Colne, Lancashire, England

Moving on from Nelson, we arrived in the next major town along, Colne, right on the very edge of Lancashire…

Colne:

Status: Pendle District, Lancashire, Town, England

Date: 01/10/2015

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: Colne Town Hall, St Bartholomew’s Church, Market Cross, Market Hall, Cloth Hall Remains, Market Street Tavern, Shackleton Hall etc

Colne is very much a frontier town in Lancashire. The border with Yorkshire is but 5 miles to the East, so it is the last major town you will encounter as you head towards the Yorkshire Dales.

Unlike our previous destination, Nelson, Colne has been a town in it’s own right of centuries, and has it’s origins as a Market Town. A Market had been established here by 1122, and by the 15th Century it was the largest centre of the trade in this part of Lancashire. The Industrial Revolution in Victorian Times brought a wave of Cotton Mills and Industry to the town and there were up to 30 Mills here by 1891.

We started our walk around the town outside Colne Town Hall, shown above. Designed by an architect named A E Waterhouse, the building opened in 1893. Colne as a town is quite stacked, with the Town Hall/Town Centre at the top of a hill, and the various housing streets down it’s slopes. This makes the Town Hall a prominent landmark, with the famous Clock Tower visible for miles around.

 

To the right of the Town Hall (over at the far left) is a complex of buildings known as “Shackleton Hall”, which takes up the space between it and St Bartholomew’s Church. Together they make up quite a stunning array of architecture.

They are listed as a set of Shops from the 19th Century, with offices above. It is mainly split into two sections, the West Block (centre) with 8 bays of windows, and the East Block (right), with 5.

St Bartholomew’s is likely one of the oldest buildings in Colne. The Church as a whole was originally founded in the 12th Century, and a few small sections of that survive to this day, in the form of the Northern section of the Nave.

The Church was largely rebuilt in the 16th Century, and then restored in late Victorian Times, like many other Churches across the country.

Just across the road from St Bartholomew’s, up Walton Street, we found what at first appeared to be a building rising up from the pavement!

This small turret is all that remains of Colne’s Cloth Hall, originally opened in 1775. It was sadly demolished in 1952, but the Bell Tower survived. The Bell itself is nowhere to be seen, but would have sat in the open space at the top of the turret, connected to a piece of rope pulled from below.

Moving past the Church, and turning left up a street called “Ivegate”, we came across the Old Sunday School, the first Grammar School to open in the town, around 1800.

Back on the main street, a few blocks further down, we stopped outside the “Market Street Tavern”, supposedly first built in 1636 as the “Hole i’th Wall Inn”. It would have been a Coaching Inn, where the Mail Coach called, presumably on the route from Skipton to Preston.

Apparently the Tavern is also the oldest building in the world where people have practised “Royal Arch Masonry”. This is part of the “York Rite”, one of the different types of Freemasonry.

A few doors down from the Tavern is a small Shopping Arcade tucked away between a number of shops. It’s a quaint littler area, and Colne as a town is quite a charming place to explore.

The Town’s Market Square is just a little further down from that, whilst outside stands the historic Market Cross from the 15th Century. The original Market from 1122 was held in the Churchyard of St Bartholomew’s, before moving here centuries later.

This was our last stop, as we had a long drive up to our last destination of the day, Darlington.

Colne is a nice little town, with good transport links around the area. It is at the Eastern terminus of the M65 which runs back past Blackburn to Preston, and there is also a station here on the Leeds/York to Blackpool railway.

We pressed on, up the A56 towards the A59 for Darlington…

Nelson, Lancashire, England

Our next road trip took us East along the M65 to the edge of Lancashire, starting with the town of Nelson…

Nelson:

Status: Pendle District, Lancashire, Town, England

Date: 01/10/2015

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: Town Hall, War Memorial, Shuttle Sculpture, Union Bank Building, Boy Scout War Memorial, Market Square etc

Nelson is quite an aesthetic little town, with lots of stone buildings reflecting its heritage in the cotton industry, part of the long chain of mill towns which cross from East Lancashire into West Yorkshire.

