Monday, June 4, 2018

Cannon Street

This is the 16th station I have visited on the Circle Line for my 'Above the Underground' challenge.

The journey only takes 46 seconds from the previous tube station at Mansion house. The tube station is located directly beneath the main rail station and just has the two platforms serving the Circle and the District lines. One platform for the Eastbound tube and the other for the westbound tube trains.

Cannon Street station opened as a terminus for South East Rail in 1866 connecting the South and South-East of London with the City of London. Trains to and from the station travel south via a railway bridge over the River Thames

On the concourse of the main station is this statue of a plumber's apprentice. It was erected on the site of its last Livery Hall by the Worshipful Company of Plumbers to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the granting of its Charter by James 1 in 1611 and to recognise the support given by the Company to the training of its apprentices.

The station has been redeveloped on a number of occasions, the last time in 2007. It was completely revamped with 8 floors of glass fronted offices above the station with a roof top garden.

 The name of the station is taken from the road on which it stands - Cannon Street. It starts at St Paul's Cathedral and runs parallel with the River Thames for half a mile. You can see the name Canon Strete on this map here. I have enlarged a section of it to show the existence of Cannon Street during medieval times. It is thought that the name is a shortened version of Candelwrithstret - the street of candle-wrights.

 This detailed map was produced from copper printing plates c1559 and show the earliest view of the city known. No original printing of the maps survived and only three plates, from an original set of 15, have been discovered. Two of the copper plates are in the Museum of London, from where I took this photograph.

I crossed over Cannon Street to look at The London Stone which is situated outside 111 Cannon Street. I was surprised to see that it was no longer there. Instead there are hoardings surrounding the building. This is the architect's impression of what the new building will look like. A close up reveals where the London Stone will be displayed.  In the meantime the Stone is being displayed at the Museum of London so off I went to have a look at it there.

There is a lot of speculation about the history of the Stone prior to 1188. It is thought that it probably dates back over 3000 years and would have been much greater in size. One story is that it was brought to London by Brutus, son of Priam, who was supposed to have killed a race of giants led by Gog and Magog( whose images are carried in the Lord Mayor's Parade) Statues of them  can also be seen in the Royal arcade in Melbourne either side of the clock. The stone was then used as an altar in a temple to Artemis. Another story is that it is the stone from which Arthur pulled the sword Excalibur.
However for hundreds of years it was the symbolic heart of the City of London where proclamations, laws, oaths and deals were sworn before it.

This is the piece of limestone that is known as the London Stone. It even has its own Twitter account!

From the Museum I returned to Cannon Street to continue my walk of the area. I stayed on the northside of Cannon Street and walked eastwards past a few interesting buildings.

Salters Hall Court. I was hoping that this would lead to Salters Hall but because of building works on both sides of this narrow alley way I could only have a brief look at the garden, which was locked, so not sure it is open to the public.

I took this photo of the entrance to the small garden through the locked gates.

This building at 113 Cannon has some interesting window sill supports.

St Mary Abchurch House. This five storey building was built in the late 19th cent  with red brick and terracotta. It was listed as a Grade II listed building due to its Flemish Renaissance and Art Nouveau details as well as the frieze running along the top of the building.

St Mary Abchurch is hidden away down Abchurch Lane just off Cannon Street. It looks small from the outside but feels much more spacious when inside. A church has stood on this site since the 12th cent but was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. The present church was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and completed by 1686. It has changed very little since that time. 

The former graveyard alongside the church is now a tiny Square with a bar and restaurant opening out onto the Yard.

Around the corner from the narrow Abchurch Lane  is St Swithin's lane

A front view of St Mary Abchurch which still stands after 350 years.

Wandered down St Swithin's  Lane  and was surprised to see this view from the steps of a modern  building. 

It was a view of the back of St Stephen Wallbrook church. 
 Whilst taking these photos I was approached by a security guard who asked me not to photograph the building. I was intrigued as to why I couldn't take photos. I couldn't find a nameplate for the building so a little research was needed. I quickly discovered that this is the London headquarters of Rothschild Bank. Beautifully designed with this gap between the two buildings revealing a small private garden and the dome of St Stephen Wallbrook church.

The steeple and dome of St Stephen Walbrook designed by Sir Christopher Wren.

This Coat of Arms was hanging overhead displaying the Rothschild family's motto 'Concordia, Integritas, Industria: Harmony, Integrity, Industry.

