Walking the City of London

Category: Commerce Page 1 of 4

Why WFH when you can WFC?

WFC? Working From Church, of course!

Forever trying to move with the times, some of the City churches have adapted brilliantly to take advantage of new technology which allows people to work virtually anywhere. This has also enabled me to indulge two of my main passions – churches and their history and cake.

St Nicholas Cole Abbey was the first church to be rebuilt by Wren after the Great Fire (1672-78). You can see one of its most interesting features before you actually go in the door. The beautiful galleon weathevane came from St Michael Queenhithe, another Wren church, demolished in 1876 under the Union of Benefices Act 1860 …

The view from the south side of Queen Victoria Street …

The interior is spacious and light …

My orange and cranberry cake was delicious and tasted home-made. The tea was good too (£6.70 in total – well, it is the City!) …

A striking ‘wall’ of innovative, modern glass depicts Christ’s Kingdom Spreading throughout the World (1962). Abstract elements connect all three windows with details of landscapes from across the globe at their base. Igloos, tepees and skyscrapers for the Americas, towers and domes for Europe, and minarets and domes for Africa and Asia …

The maker was Keith New (1926-2012), a pioneering British modernist stained glass artist. His career was launched by the 1952 Royal College of Art commission to design the windows for Coventry Cathedral.

On the way to the loo you encounter some old grave markers that have been re-sited on the floor ..

Somerset Place was a very posh address in the 18oos – no wonder Mrs Stewart wanted it on her gravestone.

Onward to St Mary Aldermary and its witty advertising board …

It was 12:15 when I got there and there was already a formidable queue for the food stall in the churchyard …

Before you head into the church, look down at what I believe is the most accurate grave marker in the City …

There is a well preserved coat of arms which includes four beavers suggesting involvement in the fur trade which was flourishing at the time. It’s a tribute to the quality of the stone and the carving that (even assuming it wasn’t laid until Henry died) it has survived so well after 200 years of footfall.

Under the coat of arms the inscription reads as follows …

Mrs Anna Catharina Schneider. Died 15th of June 1798 at half past Six O’clock in the Evening. Aged 57 Years, 3 months and 9 Days

I have written more about this memorial and others in my ‘favourite tombs’ blog from February 2021.

Having looked down outside the door, look up on entering and admire the fabulous intricate fan-vaulted ceiling that I wrote about in last week’s blog

The cafe food selection …

There’s plenty of room to sit in the church …

St Mary-le-Bow is just 100 yards or so to the north. This is the view from Cheapside …

You can see the dragon weathervane very well on a sunny day like this …

The cafe in the crypt …

The menu is very comprehensive and you can view it here.

As I walked down the steps to the cafe I was struck by the incredibly worn nature of the stone – this could well have been the crypt entrance long before the 1666 Great Fire and Wren’s rebuilding of the church …

The church was totally gutted during the Blitz but it’s very much worth a visit to see the beautiful post-war stained glass. For example, to the north (left) of the sanctuary is depicted the Patron of the parish, the Blessed Virgin Mary, holding (and thus symbolising her care for us) the church built by Wren. She is clothed in blue (the traditional colour for Our Lady) and her feet appear to be resting on the arches of the crypt. Surrounding Our Lady’s image are seventeen Wren churches which survived the Second World War, each held by the patron saint of the parish …

You’ll find her and other fabulous examples of City church stained glass in my blog dedicated to the subject.

Alongside the church is another set of steps …

This is a place for silent prayer and contemplation …

I was fascinated by some of the gravestones …

And the fine collection of heraldic symbols …

And last, but by no means least, St Mary Woolnoth, designed by Christopher Wren’s esteemed protégé Nicholas Hawksmoor (1661 – 1736) …

The food service area is tucked away just inside the door …

Do visit the interior where you can admire the memorial to John Newton, the reformed slave trader who wrote the hymn Amazing Grace …

The stunning, bulging pulpit dates from Hawksmoor’s time and Newton delivered his sermons from it. It was made by Thomas Darby and Gervaise Smith …

Don’t miss the 1810 ‘price list’ hanging on the west wall …

You can eat outside and watch the world go by. The air is a lot cleaner now that Bank Junction is closed to most traffic …

I have written about St Mary Woolnoth before and you can find my blog here.

Now, an important message: It has been proven time and time again that music, particularly live music, can have immense beneficial psychological effects. This is especially true for folk who may be feeling isolated or are experienceing dementia. And it’s not just the elderly who can benefit, but also young people who may be spending much of their life receiving care in hospital. There is a lovely charity, the Spitz Charitable Trust, who have delivered this life enhancing service for over ten years and, because I love what they do, I am for the first time promoting a charity in my blog. All charities are having tough times at the moment so do, please, see if you can make a contribution, however modest, to help them in their work. Click here for their crowdfunding page and to find out more about them.

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Special Billingsgate edition.

Often, just when I fear I am running out of subjects to write about, the Heritage Gallery at the Guildhall Art Gallery comes to my rescue and they have just done so again with their special exhibition focusing on Billingsgate Market.

A Survey of London by John Stow in 1603 described Billingsgate as follows: ‘… which … is at this present a large Watergate, Port or Harbrough for shippes and boats, commonly arriving there with fish, both fresh and salt, shell fishes, salt, Orenges, Onions, and other fruits and rootes, wheate, Rie, and garine of divers sorts …’.

Before you view the items on display, pause at the backlit ‘Agas’ Map of 1561 and seek out ‘Bylynges gate’ and the carefully drawn ships moored at the quayside …

The first cabinet …

On the left is the Liber Horn, a book made in 1311 by Andrew Horn (Chamberlain of the City 1320-1328). It’s a compilation of charters, statutes and customs written upon vellum in Norman French …

In May 1699 an Act of Parliament conferred special privileges on the market which was declared ‘… a free and open Market for all sorts of fish whatsoever …’ and the sale of fish six days in the week and mackerel for sale on Sundays’. The two documents in the centre of the case date from this period.

The order issued by the Court of Aldermen on 24 December 1699 details the hours of the fish market and the times at which the market bell was to be rung as well as commenting on ‘… Mischiefs and evil Practices …’. …

On the right is a petition by the fishermen to Sir Richard Levitt (sic), Lord Mayor, protesting at being ‘… hindered and oppressed by great vessels loaded with salt and oranges …’ and requests the dock be cleared for the petitioners’ vessels …

The market flourished and the 1830 map on the right illustrates the layout of the dock at that time …

The second cabinet …

The collection of tolls by the market authorities was recorded in volumes. These detail the payments raised on type of vessel and catch with expenses including (handwritten at the bottom of the page) an allowance for coal and candles and collecting bad fish …

Porters were licensed by the City of London to act as porter and ply for trade within the market and this volume records the details …

This is a close up of the entry for Edward Jenkins, the man whose entry is crossed out because of his death, showing his various changes of address over the years …

Licenses were issued to individuals confirming their ability to work …

There is also a nice selection of images for visitors to enjoy. Here are just a few …

The present building dates from 1876 and was designed by Sir Horace Jones, an architect perhaps best known for creating Tower Bridge but who also designed Leadenhall and Smithfield markets. Business boomed until 1982, when the fish market moved to the Isle of Dogs. The south side of the old market today …

I love the weathervanes …

Similar weathervanes adorn the new market buildings in Docklands but they are fibreglass copies.

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Fun architecture in Eastcheap (and trying out the camera on my new phone!)

Having got myself a new iPhone I thought I would give it a trial run in Eastcheap where there is some unusual architecture to explore.

This is what you see as you approach from the west …

And if you view from the east …

I thought it would be interesting to include these images to illustrate just how the Fenchurch Building a.k.a. the Walkie Talkie dominates the skyline here. It was amusing that, when the building was finished, it was discovered that the glass concentrated and reflected the sun’s rays in such a way that it was scorching cars parked in the street below. The structure was given a new nickname – the Walkie Scorchie.