We started outside Nelson Library, where we found the “Boy Scout War Memorial” shown on the left. Comprised of a Boy Scout in War Uniform atop a pedestal, it was created by Job Davies in 1919 in memory of the Nelson Scouts killed in World War I.

A more general War Memorial for the town stands to it’s left, in the form of a large cross, again erected after World War I. Newer commemoration sections can be seen behind the Boy Scout, with names from subsequent conflicts.

The Library stands in the middle of the Market Square, and where the Library is now was once the site of a stunning Market Hall with Clock Tower, from 1890, which sadly burnt down in 1932. Its successor was later demolished in the 1970’s, and the Library was constructed.

Following a long pedestrianised street South East takes you past Nelson Town Hall, the headquarters of Pendle Borough Council.

Nelson didn’t even exist on the map prior to the Industrial Revolution. It was only after the Leeds-Liverpool Canal opened in 1816, followed 30 years later by the East Lancashire Railway, that a large industry began to appear in the area. The town of Nelson grew up around the new train station here, and quickly grew. It would eventually become a town in it’s own right, which led to a large Victorian Town Hall being built.

So far I have been unable to find an exact construction date for the Town Hall, but it was presumably mid 19th century.

There are only a small number of Listed Buildings in Nelson Town Centre, strangely not including the Town Hall, or most of the other buildings on the High Street.

I can’t find a date for most of the buildings, however I can say that they are very uniformly designed, which fits in with the idea that the town just sprung up out of nowhere almost over night.

The building on the left is called the “Lord Nelson Inn” and it was actually this building that gave the town it’s name. When the train station was built in 1849, the Inn, then a Coaching Inn, was already here, and leant its name to the new railway station, which became “Nelson Inn, Marsden” Station.

Nelson hadn’t yet grown into it’s own area, so the station had to be differentiated from the surrounding villages of Little Marsden and Great Marsden. As the settlement grew, the name Nelson was then transferred from the Station to the town as a whole which would incorporate both villages.

One of the standout features on the High Street is a large steel sculpture in the shape of a “Shuttle”, a device used in the spinning of Cotton. Standing an impressive 39ft tall, it was installed in 2011, and pays homage to the history of the area, in particular the cotton industry from the 19th century.

It was even deliberately designed to look like it was made out of traditional wood, as opposed to metal.

The Shuttle Sculpture stands in front of the “Union Bank Building” of 1913, which features a 50 ft Clock Tower. It was built in place of a small row of shops, and has to be the most ornate building in Nelson, after the Town Hall.

The Union Bank itself was founded in 1836 in Lancashire, eventually becoming part of Barclays in 1919.

 

Nelson is located just off the M65 which runs from Preston past Blackburn to Colne, and also has a train station on the Blackpool – Leeds/York railway line, also calling at Preston, Blackburn and Burnley, giving it good overall transport links.

Looking back towards the Library, the Lancashire Hills are visible, such as Pendle Hill, forming a large natural barrier between Lancashire and Yorkshire.

We would be heading in that general direction next anyway, as we made the short journey up the M65 to Colne…

Northampton, Northamptonshire, England

Our next stop was the major town of Northampton, one of the largest English towns we hadn’t yet visited. There was also cause for celebration, as with our previous stop of Towcester, also in Northamptonshire, we had now officially visited all 48 counties across England…

Northampton:

Status: Northampton District, Northamptonshire, Town, England

Date: 28/01/2016

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: Costa

Attractions: Northampton Guildhall, Guildhall Great Hall, War Memorial, All Saint’s Church, Spencer Percival Statue, Elizabethan Houses, Market Square, St Peter’s Church, Discovery Sculpture, Welsh House, City Buildings, Cobblers Last Sculpture etc

Our journey began in a large Multi-Storey Car Park on Swan Street, juts outside the main town centre. From there, a short walk led us to Guildhall Road, and what is in my opinion, the most stunning piece of architecture in Northamptonshire.

