Mile End Park to London Fields: Exploring Parks of the 19th & 21st Century

Hello there! Thanks for joining me for another walking adventure across the city of London! This week I’m going to be exploring East London, where my journey begins at Mile End Park. From there I’ll take the beautiful Regent’s Canal walk to the amazing Victoria Park, before finishing in the very peaceful London Fields.

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Mile End Park to London Fields

Based in East London, Mile End Park is a relatively new addition to London having been opened in 2004 as part of the Millennium Commission, who called for suitable projects to be created as a way to mark the millennium.

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However, plans for a park in Mile End date back to 1943 when Sir Patrick Abercrombie mooted them in his 1944 ‘Greater London Plan’. The site has had development done to it before the park we see today, including trees being planted, a playing field opened in 1952 as well as the East London Stadium being built and opened in 1966.

In 1985 the land became the responsibility of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. By 1995 the Tower Hamlets Environment Trust, the East London Partnership, and the London Borough of Tower successful got Millennium funding worth £12.33m.

The aim of the new park was to make it a sustainable area which was built and would benefit the local community and act as a catalyst for regional regeneration. The area includes many green spaces, a playground, Ecology Park, Art Pavilion, cafe, and outdoor gallery space. I only discovered this gem a few years back when I was walking a long The Regent’s Canal, and it’s totally worth the visit!

And speaking of The Regent’s Canal, it’s time to join it, as we make our way along our journey. The Regent’s Canal was opened in 1801 to connect the Grand Junction Canal’s Paddington Arm with the Thames at Limehouse. For more information on the history of The Regent’s Canal, check out my previous walk, King’s Cross to Hampstead Heath!

My pleasant walk along the Regent’s Canal takes me under numerous bridges, and its beauty demonstrates why this is my favourite stretch of walking!

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A short walk past Mile End lock which is upstream.

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Mile End Lock

My route takes me to one of the aforementioned developments within the Mile End project, The Art Pavilion.

This pavilion provides a stunning gallery space with grass and the small lake overlooking the area. It’s a popular place for exhibitions and installations, and there aren’t many places in London which have this cute feel and unique view.

From culture to a canal, as I rejoin the Regent’s Canal once again passing through the tranquil riverside.

This takes me to the Old Fort Lock where the Regent’s Canal meets the Hertford Union Canal.

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Old Fort Lock

I’ll now take a detour off the Regent’s Canal to make my way to the truly wonderful Victoria Park.

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Lakeside view at Victoria Park

Opened in 1845, Victoria Park is located in the East of London bordering Bethnal Green, South Hackney, and Cambridge Heath. The park has 86.18 hectares of open space with a riverside cafe and many marvellous lakes.

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Bridge to enter one of the Park’s islands

Back in 1839, the Annual Report of the Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages noted that the East End of London had a higher mortality rate than the rest of the city due to overcrowding, insanitary conditions, and polluted air. One way to reduce the amount of deaths and extend people’s lives was to create a park. Over 30,000 residents signed a petition, and in 1841 London’s first public park to be built specifically for people had begun! Hence, Victoria Park is also known as the ‘People’s Park’.

The Government bought land that had formally been used for market gardens, grazing, and gravel digging. The man behind the design for Victoria Park was James Pennethorne who was an architect to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests.

A boating lake with three islands was also created with The Chinese Pagoda sitting within one of these. It was originally the entrance at Hyde Park Corner to the Chinese Exhibition between 1842 and 1843, however, this summerhouse later moved to its current position in Victoria Park.

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The Chinese Pagoda

A walk along the vast area of Victoria Park takes you to many open green spaces, and a nice little seating area!

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Nothing like a peaceful park!
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Lovely seating area in the park

One of the distinct monuments within the park is that of the Burdett-Coutts Memorial Drinking-Fountain which was designed by H.A. Darbishire and has been in the park since 1862.

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The Burdett-Coutts Memorial Drinking Fountain

The fountain made from pink marble, granite, and stone, has a distinctive cupola, ornamental slate roof, four clock-faces, Gothic arches, and inscriptions.

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It was gift by wealthy philanthropist Angela Burdett-Coutts to the people who visited Victoria Park and gave residents clean drinking water too.

In 1872 the park was extended on land that was originally going to be used for residential developments. A well-loved and valuable institution to the people in London, especially those in the East, the park has Grade II listed status. In 2011 the park had major restorations and improvements done to it with £12m being spent by Tower Hamlets Council, and I think it’s well worth it!