The stars of the show at street level are definitely numbers 33-35. Designed by R L Roumieu and built 1868, today the facade is grade II* listed. The ‘masterpiece’ (as described by Architectural Historian; Pevsner) was made for Hill & Evans, vinegar-makers from Worcester …

Pevsner goes on to describe it as ‘one of the maddest displays in London of gabled Gothic’ and he quotes from Ian Nairn – architectural critic – who calls it ‘the scream that you wake on at the end of a nightmare’.

I love it!

Look at the wonderfully detailed brickwork …

There’s a medieval head wearing a coronet …

… and a boar crashing through the undergrowth. What’s that all about? …

The animal is a reference to The Boar’s Head Tavern in Eastcheap where Shakespeare set the meetings of Sir John Falstaff and Prince Hal in his Henry IV plays and the medieval head represents the Prince.

No. 25, by Bird & Walters (1892-93), was a former pub. The narrow and plainer building on the right was built in 1860 …

Another 1860 building is the eye-catching one on the corner. It was once the offices and warehouses for Messers Hunt & Crombie, spice merchants …

Just below the roof is a fabulous combo of dogs’ and boars’ heads along with lovely brickwork …

Walk around the corner to see London’s tiniest public sculpture. Thousands of people walk past it every day and have, I’m sure, no idea it is there.

Can you spot it …

It’s two mice eating a piece of cheese …

There are a number of theories as to its origin but nobody knows for sure.

Further east, on the opposite side of the road, are more Eastcheap animals, including the remains of a dead one.

Constructed between 1883 and 1885, the building at number 20 was once the headquarters of Peek Brothers & Co, dealers in tea, coffee and spices, whose trademark showed three camels bearing different shaped loads being led by a Bedouin Arab …

The firm was particularly well known for its ‘Camel’ brand of tea. When Sir Henry Peek (son of one of the original founders) commissioned this building he wanted the panel over the entrance to replicate the trademark, right down to the dried bones of the dead camel lying in the sand in the foreground.

The Peek Brothers letter heading/trademark – Copyright – British Overprint Society – Mark Matlach

He clearly wanted his prestigious building to be enhanced by a suitably eminent sculptor – preferably one with knowledge of camel anatomy.

The sculptor he picked, William Theed, was indeed an extraordinary choice for such a mundane task. Theed was a great favourite of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and his work can be seen on the Albert Memorial where he sculpted the group Africa the central figure being, of course, a camel …

The Queen also liked and trusted him so much that she asked him to take her beloved Albert’s death mask when the Prince died tragically young in 1861.

Peeks carried on trading under various names until the 1970s. Another branch of the family ensures that the name lives on by way of the biscuit makers Peek Freans …

As is often the case, I am indebted to Katie Wignall, the Look up London blogger and Blue Badge Guide, for much of the background information on the architecture in today’s blog.

It just remains for me to wish you all a very happy and safe New Year and thank you very much for subscribing.

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Gormley, Brunel, a giant gull and more – walking east along the river.

Although I love my City expeditions, every now and again it’s nice to explore further afield and, for some reason, with me this usually means heading east. On this occasion I took the DLR to Limehouse and walked south.

On the way I passed Limehouse Basin, a navigable link between the Thames and two of London’s canals. First dug in 1820 as the eastern terminus of the new Regent’s Canal, it was gradually enlarged in the Victorian era and incorporated a lock big enough to admit 2,000 ton ships. The basin in 1827 …

Here coal was unloaded from ships to barges and until 1853 it was done entirely by human muscle power. Working in total silence, a nine-man gang was expected to unload 49 tons of a coal a day but, according to Henry Mayhew, they often achieved double that amount. During each period each rope man climbed a total distance of nearly 1 1⁄2 vertical miles — and sometimes more. This system was known as ‘whipping’

Congestion in the 1820s …

Congestion in the 2020s …

Instead of slaving shifting coal, people here are more likely to be slaving at nearby Canary Wharf.

Nice to see a bit of greenery …

Some horticultural humour …

Onward to Narrow Street, so known because once upon a time it was … er … very narrow.

Time to stop for a bit of refreshment …

The pub is partly owned by Sir Ian McKellen and has a really atmospheric ‘old boozer’ interior …

The terrace outside overlooks the Thames and from it you can see this mysterious life-sized figure …

It’s a sculpture by Anthony Gormley and is one of a series entitled Another Time. The artist describes the series as follows: Another Time asks where the human being sits within the scheme of things. Each work is necessarily isolated, and is an attempt to bear witness to what it is like to be alive and alone in space and time.

The seagulls have shown it little respect but he can be thankful that this one, perched just across the road, isn’t capable of flying …

You can see The Grapes in the background …

The sculpture was commissioned by the London Docklands Development Corporation in 1994 and stands in Ropemaker Fields, the park taking its name from the fact that rope was once manufactured in this district. The work by the artist Jane Ackroyd is mixed media in that the bronze figure of the gull is actually standing on a coil of rope.

The man from further east along the river …

Images from Dunbar Wharf …

The poor Gherkin can now only be clearly seen from the east …

Dunbar Wharf was named after the Dunbar family who had a very successful business at Limekiln Dock. The family wealth was initially from a Limehouse brewery established by Duncan Dunbar. It was his son, also called Duncan, who used the money he inherited from his father to build the shipping business that was based at Dunbar Wharf. The company’s ships carried passengers and goods across the world as well as convicts to Australia. The wharf, probably in the 1950s, showing lighters with cargo moored alongside …

Limekiln Dock …

This dock is a very old feature in the area. In the following Rocque map extract from 1746, the dock is to the right …

Limekiln Dock

Rocque shows that on the southern side of the dock entrance was Lime Kiln Yard. This was the location of the lime kilns that as well as giving their name to the dock, were also the origin of the name Limehouse.

And finally, at the South Eastern tip of Millwall, near Canary Wharf, lie the remains of a great ship’s launch ramp …

SS Great Eastern was an iron sail-powered, paddle wheel and screw-propelled steamship designed by Iaambard Kingdom Brunel and built by John Scott Russell & Co. at Millwall Iron Works on the Thames. She was the largest ship ever built at the time and had the capacity to carry 4,000 passengers from England to Australia without refuelling.

Her launch was planned for 3 November 1857 but ship’s massive size posed major logistical issues and, according to one source, the ship’s 19,000 tons made it the single heaviest object ever moved by humans! Since no dock was big enough, Brunel’s solution was to launch the ship sideways using cables and chains. Nothing had been attempted on this scale before, but Brunel was confident that his calculations were correct to allow the launch to go ahead.

This is the famous photograph by Robert Howlett of Brunel in front of the ship’s launching chains …

The ship under construction …

Because Brunel knew the launch would be fraught with difficulty he was keen to keep the whole thing low-key, however the ship company sold thousands of tickets for the launch and every available vantage point was taken on land as well as on the river.

The launch, however, failed, and the ship was stranded on its launch rails – in addition, two men were killed and several others injured, leading some to declare Great Eastern an unlucky ship. Over the next few days various investigations were carried out to determine why the ship did not move, and in the end it was decided that the steam winches were simply not up to the job of pulling the vessel into the Thames. In fact, it took another three attempts and three months to finally get the ship into the water on 31 January the following year.

Throughout the construction of the ship, Brunel kept letter-books, six large volumes into which every piece of correspondence sent or received regarding the Great Eastern was copied. These volumes are an amazing resource, effectively detailing the entire progress of the project and illuminating many of Brunel’s thought processes and his relationships with colleagues and suppliers. See this link to the University of Bristol Library.

Tragically, Brunel suffered a stroke just before Great Eastern‘s maiden voyage in 1859, in which she was damaged by an explosion. He died 10 days later, aged 53, leaving an extraordinary pioneering legacy behind him.

The ship berthed in New York in 1860 …

Read all about this great ship and its rather sad end here.

Beached, prior to being broken up …

Once again I am extremely grateful to the London Inheritance blogger for much of the historical information contained in this week’s blog.