Northampton’s impressive Guildhall is one of the centre pieces of the town, designed by Edward William Godwin (1833 – 1886, English Architect from Bristol) when he was just 28! Construction took four years, from 1861 – 1864, and originally consisted of just the Eastern portion (right), including the main entrance, the symmetrical bays of 3 windows each on either side, and the Clock Tower.

A large extension was added by Matthew Holding in 1892, which became the Western (left) half of the building, adding another 6 bays of windows, and an extra entrance. What is perhaps most impressive is that despite the 30 year gap between the two halves being created, they merge seamlessly, using the exact same stone work and architectural style as Godwin.

A second, modern extension was added in 1992, to the left of the original Godwin design. Again it has been crafted to match with the existing stonework, with a modern touch to it. It does blend in rather well, creating a unique mix of old and new.

Most days the Guildhall is open to the public, and you can visit the breathtaking Great Hall at it’s centre. The Hall’s interior was created in two phases, with Colin Gill (1892 – 1940, English Artist from Kent) decorating the walls in 1925, and Henry Bird (1909 – 2000, English Artist from Northampton) adding in a series of Murals in 1949.

The Guildhall also contains a statue of Spencer Percival (1762 – 1812, MP For Northampton, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom).

Percival is notable as being the only British Prime Minister in history to be assassinated, by John Bellingham (1769 – 1812), in 1812.  This statue was created by Sir Francis Chantrey (1781 – 1841), and officially unveiled in 1817.

Leaving the Guildhall behind us, we followed “St Giles’ Square” road up towards the centre of town, to the rear of the finely sculpted All Saint’s Church. Before we explored the Church, we stopped to admire the Northampton War Memorial to the rear of the building, shown below.

The Memorial was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869 – 1944, English Architect from London who also created the Cenotaph in Westminster) after World War I, in tribute to the fallen soldiers of Northampton and the county as a whole. It was finally unveiled in 1926 after a number of logistical issues related to it’s intended position delayed construction.

Moving round to admire the fine façade of All Saint’s, we were stunned at the colours of the stonework, which are quite similar to the Guildhall, and many other buildings in Northampton.

The Church is the successor to the previous “All Hallow’s” which previously stood on this site until 1675. It was on the 20th September of that year that tragedy struck, when a large blaze started in St Mary’s Street thanks to an open fire. It destroyed most of Northampton, including All Hallow’s. It was thanks to the generosity of King Charles II (1630 – 1685), who donated a large amount of timber towards rebuilding work, that the town quickly recovered.

One tenth of the money allocated by the King for rebuilding went towards the Church, with building work supervised by Henry Bell, an architect from King’s Lynn in Norfolk. It was built broadly in the same spot, and incorporated the stone tower from All Hallow’s which had survived the blaze. Building work was complete by 1680, whilst the large stone portico, incorporating a series of columns, was added in 1701. A statue of King Charles II stands above the portico, in recognition of his generosity after the fire.

The Church is the centre piece of a large square in the centre of the town, with the Guildhall off the East End. Bounding the South side of the square is the local Tourist Information Office, housed in a combination of two buildings made up of the County Hall, and Sessions House. The two buildings were some of the first to be built after the Great Fire destroyed the rest of the town.

The County Hall is the main section to the right, created in the 17th Century as the “County House of Correction”. It replaced its predecessor, lost in the fire. A new town Gaol was built as an addition to the structure the following century. The Gaol already extant within County Hall became the Turnkeys House, home of the Keeper of the Prisons Keys.

By 1890 the buildings were no longer in use as a Gaol, with the Turnkeys House now the property of the County Council, whilst the rest was bought by the Salvation Army. Today it is used as a joint Tourist Information Office and the Northamptonshire County Offices, with Sessions House.

Sessions House (the portion to the left) is listed with a build date of 1678, another creation of Henry Bell. It was used as a Courthouse until 1991, and would have worked in tandem with the adjacent Gaol until it’s closure. Together the two buildings form a lovely pair, a fine example of the Georgian Architecture which has now come to typify the town as a whole.

