way of referring to them is ‘Free Sisters’

7. Just past the pub, on the right’s a narrow entrance into another of London’s hidden gems, the magnificently named…Wardrobe Place

Walk through the entrance & just enjoy a beautiful courtyard…

We’re now standing in what was once the garden of a grand property that housed the King’s Wardrobe. ‘King’s Wardrobe’ was established by Edward III & was where ceremonial robes of state were kept on view, just as Crown Jewels at the Tower of London are today

The Wardrobe, originally housed within the Tower of London was where (as the name might suggest) King’s kept their clothes, & also armour & treasure. It was moved in 1311 by Edward II to Lombard Street, then later to this site

In 1604 Shakespeare received 4.5 yards of scarlet cloth from the ‘Wardrobe’ enabling him to attend state entry into London of James I. In 1709 the office of the Wardrobe was abolished & the garden of the great house was converted into this courtyard – how wonderful & peaceful it is

8. Continue for a few yards further along Carter Lane, turning left at the corner with the Old Deanery…

Ahead now is the magnificent St Paul’s Cathedral, an area of the City we know extremely well, & have written about on several other of our London walks

It is, of course, one of London’s greatest landmarks & the seat of the Bishop of London which sits at the highest point of the City of London. The present cathedral, dating from the late 17th century, was designed by Sir Christopher Wren

9. Walk round to the left side & pass through Temple Bar, which was the principal ceremonial entrance to the City of London on its western side from the City of Westminster. It was formerly the custom for the Monarch to halt at Temple Bar before entering the City of London, in order for the Lord Mayor to offer the Corporation’s pearl-encrusted Sword of State as a token of loyalty

It was re-erected here in 2004

10. Walk through the gateway into Paternoster Square (check out our other London Walks for details including the ‘First Dates’ restaurant) & turn straight left to Ave Maria Lane, where, immediately on the left, besides Vidal Sasoon‘s Salon is an entrance to another ‘hidden’ gem

The lane leads to the magnificent Stationers Hall, the Livery Hall of the Worshipful Company of Stationers & Newspaper Makers. A lot of Shakespeare’s plays were registered here

There was a rather expensive car parked outside & if you ‘Google’ the number plate, you can find out the owner

11. Come back out of the court & continue up Ave Maria Lane to the corner with Amen Court, known as ‘Amen Corner’ which has nothing to do with Augusta National Golf Course in the USA

On the feast day of Corpus Christi, monks would say prayers in a procession to St. Paul’s Cathedral. They set off from Paternoster Row chanting the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Pater Noster’ being the opening line in Latin. They would reach the final ‘amen’ as they turned the corner in Ave Maria Lane, after which they would chant ‘Hail Mary’, Ave Maria in Latin

Stroll down the rather lovely Amen Court

Today the private Court contains a mix of 17th & 18th century houses & is where many of the clergy of St Paul’s live. The high walls were built to stop the prisoners of the nearby Newgate Prison escaping!

12. Come back out & continue along Warwick Lane…

…where our next stop’s the brick building on the left..Cutlers’ Hall, which was built in 1832 by Samuel Worth & Benjamin Broomhead Taylor. It was extended in 1865 & again in 1888. It’s Sheffield’s third Cutlers’ Hall, the previous buildings being built in the same location in 1638 & 1725. It once controlled the making of swords & surgical instruments

Today, the building is used for many of the grandest events in the City’s civic & commercial life, for instance, the annual Cutlers’ Feast which became an annual event in 1648

13. At the end of this road’s the junction with Newgate Street where, over the road’s Christ Church Newgate, also known as Christ Church Greyfriars…

The first church on the site was built in the mid 13th century, but this was soon replaced by a much larger building. Begun in the 1290s & finished in about 1360, it became the second largest in medieval London & built partly at the expense of Marguerite of France, the second wife of Edward I who was buried at the church, as was Isabella, widow of Edward II. The medieval church was destroyed by the Great Fire & rebuilt by Wren

14. Turn left along Newgate, passing the Central Criminal Court of the Old Bailey

The Old Bailey‘s known for dealing with major criminal cases from within Greater London &, in exceptional cases, from other parts of England & Wales

