The ticket hall is festooned with poloroid photos of visitors from around the world under a banner #London is Open. This refers to a comment made by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan after the terrorists attacks in the city in 2017
The entrance to the station is very close to one of the largest remaining sections of the Roman London Wall which once surrounded the City of London.
The lower part with its tile bonding was built by the Romans in 200AD. The Roman wall would have been about 6.4m high. During the medieval period the wall was strengthened and heightened. From the 17th century it fell into disuse and parts of it were demolished. Several sections including this one were preserved by being incorporated into later buildings.
From the wall I walked to Trinity Square past Trinity House.
Trinity House is the headquarters of the organisation that regulates the country's harbour pilots and lighthouses.
At No 10 Trinity Square is this majestic building, constructed in the 1920s as the headquarters of the Port of London Authority. It continued as offices for the PLA until 2008 when the Port of London offices moved. The building remained empty for three years. One of its claims to fame was a major role in the Bond film Skyfall when it was used as the MI6 headquarters. The building was bought by a Chinese investor in 2010 and restored using as many of the original features as possible. It now houses 41 luxury apartments and a 100 room Four Seasons Hotel.
Across the road is Trinity Square Gardens with Sir Edward Lutyens's Mercantile Marine Memorial to sailors who lost their lives during the First World War. The current heatwave has meant most of the grass has died back so it doesn't look that impressive at the moment.
This Tower Hill Memorial bears the names of 12,000 First World War merchant seamen who have no known grave, their bodies lost or buried at sea.
The vaulted temple is covered with bronze panels with the engraved names of those who died.
On the side of the garden furthest from the station are some plaques commemorating prisoners from the Tower of London who were publicly executed here. The plaque reads:
To commemorate the tragic history and in many cases the martyrdom of those who for the sake of their faith, country or ideals staked their lives and lost.
On this site more than 125 were put to death, the names of some of whom are recorded here.
I am sure you might recognise some of the names on the plaques.
Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) was a lawyer, writer, Member of Parliament, Chancellor and advisor to King Henry VIII
When Henry declared himself 'supreme head of the Church in England' - thus establishing the Anglican Church and allowing him to end his marriage - More resigned the chancellorship. He continued to argue against the king's divorce and the split with Rome, and in 1534 was arrested after refusing to swear an oath of succession repudiating the pope and accepting the annulment of Henry's marriage. He was tried for treason at Westminster and on 6 July 1535 was executed on Tower Hill.(BBC History)
Thomas Cromwell (1485-1540). Another of Henry VIII's most trusted advisors who was accused of being a traitor and heretic. Henry did make one concession and that was to allow him to be beheaded (a treat reserved for noblemen) instead of being hung, drawn and quartered!
The site continued to be used long after Henry VII's death. In 1746 William Boyd, 4th Earl of Kilmarnock and Arthur Elphinstone, 6th Lord Balmerino were both beheaded here. They were taken prisoners at the Battle of Culloden, the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745. Having been tried and found guilty of treason they were held in the Tower of London and brought to this site on Tower Hill where they were executed on 18th August 1746.
Simon Lord Lovatt became the last person to be beheaded on Tower Hill when he was executed for treason on 9th April 1747. Not all beheadings took place here. More private ones such as the executions of Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey took place within the walls of the Tower of London.
I left the gardens to walk up Seething Lane once home to the diarist, Samuel Pepys (1633-1703). Pepys was an important 26 yr old civil servant and wote daily entries into his diary for the next 10 years.
It was whilst he lived here with his wife Elizabeth that he wrote most of his diary. His diary describes in great detail life in London during the 17th cent. In particular it gives us a first hand description of the Great Fire and how he removed his valuables by cart although chose to bury his Parmasan cheese and fine wine in a pit in his garden. Here are a couple of extracts of his diary taken from Pepys Diary
By and by Jane comes and tells me that she hears that above 300 houses have been burned down to-night by the fire we saw, and that it is now burning down all Fish-street, by London Bridge. So I made myself ready presently, and walked to the Tower, and there got up upon one of the high places, Sir J. Robinson’s little son going up with me; and there I did see the houses at that end of the bridge all on fire, and an infinite great fire on this and the other side the end of the bridge; which, among other people, did trouble me for poor little Michell and our Sarah on the bridge. So down, with my heart full of trouble, to the Lieutenant of the Tower, who tells me that it begun this morning in the King’s baker’s house in Pudding-lane, and that it hath burned St. Magnus’s Church and most part of Fish-street already. So I down to the water-side, and there got a boat and through bridge, and there saw a lamentable fire. Poor Michell’s house, as far as the Old Swan, already burned that way, and the fire running further, that in a very little time it got as far as the Steeleyard, while I was there. Everybody endeavouring to remove their goods, and flinging intothe river or bringing them into lighters that layoff; poor people staying in their houses as long as till the very fire touched them, and then running into boats, or clambering from one pair of stairs by the water-side to another. Extract from Sun 2nd Sept
Sir W. Batten not knowing how to remove his wine, did dig a pit in the garden, and laid it in there; and I took the opportunity of laying all the papers of my office that I could not otherwise dispose of. And in the evening Sir W. Pen and I did dig another, and put our wine in it; and I my Parmazan cheese, as well as my wine and some other things.