The park today hosts numerous events including the Lovebox Music Festival, and is a popular attraction for many who live in the East End.

After taking in the splendour of Victoria Park I’m now going to rejoin the Regent’s Canal as I make my way to the final destination, London Fields.

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On the edge of Victoria Park sits the Regent’s Canal

As you walk along the Regent’s Canal you come across these distinctive gasometers near Bethnal Green which have been there since the 1850s. There aren’t many of these around in London these days, so it’s great to see these iconic ones still going strong along the river.

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Gasometers near Bethnal Green

The walk up the streets takes me to London Fields, a 31-acre park located in south-central Hackney. It was first recorded by its name London Field in 1540, though there has been pasture land adjoining nearby Cambridge Heath since 1275.

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London Fields

The land was used by drovers to pasture their livestock before taking them to market in London. By the late 19th century, its name was pluralised to ‘London Fields’.

Council flats began to be built in the surrounding area to replace the slums in the early 1930s. Today, the park has a playground, cricket pitch, a lido, and a tennis court, and if you want a nice, quiet area to enjoy your lunch, it’s perfect!

My journey has taken me from two parks, one opened in the 21st century and the other in the 19th century, taking in one of London’s most popular walks along the Regent’s Canal. I hope you’ve enjoyed taking in some of the capital’s great green spaces! Don’t forget to follow me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook, and to sign up to my blog too 🙂

Stay tuned for another walk through London next week! 🙂

Sources: (not the food sauces)

All photos taken by London Wlogger unless credit given. © Copyright 2017

About Mile End Park – London Gardens Online

About The Art Pavilion and images of the inside – Tower Hamlets Gov

The Old Fort Lock – Canal and River Trust

History of Victoria Park – Tower Hamlets Gov

Information about the Chinese Pogoda – London Gardens Trust

History of Burdett-Coutts Memorial Drinking-Fountain – The Victorian Web

Bethnal Green Gasworks – The Guardian 

History of London Fields – British History Online

History of London Fields – Hidden London

St Paul’s Cathedral to Moorgate: The Influence of The Great Fire of London

A warm welcome to a new week, and a new walk! This instalment takes me from the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral past the financial district of Bank before finishing in Finsbury Circus in Moorgate. So grab your boots, and let’s get walking!

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St Paul’s Cathedral to Moorgate

My journey begins at St Paul’s Cathedral which has had a dedication to Paul the Apostle (St Paul) on its site since AD 604.

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The grand St Paul’s Cathedral

The cathedral we see today is at least the fourth to have stood on this site. It was created by one of Britain’s most famous architects, Sir Christopher Wren between 1675 and 1710, with its predecessor having been destroyed in The Great Fire of London in 1666.

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The cathedral stands at 365 feet (111m) high which made it the tallest building in London from 1710 to 1967… which is remarkably small when you consider The Shard is the tallest building now at 1,016 feet (309.6m)! After Liverpool Cathedral, St Paul’s is the second largest church building in the UK, and has one of the most distinctive domes in the world.

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The area surrounding St Paul’s is steeped in history and sights too, with the Paternoster Square sitting opposite the cathedral. It can trace its origins back to medieval Paternoster Row, where St Paul’s clergy would hold rosary beads and recite the ‘Paternoster’, or Lord’s Prayer (Paternoster translates as ‘Our Father’) whilst walking through the area.

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Temple Bar with St Paul’s in the background

The square is 70,000m² of office space, retail outlets and cafés. Standing at the entrance of the square is the Temple Bar arch, which was constructed by Sir Christopher Wren between 1669 and 1672. Its name derives from the gateway’s original position near the Temple Law courts, and displays its four original states  (Charles I, Charles II, James I and Queen Anne of Denmark), and was carved by John Bushnell.

It was one of the eight original City gateways – the others being Aldgate, Aldersgate, Bishopsgate, Cripplegate, Ludgate, Moorgate and Newgate.

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The Temple Bar Gate is actually the only one of these gates that has survived, with the others being demolished by the end of the 18th century. However, by 1878 it had become too expensive to maintain and caused traffic congestion. This lead to it being dismantled. Though in 1880, Sir Henry Meux bought all the stones and rebuilt it as a gateway to his park and mansion at Theobalds Park (located between Enfield and Cheshunt).

In 1984 the gates were purchased by the Temple Bar Trust from the Meux Trust, and in 2004 it was returned from Theobalds Park and re-erected at the entrance to Paternoster Square.