From County Hall, we cut through to the Market Square, behind the large row of buildings on the North side of the Church. Prior to 1235, the local Market had been held in the Churchyard of All Hallow’s, until King Henry III ordered it be moved to the new Market Square.

The Square is notable as being one of the largest in England, as well as having one of the oldest running Markets.

At the North end of the square lies “Welsh House”, an old Elizabethan house from 1595. It was one of the few buildings to survive the Great Fire, when it was home to the Danvers family.

It has been altered various times across its history, so much so that in 1972 the Secretary of State ordered it to be rebuilt to match it’s original Elizabethan appearance.

An exploration of some of the surrounding streets, leading back towards the Guildhall yielded some interesting results.

The first was a large brick warehouse known as the “City Buildings”, designed by Alexander Ellis Anderson (1866 – 1935, Scottish Architect from Dundee). When it opened in 1900 it was in use by Malcolm Inglis & Company, established in 1796 and based up in Glasgow. The name of the company is still visible above the doorway, although the rest of the building has now been converted into flats.

Next up was Numbers 4-6 Gold street, which includes the stunning protruding set of 3 window bays. A late Victorian addition to Gold Street, it was added by S J  Newman in 1881, with a nice Gothic feel to it.

We had popped into the Tourist Information Office earlier, and picked up a great little leaflet with a suggested walking route around the time, and a few sites of interest. We decided to follow it, and headed West away from All Saints.

One of these was a short row of Elizabethan Town Houses, again a rare survivor of Northampton’s Great Fire. Constructed around 1662, they are known as “Cromwell House” and fit in rather well with some of the modern houses which surround them.

Further up Gold Street you will find the Church of St Peter, one of the oldest surviving structures in the town after only the Norman Holy Sepulchre Church from 1100.

St Peters was built roughly 50 years later, around 1160, although it would have appeared much smaller than it does today. It wasn’t until the 15th Century that the Crypt was built, followed in the 17th Century by the Tower at the West End

Northampton also has a number of interesting pieces of public artwork dotted around the town centre. The first one we found was on Abington Street, called “Discovery”.

Created by Lucy Glendinning, it pays tribute to Sir Francis Crick (1916 – 2004, Scientist from Northampton, Co-Discoverer of the DNA Molecule and the Double Helix). The shape of the sculpture itself echoes the Double Helix, with the figures (possibly representing life) twisting around each other.

At the other end of Abington Street lies another well known sculpture, called the “Cobblers Last”. It was crafted by Graham Ibbeson in 1986, and represents the towns historic Cobbler Industry.

So that was our trip to Northampton, a fantastic place to explore, with a variety of historic buildings, large open squares and many tales to tell.

Northampton is well placed, just a couple of miles out from the M1 Motorway, which heads South to the M25 around London, or North towards Yorkshire/East Midlands, and joins the M6 towards the North West/West Midlands.

The local railway station opened in 1859, and has direct services to London Euston, Birmingham New Street and Milton Keynes.  The town is largely bypassed by the West Coast Main Line, however limited services call here run by Virgin Trains, mainly Southbound. By road, Heathrow Airport is approximately 70 miles away, Birmingham 47, and Stansted 87.

We had had an interesting trip around Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire but alas we had reached the end of our journey, so we headed home, another fascinating town under our belt…

Towcester, Northamptonshire, England

After the charming little town of Buckingham, our next stop was just across the border into Northamptonshire, in the town of Towcester…

Towcester:

Status: South Northamptonshire, Northamptonshire, Town, England

Date: 28/01/2016

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: Towcester Town Hall, Church of St Lawrence, Market Square, Towcester Post Office, Chantry House etc

Towcester is only small, however the town centre has a lovely historic feel to it. The town was originally founded by the Romans as “Lactodurum”, and it is notable as the oldest town in the whole of Northamptonshire. Until the 1960’s, sections of the towns once extant defensive Wall were still visible, until demolition for more modern buildings.

This was a strategic location, as the main Roman Road called “Watling Street”, which I encountered in London recently, ran from Dover, through London and Towcester up towards Shropshire via the Midlands. Much of the route has now been merged into the A5.