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Holborn Viaduct – ladies, lions and ‘maximum bling’

Last week I promised you a bit more about this brilliant Victorian masterpiece of engineering and sculpture.

There are four ladies on the Viaduct representing Fine Art, Science, Agriculture and Commerce.

Fine Art was sculpted by Farmer & Brindley

In her right hand she holds a crayon ‘as drawing is the most essential principal in Design’. Her left hand holds a drawing board with paper pinned to it, which rests on her left thigh. Her left foot rests on an Ionic capital denoting architecture. Behind her to her left is part of a Corinthian column, on the top of which stands a bust of Pallas Athena, ‘as she was the patroness of both the useful and elegant arts’.

Behind the figure’s right foot, a small palette and brushes rest on the base …

Science is also by Farmer & Brindley. She is ‘of more masculine proportions than Fine Art, with a fine penetrating countenance’ …

Her tiara has a star at its centre and stars form the fringe of her robe. She holds in her hand the ‘Governors’ that were used to control steam engines. At her left side stands a tripod on which is placed a terrestrial globe encircled with the Electric Telegraph wire which is connected with a battery.

Around the top of the tripod are the signs of the zodiac ‘indicating Astronomy’ …

Beneath it lie compasses and a crumpled sheet of paper with geometrical drawings, one of them a demonstration of Pythagoras’s theorem (you also get a better view of the battery in this picture) …

Agriculture was sculpted by Henry Bursill

She wears a crown of olives, ‘the emblem of peace’, and there is a decorative band of oak leaves on the fringe of her robe. ‘She turns to Providence with a thankful expression for a beautiful harvest’ and in her right hand she holds a sickle. Beside her left foot is a belt with a sheath, containing a whetstone.

Bursill also sculpted Commerce …

She is shown ‘advancing with right hand outstretched towards mankind in a sign of welcome, whilst in her left she proudly holds gold ingots and coin, the foundation of enterprise and Commerce in the civilized world’. At her feet to her right are two keys along with a parchment showing the City Arms representing ‘the Freedom of the City’ …

Farmer and Brindley are also responsible for the four winged lions …

I love these Atlantes holding up a balcony. They date from 2014 when the north east pavilion was rebuilt …

Here’s one in close up …

In 2013 the Viaduct was repainted and re-gilded with, at the request of the City Conservation Officer, ‘maximum bling’.

You get an idea of how well this was accomplished in this picture. It shows the re-gilded base of one of the lamps, a knight’s helmet and a City dragon …

There is a fascinating article about the work, particularly the gilding, here.

I hope you have enjoyed these two visits to the Viaduct. Again I have been plundering Dr Philip Ward-Jackson’s wonderful book Public Sculpture of the City of London for much of this blog’s detail.

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Coats of Arms – a mid-year Quiz

As you know, I usually do a quiz at Christmas, but I thought it might be fun to do one now around mid-year.

The City livery companies and the City of London itself grew up together. Those working in the same craft lived and worked near each other, grouping together to regulate competition within their trade and maintain high standards. The early London guilds benefited their members and customers alike, controlling the manufacture and selling of most goods and services in the Square Mile. When some guilds introduced their own distinctive clothing and regalia – or livery – to distinguish their members from those in other guilds, they soon became known as livery companies. All have been granted coats of arms, some dating back to the 15th century, and many are displayed proudly on buildings throughout the City.

There is a nice little summary on the website of the Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers about livery company coats of arms. They say that the acquisition of a coat of arms by a livery company signified social status in the same way that a coat of arms was the badge of a gentleman: a visual affirmation of its permanence and distinguished heritage: a combination of a traditionally noble characteristic with merchants and craftsmen. The care and expense that companies lavished on the acquisition, preservation and display of their important documents and insignia suggest that antiquity and heraldry were important aspects of their sense of corporate identity, alongside processions, halls, feasts and clothing.

Over the last few weeks I have been seeking out some examples and photographing them, twelve of which are set out below.

Just for fun, do have a look at them and try to guess the trades and professions they represent just by looking at the arms and their mottoes. I have provided a few clues and the answers are at the end of the blog … some are more obvious than others!

1. ‘Ecce Agnus Dei Qui Tollit Peccata Mundi’ – ‘Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world’. A few clues. The angels are ‘crowned with stars in token of light’ and the company’s original motto was ‘things which are in dispute are made clear by the light’.

2. The Crest is a lynx – a short tailed wild cat whose fur was formerly held in great esteem. No one below the rank of Earl was allowed to wear it.

3. ‘Give Glory to God’ – these leopards have managed to change their spots

4. ‘Hinc Spes Affulget’‘Hence Hope Shines Forth‘ – somewhere to shelter on your journey (and get a drink and some food)

5. ‘My trust is God alone’ – you may be on tenterhooks trying to work this one out

6. I don’t think a clue is needed for this one

7. The beehive is a good clue – and their product had purposes other than providing light

8. The trowel offers a strong hint

9. Their motto is ‘A blessing to the aged’ – I can vouch for that

10. ‘Throughout the world I am called the bringer of help’ – The horns of the rhinoceros and the unicorn were reputed to be of medical use

11. The motto is God is our Strength and if you look closely you will see four salamanders, the top two chained together. In medieval times they were reputed to be able to survive fire.

The final coat of arms belongs to an Honourable Company rather than a Worshipful one – a rare privilege bestowed on the company by King George V.

12. The ship is the Golden Hind in full sail and the Red Ensign flag and gold quadrant are also clues.

The answers are the Worshipful Companies of …

1. Tallow Chandlers : Dowgate Hill, London EC4R 2SH

2. Skinners : 8 1/2 Dowgate Hill, London EC4R 2SP

3. Dyers : 10 Dowgate Hill, London EC4R 2ST

4. Innholders :  30 College St, London EC4R 2RH

5. Clothworkers :  Dunster Court, Mincing Lane, London EC3R 7AH

6. Saddlers : 40 Gutter Lane, London EC2V 6BR

7. Wax Chandlers : 6 Gresham St, London EC2V 7AD

8. Plaisterers : 1 London Wall, London EC2Y 5JU

9. Spectacle Makers :  Apothecaries Hall, Black Friars Lane, London EC4V 6EL

10. Apothecaries : Black Friars Lane, London EC4V 6EJ

11. Ironmongers : Shaftesbury Place, Off Aldersgate Street, London EC2Y 8AA

12. The Honourable Company of Master Mariners : 4 Temple Place, WC2R 2PG (the picture is of their coat of arms in All Hallows by the Tower, Byward St, EC3R 5BJ)

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Liverpool Street Station under threat of redevelopment.

I thought you might like to know that plans are afoot to substantially redevelop Liverpool Street Station. You can read more about them here and here.

Liverpool Street is the UK’s third busiest station after Victoria and Waterloo. This will no doubt come as no surprise to those of you who battle your way through here every day in the rush hours. However, maybe I can persuade you to spend a little time exploring the station and its surroundings since it does have some really fascinating aspects to it.

Next to the station eastern entrance is a Wetherspoons in a building called Hamilton Hall. It is named after Lord Claud Hamilton, chairman of the Great Eastern Railway Company (1893–1923), and is the former ballroom of the old Great Eastern Hotel. Pop in for a drink and cast your eyes upwards …

The bar area.

Yes, the original ballroom decorations are still there, and you can get an even closer look if you go upstairs …

At least one source states that the design was copied directly from the Palais Soubise in Paris in 1901. Opulent is the word that springs to mind.

Named after the British Prime Minister Lord Liverpool, Liverpool Street was the Great Eastern Railway’s London Terminus with the first suburban trains departing in 1874.The Great Eastern, and its successor the London & North Eastern Railway, concentrated on developing and increasing its suburban steam services, a business model that continued until steam was withdrawn in the 1960s. Under its modernisation plan, British Railways electrified all suburban services running form Liverpool Street station, and all steam had been replaced by diesel locomotives by the end of 1962.