Another notable landmark in the Square is the Paternoster Column, which stands at 23.3m tall, and was erected in 2008.

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Paternoster Column

Comprised of a hexagonal stone base, a fluted Corinthian column and a glided copper urn, it was designed to be the ‘centre of gravity’ for the entire Paternoster development. The structure is a recreation of those designed for the west portico of the old St Paul’s. Also the London Stock Exchange is located within the square, which was founded in 1801.

From Paternoster Square and St Paul’s I take a short walk to a rather pleasant area known as Festival Gardens.

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Festival Gardens next to St Paul’s

First laid in 1951 by Sir Albert Richardson for the Corporation of London’s contribution to the Festival of Britain, it’s based over once bomb damaged land from the Second World War.

The gardens include a wall fountain, which was a gift from the Worshipful Company of Gardeners. Erected in 1973, the sculpture in the garden is that of ‘The Young Lovers’ by George Ehrlich.  The gardens provide a perfect view of St Paul’s and across the rest of the surrounding area!

From the tranquil gardens and splendour of St Paul’s, my walk takes me onto my next destination, Bank! Within the vicinity of the Bank area, there are three famous monuments, Mansion House, the Royal Exchange, and the Bank of England.

The Mansion House was completed in 1758 as a residence for Lord Mayors to undertake their work as heads of the City’s governmental, judicial and civic duties. Before the Mansion House was constructed they used to have to do these functions in their own houses or halls, a true Working from Home initiative!

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The Mansion House

Designed by George Dance the Elder, this Grade I listed building is in the heart of the City, right next to Bank tube station. Today, the house has a collection of plates and art including sculptures and 84 Dutch paintings of the Harold Samuel Art Collection.

Just a slight stroll from the Mansion House takes me to another synonymous financial part of Bank, The Royal Exchange. The origins of The Royal Exchange date back to 1566 when a wealthy merchant by the name of Sir Thomas Gresham established London’s first purpose-built centre for trading stocks. Its design was based on the world’s oldest financial exchange, the Bourse in Antwerp, Belgium.

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The Royal Exchange, with the Cheesegrater and The Gherkin behind it

It was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth I in 1571, and one thing to note is that if you ever wanted a drink there, you could, as it was awarded a license to sell alcohol! Two additional floors were added to the original trading floor in 1660 to house retail businesses. However, in 1666, The Great Fire of London destroyed it, and it took three years for it to be reopened. The 1669 site was designed by City surveyor Edward Jerman.

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Amazingly, and by a shocking coincidence, the new Royal Exchange was destroyed by a fire too in 1838, which was most likely caused by an overheated stove in Lloyd’s Coffee House on nearby Lombard Street… talk about bad luck! It was certainly third time lucky in 1844 when the current Royal Exchange was built and designed by Sir William Tite.

Traders moved out of the building after the Second World War which left it disused for several decades. The London International Financial Futures Exchange moved into the building in 1982 which meant trading returned there. By 2001 architect Aukett Fitzroy Robinson remodeled it and turned it into a luxury shopping and dining destination. Today, The Royal Exchange is one of London’s leading landmarks, which has kept its retail theme with boutique shops and dining offerings.

To the side of The Royal Exchange sits The Bank of England which was founded in 1694, and was initially to act as the Government’s banker and debt manager. It’s the central bank of the UK, with its Monetary Policy Committee responsible for setting the economy’s Base Rate and Interest Rates.

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The Bank of England

Back in 1688 there were calls for a national or public bank to mobilise the nation’s resources, given that businesses were flourishing, though money and credit systems were weak.

Scottish entrepreneur William Paterson invited the public to invest in a new project, and in just a few weeks, £1.2 million was invested to form the initial capital stock of the Bank of England. This was lent to the Government in return for a Royal Charter, which was sealed on the 27th July 1694, and the Bank became the Government’s banker and debt manager.

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The Back of the Bank

During the 1920s and 1930s, the Bank was redesigned by Sir Herbert Baker, whilst surviving several bombs during the Blitz. In 1946 it was nationalised and subsequently came under the ownership of the Government, rather than private stockholders. Full responsibility for monetary policy was transferred to The Bank of England in 1997. Today, as well as being the UK’s central bank to maintain monetary and financial stability, a free museum of its history is inside too.

After taking in all that financial jargon, it’s time to get some peaceful rest! And my final location of today’s walk can provide just that, as I head to Finsbury Circus in Moorgate.