Extract from Tues 4th Sept 1666
Further down the Lane on the corner of Crutched Friars is the church of St Olave, a 15th century Gothic parish church. This is the only surviving City church dedicated to the patron saint of Norway. It survived the Great Fire when the wind changed as the flames came within 100 metres of the church. It was here that Samuel Pepys worshipped and both he and his wife were buried here.
Above the gateway of 1658 leading to the small churchyard is this pediment decorated with skulls and bones.
Not quite sure who Mother Goose refers to but she is recorded as being buried here in 1586.
The interior of the church was gutted during the WW2 but enough of the original furnishings were saved to allow it to be restored in the 1950s.
A few doors away from the church, squeezed in between more modern buildings, is The Ship Public House, which has been here is 1802.
I walked back over to Lower Thames Street to have a look at this pub with the gruesome name 'Hung, Drawn and Quartered'. This was the grisly punishment given to those who were found guilty of high treason. On the side of the pub is a plaque with a quote from Samuel Pepys's diary.
A short walk from the pub is the All Hallows-by-the-Tower church. It is said that it was from the steeple tower that Pepys observed the burning of London. The church was built over the remains of a Roman building. The church suffered extensive damage during WW2 leaving just the the tower and walls. It was rebuilt after the war and rededicated in 1957.
All hallows by the Tower is the oldest church in the City of London. Founded in 675AD by the Abbey of Barking, it predates the Tower of London by 300 years. Located next to the Tower of London, the church has cared for many beheaded bodies including that of Sir Thomas More.
Below the church is a Museum. This Saxon arch was revealed during its renovation after the war.
In the crypt is a 2nd century Roman pavement discovered in 1926.
This rare alabaster carving dates from the 14th cent. These carvings were popular during Medieval times but most were destroyed during the Reformation.
This is the Baptismal register for 1644 showing the months from August to October. If you look at the entries for October you can see the name William Penn who was baptised here on the 23rd October 1644. Who would have thought that this child would go on to found the state of Pennsylvania in the USA. His father was Admiral Sir William Penn who was commissioner of the Navy Office and the next door neighbour of Samuel Pepys. It was Penn's actions that saved the church from the Great Fire by ordering that several buildings around the church be blown up and create a fire break.
Another connection to America is the marriage of John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the USA, which took place at the church in 1797.
Close to the church is this memorial stone to those who gave their lives defending Malta and who broke the three year Siege of Malta. The inscription on the stone reads:
Malta G.C. The Siege of 1940-43
In 1940 the sinister shadow of Fascism spilled across Europe and into North Africa. Malta, under the protection of Great Britain, found herself alone in a hostile Mediterranean 800 miles from her nearest allies in Gibraltar and Alexandria. Besieged by enemies Malta became a fulcrum on which the fate of the war balanced for the next three years. If Malta fell the rest of North Africa would follow, opening the door to the oil fields of the Middle East and for the Axis Powers to join in Asia and threaten India. The allies knew this. So did the Axis Powers. Malta, besieged, became and remains the most bombed place in the history of War.
Supplied only by Sea, at great cost, Malta was defended not only by her own people but by forces drawn from the whole free world. Fighter aircraft delivered by the American and Royal Navies were piloted by Britons, Canadians, Australians, and New Zealanders. Convoys crewed by British, American and Commonwealth seamen were supported by the free forces of Greece, the Netherlands, and Poland. Free Norwegians added their merchant fleet to the Allied cause. In April 1942 King George VI awarded to the People of Malta the George Cross, the highest decoration for civilian courage and heroism.