The days of steam.

Someone once described it as a ‘Dark Cathedral’.

A plan to demolish the station, and its neighbour Broad Street, was first put forward in 1975 but fierce opposition meant a compromise had to be reached. Eventually, only Broad Street was demolished (in 1986) and Liverpool Street developed more sympathetically.

Nicely preserved are traces of a time when astonishing care was taken with what people would see on starting and finishing their journey.

What about these lovely reliefs sculpted in brick against the back wall of the Great Eastern Hotel …

A steam train …

One of the Great Eastern Railway’s own ships …

And a fireman, or stoker …

The western entrance towers hold a clock and the old railway emblems …

Just outside the entrance is the Kindertransport commemorative statue …

Photograph: Robin Coupland. Statue by Frank Meisler (2006).

In 1938 and 1939, nearly ten thousand unaccompanied Jewish children were transported to Britain to escape persecution in their hometowns in Germany, Czechoslovakia and Austria. These children arrived at Liverpool Street station to be taken in by British families and foster homes. Often they were the only members of their families to survive the Holocaust.

The station contains a number of other poignant memorials. The inscription above the largest one reads:

To the glory of God and in grateful memory of the Great Eastern Railway staff who in response to the call of their King and Country, sacrificed their lives during the Great War.

There are over 1,100 names.

There are two plaques below the main memorial …

Wilson was assassinated outside his house in Eaton Place at about 2:20 pm. Still in full uniform, he was shot six times, two bullets in the chest proving fatal. Some newspapers provided a reconstruction …

Richard Willcocks on Twitter: "The assassination of Field Marshal Sir Henry  Wilson, took place at 2:20pm, 22 June 1922. The main entrance to Sir Henry's  house, 36 Eaton Place, was located on

A French newspaper version showed him with sword drawn but actually he had no time to defend himself …

22 June 1922: The Assassination of Sir Henry Wilson | Century Ireland

Sir Henry’s House today …

Property valuation for First And Second Floor Flat, 56 Eaton Place, London,  City Of Westminster, SW1X 8AT | The Move Market

The two perpetrators, Reginald Dunne and Joseph O’Sullivan, shot two police officers and a chauffeur as they attempted to escape but were surrounded by a hostile crowd and arrested after a struggle …

combine_images

Interestingly both were former British army officers and O’Sullivan had lost a leg at Ypres, his subsequent disability hindering their escape. After a trial lasting just three hours they were convicted of murder and hanged at Wandsworth gaol on 10 August that year – justice was certainly delivered swiftly in those days. No organisation claimed responsibility for Wilson’s murder. I try in this blog to be as accurate as possible with regard to history and there are numerous opinions as to the background to this event. If you are interested, the online information available is fascinating.

Nearby is this plaque …

The Master of the Great Eastern Railway ship SS Brussels, Fryatt was court martialled for attempting to ram an attacking German submarine and being a franc-tireur (a civilian engaged in hostile military action). Having been found guilty, he was executed almost immediately by firing squad, after a show trial lasting barely two hours, during which he was afforded no proper defence. As happened following the execution of Edith Cavell in 1915, the event caused international outrage, and led to Fryatt’s body being repatriated after the war and given a ceremonial funeral. If you have the chance, read about him online – the story is absolutely fascinating.

This memorial was unveiled in 1920 by the Lord Mayor …

I have been unable to find out anything about The London Society of East Anglians.

The station was built on the site of the old Bethlehem asylum for the mentally ill commonly known as Bedlam. So when trains are totally disrupted and people say ‘it’s Bedlam here’ – once upon a time it really was.

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Art Deco in the City

Two weeks ago I published a blog about Art Deco in Miami, which many people liked, so I thought it might be nice to write something about Art Deco in the City.

I am going to cheat a bit and republish the blog I wrote on this subject way back in November 2017. Sadly the wonderful Express Newspaper building is currently hidden behind hoardings but the pictures here will give you a good idea of how impressive it is.

Here’s the 2017 blog:

I used to often confuse Art Deco and Art Nouveau – probably because they both begin with the word ‘art’. I had to get my head around this properly when I decided to write this blog and therefore searched for a simple explanation.

The one I like best is that Art Nouveau tends to be flowing and flowery whereas Art Deco tends to be sharp and streamlined.  Both designs evolved as a result of the culture of the times – Nouveau influenced by the industrial revolution and Deco by the First World War.

Here are some of my Art Deco favourites.

Every now and then when I headed off to meetings in the East end of the City I would walk past the magnificent, undulating and symmetrical Ibex House at 42-47 Minories. Built in 1937, it is clad in black and beige faience and, apparently, has the longest strip windows in London. When it opened you could rent space for 6 shillings (30 new pence) per square foot – which included the cost of cleaning.

Ibex House, Minories – view from Portsoken Street

I often feel a bit nostalgic walking down Fleet Street. I well remember its heyday when lorries trundled past carrying gigantic rolls of paper and you could hear the presses rumbling into the night producing the next day’s print news. Sadly, it was also the home of the notorious so-called ‘Spanish Customs’, restrictive practices which eventually left the industry open to brutal modernisation and, finally, total relocation.

The former Daily Express building in Fleet Street (1932) has a black facade with rounded corners in vitrolite with clear glass and chromium strips and, in my view, looks quite futuristic even today. The newspaper moved out in 1989 and the current owners are investment bankers Goldman Sachs. The foyer is stunning but currently hidden from view behind curtains – come on, Goldman’s, draw back those curtains and let us mere mortals have a peep!

120 Fleet Street – Architects Ellis and Clarke and later Sir Evan Owen Williams
Facade detail
The foyer, currently hidden from the street

The former Daily Telegraph  building at 141 Fleet street is another Art Deco masterpiece (also owned by Goldman Sachs). It is meant to be overwhelming and certainly succeeds with its giant fluted columns topped with carved Egyptian capitals.

Daily Telegraph building 1928 by Elcock and Sutcliffe with Thomas Tait (who studied under Charles Rennie Mackintosh)

Just above street level, Twin Mercuries head off to distribute news around the Empire with the sun rising over the centre of the hemisphere which is, of course, England. Apparently the carver, Arthur Oakley, shortly afterwards became a monk specialising in religious ornaments.

Relief of twin Mercuries by Arthur Oakley
This clock above the entrance is a delight

Florin Court , designed by Guy Morgan and Partners and opened in 1936, is famous now as the fictional ‘Whitehaven Mansions’ home of Hercule Poirot. It’s in Charterhouse Square and originally boasted squash courts, a dining room and a cocktail bar. Nowadays, there’s a gym, a spa and a wi-fi area.

Which room is Miss Lemon’s office?

I have two favourites – Fox Umbrellas and the ship’s prow in Bury Street.

Fox Umbrellas at 118 London Wall was constructed in 1937 on the ground floor of an early 19th century terraced house. It is by the shopfitting firm E. Pollard & Company and has a vitrolite front along with curved non-reflective glass (an American invention for which Pollard held the English patent).  According to the blog London’s Historic Shops and Markets, this ‘invisible’ glass, which was was very expensive, allowed passers-by to see much further into the shop and made the stock on display more visible at a time when interior lighting was duller and less sharp than today. It works by using a steeply curved concave glass to deflect light towards matt black ‘baffles’. Pollards installed the same type of glass at Simpsons of Piccadilly, where it is still in place today (the store is now a Waterstones).

Fox’s before it became a wine bar
Fox’s today – you can see the unique curved glass
Lovely detail on the door

Pop in for a glass of wine – many of the original features have been preserved.

For the Art Deco ship’s prow, first find Holland House in Bury Street just opposite the Gherkin and the subject of my earlier blog, Ship Ahoy. Walk around to the south east corner of the building, step back and admire this brave vessel plunging through the waves towards you, the funnel smoking impressively. It’s a granite structure by the Dutch artist J. Mendes da Costa and reflects the company’s main business of shipping.
I love this story about the ship’s positioning.
Apparently the company owner, Helene Kröller-Müller, had wished to buy the whole of the Bury Street corner, but had been thwarted by the adjacent owners who refused to sell. As a consequence, Holland House is broken into two sections, and it has been suggested that the aggressive prow of the ship was intended to ‘cock a snook’ at the neighbours.

