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People and places in the City of London (3)

More people and places around the Square Mile

The London Stone was a large block of Oolite Limestone, the remaining piece of which was for years housed in a case with an iron grill and glass partition on the wall of a building in Cannon Street.
It is now generally agreed that this was once a large monolith used by the Romans as a milestone, with all the main city roads radiating out from it and the place from where all distances from Londinium were measured. A passage written in 1629 refers to it as “the remayning parte of London Stone” confirming that it was once larger. Before this, Stow’s research tells us that it was embedded so firmly in the ground that it would break the wheels of a passing cart if hit by it. It’s age has been estimated by some to be in the region of 3,000 years, and it was important enough to be mentioned in writings by the Saxons in the 10th century as well as by Shakespeare in Henry IV. The remains of a large Roman complex on the site, uncovered by excavation works over the years, give the impression that this was an important building to the Romans, possibly the home of a Governor. Since then, the stone seems to have lost some of it’s importance, and is passed by with hardly anyone knowing it is there.
In 1742 it was moved from it’s existing position and set into the wall of Saint Swithins Church where it stayed until the church was demolished to make way for new buildings in 1962. It was placed in the wall of a building which at the time of writing iwas a sportswear shop just along from Cannon Street Station, on the opposite side of the road. There is a plaque on top giving information, but unless you know that it’s there, you don’t notice it. It is also very difficult to photograph, being so low down and the protective glass that also shows the shop interior, reflects light back into the camera lens.
The building has since been demolished and the stone now resides in the Museum of London. More information here >>

Up People & places (2) The Guildhall The Churches (1) Churches (2) Churches (3) Churches (4) Saint Pauls Inns of Court London Bridge Stock Exchange

John Milton

The Millennium Bridge

The poet John Milton was born in Bread Street, which runs from Cheapside to Gresham Street. He was christened at All Hallows Church. Both the church, and his birthplace are no longer there due to rebuilding of the area. The plaque commemorating his birth was taken from the wall of All Hallows and now resides on the side wall of Saint Mary le Bow Church. There was also a bust of Milton in Bread Street but so far I have been unable to trace it’s whereabouts today. A new plaque commemorating the 400th. anniversary of his birth was erected  in July 2008. He is buried in St. Giles Church, Cripplegate.

When the Millennium Bridge first opened in 2000 it was nicknamed the wobbly bridge, because it swayed as people walked across it. The more people walking across it, the more it swayed. Unfortunately this was not intentional and led to it’s closure for another year to rectify the problem!
Designed by the office of Norman Foster along with Arum and Sir Anthony Caro, It was the first new bridge across the Thames since 1894 when Tower Bridge was built. It is purely for pedestrians and links the Saint Paul’s area of the city to the Tate Modern and Globe Theatre on the South side of the river.

The Monument

The Brewery

The Monument to the Great Fire of London to give it’s full title. Constructed from Portland stone, this memorial to the fire that destroyed 80 percent of the City was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Robert Hook. At 202 high it was for many years, the tallest structure in London. It also stands 202 feet away from where the fire started in Pudding Lane. You will have to climb 311 winding stairs to reach the viewing gallery.
The original idea for the column was for it to be a giant astronomical telescope, but there was some trouble with the focal distance of the lenses and the idea was abandoned. A statue of King Charles II was to be placed on top but the King did not want the people reminded of the disasters during his reign and a bowl of golden flames was used instead. It was closed for over a year for a complete refurbishment and opened again in early 2009. I climbed it shortly after. Some views here >>

If you take a walk down Chiswell Street from Moorgate, you will find the “The Brewery”. Among the newly constructed buildings you will see an older brick built construction on the corner of Milton Street. This was once a busy brewery operating out of the City.

The former Whitbread's brewery was sold in September 2005. Before that it had been the site of Whitbread’s heritage since the company’s founder, Samuel Whitbread, started brewing there in 1750. Brewing ceased in 1976 although the site continued to be used as its head office until 2000.

After that, it was turned into a conference and banqueting centre, still owned by Whitbread until the sale five years later to Earls Court & Olympia Group (ECO), owner of the west London exhibition centres. It remains a popular conference and events centre.

The water pump and horse trough

Police telephone

This old water pump and horse trough can be seen in Cornhill. It was erected in 1799. There is a plaque attached with an inscription that reads:  “On this spot a well was first made and a house of correction built thereon by Henry Wallis Mayor of London, in the year 1282. The well was discovered much enlarged and this pump erected in the year 1799 by the contributions of the neighbouring offices, together with the bankers and traders of the ward of Cornhill.”

I don’t know how many of these police telephones are left in London, but they used to be common. There were also larger ones such as that used as the Tardis in the ‘Doctor Who’ series. They were designed and erected to enable direct telephone access to the local police station in an emergency. Although no longer working, you can see this one situated on the side wall of the Mansion House in Walbrook (Street).

Postman's Park

One of many parks in the City. A short distance from St Paul's Cathedral.near the site of the former headquarters of the General Post Office. The name reflects its popularity amongst workers from the sorting office.
In 1880 it was opened on the site of the burial ground of St Botolph's Aldersgate church. Over the next 20 years it incorporated the adjacent burial grounds of Christ Church Greyfriars and St Leonard, Foster Lane.
In 1900, the park became the location for the artist George Frederic Watts's Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice, a memorial to ordinary people who died while saving the lives of others and who might otherwise be forgotten. It is housed in a loggia housing ceramic memorial tablets. Only four of the planned 120 memorial tablets were in place at the time of its opening, with a further nine tablets added during Watts's lifetime. Watts's wife, Mary Watts, took over the management of the project after Watts's death in 1904 and oversaw the installation of a further 35 memorial tablets in the following four years along with a tiny monument to Watts.
In 1972, the park, including the Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice, were grade II listed. In June 2009 the Diocese of London added a new tablet to the Memorial, the first new addition for 78 years.

More to come in the near future, please return soon