In the centre of the town is the old Market Square, now used as a large car park for direct access to local shops, although local markets are still held regularly around the town. The stand out building in the square has to be the Old Town Hall, shown at the back…

A stunning Victorian creation, it was the brainchild of T.H. Vernon and completed in 1865, the grand new centrepiece of the town encompassing both a new home for the Council, and a Corn Exchange.

The design is quite interesting, as it was designed in the Italianate Style, a contrast to a lot of the big Gothic Town Halls you would find in the North of England built around the same time.

To the left of the Town Hall is the stunning frontage of the towns Georgian Post Office, from 1799. It almost has the image of a small mansion, and forms a nice trio with the Town Hall, and the small Chantry House (AKA 88 Watling Street) to the right of the Post Office itself. This little 15th Century building is one of the oldest structures in Towcester, and was apparently at one point described as the “Banqueting Hall of the Priests” so I assume it is related to the adjacent St Lawrence’s Church.

So our final stop was the Church of St Lawrence, situated just behind the Chantry House, and the Town Hall. It is most likely the towns oldest surviving building, originally constructed during the 12th century, although some of the foundations beneath may have Saxon origins.

The Church tower was added in the mid 15th century during a major rebuilt, and stands out along the main street, the final component of a beautifully historic area of Towcester.

The site the Church occupies was once home to a large public building in Roman Times, and the Church can also claim a few records across Northamptonshire, including:

  1. The oldest Grammar School in Northamptonshire, now part of Sponne School, was founded here by the Archdeacon in the 15th Century
  2. The Tower contains more bells than any other Church in the county

Towcester was but a quick stop on our main route from Buckingham to the much larger town of Northampton, however it was certainly worth the stop.

As I said before, the A5 passes directly through the town from North to South, and Northampton and Milton Keynes are only around 10-11 miles away. The M1 Motorway is a similar distance, heading South towards the M25 Orbital Motorway around London, and North towards the East Midlands/Yorkshire, and connections with the M6 for the West Midlands, and the North West.

We moved on, and arrived into Northampton, and set out to explore…

Buckingham, Buckinghamshire, England

2016 was an incredible year for our travels around England, as we finally visited all 48 counties in England. Our penultimate county was Buckinghamshire, as we arrived in the small, historic town of Buckingham…

Buckingham

Status: Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire, Town, England

Date: 28/01/2016

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: Buckingham Old Gaol, Great Ouse River, St Peter & St Pauls Church, Old Town Hall, Old Market House, White Hart Hotel etc

We managed to find a small car park near the town centre, on the banks of the River Great Ouse, which slowly winds its way through the countryside to Buckingham from it’s source in Northamptonshire, through to it’s final destination off the Norfolk Coast.

Buckingham is only small, but it packs in a lot of history within its narrow streets, especially here on the “High Street”. In the centre of the picture stands the famous Buckingham Old Gaol, a large Museum open to visitors, where you can tour the old cells etc, but more on that in a moment.

To the left of the Old Gaol lies the 19th century King’s Head Inn, once a Coaching Inn on the main route from what would eventually become Milton Keynes towards Oxford and Banbury.

Just opposite the Old Gaol, and next to the Hotel, is the “Old Market House”, a large tudor-esque building. Originally completed in the 15th Century as a large house, probably part of a row, it has since been converted into a shop, overlooking the Market Square in front of the Old Gaol. It is a rare survivor here, as in 1715 a large fire consumed much of the town centre, resulting in a large variety of Georgian Buildings replacing the older medieval ones.

Moving round to the Old Gaol, it is a thing of beauty. Completed in 1748, and paid for by Richard Temple (1675 – 1749, British Soldier and MP for Buckingham for 16 years starting in 1697), it was home to a number of prisoners for many years. The building originally only consisted of the central stone Keep section, however in 1839 Sir George Gilbert Scott added the rounded entrance at the front. It soon transitioned from Jail to Police Station, and the cells can still be seen on a tour of the building.

