|There are four platforms of which 3 and 4 are no longer used. They have been turned into a garden by a group of volunteers and members of staff.|
Barbican station is on the junction of Aldersgate Street and Long Lane giving me four distinct areas to explore. I decided to start my tour of the area with a look at the Barbican Estate. A walkway from the station takes you above the road and on to the estate.
This area of the City was almost entirely demolished during the bombing raids of WW2 so the architects had a clear canvas to develop an estate from scratch. The designs were finalised in 1959 with construction spread over two decades. The complex was officially opened by the Queen in 1982.
Many high rise brutalist developments of the 60s became the unwanted homes of the Millennium and many have been demolished, for instance the large Aylesbury Estate in SE London. The architects wanted to change the image of high density residential estates by integrating it with schools, shops and restaurants, as well as a world class cultural centre. Gardens and greenery on all levels make this estate a very popular place to live.
There are three 43 storey towers and 13 seven storey blocks. The Corporation of London commissioned the project with the intention of creating a mixed society of residents in the heart of the City of London. In the 1980s Thatcher's government changed things when people were allowed to buy their council house for much less than the market value. This led to the majority of the homes being sold to private owners and landlords. Today the properties are in great demand and sell for as much as £4,000,000.
The architects visualised a car free zone raised above the busy streets with walkways for the visitors and residents to explore the site on foot. There are landscaped gardens everywhere with lakes providing scenic views for residents in their high rise blocks.
Leaving the Barbican I came across this piece of street art by Banksy on the corner of Golden Lane and Beech Street. It appeared on 17th September 2017 and features a stencilled police man and woman conducting a search on Basquiat.
Jean Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) was an American street artist and a retrospective of his work was being exhibited at the time in the Barbican Arts Centre. It was aimed at the Barbican's treatment of street art which is 'normally very keen to clean any graffiti from its walls'. Personally I'm very pleased that the Barbican Estate is not covered in graffiti. To my mind there is a huge difference between street art and graffitti.
Outside the Museum is the John Wesley conversion place memorial. The Aldergate Flame, as it is known was erected in 1981 as closely as possible to the original conversion place in Nettleton Court in 18th Century Aldersgate. John Wesley's Conversion Day, 24th May 1738, is widely celebrated in Methodism. The words on the bronze plaque described what happened to him that day, recorded by Wesley himself in his journal
I returned to ground level and turned off the busy Montague Street and onto Albion
Following the narrow streets and alleyways I came out on Cloth Fair.
It was in this area that St Bartholomew's Fair began in 1133. It became the most important cloth fair in England. It was an annual event until 1855 when the City banned it due to its reputation for lewd behaviour. A ballad 'Rome for Company in Bartholomew Faire' was registered by John Trundle in 1614 and tells us a little more about the fair and the various trades around in Medieval England.
( From The Pepys Collection of Ballads)
At Number One Cloth Fair is the Founders' Company, one of the oldest Livery Companies in the City of London tracing its existence back to 1365. It was one of the early medieval guilds formed to ensure high standards of quality and workmanship when working with bronze and brass. The Company moved to its new headquarters here in 1987.
This coade stone representation of the company's coat of arms was made in 1800 but lost in the 19th century. It was later returned and gifted to the company and has pride of place outside the Founders Hall.
I was now on Bartholomew Passage with a view of St Bartholomew-the -Great church.
It was founded in 1123 as an Augustinian Priory and although only a small part of the original 12th Cent church remains it is
Leaving the church I turned to my left and entered a gated archway into St Bartholomew's Hospital. St Bart's Hospital is the oldest hospital in Britain that still provides medical care from its original site. Bart's was founded in 1123 by Rahere, an Anglo-Norman priest and monk. It survived both The Great Fire of London and the Blitz and being a hospital it was not affected by the Dissolution of the Monasteries (1536-41). However, that act did mean an end to its income and consequently Henry VIII refounded the hospital in 1546 by signing an agreement granting the hospital to the Corporation of London.