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Finsbury Circus

The gardens were created in 1815 by William Montague and George Dance the Younger on the site that was originally part of Finsbury Manor. A campaign led by Alpheus Morton to make the park public succeeded in the early 20th century, having been a private space for the surrounding buildings.

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Finsbury Circus

The bandstand in the gardens has been there since 1955, though currently the area behind it is being used as a major construction site for Crossrail.

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Finsbury Circus Bandstand

I’ve seen how The Great Fire of London played its part in the reconstruction of some of the capital’s most iconic buildings, and how London’s banking district plays its part in both the City’s and the UK’s history.

Thanks for joining me, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the walk! Stay tuned for another walk next week 🙂 In the meantime, you can follow me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook, and don’t forget to sign up to my blog too 🙂

Sources: (not the food sauces)

All photos taken by London Wlogger. © Copyright 2017

History of St Paul’s Cathedral – St Paul’s Cathedral

About Paternoster Square – Paternoster Square 

Gardens of St Paul’s – City of London

History of Mansion House – City of London

History of The Royal Exchange – The Royal Exchange

History of The Bank of England – The Bank of England

History of Finsbury Circus – Historic England

Waterloo to The London Eye: From Britain’s Busiest Station to Attraction

It’s that time of the week again as I make another one of my trips around our great capital! This week’s journey starts at Waterloo Station and takes the short walk to a spectacular piece of architecture, as I end at The London Eye. My walk will take me via the Royal Festival Hall, and three bridges, Waterloo, Hungerford, and Golden Jubilee. So let’s get started!

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Waterloo to The London Eye

Like all good walks, I need to begin somewhere, and today it’s Waterloo Station. This terminus is Britain’s busiest train station with over 88 million people using it every year, with a staggering 22 platforms! But wait. I hear you ask. Doesn’t Clapham Junction have a sign saying IT’S the busiest train station in Britain?! Well that’s true, this is measured by how many trains pass through it, but for the sheer volume of passengers, Waterloo takes the honour.

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Waterloo Station, not in rush hour luckily!

Waterloo Station was built in 1848 by London & South Western Railway as an extension of the mainline from Nine Elms Railway Station, which in the 1830s was a London Terminus.

Back in the 1850s to deal with the overcrowding problems of London’s cemeteries bodies were transported to a purpose-built Cemetery in Brookwood, Surrey from Waterloo. This gave it the name of the ‘Death Line’!

In 1878 and 1885 new platforms were built in the North and South of the station respectively. The terminus was rebuilt between 1900 and 1922 with it officially reopening in March 1922. It took nearly 100 years for the roof to be refurbished, happening between 2001 and 2003.

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Waterloo Station concourse

Until it was moved to St Pancras in 2007, the Eurostar service ran from Waterloo Station, which began in 1994. Interestingly, French passengers weren’t happy about arriving in London to a station which reminded them of the French’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. Incredibly, one French politician went so far as to write a letter to then Prime Minister Tony Blair to demand it changed its name! But to no avail!

The terminus today covers an area of 24.5 acres with the roof measuring 20ft x 540ft with a maximum single span of 118ft. In addition to mainline South West Trains, the underground station has the Bakerloo, Jubilee, Northern and Waterloo & City tube lines.

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Victory Arch

One of the entrances has what is known as the Victory Arch, which is Grade II listed. It was built from Portland Stone between 1907 and 1922 by James Robb Scott. It represents war and peace, with the Britannia figure over the top of it bearing the torch of liberty.

My walk from a busy station takes me past the Royal Festival Hall, a grade I listed hall which first opened in 1951.

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It’s one of the world’s leading performance venues with a capacity of 2,500 seats with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment being notable residents.

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Inside the wonderful hall (Credit: The Southbank Centre)

From the sound of music I take a slight detour to the sound of water, to my next destination along the Southbank, Waterloo Bridge!

Until the beginning of the 19th century, Blackfriars was the only bridge between Westminster and London Bridge. John Rennie was the engineering mastermind behind the first stone bridge which was laid on the 11th October 1811.

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The stunning Waterloo Bridge structure

Originally called the Strand bridge, it was renamed Waterloo Bridge as a lasting legacy of the victory achieved in the Battle of Waterloo. It opened in 1817, on the second anniversary of the battle, at a total cost of £937,391.