From 1891 it was home to the Buckingham Fire Department after the Police moved to new premises near by, as well as being a store for the Armoury of the local 1st Buckinghamshire Rifles unit. After many years of various roles, it reopened permanently as a museum in 1993, and we were keen for a look inside…

As I said earlier, you can still see the cells inside, some of which were open for you to explore. They were extremely cramped, and I don’t envy anyone who had to spend any extended period of time here.

Each room contains a wealth of information about not just the history of the building, but the town as a whole, and it really is a fascinating experience. The main yard for the prisoners is walled off, yet was once open to the elements to allow the prisoners the illusion of being outside. A glass roof now covers it so a number of exhibitions can be put on display there. I would certainly recommend any visitors to Buckingham to check it out!

At the end of the High Street, where it joins “Market Square” and “Market Hill”, lies the Old Town Hall, a stunning Georgian Building built in 1783.

The previous Town Hall on the site was completed in 1685, and the staircase from the old structure was incorporated into the new. Atop the roof sits a squat clock tower, with a golden Swan gazing out across the town. The Swan is the symbol of Buckinghamshire, usually depicted in chains as on the County Flag. As a symbol, its origins date back to Saxon times, as Swans were bred on the estate which became Buckinghamshire. The chain was also to represent that they were owned by the King, and bound to him, and all subsequent Monarchs.

Directly to the left of the Old Town Hall, sat on the corner is the “White Hart Hotel”, another 19th Century build, and a well known Pub/Hotel in the area.

As I said earlier, Buckingham has a lot of stunning Georgian architecture, thanks to the fire that laid waste to much of the earlier structures.

Buckingham’s Georgian streets are fascinating to explore, there is such a variety in the buildings, and many of them appear to follow the original medieval street layout of the town, as they are twisted, and narrow in many places.

Many of the buildings date back to just after the great fire which levelled much of the town, which very few modern additions to be found in the town centre.

Up a slight incline, above much of the rest of the town, sits the local Parish Church of St Peter & St Paul. It is the successor to the original St Peter’s Church, located elsewhere in the town. It was plagued by problems for centuries, as the spire had collapsed a number of times, and when this occurred once more in 1776, the fate of the Church was sealed for good.

The present building was instead constructed here at Castle Hill, and took four years to build, officially being consecrated in 1780 by the then Bishop of Lincoln, Thomas Thurlow (1737 – 1791, later Bishop of Durham).

This charming little Church is the embodiment of the Georgian architecture which is prevalent throughout Buckingham, although the Victorians had their hand in to. Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811 – 1878, English Architect responsible for St Pancras Station in London, and St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow) made a number of additions to the main fabric of the Church, starting with general repairs in 1860. These included the new Chancel of 1865, and a small Porch leading to the main entrance, in 1867.

We found Buckingham to be a welcome addition to our travel map, it is a beautiful little town in an idyllic setting, and the Museum which takes up the Old Gaol is a fascinating place to visit, full of history, artefacts and it fully immerses you in the experience. Buckingham of course lent it’s name to the surrounding county, and stood as the County Town until the 18th century when Aylesbury took over.

Buckingham is well placed on the A421 main road, which runs from the A1 in Cambridgeshire, through Milton Keynes, to Buckingham and from there on to the M40 Motorway. Milton Keynes is the largest town in the area, and a big source of employment, and is also sat on the West Coast Main Line from London – Glasgow/Edinburgh via the North West and Birmingham.

Buckingham itself has no railway station, after it was closed in 1964, originally being part of the Banbury to Verney Junction line. There are plans for a rail revival in the area however, as by 2024, the village of Winslow, a few miles South of Buckingham will be part of the new East West Rail Link from Oxford to Norwich.

Alas it was time to move on, and we made the 11 mile journey North to Towcester, in Northamptonshire…

A London Adventure: Pt 2 – The City, Islington, Camden & Covent Garden

Continuing my long walk around London and heading past the stunning exterior of St Bartholomew’s Hospital, I came across the “Golden Boy of Pye Corner”, where Giltspur Street and Cock Lane meet.