15. Across the road’s the Viaduct Tavern, a surviving example of a Victorian Gin Palace, the cellars of which are believed to have been part of Newgate Prison

Next door’s the massive church of St Sepulchre without Newgate. The original Saxon church was dedicated to St Edmund &, in 1137, was given to the Priory of St Bartholomew. During the Crusades in the 12th century the church was renamed St Edmund & the Holy Sepulchre, in reference to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem by soldiers who passed by the church on the way to the Holy Lands

The building is the largest parish church in the City. It was completely rebuilt in the 15th century, but was gutted by the Great Firewhich left only the outer walls, the tower & the porch standing. Modified in the 18th century, the church underwent extensive restoration in 1878 & narrowly avoided destruction in the World War II

St Sepulchre is named in the nursery rhyme ‘Oranges & Lemons’ as the “Bells of Old Bailey”. In 1605, London merchant tailor Mr. John Dowe paid the parish £50 to buy a handbell on the condition that it would be rung to mark the execution of a prisoner at the nearby gallows at Newgate

This handbell, known as the ‘Execution Bell’, now lives in a glass case to the south of the nave. Between the 17th & 19th centuries, the clerk of St Sepulchre’s was responsible for ringing a handbell outside a condemned man’s cell in Newgate Prison the night before his execution – now…isn’t that history

16. Walk across & up Giltspur Street where, in 1381, Richard II met the leaders of the Peasants’ Revolt, promising to agree to the rebels’ demands, which included a repeal of the Statute of Labourers that prevented workers changing jobs for better pay. However, during the negotiations William Walworth, the Lord Mayor of London, lured the rebel Wat Tyler away & stabbed him. When Tyler sought refuge in the neighbouring St. Bartholemew’s Church he was dragged out & beheaded. The revolt later subsided

Look out for the old Watch House on the left. A Watch House was an early form of a local police station, but this one probably sheltered the guards charged with preventing grave robbing in the St Sepulchre graveyard. They used to sell the bodies to the nearby St Bartholomew’s Hospital just up the road

This is the last ‘City of London Watch House’ still standing today

17. Keep going as next up on the left’s the intriguingly titled ‘Cock Lane’ named because it was once the only street licensed for prostitutes to use in the City! It’s also renowned for the resident ‘Cock Lane Ghost’, a purported haunting that attracted mass public attention in 1762. The event centred on three people: William Kent, a usurer from Norfolk, Richard Parsons, a parish clerk, & Parsons’ daughter Elizabeth

Following the death during childbirth of Kent’s wife, Elizabeth Lynes, he became romantically involved with her sister, Fanny. Canon Law prevented the couple from marrying, but they nevertheless moved to London & lodged at the property in Cock Lane, then owned by Parsons. Several accounts of strange knocking sounds & ghostly apparitions were reported, although for the most part they stopped after the couple moved out, but following Fanny’s death from smallpox & Kent’s successful legal action against Parsons over an outstanding debt, they resumed. Parsons claimed that Fanny’s ghost haunted his property & later his daughter. Regular séances were held to determine “Scratching Fanny’s” motives

The ghost appeared to claim that Fanny had been poisoned with arsenic & Kent was publicly suspected of being her murderer. But a commission, whose members included Samuel Johnson, concluded that the supposed haunting was a fraud. Further investigations proved the scam was perpetrated by Elizabeth Parsons, under duress from her father. Those responsible were prosecuted & found guilt. Richard Parsons was sentenced to two years in prison

18. Look up to see the rather chubby, golden cherub figure…

…which is a symbol of gluttony, the sin which supposedly led to divine retribution in the form of the Great Fire of London. An inscription on the monument reads:

“The Boy at Pye Corner was erected to commemorate the staying of the Great Fire which beginning at Pudding Lane was ascribed to the sin of gluttony when not attributed to the Papists as on the Monument, and the Boy was made prodigiously fat to enforce the moral.”