The ship’s prow with the Gherkin in the background

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My ‘Tower Bridge Experience’.

I visited Tower Bridge last week and joined the folk paying for and enjoying the Tower Bridge Experience.

I approached from the north and took this image of the modern skyline with the Tower of London in the foreground …

This plaque made me smile. It commemorates the celebration of the centenary of the bridge’s construction in 1994 when HRH Prince Charles attended. As well as HRH the plaque manages to squeeze in the names of : the Lord Mayor, two Sheriffs, four Aldermen, no fewer than 33 Commoners, the Town Clerk and the City Engineer …

The emblem at the foot of the plaque is that of the Bridge House Estates, a fascinating institution that has existed for over 900 years and now does much more than manage the City’s famous bridges. Read more about it here.

If approaching the bridge this way, look out for the lamp standard that doesn’t have a lamp on it …

Under the bridge is a little room that was once used by soldiers guarding the Tower as somewhere to keep out of the cold. This is the cunningly disguised chimney for their coal fire.

Between 14 and 15 million rivets were used to hold the bridge together. There are some nice examples on the bridge approach …

This picture is from the exhibition inside …

Incidentally, the red, white and blue colours date from the Queen’s 1977 Silver Jubilee. It used to be painted a sludgy brown (or ‘chocolate’ if you prefer). The paintwork on the stairwells and girders inside the building is still the old colour …

Some views looking upriver before you enter the bridge building itself …

The ship moored next to the Belfast is the Norwegian warship Nordkapp

Another interesting City skyline view …

In the foreground is the artificially constructed Tower Beach. Read all about it in my blog entitled A Wander Near the Tower of London.

The exhibition inside has been extensively upgraded since I last visited over 10 years ago.

There are some great films of the City at the turn of the 20th century showing on a loop. This is obviously Bank junction …

Here are a few more examples …

Victorian construction techniques could be dangerous …

Up to 850 people were employed at any one time when building the bridge from 1886-1894 and 10 are known to have died in accidents.

The upper walkway …

There is a section of glass floor (but you can walk around it if you’re nervous!) …

There are great views both up and downriver. This is looking east towards Canary Wharf …

A highlight is, of course, the brilliant Victorian engineering that was created to operate the bridge lifting mechanism. When it was built it was the largest and most sophisticated bascule bridge ever completed (‘bascule’ comes from the French word for ‘seesaw’).

Two giant giant boilers made the steam to power the engines …

The stokers had to shovel about 3,000 kilos of coal every day for which they were well rewarded, earning between £25 and £30 a week, a good wage in the 1930s. Many, according to the commentary, saved enough to buy their own homes.

The pumping engine machinery is beautiful …

As one might expect, there is a Tower Bridge cat. It’s called Bella and you can buy an appropriate memento …

I did resist the temptation.

All in all, a great ‘experience’, highly recommended.

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A wander around Whitecross Street and Old Street (plus my old record collection!)

To start with I lingered among the street-food stalls that appear every weekday and seem to do a roaring trade now that City workers are back (even though many of them only come in Tuesdays to Thursdays).

My favourite stand …

Lots more to choose from …

Some are award winners!

Spring by Jimmy C – nice to see this mural without cars parked in front of it …

Miaow!

More street art …

One of my favourites ..

Made me smile …

The following words in italics come from the St Luke’s Conservation area document. The images are mine.

Central and pivotal to the conservation area St. Luke’s Church, dating from
1733, designed by John James and Nicholas Hawksmoor, is one of London’s
most important churches.

The church is now refurbished as a rehearsal,concert and education centre for the London Symphony Orchestra. The unusual obelisk spire is a major local landmark, with important views downWhitecross Street.

Surrounding the church is the churchyard and burial ground, now a public open space, with fine plane trees, railings and tombs.

Fronting onto these spaces are several important groups of Georgian and Victorian buildings which are of architectural and historic interest and which contribute to the setting of the church.

There is a tomb in the churchyard which is often described as the family tomb of William Caslon (1692-1766) …

He was the first major letter founder in London and, nearly three centuries later, remains the pre-eminent letter founder this country has produced. Before Caslon, there was little letter founding in Britain and most type was imported – even Shakespeare’s First Folio was printed with French type. But Caslon’s achievement was to realise designs and produce type which have been widely used ever since. And it all happened here, around the eastern fringes of the City of London. The Caslon family tomb stood just yards from where William Caslon started his first letter foundry in Helmet Row in 1727.

Here is a specimen of his typefaces from 1734 …

There is a special edition of the Spitalfields Life blog devoted just to him – William Caslon, Letter Founder.

However, when I looked more closely at the tomb inscription, the name I saw was Thomas Hanbey …

A mystery!

But here’s a quote from The Typefoundry blog of December 2007 (my emphasis) …

‘T. B. Reed … wrote that the Caslon tomb was kept in repair by a bequest from Mary Hanbey, daughter of William Caslon I, who died in January 1797. In fact it is clear from her will that the present tomb, which she paid for, replaced the original monument of the Caslon family, and was dedicated to her husband Thomas Hanbey, who had been born in Sheffield and died in 1786. He was a Liveryman of the Ironmongers’ Company and Master of the Company in 1775 …’

In any event, hopefully the remains of the remarkable Mr Caslon are still there somewhere, so I shall keep my tribute to him in this blog.

The church spire was topped by an unusual weather vane depicting the head of a dragon with a fiery comet-like tail. Apparently this was misinterpreted locally as a louse, and by the mid-20th century had gained the church the nickname ‘lousy St Luke’s’ …

Parish Boundary bollard for ‘St Luke’s Middlesex’ …

Walking east along Old street, look up for the Salvation Army ghost sign …

‘Hostel for working men. Cheap beds and food’.

And finally, number 116, now appropriately renamed Stylus, used to be the Margolin Gramophone Company factory …

They manufactured the Dansette record player – a name very familiar to us baby-boomers …

I had a portable one just like this …

Cool!!!

In those days I could pop some of my vinyl collection into a handy little carrying case and take it when visiting friends. And, guess what, I still have it! …

And there are still records in it …

A small sample …
It was my mum who liked The Bachelors, honest.

This was a very controversial 1965 hit around the world …

Listen to it and you will see why. It was the time of the Vietnam War and the year when Martin Luther King organised a march from Selma to Birmingham, Alabama, which began on 7 March 1965 with around 600 marchers taking part. When the marchers reached the outskirts of Selma they were attacked by state troopers and local police.

Here’s a link to the recording along with video footage.

The Wikipedia link about the song can be found here.

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Structures, clouds and reflections on a sunny day.

Bright sun, fluffy clouds, blue sky – just right for taking pictures. I decided to photograph some of the City’s newer buildings and see if I could make them look good – even the boring, ugly ones.

Here are the results.

I’ll start with everyone’s favourite …

The Gherkin, with the Guild Church of St Katharine Cree in the foreground.

Both reflected in the Scalpel building across the road …

The Gherkin reflected in the windows of Holland House …

This picture, which I took from a boat on the river, shows how the Gherkin is gradually being surrounded by new developments …

The Scalpel

The view from the roof garden at 120 Fenchurch Street …

The Walkie Talkie as seen from the same location …

The Cheesegrater

Lloyd’s of London

Lloyd’s meets 19th century Leadenhall Market …

Another new building starts to loom over the area …

Tower 42

The St Botolph building at Aldgate …

Clouds reflected …

At Liverpool Street Station …

City canyons …

Views from Bank junction …

Henry Greathead, the engineer who built the Underground railway, with the Shard and the Lloyd’s buildings in the background …

The Duke looks the other way …

Morning light at Ropemaker Street and nearby …

A spaceship moored in Cheapside …

London Wall looking east …

The tower of St Elsyng Spital – 14th century meets 21st …

London Wall Place …

The 17th century tower of St Alban Wood Street casts a shadow on modern neighbours …

The old Broadgate location is now a hole in the ground …

Looking north …

The Cornhill Devils are still keeping an eye on developments …

At the Barbican …

The hanging gardens …

The Shard from the river with HMS Belfast in the foreground …

With City Hall and a much older neighbour …

Some earlier images …

Lucky timing with a rainbow …

View from the Cross Bones Graveyard

And finally, in the distance, Tower 42 displays the Union flag on the day of Her Majesty’s funeral …

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I’m hoping my signage collection will make you smile.