It’s setting marks the spot where the Great Fire of London, which raged across the city in 1666, was finally stopped. The solution was to blow up a number of houses in this area, to stop the fire spreading. The plaque beneath the statue reads:

“This Boy is in Memory Put up for the late Fire of London Occasion’d by the Sin of Gluttony 1666”.

The original sculpture was built into a tavern called the “Fortune of War” in the 18th century, later moved to it’s present location called the “City & Guilds Headquarters” after the Inn was demolished in 1910. Londoners would have first seen the statue in its wooden form, before it was repainted in Gold. It’s chubby appearance is supposed to represent gluttony, as the fire started at a Bakers in Pudding Lane.

As I mentioned in part one of this post, the main entrance to St Bartholomew’s Hospital is through the King Henry VIII gate, which includes the only remaining statue of Henry VIII in London.

The next area along is known as Smithfield, which is famous for having both the oldest Church in London (St Bartholomew-the-Great) and the only wholesale market to have been in constant use since Medieval Times (Smithfield Market).

Starting with the Church, access into the Churchyard is gained by passing through the stunning 13th Century St Bartholomew’s Gatehouse, which was once part of the Church building itself. St Bartholomew’s originated as a Priory, and after the reformation it was ransacked and the Nave partially demolished.

The main entrance was once this Gatehouse, which fronted the long Nave behind it.

Heading through the Gate, I emerged into the small Churchyard which surrounds St Bartholomew’s Church. As I said earlier, it is the oldest surviving Church in London as a whole, having been founded back in 1123.

It is an enormous building. From the front it looks quite small, but the rest of the Nave and the Chancel stretch back far behind it, taking up the rest of the block.

To the very far left of the picture is perhaps one of the most incredible buildings in the City of London, hidden in plain site. It happens to be Numbers 41 & 42 Cloth Fair, the only house in the city to survive the Great Fire of London. Built sometime prior to 1614, it was largely saved thanks to the Priory Walls around it which deflected the flames.

Moving on to Smithfield Market, which was once a large field just outside the walls of the local Priory. A few centuries later it would become a major Marketplace, and it remains one of the oldest in London.

It was eventually established as a Poultry Market by the 1860’s, which it remains today. It is housed in a modernist building from the 1960’s, after the original Victorian Market-house burnt down in the 1950’s.

Outside, in front of Smithfield Market is a large, circular recessed Car Park, above which is the “Rotunda Garden”, containing an ornate fountain.

In the background, the dome of the Old Bailey is visible in the distance, with the golden statue of Lady Justice looking out across the city.

Passing through Smithfield Market-hall itself, the next stop was North up St John’s Lane, to the St John’s Gate. Much like the St Bartholomew’s Gate, this was also once the entrance to a large Priory, that of Clerkenwell.

The Gate was completed in 1504, and was the main access point into the South end of the Priory. There have been numerous additions to the building over the centuries, including a Library & Attic added by Richard Norman Shaw (1831 – 1912, Scottish Architect from Edinburgh) in 1874.

During the 20th century, it became the home of the St John’s Ambulance, founded by the Order of St John who have long been associated with the Priory and the Gatehouse.

Following Clerkenwell Road West, I soon arrived in central Clerkenwell, a prominent area in the Borough of Islington. It’s most famous landmark is the Church of St James, also known as the Crypt on the Green, in reference to the area surrounding it being known as Clerkenwell Green.

Slightly newer than some of its counterparts, it opened for worship in 1792, the culmination of five years building work to the designs of James Carr. It was around this time that Clerkenwell began to come into its own, and it became quite a sought after area, being a suburb of inner London. Oliver Cromwell himself had a house here, as well as the Duke of Northumberland.

There has been a place of worship here however for many centuries prior to the modern incarnation of St James’s, as around 1100 a small priory was founded here, as part of the parish of St James.

Moving on, I took this photo on a bridge crossing the railway tracks heading into Farringdon Train Station. In the distance, two of London’s most famous landmarks loomed, the finely sculpted dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, courtesy of Sir Christopher Wren, and the more modern behemoth that is the Shard, Britain’s tallest building.

