|Model in the Museum of London, showing the new spire.|
|Detail from Visscher Panorama, 1616|
Today I went on a one of the Museum of London’s periodic tours of the most substantial surviving part of Cripplegate Roman Fort, preserved in the modern underground car park on London Wall. The fort was originally built in around 120AD, and housed a garrison of perhaps as many as 1000 or more troops, including cavalry, on a 12-acre site to the north-west of the Roman city of Londinium. Its west and north walls were subsequently incorporated into the City Wall in around 200. Part of the west wall, gate, and gate-house complete with guard-rooms and turrets, can still be seen in the modern car park, together with a fine reconstruction making sense of things.
Today I took Paul on the epic “Medieval London” special walk, through not only the City but also Spitalfields, Southwark, Smithfield, Clerkenwell, Holborn and Westminster.
As always, it was so good to see all the sites on one walk – even if it does make it a bit of a monster!
The Seven Surviving Medieval Churches in the City of London
Top row, left to right: All Hallows Barking; All Hallows Staining; St Andrew Undershaft; St Ethelburga.
Bottom row, left to right: St Helen; St Katharine Cree; St Olave Hart Street.
The story may be said to have begun at least as long ago as 1237 or thereabouts, when a house was built on the banks of the Thames for the Bishops of Norwich. The house was later handed over by Henry VIII to his brother-in-law Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk, during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536, and then by Queen Mary to the Archbishop of York in 1556, at which point it came to be known as “York House”. York House was then in turn owned or occupied by Sir Nicholas Bacon, the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, from 1558; by his son Francis Bacon, from 1617; by George Villiers Senior, the First Duke of Buckingham, from 1621; by Villiers’s widow, from 1628; by General Sir Thomas, Lord Fairfax, during the Civil War; and eventually by Villiers’s son, George Junior, the Second Duke of Buckingham, after the Restoration (by which time he had married Fairfax’s daughter Mary). The house survived the Great Fire of 1666. However, it was substantially demolished in the 1670s, whereupon Nicholas Barbon re-developed the site, and in deference to its former owner set out new streets named George, Villiers, Duke and Buckingham – and an alley named Of!
(Incidentally, of York House, only the Water Gate, believed to have been designed and built by the master-mason Nicholas Stone in 1626, survives to this day, in Victoria Embankment Gardens).
|The Ship of State|
Today (3rd October) I went on a tour of the Houses of Parliament, also known as The Palace of Westminster (*). I found it a strangely moving experience, simply being in the space where so much history has been made. And felt a particularly strong surge of emotion on being reminded by the guide of Charles I’s attempted unconstitutional arrest of five Members of Parliament here in 1642 – essentially the last in the series of events that led to the Civil War. One of the said “Five Members” was my distant relative John Hampden, who went on to fight on the Parliamentarian side in the War, and was mortally wounded at the Battle of Chalgrove Field.
The Old Palace was purportedly originally built for Cnut in around 1016, and subsequently rebuilt by Edward, “the Confessor” in 1042-65, and extended by succeeding kings, with Westminster Hall eventually becoming the seat of Parliament, to be succeeded, in 1548, by the then-secularised Royal Chapel of St. Stephen.
|Westminster Hall exterior|
|Westminster Hall interior|
|Jewel Tower exterior|
|Jewel Tower interior|
|Victoran Gothic extravagance|
|Victorian Gothic aspiration|
(*) For those wanting to see inside the Palace of Westminster – here is a link to the official website with details of how to book …
This is Open House London weekend (21st-22nd September 2013), meaning that many buildings or parts of buildings of architectural or historical merit that aren’t ordinarily open to the public are, and for free.
Today I went on tours of the triforium gallery in St Paul’s cathedral, and of the church of St Helen Bishopsgate.
I had to queue up for an hour-and-a-half to book a place on the tour of the triforium gallery in St Paul’s, and then wait another three hours until it started.
|Some salvaged bits of old St Paul’s|
But it was totally worth it, and utterly magnificent.
|The Geometric Staircase (this is as close to the edge as I could go with my acrophobia)|
The Wren Library there is now officially one of my very favourite places of all. The atmosphere inside is as rich, dark and deep as a cup of coffee from the “Giddy Up” stall in Guildhall Yard – the best anywhere, by the way!
|The Wren Library|
Link to Open House London : http://www.londonopenhouse.org/