By 1884 the foundations of the bridge were becoming exposed by the scour of the river, and as the years progressed it gradually got worse. In 1924 traffic was closed from it with a temporary bridge constructed. For almost a decade there was controversy as to what to do with the old bridge, and finally in 1934 it was decided to erect a modern bridge. The new bridge we see today opened in 1945 at a cost of around £1 million.

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Opened in 1945, the modern-day Waterloo Bridge

The demolition of the old bridge and the design and construction of the new one were undertaken by Messrs. Rendel, Palmer & Tritton in association with the Council’s Chief Engineer, Sir Peirson Frank. The collaborating architect was Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. The new bridge is constructed with reinforced Portland Stone and grey Cornish granite, which was cut from the old bridge. To this day it sits perfectly on the South Bank scenery!

I now go from one vintage bridge to another, Hungerford Bridge, and to a more modern-day structure, the Golden Jubilee Bridge! Designed by Sir Isambard K. Brunel, Hungerford Bridge opened on the 1st May 1845, with the area having formally been a wharf and timber yard.

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The amazing view from Hungerford and Golden Jubilee Bridges

However, in 1859 the Charing Cross Railway Act authorized the construction of a railway to cross the Thames near the site of Charing Cross Station with the suspension bridge removed. The new railway bridge began work 1860 and was completed in 1864 with a walkway either side.

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The new structure of the Golden Jubilee Bridge either side of Hungerford Bridge

By the 1990s a decision was made to replace the footbridge with a new structures either side of the Hungerford Railway Bridge.  Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and engineers WSP Group won the competition to design it in 1996, and the two new 4-metre (13 ft) footbridges were completed in 2002. The Golden Jubilee name is in honour of the fiftieth anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne.

My final stop on today’s walk takes me to perhaps the most famous wheel in the world, The London Eye! Designed by Marks Barfield Architects and opening in 2000, it’s the world’s largest cantilevered observation wheel standing at 135m high. Interestingly, the wheel only had planning permission in its current location for five years with a plan to move it to a new location. However, due to its popularity it remained, and has now become Britain’s most popular paid for visitor attraction, and a marvelous addition to the London skyline!

It takes 30 minutes to go around the London Eye with a view of 40 km in all directions! There are 32 capsules to represent the 32 London boroughs with each weighing as much as 1,052,631 pound coins. Although, there are 32, for superstitious reasons they are numbered 1-33,with 13 being left out, as this is seen as an unlucky number.

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View from The London Eye (Credit: The London Eye)

The London Eye can carry 800 people in each rotation, which is the same as 11 London red double decker buses. And don’t worry about the pace of the rotation… it goes at a speedy 26cm per second… twice as fast as a sprinting tortoise! One of the most notable events each year on it is the fireworks display on New Year’s Eve, and last year I was luckily enough to be there! Lasting just over 10 minutes, it’s a truly breathtaking spectacle, and a wonderful way to greet the New Year!

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I was there to welcome in the New Year

Well my walk has taken me from the busiest railway station in Britain to the most popular attraction in Britain via the bridges of the capital. Hope you enjoyed it, and please leave your comments and thoughts below! You can also catch me on Twitter and Instagram too, and don’t forget to sign up to my blog!

Until next time, see you later! 🙂

Sources: (not the food sauces)

All photos taken by London Wlogger, unless credit given. © Copyright 2016

History of London Waterloo – Railway Technology 

9 Things You Didn’t Know about Waterloo – Londonist 

History of the Victory Arch – London Remembers

Royal Festival Hall – The Southbank Centre

History of Waterloo Bridge – British History Online

History of Hungerford Bridge – British History Online

Golden Jubilee Bridges – London Town

About the London Eye – The London Eye

Facts about the London Eye – Visit Britain

The Shard to Monument: Modern-Day and Classic Architecture

Thanks for joining me as I take another journey across London’s sights! This week I’ll take a short walk, but I’ll see a lot! My route begins at The Shard takes me through Borough Market and past Southwark Cathedral before taking a stroll across London Bridge and finally finishing at Monument.

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The Shard to Monument

My journey starts at the tallest building in the UK, The Shard. With 95 stories and standing at 309.6 metres (1,016ft) high, it’s also the fourth tallest building in Europe and the 105th tallest building in the world.

The Shard’s developer was Irvine Sellar, who had an ambitious vision to create an architecturally striking building that incorporated retail, offices, hotel, apartments, restaurants and a public viewing gallery. In November 1998 Sellar acquired Southwark Towers, occupied by PwC, and in May 2000 he arranged a lunch in Berlin with award-winning architect Renzo Piano.