I’ve been looking through my archive and some of these images made me smile when I came across them. I hope they cheer you up as well in these difficult times.

This notice is from the Inns of Court – home to distinguished members of the legal profession – and is placed at the entrance to the Inner Temple Garden …

What, I wondered, would a resident dog do for a living?

Maybe a judge …

Or perhaps a barrister …

I’m sure neither of them would be guilty of ‘fouling’.

Disconcerting message in Islington …

Yes, we’re prepared, we’ve got some wine in (although that’s probably not necessary).

Sign at a take-away food shop in Eastcheap …

Seems unfair that pigeons are banned even when they want to pay!

If you want to learn more about our feathered friends click on this link to my blog What do pigeons do all day? And why was one awarded the Croix de Guerre?

A message I would endorse …

Although eating too much could mean you needing these people …

Bad railway news might be more palatable if delivered by a seagull wearing a hard hat and high-viz jacket …

Made me laugh …

Improvised directions …

If you are fencing off a large area for redevelopment work it pays to deploy some humour …

I’m sure the British Transport Police didn’t intend this suspicious character to look a bit like Priti Patel …

On Moorgate …

Especially the ones riding on the pavement.

Quite amusing …

Slightly spooky hotel signage …

I’ll drink to that …

Message from the local osteopath …

Classic public loo design …

But not much use if you’re ‘caught short’ nowadays …

There’s not much you’re allowed to do on the Barbican Highwalk. I like the trumpet and the iPod …

Bad doggy!

Note the cunning alteration here …

If you’re lonely in Bournemouth you can chat with the telescope …

Alongside Smithfield Market …

Bibulous monks outside the Blackfriar pub …

The facade of St Martin’s House at 1 Gresham Street is a delight …

Dating from 1891 it incorporates a wonderfully happy, smiling Mr Sun …

What also makes it charming is the rogue apostrophe ….

Surely it should read St Martin’s House?

Brenden Bracken worked for Winston Churchill during the War …

So the Zodiacal clock on the building named after him incorporates Churchill’s face …

Onward to London Wall. St Olave Silver Street was totally destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 but its little churchyard lives on. A much weathered 17th century stone plaque records the terrible event …

This was the Parish Church of St Olave Silver street, destroyed by the dreadful fire in the year 1666.

Silver Street itself was annihilated in the Blitz and erased completely by post-war development and traffic planning.

I have, of course, collected quite a few ghost signs …

Classic pointing finger with smart shirt and cufflink …

Another pointed finger (this time it looks like with thumb extended) …

This sign on the wall of St Andrew by the Wardrobe is gradually disappearing. Eventually no one will know that the key for the fire ladder is kept with the Sexton at nearby 52 Carter Lane …

I took this picture three years ago …

Wardrobe Place is a little oasis of calm that escaped the Blitz …

This sign on the far wall harks back to before the war when this area was a centre for printing and print materials …

It reads Snashall & Son. Printers, Stationers and Account Book Manufacturers.

Here’s a picture I took five years ago so it has faded a bit …

Some attractive and imposing signage has, of course, just vanished. This business on the Commercial Road was still going strong 20 years ago …

Now both it and evidence of its existence have disappeared …

Walking along Carter Lane I looked up and saw this engraving …

Rather mysteriously, this is part of the coat of arms of Prince Edward Island …

The motto translates as The small under the protection of the great and dates from 1769. You can read more about its history here.

I like these two post boxes on St Andrew’s Hill (now sadly out of use and painted black) …

The box on the left is Edward VII (1901 – 1910) and on the right is George V (1910 – 1936).

I also like the design of this water fountain beside St Paul’s Cathedral and the pretty sign above it …

And finally, a massive vote of thanks to Cubitts the opticians.

The little shop on the corner of Cheapside and Wood Street used to look like this until the 1990s …

Then it became a card shop and all the quaint old signage was painted over …

Now Cubitts have taken over the building and arranged for a nice restoration job (although the lovely glass that once graced the door has probably been lost forever) …

The magnificent London Plane tree that you can see in most of the pictures stands 70 feet high and is protected by a City ordinance which also limits the height of the shops …

The little garden at the back of the shop used to be the churchyard of St Peter Westcheap (also known as St Peter Cheap) which was destroyed in the Great Fire and not rebuilt. The railings incorporate an image of St Peter. In his lap and above his head are the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven …

The plaque in the churchyard attached to the shop’s northern wall confirms the age of the building, an early example of the reconstruction after the Great Fire of 1666 …

You can read more about this corner of the City and its history in my blog. A shop, a tree and a poem.

I hope you enjoyed that little trip to my image archive.

Last week I took a walk along the path south of the river and saw some interesting sights which I will revisit in a future blog …

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Hats, heads, handsome models and spooky manikins – a stroll down Commercial Road.

I have driven along Commercial Road hundreds, probably thousands, of times and often thought it would be good to take a closer look. These images are the result.

Commercial Road was constructed in 1802–6 as a direct route to link dock traffic between the West India Docks and East India Docks to the City of London. It’s now flanked on either side by numerous businesses involved in the garment trade, which has been historically based in the area. Many are small enterprises and most seem to be ‘wholesale only’ although some are happy to take orders as low as £150.

Here are my favourites.

First up – rather spooky manikins …

They reminded me of the scary shape-shifting robot in the Terminator movie …

They’re a bit less scary when dressed up …

Hats and heads, starting with the obvious place …

Across the road … Boy George? …

Heads awaiting hats …

Why do I find this one so disturbing?

Hey, good looking …

A nice window composition …

Some miscellaneous pics …

When I first read this I thought it said ‘naughty wear’. Actually, I suppose it is …

Every window frame seems to be plastered with ads like these …

Items I was tempted to buy.

Surely my wife would appreciate this …

… and maybe I should plan in advance for a cold Winter …

Someone has misbehaved …

I really enjoyed my visit to this vibrant part of London and I hope you enjoyed viewing the images.

I went home via Aldgate East Underground Station, admiring the 1930s roundel at the entrance …

… and the fascinating tiles on the platform …

I have written about them before in my September 2019 blog.

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An Anglo-Saxon dock and another magical mosaic.

It doesn’t look like much but this could be the oldest Anglo-Saxon era dock in the world – it’s certainly the oldest in the UK. It’s also the last surviving inlet on the Thames in Central London …

It’s squeezed in between tall modern buildings because it’s protected as a scheduled ancient monument …

Nearby is a very informative plaque …

The hotel next door has a terrace you can walk around. Look down at the wharf and this is what you’ll see …

A wonderful collection of oyster shells (oysters once being a poor person’s food) and medieval (maybe even Roman) roof tiles and bricks …

There are also some lumps of white chalk. Large chalk beds were once laid down to provide a soft settling place for barges at low tide.

I’ve written about the Riverfront before in my blog Down by the River – wharves, beaches and desperate immigrants.

Another plaque gives the second reason for my visit …

It was designed by Tessa Hunkin and executed by South Bank Mosaics under the supervision of Jo Thorpe – and I recommend you take a stroll down through the City to the river and study the intricate and lively detail of this epic work for yourself. Tessa also supervised the splendid mosaic I wrote about two weeks ago.