He was originally built into the front of a public house called The Fortune of War which used to occupy this site & was pulled down in 1910

19. Although there were some works going on, across the road’s one of the entrances to St Bart’s Hospital, one of the largest teaching hospitals in the UK, founded in 1123…

At the end of the street have a walk round to the left & look at the gigantic building on the left…Smithfield Market, the largest wholesale meat market in the UK & one of the largest in Europe. There’s been a livestock market on this site for 800 years

20. Turn around to see the 13th century gatehouse dating back to 1595, which hides the entrance to the church of St Bartholomew the Great

Walk through it to visit the entrance to one of London’s finest Norman churches – does it look familiar? It was the church used for the fourth wedding in the film “Four Weddings & a Funeral” as well as many other films & television programmes

Founded in 1123 by Rahere, a prebendary of St Paul’s Cathedral & an Augustinian canon regular, its establishment recorded as being in gratitude for his recovery from fever. His fabled miraculous return to good health contributed to the priory gaining a reputation for curative powers & with sick people filling its aisles, notably on 24 August (St Bartholomew’s Day

21. Exit the churchyard to the left of the church onto Cloth Fair & turn right…

At the wonderfully named ‘The Hand & Shears‘ turn right along Kinghorn Street

Built in the early-mid 19th century, it was named after the Bartholomew, held at Smithfield for centuries, at which the Lord Mayor of London would come & cut a piece of cloth with a pair of shears to announce that the fair had begun

22. Follow the street past the offices of ‘The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists‘ – they even have a flag outside…

…to eventually arrive at a junction & cross over into, another hidden secret, Postman’s Park, named after the postmen who worked in the nearby former Post Office headquarters

23. Postman’s Park opened in 1880 on the site of the former churchyard of St Botolph’s Aldersgate. In 1900, the park became the location for George Frederic Watts‘ Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice, a memorial to ordinary people who died whilst saving the lives of others & who might otherwise be forgotten. Look for the names on the tiles on the wall on the left

Postman’s Park came to increased public notice in 2004 following the release of the BAFTA & Golden Globe winning film ‘Closer‘ starring Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts, Jude Law & Clive Owen. A key plot element in the film revolves around Postman’s Park, in which it’s revealed that the character Alice Ayres (played by Portman) has in fact fabricated her identity based on Alice Ayres‘ tablet on the memorial

24. Walk through the park passing St Botolph without Aldersgate & the rather lovely fountain…

…& exit, turning right & then left into Gresham Street named after the English merchant & financier, Thomas Gresham

The church of St Anne & St Agnes is on the left & probably dates back to around 1137. There was confusion over the name since the church was described differently in Norman records as ‘St Anne-in-the-Willows’ & as St Agnes. Its unusual double dedication, unique in the City, seems to have been acquired sometime in the 15th century

The church was gutted by a fire in 1548, but was rebuilt soon after, however the 14th century tower was the only section to survive the Great Fire. It was rebuilt by Wren in 1680 & this small brick church is of an unusual design in London, being based on that of a Greek cross

It was largely destroyed again during the Blitz during the night of 29th & 30th December 1940, but was rededicated in 1966, largely through donations by the worldwide Lutheran church, for use by the exile Estonian & Latvian communities in London. Famous past parishioners have included the poet John Milton, John Bunyan, author of ‘ Pilgrim’s Progress’, & John Wesley, founder of Methodism, who preached twice at the church in 1738

25. Turn left down Noble Street to arrive at another section of the old Roman garrison fort…

On the other side of Noble Street’s a small garden where once stood yet another church, St Olave Silver Street, another destroyed in the Great Fire & never rebuilt

It’s fairly certain that William Shakespeare would have attended this church when he lived in nearby Silver Street, which no longer exists. There’s a plaque to him here

26. Walk back down to Gresham Street & turn left to continue in the same direction we were previously walking in, passing the large building that’s the Livery Hall of the Goldsmiths’ Company. It originates from the 12th century & received a Royal Charter in 1327. It was first established as a medieval guild for the goldsmith trade. Today, the Company is one of the few Livery Companies still to play a formal role in its ancient trade.

