Bull baiting (Samuel Pepys, 1666)

Bull baiting

On this day in 1666, Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary (see also July 12th posting on “Bear-baiting”):

“[A]fter dinner, with my wife and Mercer to the Beare-garden [in Southwark], where I have not been, I think, of many years, and saw some good sport of the bull’s tossing of the dogs: one into the very boxes.  But it is a very rude and nasty pleasure”.

The old  animal-baiting arenas on Bankside in   Southwark eventually closed down in the later seventeeth century, although at the same time new ones opened up Hockley-in-the-Hole in Clerkenwell, “the home of low-caste sport”.    Animal-baiting was only finally outlawed, under the “Cruelty to Animals Act”, in the early nineteenth century, in 1835.

Bankside  is  visited on our “Historic Southwark” standard  walk.

Further details of all our walks are available in the “Our Guided Walks” section of our web-site (www.lostcityoflondon.co.uk).

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site (www.lostcityoflondon.co.uk), or by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com).

Roman London – Reconstruction and Zenith (late C1-early C2)

After the Boudiccan revolt of AD60/61, Roman London  was rebuilt, initially by the Procurator Julius Alpinus Classicianus under the Emperor Nero, and subsequently under the Flavian, Trajanic and Hadrianic emperorships, in the late first to early second centuries.

New building works from this period include:

the  recently-discovered post-Boudiccan fort on   Mincing Lane, dating to  c. 63;

the “Governor’s Palace”, dating to the Flavian period, c. 69-96;


the first undoubted Basilica and Forum, dating to c. 70;


the Amphitheatre, dating to c. 75;

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and the Cripplegate Fort, dating to c. 125

NEW WALK – Chaucer’s London

Chaucer's London - Copy

We are pleased to announce the launch of another new walk – Chaucer’s London …

The walk starts in the area around Baynard’s Castle and the King’s Wardrobe in Blackfriars, with views up the Thames towards Westminster.  Proceeds through the heart of the Medieval City of London to its eastern quarter, where many pre-Great Fire building still survive.   And  thence  in  Chaucer’s footsteps from his sometime lodgings in Aldgate to his sometime place of work in Billingsgate.  Finishes by crossing London Bridge to the Borough of Southwark, and continuing  down Borough High Street as far as Tabard Street, along part of the route taken by the pilgrims  he wrote about in his “Canterbury Tales”.

Further details of all our walks are available on the “Guided Walks” section of this web-site.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, or by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com).


Roman London – The Boudiccan Revolt (60/61)

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Roman London  was razed to the ground  by revolting ancient Britons under Boudica or Boudicca (Boadicea of the Victorian re-imagining), the   Queen of the Iceni,  in 60 or 61, while the legions under the Governor Suetonius Paulinus were away attacking  the druid stronghold on  Anglesey.  Tacitus wrote:  “The inhabitants … who stayed because they were women, or old, or attached to the place, were slaughtered … .  … For the British … could not wait to cut throats, hang, burn and crucify – as though avenging, in advance, the retribution that was on its way (*)”.

(*) At the so-called Battle of Watling Street, the precise location of which remains unknown.

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One of the many purported locations for the battle is Ambresbury Banks in Epping Forest.

Celebrating Sir Francis Drake


On this day in 1586, Sir Francis Drake was feted in the Middle Temple on his return from the New World – where he had been busy “privateering” (plundering Spanish possessions).

Drake is also famous as  the first person to circumnavigate the globe, between 1577-80, aboard the “Golden Hind(e)”.  On April 4th, 1581, Elizabeth I visited his ship, which had been “drawn into a creek … at Deptford as a perpetual memorial for having circuited round about the whole earth”, and “consecrated it with great ceremonie, pompe and magnificence eternally to be remembered”; and knighted him (see also April 4th posting).  The ship  remained at Deptford for about 100 years, until it started to disintegrate and had to be broken up.  A  plaque on the water-front there marks the site and commemorates the event.  There is a modern reconstuction of it  in St Mary Overie Dock in  Southwark.

Middle Temple Hall is visited on various of our walks, including the “Tudor and Stuart London”, themed special.

Further details of all our walks are available in the Our Guided Walks section of this web-site.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, or by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com).

Roman London – Londinium (c. 47/8)


Rome under Claudius invaded Britain in 43AD, and Roman London, or Londinium, was founded in c. 47-8, as evidenced by dendrochronological or  tree-ring dating of timbers from a Roman drain uncovered during archaeological excavations at  No. 1 Poultry.  The city was sited in a strategic position on high ground overlooking  the Thames, at the lowest crossing-point on the river, and at a point at which it  was also still tidal, enabling easy access to the open sea, and the empire beyond the sea  (*).  If Rome was built on seven hills, Roman London was built on two, Ludgate Hill to the west, and Cornhill to the east, with the valley of one of the Thames tributaries –  the Walbrook – in between.

(*) There is some evidence that the tidal head moved downstream in the later Roman period, and that some port facilities followed it, from the City eastward toward  Shadwell and Ratcliff.

NEW WALK – Shakespeare’s London


We are pleased to announce the launch of a new walk – Shakespeare’s London …

The walk starts at the “Actors’ Church” in Shoreditch, and proceeds to the sites of the Shoreditch playhouses of the 1570s, and through the Liberty of Norton Folgate, to enter the City of London at Bishopsgate.  It then proceeds  past the sites of inns that functioned as playhouses before any were purpose-built, that of a church frequented by Shakespeare’s fellow actors Heminge and Condell,  and that of the most famous of his lodgings, to that of the Mermaid Tavern,  where he was once wont to gather of an evening with Marlowe and Jonson.  And by way of “Old” London Bridge to Southwark, to the Cathedral where his brother lies buried, and, through the Liberty of the Clink, to the sites of the Bankside playhouses of the 1580s and 1590s.  And finishes with a walk across a wobbly footbridge to the sites of the indoor Blackfriars theatres, one once filled with candlelight and sweet music as well as the Bard’s immortal words.  With an optional extension to the site of the premiere of “Twelfth Night” in 1602.

Further details of all our walks are available on the “Guided Walks” section of this web-site.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, or by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com).