Tuesday, July 5, 2016

St Paul's

Probably one of the most iconic buildings in London gives you a big clue as to which Underground station I am visiting today.

St Paul's Underground station is the 26th on the Central Line travelling westwards. It has no surface buildings or interchanges with other lines. It is the closest station to the Stock Exchange and St Paul's Cathedral so there is always a steady flow of people.  In 2015 there were 17.37 million people entering or exiting this station.

 As you exit the Underground station onto Panyer Alley you walk past a Cafe Nero. If you look on the wall to the left of the cafe you can see this stone relief of the Panyer (bread basket) Boy.

Sculpted in 1688 it depicts a naked boy sitting on a bread basket holding some grapes. In the 17th cent this area was the centre of London's bakeries. The alleyway was probably named after the boys who sold bread from a basket or panyer. The bas relief has been moved from place to place over the centuries. Some think it might have been a decorative plaque outside a pub named The Panyers but no-one knows for sure. Beneath the sculpture are the words:
When ye have sought the citty round yet this is still the highest ground August 27 1688 

On one side of St Paul's Cathedral you have the churchyard but on the other side you have a large open space called Paternoster Square. A pedestrianised area full of cafes, it is usually busy with tourists and office workers taking a few minutes out to sit and admire their surroundings.

This sculpture of the shepherd and his flock is by Elisabeth Frink (1930-1993). A very fitting sculpture for this Square.

One entrance into the Square is Temple Bar. This is the only surviving gateway into the City of London. It was erected in 1672 to replace a wooden one that had survived the Great Fire of London but had fallen into disrepair.

Temple Bar was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and stood at the junction of Fleet Street and the Strand until 1878 when it was impeding the flow of traffic. It was taken down stone by stone with a view to being re-erected elsewhere in the City. It took over 100 years before it returned and in 2004 it found a new home in Paternoster Square. During the 18th Cent the heads of convicted traitors were frequently mounted on pikes and exhibited on the roof.

Behind the Paternoster Square Column is the London Stock Exchange. It moved into these newly built smaller premises in 2004.

On the wall of the Stock Exchange is a Noon Mark. I had not seen or heard of these before nor had anyone else I asked. I discovered that it is one of the simplest of sundials as it does not give hours but notes the exact moment of 12:00 noon. When the edge of the sun's image touches the part of the shape for the current month, it indicates it is 12:00 noon.

This is the back of the Stock Exchange on Newgate Street

Across the road from the London Stock Exchange is the tower and outer walls of Christchurch Newgate

 It is just a couple of hundred metres away from the Cathedral but you would be surprised how many people don't know it exists. There has been a church on this site since the 13th C. It was rebuilt and consecrated in 1322 but this medieval church was destroyed in the Great fire of London in 1666.
The name Greyfriars originated from the grey habits worn by the  Franciscan monks.

Sir Christopher Wren rebuilt the church after the Great Fire but sadly it was bombed during World War 2.Now the Church is a beautiful garden with the garden beds laid out where the original pews were.

Walking down Newgate away from the Cathedral you will pass the Central Criminal Court, known as the Old Bailey after the street in which it is located. The Old Bailey courthouse has been rebuilt several times between 1674 and 1913 although the basic design has remained the same. Built next to Newgate prison it was convenient for bringing the prisoners to their trials. In 1877 after a fire had damaged the court, both the prison and the court were demolished. The prison was not rebuilt instead a much larger court room was built.

On top of the 67 foot high dome is a 12 ft gold leaf statue of a 'Lady of Justice' holding a sword in one hand and the scales of justice in the other.

Probably the most famous criminal law court in the UK,  the Old Bailey tries cases of not just local but national significance.

On the other side of Old Bailey is the Magpie and Stump. More than 300 years ago the original public house face the infamous Newgate gaol which housed London's most notorious villains. Regular drinkers would have witnessed prisoners being taken in open carts to their execution at Tyburn where Marble Arch now stands. In 1780 the gaol was destroyed in the Gordon riots and during the rebuilding and from then on the executions were transferred to a site outside the pub. Drinkers would visit for a pint of two'penny ale (served in their own mug) at the Magpie and Stump  and have a prime view of the hanging outside Newgate Gaol. The pub would even send a last pint to the condemned man before his execution. Executions took place outside the prison until 1868 when the gallows were taken inside the prison.