On the opposite side of the road’s the site of another “lost” church…St John Zachary which was first mentioned in official records in 1181. Its vicar from May 25, 1424 was William Byngham, the founder of England’s first teacher training college. It was another church that was destroyed in the Great Fire & never rebuilt

The 2011 film adaptation of Stieg Larsson‘s ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo‘ directed by David Fincher used the churchyard as a filming location

27. Turn left into Staining Lane…

…to pass Pewterers’ Hall which has been here since at least 1348. While pewter’s no longer the major industry it once was, the Pewterers continue to support pewter craftsmen

At the end’s another green space where once stood yet another church also lost in the Great FireSt Mary Staining. What writing up this walk’s making us realise is exactly how devastating this fire must have been

28. Walk down the narrow alley between the office buildings into Wood Street…

We suddenly realised we’ve been here before as ahead’s the free-standing tower, designed by Wren, that was once part of the church of St Alban Wood Street. Some people argue that it dates back to King Offa of Mercia, who’s believed to have had a palace on the site which included a chapel. In 1633 Inigo Jones & Sir Henry Spiller, among others, were requested to examine the church, which had fallen into disrepair, & report on its condition. It was found to be beyond repair & was demolished & rebuilt in 1634

The church was completely destroyed in the Great Fire, rebuilt by Wren & completed in 1685. The building was burnt out & partially destroyed during the Blitz in 1940

29. Turn away from the tower towards London Wall…

…but look out for, & go up the escalator on the left to & turn right along Alban Highwalk to follow a really interesting area of walkways that will lead us into the Barbican..

30. Look down to the right to see some more ruins of another City church…St Alphage London Wall. The first church was built adjoining the London Wall & probably dates back to 1068. It was closed by an Act of Parliament at the end of the 16th century & demolished & became a carpenter’s yard

In 1837 it was laid out as a public garden, which is what we find today, with a preserved section of the London Wall on its north edge

31. After viewing the church, take the left path into the Barbican…

The Barbican is a residential estate that was built during the 1960s & 1980s within an area once devastated by World War II bombings. It contains the Barbican Arts Centre, the Museum of London, the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, the Barbican public library, & the City of London School for Girls

32. Bear left along Willoughby Walk to see one of our  favourite London churches, St Giles without Cripplegate. Descend the steps to visit it…

We’ve visited the inside of this church many times, & really recommend you do as there are many famous people that are associated with it, including Rick Wakeman, who tells a wonderful story about how he, inadvertently, contributed to the restoration of the roof. The church is dedicated to St Giles, patron saint of lepers, beggars & the handicapped

33. Have a look round the back of the church to see another section of the Roman Wall…

To continue this walk go back up the same steps into the Barbican Centre again & continue straight ahead…

34. Follow the signs to Silk Street & either walk down the steps or take the lift to exit the Centre

After coming out of the Centre, turn left & cross into Whitecross Street, still one the poorest areas of the City where once you could find Whitecross Street Prison once a debtors’ prison built 1813-15 to ease overcrowding at Newgate Prison with a capacity of 400 prisoners. It closed in 1870, when all of the prisoners were transferred to the newly built Holloway Prison

Look down Fortune Street on the left, to see the blue plaque that marks the site of the Fortune Theatre. Between 1600 & 1642, it was among the chief venues for drama in London. The site is said to have originally been occupied by a nursery for the children of Henry VIIIOn 9 December 1621, the Fortune burned to the ground, taking with it the company’s stock of plays & properties. It was rebuilt, but when Parliament ordered all theatres to be closed in 1642, the Fortune entered a slow, but irreversible decline. In 1649 soldiers pulled down the stage & the gallery seats & that was that

35. Cross into Dufferin Street which is a reminder of how poor this area once was. The buildings form part of the Peabody Trust Housing Association & were originally designed as houses for displaced costermongers. The Peabody Trust was founded in 1862 by London-based American banker George Peabody, who in the 1850s had developed a great affection for London, & was determined to make a charitable gift to benefit it