This is the main public entrance to the hospital, the King Henry VIII gate.
Inside is this early 20th cent stained glass window of a nurse.
This is the 18th Cent square created by James Gibbs. Overlooking the square in the hospital's historic North wing is St Bart's Museum.
This is the hospital ledger from 1726
anaesthetics, the speed of operation was very important to minimise not only the pain but the loss of blood.
There are also audio tapes describing how the lives of doctors and nurses have changed over the centuries. It is a small but very interesting museum with lots of snippets of information that grab your attention.
'No women, including sisters, were allowed in the men's ward after 7 o'clock. Any patients who swore, blasphemed, were disobedient or refused to go to bed were punished in the stocks after one warning.'
Outside the hospital mounted on the wall is this memorial to Sir William Wallace or 'Braveheart'. He was a Scottish warrior who rebelled against King Edward I and was brutally hanged, drawn and quartered here in 1305.
This site of public executions is now a large circular grassed area, once known as 'smooth field' the origin of its current name of Smithfields, beneath which is an underground car park.
On the opposite side from the hospital is the elegant Victorian ironwork of Smithfield market. There has been a livestock market on this site in the City of London for almost 1000 years. By the end of the 18th cent the number of animals being brought to London's Smithfield Livestock Market was causing havoc in the local streets and so by 1852 it was decided by Act of Parliament that the livestock market be relocated to the North of London. Immediately plans were put into operation to develop a new market on this site specialising in cut meat.
Smithfield reached its heydey during the pre war period as the centre for the meat trade of the British Empire. The market and its related businesses were huge employers preparing, smoking, butchering and selling. In the 1990s the market was modernised and upgraded but that did not detract from the beauty of the original ornate cast iron structure.
The market is open from 2am so by mid morning all the selling has ceased and it looks deserted.
I walked through the Grand Avenue exiting on the other side of Smithfield Meat market and turned right onto Charterhouse Street. At the end of the street is the Square. Charterhouse Square, close to the City of London is home to Sutton's Hospital in Charterhouse more commonly referred to as London Charterhouse. Originally a Carthusian monastery, it has been a private mansion, boy's school and is today an almshouse. The monastery was built in 1371 on land used as a plague pit following the Black Death epidemic of 1348
There was already a small chapel erected there by the Bishop of London who was shocked at the internment of plague victims buried on unsanctified ground. The chapel became the church for the monastery and parts of the medieval brickwork can be seen today behind the wooden cladding.
In 1535 the monks refused to accept Henry VIII's Act of Supremacy. The Prior was hanged, drawn and quartered with one of his severed arms pinned to the Gatehouse, with the others also executed. The monastery then became the property of the Crown. A number of members of the nobility lived here including Lord North who constructed a Tudor mansion on the land. Elizabeth I stayed at Charterhouse prior to entering the City of London when she became Queen in 1558.
In 1611 the mansion was bought by Thomas Sutton, the wealthiest commoner in England and this enabled the continued existence of this building to the present day. He used his wealth to set up a charitable foundation to educate boys and to care for elderly men. The school became the well-known public school, Charterhouse which moved to Godalming, Surrey in 1872. The almshouse continues today and provides a home for 40 pensioners. It has its own infirmary, laundry and of course, kitchens.
I took a tour around the Charterhouse last week which was given by one of the residents. Although elderly, his recall of historical events and dates was wonderful and he was a very entertaining guide.
Looking back at the photos I took, I can't recall the dates of the different parts of the building so just enjoy the visual tour and if you have time to spare, when visiting London, I would suggest booking a tour to see the Charterhouse, only one of three medieval buildings in London that are still in use. The other two are Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London.
The Great Hall, now used as a dining room by the present residents, has much of its interiors intact from the 1570s.
Some of you might recognise it as 'Whitehaven Mansions', Hercule Poirot's home in the TV series 'Poirot'. Built in the mid 1930s it makes the perfect location for Poirot which is set during that period.