Interestingly, Renzo said that he hated tall buildings! But he loved the energy of the railway lines at London Bridge and the Thames nearby. He sketched his vision of the building we see today, and The Shard was born! The inspiration of the design came from the spires of London churches and the masts of tall ships depicted by the 18th-century Venetian.

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The Shard looks just as glamorous at night as it does during the day – Photo Credit: The Shard

There were testing times for The Shard ahead due to the lengthy planning process, high-profile public inquiry, and investment problems as a result of the global economic crash. However, in 2008 the State of Qatar came on board with much needed investment.

The construction came under great challenges with sub-zero temperatures, gale force winds, and The Thames breaking through the protective dam. Nevertheless, in 2012 it was complete and opened by the Prime Minister of Qatar. Since then, its restaurants, hotel and viewing gallery have been opened to the public and tenants have begun to move into its offices.

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The breathtaking view across the city from The Shard. Photo taken April 2016

The Shard is located at London Bridge station, the oldest railway station in London fare zone 1, and one of the oldest in the world having opened in 1836. The station is the fourth busiest in the country with 56 million passengers travelling into it each year (many delayed!).

Currently, London Bridge is under a major construction project including a new bus station underway, station concourse, more entrances to the station, platform developments, and links to Crossrail. All this is due for completion in Spring 2018.

I leave the impressive Shard building and London Bridge station to take me on to Borough Market, London’s oldest food market which is over a 1,000 years old, having dated as far back as 1014.

Many of the Market’s stallholders are producers, from farmers to fisherman, with all the stalls, shops, and restaurants combining traditional British produce and regional specialities from across the world.

After a tasty trip to Borough Market I head to Southwark Cathedral which is the mother church of the Anglican Diocese of Southwark, and has been a place of Christian worship for more than 1,000 years. It has only been a cathedral since the creation of the diocese (a district under the pastoral care of a bishop in the Christian Church) of Southwark since 1905.

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The pleasantly beautiful Southwark Cathedral

The current building has retained its Gothic structure that was built between 1220 and 1420. In 1539 it became the property of King Henry VIII who rented it out to the congregation, with being re-named St Saviour’s. However, in 1611 a group of merchants known as ‘the Bargainers’ bought it from King James I for £800, as they became tired of renting the church for worshiping.

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Throughout the 16th and 17th century many repairs were done to it, and by the 1820s is was threatened with demolishment due to proposals for a new London Bridge. Luckily, after much consultation, the building was restored, and it was thanks to architect George Gwilt that many of today’s parts are still there.

A new diocese was created with a new nave designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield in 1895 and by 1905 St Saviour’s church became Southwark Cathedral. The diocese has a population of two and a half million servicing over 300 parishes from Thamesmead in the east to Thames Ditton in the west.
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In 2000 major extensions, designed by Richard Griffiths, were added to the north of the Cathedral, adding meeting & conference rooms, a library, Education Centre, and a shop. Today, the cathedral holds five services a day all year round and is a centre of teaching, worship, prayers, and pilgrimage.

After embracing one element of heritage I move onto another, and to pretty much why this area is known as London Bridge! Before Medieval times, the only way to cross the Thames on the north bank to the southern suburb of Southwark was by ferry or a rickety wooden bridge… so both risky and not that convenient!

However, in 1176 after two successive wooden bridges were destroyed by fires, Henry II commissioned the building of a permanent stone crossing and after 33 years of construction, it was to last more than 600 years!

The finished bridge was 275m long with 20 gothic arches, and had a chapel, shops, and seven storey houses either side of it. Although the bridge was 8m wide, the buildings reduced the space for traffic to just 4m, making the journey still arduous which sometimes could take as long as an hour! Fire hazards were still prevalent with the worst coming in 1212 caused by sparks from a house, with at least 3,000 people dying.

In 1281, 1309, 1425 and 1437, several parts of the bridge collapsed. The 1281 collapse happened when expanding ice from the frozen Thames crushed five of the arches. These collapses were blamed on Queen Eleanor who was accused of misappropriating the bridges revenues and failing to repair them properly. Hence this is where the rhyme “London Bridge is falling down” comes from, as a dig at the Queen!

By the 18th century the old London Bridge, then over 600 years old, needed to be replaced with John Rennie winning the competition to design it (unconfirmed whether it was a process like The Apprentice or X Factor!).  Rennie’s proposal was a five stone arch bridge 928 (283m) feet long and 49 feet (15m) wide. It started its development in 1824 and was completed in 1831 at a cost of £2.5 million (£205 million in 2015).