His initial ideas included a system of drinking fountains, but in March 1859 he settled on establishing a model dwellings company. Three years later, in a letter to The Times on 26th March 1862, he launched the Peabody Donation Fund, with an initial gift of £150,000. The aim of the organisation, he said, would be to “ameliorate the condition of the poor & needy of this great metropolis, & to promote their comfort & happiness”

By 1882 the Trust housed more than 14,600 people in 3500 homes. By 1939 it owned more than 8,000 dwellings

36. At the end turn left & walk a hundred yards along Bunhill Row to arrive at a large block of 1960’s style flats

The flats have a link with East End crime history as Violet Kray, mother of the gangster Kray brothers, owned number 43 on the ninth floor. It was where Ronnie & Reggie were arrested in connection with gangland crimes including murder & fraud on 8th May 1968, whilst Violet & Charles were on holiday in Suffolk

37. Cross the road to enter Bunhill Fields cemetery, which is a former burial ground in use from 1665 until 1854, by which date approximately 123,000 interments were estimated to have taken place. Over 2,000 monuments remain. It was nondenominational, & in was particularly favoured by nonconformists

Following closure of the Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, the future was uncertain, however it was decided to lay it out as a public open space with seating, gardens, & some of its most worthy monuments which were restored. The burial ground was severely damaged during World War II & it’s also believed to have been the location of an anti-aircraft gun during the Blitz. In the 1950s, after some debate, the decision was taken to clear the northern third of the site of most of its monuments & open it as a public garden, whilst preserving & protecting the remainder of the site behind railings

38. What has been well preserved are the important graves, all of which have been made extremely accessible, close to each other, & worth a visit

First up’s John Bunyan, the English writer & preacher who’s best remembered as the author of the ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress

39. Close by is poet & writer, William Blake. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry & visual arts of the Romantic Age. His visual artistry led 21st century critic Jonathan Jones to proclaim him “far & away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced”. In 2002, Blake was placed at number 38 in the BBC’s poll of the 100 Greatest Britons

Although Blake was considered mad by contemporaries for his idiosyncratic views, he was held in high regard by later critics for his expressiveness & creativity, & for the philosophical & mystical undercurrents within his work. The 19th century scholar, William Rossetti, characterised him as a “glorious luminary”, & “a man not forestalled by predecessors, nor to be classed with contemporaries, nor to be replaced by known or readily surmisable successors”

40. The large column ahead marks the grave of Daniel Defoethe English trader, writer, journalist, & spy. He’s most famous for his novel ‘ Robinson Crusoe, which is second only to the Bible in its number of translations. Defoe wrote many political tracts & often was in trouble with the authorities, & spent time in prison. Intellectuals & political leaders paid attention to his fresh ideas & sometimes sought his opinions

Defoe was a prolific & versatile writer, producing more than three hundred works, books, pamphlets, & journals on diverse topics, including politics, crime, religion, marriage, psychology, & the supernatural

41. The path through the cemetery / park is straight ahead so exit onto City Road. Directly over the road’s the chapel & former home of John Wesley, founder of the Methodist  movement

Turn right & walk along City Road. Ahead’s a large building, which is on the site occupied by the Honourable Artillery Company. The HAC was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1537 by Henry VIII & is considered one of the oldest military organisations in the world. The word “artillery” in “Honourable Artillery Company” dates from a time when in the English language it meant any projectile, including, for example arrows, shot from a bow

In the 17th century, its members played a significant part in the formation of both the Royal Marines & the Grenadier Guards

42. Continue along City Road, passing Finsbury Square, which was developed in 1777 on a green space known as Finsbury Fields. In 1784, Vincenzo Lunardi achieved the first successful attempt at hot air balloon flight from here

As we continue along City Road it turns into Moorgate, which was a postern in London Wall built by the Romans. It was turned into a gate in the 15th century which was demolished in 1762. The name “Moorgate” derives from the surrounding area of Moorfields, which was one of the last pieces of open land in the City

43. Pass Moorgate Underground station, probably best remembered for the serious tube crash on 28th February 1975, when 43 people were killed & 74 seriously injured. A southbound Northern City Line train crashed into the dead-end tunnel beyond the platform. The accident resulted in the most fatalities on the Underground during peacetime & has been considered the worst ever on the system