I walked round onto Wallbrook to look at the front of the church. It was this church that Wren tried out his designs and ideas which he would later use on St Paul's Cathedral.  The 65 ft dome was the first in Britain and is supported by eight equal arches which in turn rest on eight of  12 columns.
 Sir Christopher Wren was a parishioner of St Stephen's as he lived at No 15 Walbrook just down the road from the church. The name Walbrook originates from a river that ran from the North of London into the Thames. The river now runs completely underground into a sewer. It is thought the name was derived from this river flowing through the London Wall ( a defensive wall that was built around London by the Romans). When the original church of St Stephens was first built possibly in the 10th century or earlier it actually stood on the banks of the river. A much larger church was built in the 15th century but was destroyed by the Great Fire of London. Wren's began the building of a church here in 1672. The church was only slightly damaged during WW2 and survives in its original form.
Also on Walbrook are the remains of  a Roman Temple. The Romans built the Temple of Mithras in the middle of the third century. In this temple the soldiers sought valour and virility in shower-baths of hot blood from slaughtered bulls. The remains were discovered when Bucklesbury House was built in 1953. The temple and a number of artifacts that were also found are now housed in a small Museum at No12 Walbrook.

 At the corner of Walbrook and Cannon Street is the Blomberg Arcade with its numerous eateries and bars.
This large water sculpture can be seen on either side of the Blomberg arcade.

'Forgotten Streams' by Christina Iglesias The artist has taken her inspiration from the ancient Walbrook river which flowed through this site for hundreds of  years. A watercourse during the Roman period the Walbrook was slowly buried over the ensuing centuries.

I crossed  Cannon Street and went down Dowgate Hill which runs alongside the station. There are a number of Livery Company Halls in this area.  

The Tallow Hall is on the corner of Dowgate Hill and Cloak Lane. The guild of the Tallow chandlers (animal fat candle sellers) moved into the premises on Dowgate Hill in 1476. The building was destroyed by  the Great Fire. The current Hall was completed in 1677 and has been in continuous use since then. Little damage during the war means the Hall has changed little since it was built

Across the road from the Tallow Chandlers on Cloak Lane I noticed this memorial beneath an office block. The inscription reads:

To the memory of the Dead
Interred in the Ancient church and churchyard of St John the Baptist
During the centuries.
The formation of the District Railway
Having necessitated the destruction of
the greater part of the 
All the human remains contained therein
When carefully collected and reinterred in a
Beneath this monument

Behind the grill and railings you can still see some of the gravestones. Imagine working above a graveyard. Spooky.

The next Livery Company on Dowgate Hill is the Worshipful Company of Skinners

Quite an unusual number for a building.

The Skinners' Company is one of the 'Great Twelve' livery companies. It developed from the medieval trade guild of furriers and was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1327. Today it runs a non profit organisation which is involved in the support of schools, sheltered housing and many other good causes.

The Hall was rebuilt after The Great Fire of London and has been home to the Skinners' company eversince. It is reported on their website that when a bomb exploded nearby in 1944, the butler on fire watch duty persuaded other fire fighters to give the Hall priority by providing them with refreshments from the drinks cupboard.

I don't think I've seen so many Worshipful Companies on one street.

Another of the Livery Halls on Dowgate Hill is the Dyers' Hall. Henry VI granted the guild of Dyers their first Royal Charter in 1471

Above the main entrance is the Dyers' Coat of Arms. The spots of colour on the leopards is a reference to the colours the dyers used.

Their present hall on the corner of College Street and Dowgate Hill was built in 1839, As with many of these livery companies their work nowadays is to support education and other charitable causes.

Opposite the Dyers' Company on College Street is the Worshipiful Company of Innkeepers.

Inns started life during the 13th Century when monasteries could not cope with the numbers of pilgrims and traders that required bed and breakfast facilities as well as stabling for their horses. They became known as innkeepers in 1473. They wanted to set themselves apart from taverns and alehouses . An inn is somewhere where a traveller could obtain lodgings as well as food and drink but alehouses and taverns did not provide accomodation. They received a Royal Charter from Henry VIII in 1514 and a few years later they occupied a Hall on this site. Being close to the centre of the Great Fire of London the hall was completely destroyed. It was immediately rebuilt  and completed in 1670.

The words beneath the etched window of the hall give more information on its history.
  This hall was rebuilt 1668-1674 after the Great Fire. Damaged in World War 1914-1918. Severely damaged in World War 1939-1945. It was fully restored in 1950

At the bottom of College Street is the church of St Michael Paternoster Royal another post fire Wren design. The most famous of its parishioners was Dick Whittington, four times the Lord Mayor of London. Whittington was made famous after his death due to the money he left which was used for the benefit of the city. It was used to build almshouses for the poor, a college for priests and a library as well as many other public works. Disadvantaged Londoners still benefit from Whittington's will to this day via Whittington's Charity.

Next to the church is Whittington's Garden with two granite plinths with two horsemen, sculpted by Cambellotti which were given to the City of London by the Italian President on his state visit in 2005. I am not sure whether it is the angle of the photo  but I can't make head nor tail of the sculpture. I certainly can't see a horseman.

This plaque is on the wall next to the church.

These late 17th century stone gateways, close to the church,  were originally part of Whittington's college.

I walked back to Dowgate Hill and continued down it towards the river. Crossing Upper Thames Street you can see the railway lines also go above the road here and then over the Thames River via Cannon Street railway bridge.

I walked down the narrow Cousin Lane. At the end of the lane there are stairs leading down to the river.