Continue down Old Bailey onto Ludgate Hill, turning left onto Ave Maria Lane and here you find the Livery Hall of the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers. The Hall burnt down in the Great Fire of 1666 and was rebuilt in 1673. The interior has changed very little since then. During Open House in 2015 I visited the Hall but I cannot find the photos!

Just a little way down the Lane from the Stationer's Hall is a cul-de-sac called Amen Court. It is a private road and is gated to prevent nosey people like myself wandering in and disturbing the residents. I did manage to take a couple of photos through the bars of the gate to give you a glimpse of these 17th and 18th cent houses. A number of the staff from St Paul's Cathedral live and work here. Very convenient as the Cathedral is just a two minute walk away.

In complete contrast to Amen Court, across the road on the way into Paternoster Square is this large abstract sculpture by Thomas Heatherwick. It is called 'Angel's Wing' (2000). It is 11m high and doubles up as cooling vents for an electricity sub station.

This building on Warwick Lane ( a continuation of Ave Maria Lane), is home to the Cutlers' Company, one of the most ancient guilds in the City of London having received its first Royal Charter from King Henry V in 1416. It is a guild of traders whose function is to protect its members and ensure that a high standard of work is maintained. Their trade was to produce implements with a cutting edge such as knives and swords. Over time their wares changed to cutlery, razors and scissors

It was now lunch time and where better than an old gin palace to sit down and have a drink and something to eat.

The Viaduct Tavern boasts that it has some of the best gins in London but it was a little early in the day for me to test out that statement.

The Viaduct Tavern started life in 1869 as one of London's finest gin palaces and at the back of the bar is this booth where the landlady would exchange gin tokens for use at the bar.

Opposite the Viaduct Tavern pub on the corner of Holburn Viaduct and Giltspur Street can be found London's first drinking fountain. It is set into the railings of the St Sepulchre church, a welcome addition to the church's fight against the drinking of alcohol. The first drink of water was taken in April 1859 by the daughter of the Archbishop of Canterbury from a silver cup replaced by metal cups for lesser mortals.

St Sepulchre without Newgate is the largest parish church in the City of London. First recorded in 1137 it was rebuilt after the Great Fire. The main church bells are those referred to in the nursery rhyme 'Oranges and Lemons' (When will you pay me? say the bells of Old Bailey)

Around the corner on Giltspur Street is the old watch house. This is where a guard would stand to prevent body snatchers taking corpses from the church graveyard to sell to anatomists at the nearby St Bartholomew's hospital.

At the corner of Giltspur Street and Cock Lane is a gilded statue of a chubby little boy. The purpose of this 17th Cent memorial was to mark the point where the Great Fire of London ended. It is well known that the fire started in a baker's shop in Pudding Lane but not many realised it ended here at Pye (pie) corner. He was originally built into the wall of 'The Fortune of War' pub. The pub was demolished in 1910 but the memorial was saved. At some point during the 1800s, the wooden statue was gilded and became known as the Golden boy of Pye corner. The inscription beneath the statue states:
The boy at Pye Corner was erected to commemorate the staying of the Great Fire which beginning in 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'

From Giltspur Street I turned right through St Bart's Hospital and out onto King Edward Street. St Bartholomew's hospital is the oldest hospital in Britain. It was founded in 1123 and was originally part of the priory. When this was dissolved during Henry VIII's reign, the hospital was refounded in 1546 on a secular basis.

This is Postman's Park so named as the Post Office headquarters used to be in King Edward Street. As you enter the park there is a memorial wall on the left which has a number of hand painted tiles describing heroic acts of ordinary men and women. They were created by George Frederick Watts, a Victorian artist, in 1900.

This tile was of particular interest as I came across a memorial fountain to Alice Denman on my walk around Bethnal Green underground station.

Just outside the park on St Martin's Le Grand is this police phone box. It was used by police to keep in touch with the police station and could also be used by the public to phone the police. As the vast majority of us including the police force use mobile phones they became obsolete but you can still see a few of them around the City of London.