Further along at the junction’s ‘The Globe‘ pub, famous because the poet, John Keats was allegedly born in a stable next door. The pub was owned by his father & was originally called ‘The Keats at the Globe’…

44. At the traffic light junction, cross London Wall & then bear right & first left down Coleman Street…

On the right side’s a magnificent building, the Girdler’s Livery Hall

Girdler’s were granted the right to regulate their trade in the City from 1327 & obtained a Royal Charter in 1449. Girdlers, or makers of belts & girdles, are no longer closely related to their original trade, mainly due to the fact that girdles are no longer as popular as they once were!

45. We now pass a small garden which we sat in & ate a sandwich on a previous walk. It contains a bust of Shakespeare & used to be the site of the church of St Mary the Virgin Aldermanbury

The church had an unfortunate history, being destroyed by the Great Fire. Rebuilt in by Wren, it was again gutted during the Blitz in 1940, leaving only the walls standing. These stones were transported to Fulton, Missouri in 1966, by the residents of that town, & rebuilt in the grounds of Westminster College as a memorial to Winston Churchill who had made his “Sinews of Peace, Iron Curtain” speech there in 1946

The Shakespeare bust in the garden is a monument to Henry Condell & John Heminges, who were key figures in the production of the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays & co-partners with him in the Globe Theatre

Condell & Heminges lived in the St Mary Aldermanbury parish & were buried in its churchyard

46. Follow the street & turn left to arrive the magnificent Guildhall & walk into the square…

The building has been used as a town hall for several hundred years, & is still the ceremonial & administrative centre of the City of London & its Corporation. During the Roman period, it was the site of an amphitheatre, the largest in Britannia, partial remains of which are on public display in the basement of Guildhall Art Gallery – we visited it on another of our walks & can’t recommend seeing it enough

Two giants, God & Magog, are associated with the Guildhall. Legend has it that the two giants were defeated by Brutus & chained to the gates of his palace on the site of the Guildhall. Carvings of Gog & Magog are kept in the building & 7 foot high wicker effigies of them lead the procession in the annual Lord Mayor’s Show

The Guildhall hosts many events throughout the year, the most notable being the Lord Mayor’s Banquet, held in honour of the immediate past Lord Mayor & is the first to be hosted by the new Lord Mayor of the City of London. In keeping with tradition, it’s at this Banquet that the Prime Minister makes a major World Affairs speech

47. The church at the side of the square’s St Lawrence Jewry, which was originally built in the 12th century. It was destroyed in the Great Fire & rebuilt by Wren between 1670 & 1687

The church suffered extensive damage during the Blitz on 29 December 1940 & was then restored further in 1957 to Wren’s original design. It’s no longer a parish church, but a guild church. The church was described by Sir John Betjeman as “very municipal, very splendid.”

The church is used by the New Zealand Society UK, who celebrate Waitangi Day here in February each year

48. Come out of the square & turn left along Gresham Street…

…before turning right into Old Jewry…

There’s a sign on the left wall showing that this was once the site of the Great Synagogue, the earliest Ashkenazi synagogue constructed in London, after the return of Jews to England in the 17th century, & built about 1690. The congregation grew, & in 1722 a new building was erected with the cost of £2,000 being borne by businessman & philanthropist, Moses Hart

Between 1788 & 1790, the third synagogue was built on the site. The synagogue was destroyed on May 10, 1941

49. There was a lot of renovation going on, but cross the road & walk into Frederick’s Place which is an extremely pleasant street…

Look for the plaque on the wall on number 6, dedicated to Benjamin Disraeli, who worked here as a clerk. It didn’t work out…but he went on to become Prime Minister!