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View of Tower Bridge from London Bridge
In 1967 the bridge was placed on the market and sold to an American in 1968, Robert P. McCulloch of McCulloch Oil for $2,460,000. Its reconstruction was designed by Lord Holford and completed in 1972 at a cost of £4 million (£51 million in 2015). Today, it truly gives you a beautiful view across the city with The Shard, Tower Bridge, the Walkie Talkie, and Cannon Street station all visible from it.

A walk a long the bridge takes me to our final stop today, Monument. The structure located at Monument Street and Fish Street Hill was built between 1671 and 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London, and to celebrate the rebuilding of the city. The fire which started in a baker’s house in Pudding Lane on Sunday 2nd September 1666 was finally extinguished on Wednesday 5th September. It destroyed most of the city with only stone buildings, St Paul’s and the Guildhall, surviving. Although it did help eradicate some of the black rats that carried the Bubonic Plague.

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The Monument commemorating the Great Fire of London

Sir Christopher Wren, the architect of St Paul’s Cathedral, and is colleague Dr Robert Hooke, provided the design of the Monument structure. The plans drew up contained 311 steps leading to the viewing platform surmounted by a drum and a copper urn to symbolise where the flames of the Great Fire came from. It is 61 metres high (202 feet), the exact distance between it and the site on Pudding Lane where the fire began.

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The inscription on the bottom of the sculpture

On 4th October 1677, the Court of Alderman requested Dr Gale, a master of St Paul’s School, to devise a fitting inscription for the new pillars.

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Three Latin inscriptions were devised covering the three panels. The north side records the City’s destruction, the south its restoration, and the east signifies the years and mayoralties in which the erection of the Monument was commenced. Also on the west is a sculptured design by Cidder.

So my journey has taken me from one end of London Bridge to the other where I’ve seen both impressive modern-day and older architecture. Hope you’ve enjoyed my short stroll, and stay tuned for another walking route next week!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below, and don’t forget to follow the blog and me on Twitter and Instagram 🙂

Sources: (not the food sauces)

All photos unless credit given London Wlogger © Copyright 2016

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History of Monument 

Marble Arch to Mayfair: Streets and Squares

It’s that time again as I take another walking journey to explore the wonders of the capital! This week my route begins at Marble Arch takes me along the shopping areas of Oxford Street, Regent Street and New Bond Street via Cavendish Square on to Berkeley Square before finishing in Shepherd Market in Mayfair.

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Marble Arch to Mayfair

So I start at Marble Arch, a monument located at the junction at Oxford Street, Edgware Road and Park Lane in Westminster. The arch, unsurprisingly is made from Carrara marble, who knew it! It was built in 1825 and designed by our good friend John Nash, who you’ll remember had a significant part to play in our last walking journey, Victoria to Green Park!

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Marble Arch

The arch’s unique design was based on the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel in Paris, as well as the Arch of Constantine in Rome (you can see the resemblance in both!).

John Flaxman was picked to create the sculpture though he sadly died before he could complete it, which meant the job was split between three men, J.C.F Rossi, Sir Richard Westmacott and Edward Hodges Baily.

Interesting, the Marble Arch was originally intended to be the ceremonial entrance to Buckingham Palace and it was located there until it moved to its current place in 1851. Its new location in Marble Arch is opposite the Speaker’s Corner, once the site of executions at Tyburn Gallows. The square panels on the north side have three figures representing Wales, England and Scotland with other sculptures to represent Peace and Plenty. Legend has it there are three small rooms in the arch occasionally used as a police station and lookout.

The bronze gates, designed by Samuel Parker, feature the Lion of England and the figure of St George and the Dragon, England’s patron saint. So with its Royal history, you can pass through the gates once graced by many famous royals!

I move from Marble Arch onto my next location, to perhaps one of the most famous shopping areas in the world, Oxford Street! Currently Europe’s busiest shopping street with around half a million daily visitors and an annual turnover of over £1 billion, it runs for approximately 1.2 miles (1.9km). It covers Park Lane, Edgware Road, Bayswater Road, Vere Street, New Bond Street, Bond Street Station, Oxford Circus and to Regent Street.