By summer 1942 only weeks of food remained and the Allies mounted operation Pedestal as a last attempt to save Malta. After a five-day running battle the Convoy's four remaining merchant vessels and the immortal Tanker Ohio, all that was left of the fourteen that set out, entered Grand Harbour. The date was 15th August, 1942, the feast of Santa Maria. The siege was broken; within months North Africa was retaken and the first steps of European liberation begun.
This stone taken from Malta, was presented by the Maltese Government on the 60th Anniversary of the end of Second World War to commemorate all who participated in the siege and defence of Malta, 1940-43.
Placed by the George Cross Island Association, 15th August 2005.
On the right of the church by the River Thames is the Tower Millennium Pier. This is one of five new piers constructed as part of the Thames 2000 project funded by the Millennium Commission. It is a popular stopping point for visitors arriving by river to visit the Tower of London.
The building of the Tower of London was begun by William the Conqueror in 1078, 12 years after his invasion of England in 1066. The White Tower was completed by 1097 and was a defence against attacks from the continent via the River Thames. It is one of London's most popular tourist attractions. Built as a fortress, it has been a prison, an arsenal, a zoo and a store house. Today it houses the Crown Jewels.
The Tower was in almost continuous use for the imprisonment of traitors and other important prisoners up until the end of WW2. The most famous prisoners in the Tower were Anne Boleyn, 2nd wife of Henry VIII, executed there in 1542. Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned there for 13 years, one of the longest imprisonments in the Tower. Twelve year old Prince Edward V and ten year old Prince Richard of Shrewsbury were imprisoned in 1483 by their uncle, on the death of their father, so that he could claim the throne for himself to become Richard III. The 'Prnces in the Tower' as they were known, were not seen again and were most likely murdered. Guy Fawkes was imprisoned and sentenced to be 'hanged,drawn and quartered for his part in the Gunpowder plot of 1605, to blow up Parliament. However he managed to throw himself from the gallows and broke his neck, thus avoiding the grisly punishment. Lady Jane Grey was Queen for 9 days in 1553 but was tried for treason and was beheaded 6 months later at the age of 16. The final State prisoner to be held at the Tower was Rudolf Hess, Hitler's Deputy when he was captured parachuting into Scotland in 1941. He was only kept at the Tower for a few days. He was later tried at Nurenburg and given a life sentence. The last person to be executed at the Tower was Josef Jakobs, a member of the German military. He was executed by firing squad for committing treachery. The historic final death warrant was passed to the Constable of the Tower.
To: The Constable of H.M. Tower of London. 13th August 1941.
I have the honour to acquaint you that JOSEF JAKOBS, an enemy alien, has been found guilty of an offence against the Treachery Act 1940 and has been sentenced to suffer death by being shot.
The said enemy alien has been attached to the Holding Battalion, Scots Guards for the purpose of punishment and the execution has been fixed to take place at H.M. Tower of London on Friday the 15th August 1941 at 7.15am.
Sgd. Sir Bertram N. Sergison-Brooke,
Lieutenant-General Commanding London District.
The Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress are commonly known as Beefeaters. They have a ceremonial role as the guardians of the Tower of London. Theoretically responsible for guarding any prisoner in the tower. There are 37 Yeomen Warders and one Chief Warder and they all live at the Tower of London.
From the outside of the Tower you can see Traitor's Gate, an water gate entrance through which prisoners of the Tudors would arrive at the Tower. The prisoners would be brought by barge along the Thames passing under London Bridge where the heads of executed prisoners would be displayed. Boats from the Thames have not reached the gate for many years possibly for centuries.
Tower bridge, an iconic tourist image of London. Built during the Victorian era by J Wolfe Barry, engineer and Horace Jones, the City Architect. It has two levels, the lower one, which opens to allow tall ships to pass through and the upper one which was for pedestrians and is now part of the Tower experience exhibition. The lifting machinery to raise the bridge is housed in the steel framed stone clad towers.
If you want to see the bridge lift, here is a website with the dates and times: Tower Bridge lift times
This is the view of the bridge opening when you are standing on the bridge, as I was this week with my granddaughter.
As a result of the growing tea trade in the city, St Katharine Docks opened on 25th October 1828 with Butler's wharf opening 65 years later on the opposite side of the River Thames. St Katharine Docks was at the centre of Britain's commercial trade and was recognised as the main tea storage and processing centre in London. Tea was the second largest commodity after wool with tea warehouses receiving 120,000 tea chests annually. The working docks ceased to operate in 1968 but continue to thrive as a marina.
Top marks for marking the effort to decorate the notice boards.