50. Ready to enter a few more unknown alleys? Come back out of Frederick’s Place & walk down the narrow St Olave’s Court…

You can’t see it very well through the foliage, but on the right’s the tower of the former Wren church, St Olave Jewry, which is dedicated to the 11th century patron saint of Norway. The earliest surviving reference to the church is in a manuscript dating from around 1130, but excavations made during 1985 uncovered the foundations of a Saxon church, built between the 9th & 11th centuries

Despite being restored in 1879, the body of the church was demolished in 1887 & the proceeds used to build St Olave’s Manor House. The dead were disinterred & their remains moved to the City of London Cemetery. The 88 foot tower is the only one built by Wren that is “battered”, i.e. slightly wider at the bottom than the top

51. Turn left along Ironmonger Lane which again is rather lovely…

…to reach Cheapside which was once London’s busiest street in Medieval times linking St Martin’s Le Grand with Poultry

52. Turn right & walk along Cheapside…

Look at all the names of the side streets along Cheapside, which give you an indication of what they were once known for ie. Honey Lane, Milk Street & Bread Street amongst many others

53. Stop at Wood Street, which is a place we’ve visited before. The small garden once contained the church of St Peter of Cheapside

St Peter of Cheapside was originally built in the 12th century. On 14 January 1559, during a royal progress through the City, Queen Elizabeth was presented with a Bible in English as she passed the church door. Along with the majority of the parish churches in the City, St Peter’s was destroyed by the Great Fire. A Rebuilding Act was passed in 1670 & a committee set up under Wren

54. Cross over the road to see St Mary le Bow

According to tradition a true Cockney must be born within earshot of the sound of Bow Bells. The sound of the bells of St Mary’s is prominent in the story of Dick Whittington & his cat where the bells are credited with having persuaded him to turn back from Highgate & remain in London to become Lord Mayor. The bells are also referred to in the nursery rhyme “Oranges & Lemons”

The previous “great bell at Bow”, the tenor bell was installed in 1762 & destroyed in an air raid in 1941. It weighed 58 hundredweight, with six tons of ironwork braces cut into the inside walls of the tower as reinforcement

55. We’re now going to take you to a rather special place, so walk past entrance of the church in the square & turn left down the narrow street behind it…

…turning right at the end into one of our favourite London street’s Bow Lane. We really recommend you spend some time here exploring the individual shops…

Don’t forget to call into the shop below & say you’re from Northampton – we did & they really appreciated knowing where the shoes they were selling were made!

56. Wanna see the best view of St Paul’s Cathedral ever? Then stop at the crossroads of Bow Lane with Watling Street which, incidentally is also the main street that runs through Towcester (the A5). There’s a fab pub here called Ye Olde Watling, which was built to house Wren’s workers employed to rebuild the city after the Great Fire

Standing outside the pub, look to the right. Enough said….

57. Continue down Bow Lane, passing the church of St Mary Aldermary on the left. There’s been a church on the site for over 900 years & its name is usually taken to mean that it’s the oldest of the City. Like most of the churches we’ve seen on this walk it was badly damaged in the Great Fire, although parts of its walls & tower survived. It was another church that was mostly rebuilt by Wren

58. At the bottom, cross over Cannon Street & proceed down Queen Street…

…to the junction with Upper Thames Street where we cross over & turn right. You may recognise this road as one of the latter stages of the London Marathon

Look across to the right to see another Wren church, St James Garlickhythe..

The church is dedicated to the disciple St James, known as ‘the Great’. St. James Garlickhythe is a stop on a pilgrims route ending at the cathedral of Santiago da Compostela. Visitors to the London church may have their “credential,” or pilgrim passport, stamped with the impression of a scallop shell. ‘Garlickhythe’ refers to the nearby landing place, or “hither” near which garlic was sold in medieval times

59. Close to the bridge, turn left into High Timber Street, heading towards the river…

…where at the end we arrive at the mighty river Thames

60. All you now have to do is turn right, chill & enjoy the way to Blackfriars Bridge with some magnificent views…

61. Walk up the steps to Blackfriars Bridge…

62. Turn right to arrive back at Blackfriars Station & the start of this walk

So…that it. The end of another amazing London walk & it’s a shame that it rained for pretty much the whole time, but the good news is there’s many places you can take shelter

It’s also another walk full of unusual places we never knew existed & we’re sure you might find several more too

Go Walk!