I crossed over the road and walked down Gresham Street. On the corner of Foster Lane and Gresham Street is the Hall of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, one of the Great Twelve Livery Companies of the City of London.The company was established as a medieval guild for the goldsmith trade. The word 'Hallmarking' is derived from the inspection and marking of precious metals at Goldsmiths' Hall.
This is a list of the top Livery companies (there are  110 Worshipful  Companies )

1, Worshipful Company of Mercers (general merchants)
2. Worshipful Company of Grocers (spice merchants)
3. Worshipful Company of Drapers (wool and cloth merchants)
4. Worshipful Company of Fishmongers
5. Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths
6. Worshipful Company of Skinners (fur traders)
7. Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors (tailors)
8. Worshipful Company of Haberdashers ( clothiers in fine materials)
9. Worshipful Company of Salters (traders of salts and chemicals)
10. Worshipful Company of Ironmongers
11. Worshipful Company of Vintners (wine merchants)
12. Worshipful Company of Clothworkers

Next to the Goldsmiths' Hall on Gresham Street is the Wax Chandlers Hall. The Company has owned this site for 500 years. It was granted a Royal Charter in 1484, the only livery company to receive one from King Richard III,

The business of a Wax Chandler included different forms of lighting such as torches and tapers, embalming and the preparations for funerals, wax images, document seals and wax writing tablets.

Even in the heart of the City there are a number of public gardens and green spaces. Across the road from the Goldsmiths' Hall  was the churchyard of St John Zachary now a garden owned by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, it was Refurbished in 1994/5 for the benefit of Londoners.

Just round the corner from Gresham Street you come across the remains of an old Roman fort and City Wall. Over 1000 Roman soldiers worked for the provisional governor in London. They were housed in a stone fort built in AD 110. Some 90 years later, Roman construction workers began to build the first City Wall, using more than one million blocks of ragstone (hard, grey limestone) shipped in from Kent on over 1750 boat loads. This massive defensive stone wall stretched for almost 3 kms.

I walked back down Fosters Lane and crossed over to  New Change which is across the road from the Cathedral If you want a good view of the area go to One New Change and take the lift up to the roof garden where you get a good view for free.
Perfect view of St Paul's

In the distance you can see the pointed spire of the Shard at London Bridge

To the left of the picture is Tower42, the Gherkin and then the Cheesegrater. Whilst on the right is the Walkie-Talkie building. In the distance in the centre you can see the 3 tall buildings at Canary wharf, Docklands.

Back at ground level on Cannon Street within sight of St Paul's Cathedral is a large monument but on closer inspection it turns out that this was a drinking fountain. It is known as the St Lawrence and Mary Magdalene Fountain.The fountain was originally erected in 1866 outside the church of St Lawrence Jewry near Guildhall as a gift to the City of London from the Metropolitan drinking fountain and cattle trough Association. When the Guildhall was redeveloped in the 1970s the fountain was dismantled into 150 pieces and put into storage. It was restored and rebuilt in its present position in 2010. 

Then it was back to the underground station.

Just another 23 more stations to visit on the Central Line.


  1. What a packed full of interesting trivia this post is. The views are great, and you can all the modern iconic? buildings in frame. No sign of Rumpole loitering around the Old Bailey?

  2. Definitely another really interesting post. Can't wait to see what you find at Hanger Lane though.

  3. Loving London as I do and remembering all the many, many trips I made there with student thru the years, this was a wonderful post. Lots of the old that I remember and then some of the new. You did a wonderful job with your dialogue especially for people like me who consider themselves displaced Anglophiles. I read every word. Your most memorable for me is that last awesome one of St. Paul's Cathedral. I LOVED your post. genie

  4. I recognized some of those places from our visit to London in 2014. Postman's Park I do remember especially.

  5. Wow this is an epic journey you are taking us on and I am loving it. All the famous places explained in detail. Well done. The Newgate Prison and Old Bailey feature in Australia's history as that is where most of the convicts came from.

  6. I discovered the St. Paul's area the day when I took the bus in the wrong direction ! Of course I didn't see as much as you did, but still ! The little boy reminds me of Brussels' symbol the Manneken Pis !

  7. I loved this so much -- we did see some of this stop, but of course not all of it. Nor did we learn as much history as I just did from my own personal guide! Thank you so very much for letting me be a part of your tour.

  8. PS: We went to part of a trial at Old Bailey. I was looking for Rumpole who (surprise) was not there... but what we did see was fascinating.

  9. Such a splendid tour, with so much history and beautiful architecture all fitted into such a small space. Thanks for this unique experience, and the research which went into your presentation.

  10. What a great post - thats a decent density of history really!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  11. This was a fascinating stop on the Central Line! Mounted heads, public gallows, pubs, fountains, Roman Walls, A beautiful cathedral and modern office buildings....all such interesting history and info!


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