Here’s the mosaic from start to finish. It’s a stunning piece of work and rewards detailed study …

Note the little seal waving you goodbye …

A striking archaeological theme is that archaeology was incorporated into the mosaic. Archaeologist Mike Webber led volunteers to retrieve finds of Roman, medieval and modern date from the foreshore and selected finds were embedded into the mosaic: archaeology becomes art …

And how appropriate that we can see The Globe across the River …

Trivia fact: A key sequence of the 1951 Ealing comedy The Lavender Hill Mob used Queenhithe as a location for filming: Mr. Holland, played by Alec Guinness, can be seen falling from a wharf into the Thames and being rescued by two actors dressed as police officers. You can watch the official trailer here. They don’t make ’em like that any more!

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Mythical creatures, famous Londoners and the City gardeners’ campaign against thoughtless smokers.

Isn’t it nice when the sun is out! I decided it was time for another wander around the City and from the Barbican Highwalk I spotted an old friend who it seems has at last found a permanent resting place …

The Minotaur was made by Michael Ayrton. The creature in the sculpture has been described as ‘looking powerful and muscular. It stands hunched over when on his plinth, but he looks ready to take off running at any moment. It has the body of a man, with heavy muscles in his legs and chest, and two cloven feet. It has the head of a bull with two pointed horns and large, hunched shoulders. Its body is hairy, and its hair moves even though it is made of metal’ …

The myth of Theseus and the Minotaur is one of the most tragic and fascinating myths of the Greek Mythology and you can read more about it here.

Onward to Lombard Street.

I took a walk down the shadowy and rather mysterious Change Alley and came across a building that once housed the Scottish Widows insurance company along with its magnificent crest. At the centre is the mythical winged horse, Pegasus, symbol of immortality and mastery of time. A naked figure, the Greek hero Bellerophon, is shown grasping its mane.  In mythology, Bellerophon captured Pegasus and rode him into battle. This explains the motto ‘Take time by the forelock’, or ‘seize the opportunity’. Presumably time could be tamed by taking out a Scottish Widows policy to make provision against the uncertainties of the future …

I next headed down King William Street.

Rising from the flames and just about to take off over the City is the legendary Phoenix bird and from 1915 until 1983 this was the headquarters of the Phoenix Assurance Company (EC4N 7DA). One can see why the Phoenix legend of rebirth and restoration appealed as the name for an insurance company …

Incidentally, have you ever paused to admire the Duke of Wellington statue at Bank junction? And do you think, like I once did, that it was there to celebrate his prowess as a military commander? Well, actually, it’s to commemorate the fact that he helped to get a road built!

It was erected to show the City’s gratitude for Wellington’s help in assisting the passage of the London Bridge Approaches Act 1827 which led to the creation of King William Street. The government donated the metal, which is bronze from captured enemy cannon melted down after the Battle of Waterloo.

A gardener labours diligently at the rear of Brewers’ Hall (EC2V 7HR) …

Philip Ward-Jackson, in his book Public Sculpture of the City of London, tells us of the Trees, Gardens and Open Spaces Committee of the Corporation which was chaired by Frederick Cleary. In his autobiography Cleary recorded that Jonzen’s figure below was intended as a tribute to the efforts of his committee but Ward-Jackson feels that ‘it might have been better described as a symbol of the ‘greening’ of the City in the post-war period’. Most appropriately, Mr Cleary has a garden named after him, and you can read about it in my earlier blog about City gardens generally.

Apparently Jonzen, on being given the subject by the Corporation …

… decided on a kneeling figure of a young man, who, having planted a bulb, was gently stroking over the earth.

There are several other works by Jonzen in the City.

This one, Beyond Tomorrow (1972), is in Basinghall Street, behind the Guildhall …

Sited opposite is this pretty glass fountain by Allen David …

It was commissioned by Mrs Gilbert Edgar, wife of Gilbert H. Edgar CBE, who was a City of London Sheriff between 1963-4. It was unveiled by the Lord Mayor of London on 10th December 1969.

Another work by Jonzen, in the Seething Lane Gardens, is of one of my favourite Londoners, Samuel Pepys. It was commissioned and erected by The Samuel Pepys Club in 1983 …

It contains musical notes, so of you can read music you can not only see Sam but also ‘hear’ his voice …

I thought the Guildhall looked nice against the blue sky …

A remarkably wart-free Oliver Cromwell looks fearsome outside the Guildhall Art Gallery with Samuel Pepys and Dick Whittington in the background (EC2V 5AE) …

Dick is on Highgate Hill and has just heard the bells of St Mary-le-Bow ring out ‘Turn again Whittington, thrice Lord Mayor of London’. He’s giving it some serious thought as his cat curls around his legs (note the tear in his leggings indicating that he has experienced hard times) …

Look closely at the elegant limestone facade of the building and you will see a great collection of bivalves – oyster shells from the Jurassic period when dinosaurs really did walk the earth …

Read more about more of the fossils on view in the City in my blog Jurassic City.

George Peabody was an American financier and philanthropist and is widely regarded as the father of modern philanthropy. Here he sits, looking pretty relaxed, at the northern end of the Royal Exchange Buildings …

Born in Baltimore he became extremely wealthy importing British dried goods and, after visiting frequently, became a permanent London resident in 1838. In retirement he devoted himself to charitable causes setting up a trust, the Peabody Donation Fund, to assist ‘the honest and industrious poor of London’. The Peabody Trustees would use the fund to provide ‘cheap, clean, well-drained and healthful dwellings for the poor’ with the first donation being made in 1862.

Peabody buildings are easily recognised by their attractive honey-coloured brickwork. This block is in Errol Street, Islington …

Immensely respected in later life, he was offered a baronetcy by Queen Victoria but declined it. After his death in 1869 his body rested for a month in Westminster Abbey after which, on the Queen’s orders, his body was returned to America for burial on the British battleship HMS Monarch.

Close to Peabody is a statue to another remarkable man – Paul Julius Reuter. The rough-cut granite sculpture by the Oxford-based sculptor Michael Black commemorates the 19th-century pioneer of communications and news delivery. It is a fitting place for the statue because the stone head faces the Royal Exchange which was the reason why Reuter set up his business in the City. He established his offices in 1851 to the east of the Royal Exchange building. The stone monument was erected by Reuters to mark the 125th anniversary of the Reuters Foundation. It was unveiled by Edmund L de Rothschild on 18 October 1976 …

The life of Reuter was most interesting. Having started his career as a humble clerk in a bank, he went on to ‘see the future’ of transmitting the news – regardless of whether it was financial or world news. If the ‘modern’ technology of telegraphy – also known then as Telegrams – was not in place, Reuter used carrier pigeons and even canisters floating in the sea to convey news as fast as possible. Such was his ambition to be the first with the news.

Sir John Soane stands on Lothbury wearing a full-length cloak and holding a bundle of drawings and a set square. The niche is decorated with the neo-Grecian motifs associated with his style. Sir John’s day job was as architect and surveyor to the Bank of England, and he held the position for 45 years. When he resigned in 1833, most of the Bank’s three-acre footprint had been remodelled in some way, and a number of spectacular set-piece facades inserted…

In the wake of the Great War, Britain’s national debt grew to such an extent that Soane’s bank was too small for the business to be transacted; unfortunately, this renovation was done by the architect Herbert Baker in a way that virtually erased Soane’s work.

Many are still angry at the destruction. Here is what the blogger at Ornamental Passions has to say:

‘The irony of placing a tribute to the architect actually on the sad ruins of his masterpiece was not lost on critics, especially as it is so close to Soane’s much loved Tivoli Corner which Baker had promised to preserve but actually totally rebuilt. He is lucky to have his back turned to an act of vandalism more brutal than anything the Luftwaffe achieved. Indeed, nothing illustrates the Nazi’s abysmal cultural values than that fact that the Bank was untouched in the blitz’. Wow!