There are not many water stairs remaining in the City of London which give open access to the river. During medieval times people would cross the river from here via a wherry (small row boat). When the tide was high they could step from the water stairs into the boat.

Next to the steps is a pub which has great views over the Thames.
Looking eastwards from the terrace of the pub you can see  a few of the bridges including Tower Bridge.

I wanted to walk by the River and so to get onto the Thames Path  I had to walk through this underpass, Steelyard Passage.  It is dark and the brick arches take you back to another world. You can hear the sounds of the river, the workmen and the cranes being broadcast through unseen speakers.

Looking at the ground you can see a blue line snaking its way along the pathway. This is the 'river of light' a representation of the Thames.

Across the Thames you can see the converted Victorian warehouses on the river's edge. They were built during the early to mid 19th century and form a continuous line, five to six storeys high.

I walked along the Thames Path for a short while before turning up another Lane  and onto Laurence Pountney Lane. 

The Hill is named after the church of St Laurence Pountney, one of 34 churches burnt in the Great Fire that were never rebuilt. Its churchyard continued to be used as a graveyard and today is a quiet and secluded garden.

The gate to the garden is locked but perhaps it is open to the workers during the week.

Rectory House on the corner of Laurence Pountney Hill and Laurence Pountney Lane. Note that some of the  windows have been blocked up in this house most likely due to the 'window tax' which was introduced in 1696. The tax was based on the number of windows in  the house. It was an easy tax to assess and collect as it was so visual. As early as 1718 it was noted that there was a decline in the amount of revenue collected due to windows being blocked up. The law was repealed in 1851 after campaigners argued that it was a tax on 'light and air'. This is the side view of a 17th century  merchant's house. Below the house you an see the 18th century shop front

The house was built in 1678, one of the first buildings to rise from the ashes of the Great Fire of London. It is the only house in the Square Mile of the City of London to have its own garden. It stands alone between the giants of financial buildings that surround it. The wooden beams used to build it were taken from the masts of the ruined ships which were moored on the Thames during the fire. Apparently you can still see medieval red clay bricks blackened by the fire in the cellar. Rectory house was restored as a domestic home in 2002.

After the Fire of London, the rebuilding Act (1667) ruled that 'all the outsides of buildings be henceforth made of brick or stone' as  a precaution against fire. Woodwork was confined to doorways and window frames. These two houses at nos 1 and 2 Laurence Pountney Hill are possibly two of the best examples of carved doorcases in the country.

This shell hood displays the date (1703) whilst this one shows cherubs playing bowls.

The houses survived the Blitz and are now home to a law firm.

It was just a short walk back to the station. In fact I doubt I was more than a five minute walk from Cannon Street station at any one time during my walk. I enjoyed wandering around these cobbled streets and thinking about the map I saw in the Museum of London which shows these built up lanes as they were 450 years ago.


  1. Wow! You certainly are having a grand time and sharing magnificent photos with us on your walk! Thanks!

    Happy Times to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  2. I hope you ignored the cheeky guard who asked you to not take photos in a public space. I can't make out the horse and rider sculpture. Perhaps they are taking a tumble. I rather prefer it to Forgotten Streams. My short video of Gog and Magog in Melbourne. It is a little like watching paint dry.

  3. A rock with a Twitter account! Now I've heard it all. I've often wondered how you manage to wander around the streets of London clicking away at historic monuments and very public places without being taken into custody. You must be a very unsuspicious looking character.

  4. Hello, I enjoyed this tour from the station. I love all the buildings and pretty details. The sculptures are awesome. Wonderful collection of photos. Happy Tuesday, enjoy your day!

  5. Fascinating walk around though not sure the security guard could stop you taking a photo of the building if your on public land though it did sound like he asked you not to photograph it rather than get chopsy and tell you that you could not. Love the history lesson you give

  6. What an amazing tour! Thank you for sharing it with us. So many things caught my eye, and not just the Thames or the ancient buildings...I like these names "Dyers Coat of Arms" and "Worshipful Company of Innkeepers" among others. And speaking of names: how about Dick Whittington?
    A fabulous blog post
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  7. That is a lovely posting with many lovely photos. I loved all the various buildings and how you find the interesting details. Thanks for your comments on my blog.

  8. The map is very important historically, it makes the city look like it was very crowded at the time.

  9. Every stop on your journey has shown and taught us us wonderful history, but I think this stop has probably topped them all. This was remarkable -- and fascinating that it is all within such a small area. That is the joy of London! I didn't know about the stone at all ... thank you for making the extra effort to find out where it was and I loved looking at the map as well.

  10. My goodness, what a lovely long tour. You are a great tour guide!

  11. I'm glad you explained the spots on the dyer's coat of arms. I thought someone had currently painted it to be silly or something, not thinking that dyers would of course use bright colors. I also found it very interesting that the working sounds of the city and river above were broadcast through the Steelyard Passage underpass. I can't make heads nor tails of the horse sculpture though!


Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my blog.