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Oxford Street

It was previously known as Tyburn Road, after the River Tyburn which ran to the south of the street located near Uxbridge Road, Worcester Road and Oxford Road. By about 1729, it had become known as Oxford Street. In the 1730s the turnpike trust was established to improve the road’s upkeep which was notorious as a route taken by prisoners on their final journey to Newgate Prison.

By the 18th century the street went under many redevelopments after its surrounding fields were purchased by the Earl of Oxford. In the 1750s buildings began to be erected on the corner of Oxford Street and Davies Street. The street became popular with entertainers including theatres and by the end of the century it was built up from St Giles Circus to Park Lane. It wasn’t until the 19th century that Oxford Street changed from residential to retail with drapers, cobblers and furniture stores beginning to appear. Notable retail occupants were John Lewis in 1864 and Selfridges in 1909.

Today, several retail chains regard their Oxford Street branch as their flagship store, and with nearly 300 stores in the area you can get everything from furniture to fashion, to cooking to computing!

I leave Oxford Street to take a slight detour up to Cavendish Square located at the Eastern end of Wigmore Street. It was first laid out by architect John Prince at the beginning of 1717 for the 2nd Earl of Oxford, with its name deriving from the Earl’s wife, Henrietta Cavendish-Holles. Notable residents in the square were the Duke of Portland, Duke of Chandos, Princess Amelia and the Lane Baronets.

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Cavendish Square

In 1951 a blue plaque was unveiled to commemorate H.H. Asquith,  the liberal Prime Minister of the UK from 1908 to 1916, who himself owned and lived at 20 Cavendish Square. The University of Westminster’s founder, Quintin Hogg, also has a plaque there with The Royal College of Nursing’s HQ around the square too.stat

The bronze statue on the south side of the square, sculptured by Thomas Campebell, is of William George Frederick Cavendish Bentinck  (Lord George Bentinck) (1802-1848) who was a Conservative MP for King’s Lynn, Norfolk.

From the pleasant Cavendish Square I take a walk back onto Oxford Street and along to Regent Street. Like its partnering Oxford Street, it features many shops with 7.5 million tourists visiting it every year. Its history dates back as far as the 19th century and was designed by that man again, John Nash! Is there anything in London he didn’t design?! The project of having handcrafted architecture for the shops took 14 years to complete with the name Regent Street coming from Prince Albert Regent who supported its development. In the modern day it now features some of the most recognisable shops in the country, including Liberty, toy store Hamleys and Apple.

 

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Regent Street

My journey from Regent Street takes me onto New Bond Street,  the streets just keep coming! One thing you notice about New Bond Street is the brands on offer get pretty high end, from Gucci to Rolex! Built in the 1720s by Sir Thomas Bond, by the 18th century it became a place for more upper-class residents of Mayfair to socialise, hence the many luxury brands that continue to be there today!

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The well heeled New Bond Street

From there I take a walk through many short streets onto Berkeley Square in Mayfair. The square, named after John Berkeley, the first Lord of Berkeley of Stratton, acquired the land in 1675 and from there developed his estate. One of the most notable buildings in the square is Landsdowne House, designed by Robert Adam in 1762, and became the venue for many cabinet meetings as well as the home for eight years of Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridges.

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Berkeley Square

Every September to the north of the pump house in the square, is the glamorous Berkeley Square Ball in aid of the Princes Trust.

My journey now takes me to my final location on this week’s walk to a charming small square and piazza of Shepherd Market, tucked away between Piccadilly and Curzon Street in Mayfair.

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The entrance to Shepherd Market

Mayfair itself is named after the infamous 15 day fair established by James II in the 1680s which took place in Shepherd Market. Developed in 1735-1746  by local architect Edward Shepherd, the market featured path alleys, a duck pond, a two-storey market and theatre. During the 1920s it was an ultrafashionable address for some of London’s most refined inhabitants and is described as ‘The Heart of Mayfair’.

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The tranquil Shepherd Market

Not a single part of the market is wasted today with places ranging from a barbers to a stationery shop to pubs to restaurants to a pharmacy. The great aspect for me is despite being near a busy road, and amongst the vast buildings of Mayfair, it has still kept its village and histroical feel, and is definitely a hidden gem!

My walking journey has truly taken me through the streets and squares of London! Please share your thoughts and comments on London below, I’d love to hear them! Also remember to follow the blog either on WordPress or via email, and check me out on Twitter and Instagram too! I’ll see you next week for another walking adventure! 🙂

Sources: (not the food sauces)

All photos: London Wlogger © Copyright 2016

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