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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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).

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.

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.

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.


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

The Shard

The Railway Age 

National Rail

Day Tours of London

Southwark Cathedral History 

History of London Bridge

London Bridge Facts

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.


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!

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.

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.

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’.

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

About Britain

Famous Wonders

Timeout London

British History


The Culture Trip

Berkeley Square

Shepherds Market


Victoria to Green Park: Royal Palace & Parks

*drum roll*… it’s time for my first walking journey around London! Today my first route as I delve into the city’s sights, history and beauty, takes me from Victoria Station right up to Green Park. On my walk I’ll be taking in the wonders of St James’s Park, go along The Mall, pop by Buckingham Palace before finishing in Green Park.

Victoria to Green Park

I start my journey at London Victoria Station, the second busiest terminus in London and the UK after London Waterloo. It connects the city to the South, Gatwick Airport with access to the District, Circle and Victoria tube lines. Officially opened in 1862, Victoria is named after nearby Victoria Street, with the latter named after Queen Victoria. Today it’s in midst of a major redevelopment project including a new underground ticket hall due for completion in 2018.

A walk along Buckingham Palace Road (sit tight we aren’t going to the palace just yet!), takes me to the oldest of London’s eight Royal Parks, St James’s  Park. 470 years ago the park was mainly farmland and woods with its name coming from the leper hospital that used to be there.

The site was acquired by Henry VIII in 1536 who created a deer park and built a hunting lodge which later became St James’s Palace. In 1603, the King, James I, drained and landscaped the park and when Charles II became King in 1660 he ordered the park to be redesigned by Frenchman André Mollet. King Charles introduced the game, Pelle Melle, from France to the courts of St James’s Park which gave names to the present day Pall Mall and The Mall.

In 1820s the park got a complete makeover with the canal becoming a curved lake, new winding paths and shrubberies. Prince Regent, later George IV, commissioned Buckingham House to be enlarged and The Mall tuned into a grand processional route. This was the start of many of the cities best-known landmarks being created. John Nash, an architect and landscaper oversaw the designs which were completed in 1827. The park we see today is still very much as Nash designed it.
St James’s Park

To get from one side of the park to the other you take a quick walk over The Blue Bridge. This was first designed by John Nash and replaced by a suspension Bridge in 1857 with the one we use today dating back to 1957. The views from the bridge across the river are simply stupendous, on one side you have Buckingham Palace, and other Whitehall, Horse Guards, and the London Eye .

To get to Buckingham Palace a short walk along The Mall is required.

The Mall

Originally laid by Charles II, The Mall was the grand approach to Buckingham Palace. It’s London’s primary ceremonial road leading from Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace stretching 1km of road. The Mall we see today was designed in 1911 by Sir Aston Webb.

The walk down The Mall leads you to one of the most iconic and recognisable places in the world! Buckingham Palace has been the UK’s sovereigns residence since 1837 and is the headquarters (an office!) for the Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II . The palace has 775 rooms including 78 bathrooms, 52 royal & guest bedrooms and 92 offices. It’s 108 metres long, 120 metres deep and 24 metres high. Quite simply, one of the hottest tourist attractions there is!

Buckingham Palace

As I leave the splendour of Buckingham Palace, I come towards the end of my journey as I reach another of London’s Royal Parks, Green Park. Whilst St James’s is London’s oldest Royal Park, Green Park is the smallest comprising of 40 acres of trees and grassland dating back to 1554. It may be small, but what it does have is a big personality of beautiful greenery (as expected with the name!).

It has been a lovely stroll through some of central London’s beautiful scenery and historical sights, and incredible to think that they’re all just a stones throw away from each other!

Hope you’ve enjoyed my journey, and stay tuned for more walks soon 🙂 Don’t forget to follow the blog, Twitter & Instagram accounts, and leave your comments below!

Sources: (not the food sauces!)

All photos: London Wlogger © Copyright 2016

Transport Heritage

Transport for London

Royal Parks St James’s 

Walk London 

Royal UK

Royal Parks Green Park

The Journey Begins…

Welcome to the London Wlogger! Thanks for joining me on my journey around the great city of London, exploring its hidden gems, places and sights all on foot.

I think we’re too dependent on public transport in London, we’d rather take a tube to get us 2 minutes from Victoria to Green Park than take a little longer on foot to experience the beauty of walking past Buckingham Palace and through Green Park itself.

Each time this blog, or wlog, (see what i did there!), will take you through London on foot to help you discover everything amazing it has to offer.

Stay tuned every week for a new walking adventure….

One of my favourite walks along the Regent’s Canal