Carrying her sword and scales, Lady Justice stands above the Ukrainian flag at the Institute of Chartered Accountants …

Around the corner, the building boasts the poshest letter box in the City …

Speak to any one of the wonderful team of City gardeners and they will tell you that one of the greatest threats to their work are smokers discarding cigarette butts in flower beds. Nicotine is poisonous to plants and is a component of many weed killers.

So the City is fighting back using humour …

The final paragraph on the accompanying sign made me laugh out loud …

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Special edition : Pubs and Inns.

City pubs often have a rather interesting history so I thought I’d do a bit of research on some of my favourites, starting with the Hoop & Grapes on Aldgate High Street (EC3N 1AL).

Here it is in 1961 when, before or after a beer, you could also get your eyes tested at the adjacent optician and acquire teeth at Supreme Denture Service Ltd. If your new teeth looked good you could have a picture taken of your happy smile at the Regal Studios …

The Hoop & Grapes is the oldest licensed house in the City, built in 1593 and originally called The Castle, then the Angel & Crown, then Christopher Hills, finally becoming the Hoop & Grapes in the nineteen twenties.

Here it is today …

The pub has been described as being like a skinny waif sat between two fat people on a bus.

The name Hoop & Grapes advertised the fact that you could buy both beer and wine there. The first impression, when you turn your back on the traffic to enter, is of the appealingly crooked frontage with sash windows fitted in the seventeen twenties at eccentric angles …

Two 18th century oak posts guard the entrance, each with primitive designs of vines incised upon them …

There are two old parish boundary markers …

The top one, dated 1837, is for the parish of St Mary’s Whitechapel (lost in the Blitz) and the lower, from 1722, refers to St Botolph Without Aldgate (still thriving across the road).

If you are interested in how parishes marked out their territories I have written two blogs on the subject : Bombs and Boundaries and City Parishes and their Boundaries.

The very old door still bears traces of when it was the entrance to the, posher, ‘Saloon’ Bar …

I like the old lantern with the street number on it …

You can read more about the site and medieval Aldgate here.

Incidentally, there is another Hoop and Grapes on Farringdon High Street …

It once had had a special licence for many years, allowing the pub to open between two and five in the morning for the convenience of printers who worked in nearby Fleet Street. This only allowed the pub to serve those working in the newspaper trade, and other trades which involved night or early morning working, such as London’s markets. I can personally attest to the fact that the pubs that held these special licences often were not too careful in checking that their customers worked in the allowed trades!

It was built in 1721 on part of the historic burial grounds of St Bride’s Church. As an inn, it gained notoriety as a location for illegitimate Fleet Weddings.

In the 1990s, it underwent several changes and was eventually closed down and scheduled for demolition. However, as the last surviving pub with a history of Fleet weddings, it was given a stay of execution and became a Grade II listed building …

Saved just in time.

During the renovation works burial remains from St Bride’s Church were discovered and many bodies found there were moved into the British Museum. 

Last year I briefly visited The George Inn in Southwark …

The George is a very old Inn, dating back to at least the 16th century. It was mentioned by Stowe in 1598 as one of the ‘fair inns of London’ and was rebuilt in 1676 after a serious fire. For many years it was owned by the trustees of Guy’s Hospital, which was on the eastern boundary of the original George Inn – the building we see today is a small part of the original inn and the associated buildings to support the coaching business.

Catching a coach from one of the Inns in Southwark was almost the equivalent of walking across London Bridge today and catching a train at London Bridge Station. And there were many inns to choose from as this old print illustrates …

Coaches from Southwark served numerous destinations in the counties of Kent, Sussex and Hampshire and in 1809 W.S. Scholefield, who was running the George at the time, published a list of the destinations from the inn, and their frequency:

George Inn

Gradually these enterprises went into decline as the railways put them out of business.

Here’s what Charles Dickens had to say about the old inns in his first novel The Pickwick Papers:

There are in London, several old inns, once the head-quarters of celebrated coaches in the days when coaches performed their journeys in a graver and more solemn manner than they do in these times; but which have now degenerated into little more than the abiding and booking places of country wagons … In the Borough especially there still remain some half-dozen old inns, which have preserved their external features unchanged, and which have escaped alike the rage for public improvement and the encroachments of private speculation. Great, rambling, queer old places they are, with galleries, and passages, and staircases wide enough and antiquated enough to furnish materials for a hundred ghost stories, supposing we should ever be reduced to the lamentable necessity of inventing any.

The George in 1858 …

In 1874, Guy’s Hospital sold the George Inn to the Great Northern Railway. The coming of the railways had seen a rapid decline in travel by horse and coach, so the sale of the inn to the GNR, who used the site as a receiving station for goods to be transported on their rail network, was in many ways a logical continuation of the main transport function of the inn.

The following photo shows the courtyard of the George, looking towards Borough High Street, with a sign above the entrance to the GNR offices …

Here it is in 1889 …

We are very fortunate to have The George to remind us of the coaching heyday.

By the way, I have written in a previous blog about the famous Bull & Mouth Inn, the signage for which can still be see in the Museum of London rotunda …

It had stabling for 700, yes 700, horses, most of it underground, and the yard could accommodate 30 coaches. This is a picture of the yard, probably painted around 1820 by H. Shepherd (1793-1864) …

And this is the frontage as painted by John Maggs (1819-1896) …

The inn was extensively remodelled and rebuilt in 1830 and became the Queen’s Hotel, the old sign being reattached to the new building. The hotel itself was demolished in 1888 to make way for the new General Post Office which now displays this plaque …

I hope to write about more pubs and their history over the coming weeks.

As is often the case, I am indebted to two fellow bloggers for much of my research. The London Inheritance blog is absolutely superb on the history of The George and The Gentle Author writes as lyrically as usual about the Hoop and Grapes.

If you would like to follow me on Instagram here is the link …

https://www.instagram.com/london_city_gent/

Some things I have seen on recent wanderings – from traitors’ heads to woolly mammoths.

As regular readers will know, every now and then I like to publish some images that I have taken that don’t fit easily into any particular theme and this week’s blog is an example. They include wanderings outside the City and even London itself but I hope you will still enjoy them.

Walking down Errol Street in Islington (EC1Y 8LU – opposite Waitrose) I looked up and, for the first time, noticed this very touching memorial …

This wonderful map entitled The Streets They Left Behind is interactive. Just click on the poppies to read more about the men who never returned.

Just across the road in Whitecross Street are the premises of A Holt & Sons Ltd …

Because so many trades have moved out of the City and its adjacent boroughs, I had always assumed that the building contained flats and that the signage had been retained as a quaint ‘feature’ to attract tenants. How wrong I was!

The business (which specialises in cotton textiles) was founded by Abraham Holtz who started his enterprise on a stall nearby and who then bought these premises in 1864. It has been in the family ever since (the ‘z’ was dropped from the name at the time of the First World War). Have a look at their website for the full fascinating story.

The building is adjacent to the tiny, covered alley called Shrewsbury Court …

Despite my best efforts, I haven’t been able to establish the origin of its name. You can read more about its history here in the splendid Ian Visits blog.

A few yards inside the alley is one of my favourite London doors. The story I have conjured up in my mind is that, some time in the early 1970s, the people living there found that visitors knocked on the door rather than ringing the bell. When asked why, callers usually said that they didn’t know there was a bell. As a consequence, the residents (who obviously had artistic talents) got out their paint brushes and added this helpful sign to indicate where the push button bell was. Brilliant!

If learning a bit more about City doors takes your fancy have a look at my blog entitled That rings a Bell.

The other day at the Museum of London I was admiring this painting of London as seen from Southwark in around 1630. It’s one of the few painted records of the City before it was destroyed in the Great Fire …

My eye was drawn to London Bridge where a wide selection of traitors’ heads offered a grisly welcome to newcomers approaching from the south …

I liked this view of the outside of the Charterhouse with the very old gates, a gas lamp and an iconic red London pillar box …

The Kentish ragstone wall is fantastic …

I wrote recently about the great Italian experience that is Eataly on Bishopsgate. Here’s some of the scrumptious produce on sale …