Coming out onto the A40 (Holborn), I was right on the border with the City of London. To my left was Islington, whilst on the right, the towers of two of the City of London’s numerous Churches greeted me.

The first, with the distinctive copper dome, is called the “City Temple”, which belongs to the Nonconformist branch of Christianity. The Temple was founded by Thomas Goodwin (1600 – 1680, English Puritan) sometime in the mid 17th Century, who became its first minister. It has been based at various sites, until its permanent home was erected here at Holborn during 1873/4.

The building was badly damaged during the blitz, however it was rebuilt and open to the congregation by 1958.

In the foreground, lies the Church of St Andrew Holborn. It was one of the few Churches in the City of London which actually survived the Great Fire of 1666, as a change in the wind pushed the fire away. Unfortunately the Church itself was already in a state of disrepair, so whilst Sir Christopher Wren was drawing up plans to reconstruct the rest of the cities medieval Churches, St Andrew’s was added to the list.

It became the largest Parish Church that Wren recreated, and he incorporated the original Stone Tower into his design, albeit cladding the exterior in Marble.

One of Holborn’s most notable landmarks is the “Staple Inn”, shown above. This stunning Tudor Building from 1585 is one of the original four “Inns of Chancery” in the City. These Inns were each joined to their respective “Inns of Court” where Barristers could train and practice. All Barristers within the England & Wales legal system are a member of one of the Inns.

The Chancery Inns contained the offices of the Solicitors, and until 1642 they were also where the Barristers themselves would start their training, before moving into the Courts.

Staple Inn is the only surviving example in London, and is currently used by the “Institute & Faculty of Actuaries” who deal with measuring Risks for liability etc.

To the left, in the centre of the road sits the “Royal Fusiliers War Memorial”, erected in 1922 in memory of around 22,000 soldiers attached to the Royal Fusiliers of the City of London, who sadly perished during World War I.

Outside Staple Inn, you will find a tall pedestal bearing one of the City of London’s famous Dragons, marking the boundary between the City, and the adjacent Borough of Camden. These statues can be found on various main roads into the City, including London Bridge, Embankment, outside the Tower of London and of course here at Holborn.

They all descend from the original two, much larger statues which once adorned the outside of the City of London Coal Exchange, completed in 1847.

When the building was demolished in 1962, the Dragons were moved to their present location on Embankment, standing guard, looking out towards Westminster. The other Dragons, bar the Temple Bar Dragon, which is of a different design, are all copies, albeit slightly smaller.

Leaving the City of London behind me once more, I headed West along Holborn, to Lincoln’s Inn Fields, the largest public square in London, across the border in Camden.

I spoke about the Chancery Inns earlier, which were attached to the Inns of Court, four of each. Lincoln’s Inn is one of the Inns of Court, and is made up of a large complex of buildings on the Eastern side of the square. Most prominent of these is the Great Hall, shown above, a 19th century construct from 1845. Designed by Philip Hardwick (1792 – 1870) it is primarily used for fine dining and meetings.

An exact foundation date for the Inn as a whole is not known, as the four inns all regard themselves as a similar age, however a Chapel was on this site in 1428, and the Old Hall was built around 1489, pre-dating most of the rest of the city. The Inn also predates the square itself, which was primarily laid out during the 1630’s.

My next stop was Covent Garden, however I came across something unexpected en route. Exiting Lincoln’s Inn Fields at the South West corner, down Portsmouth Street, I stumbled across the “Old Curiosity Shop”. The shop was of course made famous in the book of the same name by Charles Dickens, released in 1840.

He based the shop in the novel off of this one, a 16th century building which was once part of the London School of Economics. It was renamed the Old Curiosity Shop after the book became famous. I was unaware the novel was based on a genuine shop so it was a great moment to suddenly come across it.

A short walk later, I arrived on the outskirts of Covent Garden. The area contains a plethora of historic buildings, and it is a genuine joy to almost take a step back in time as you explore the famous streets.

Covent Garden is well known for the former Market at the heart of the district, first opened in 1654. Prior to this the central part of Covent Garden was a large open space, eventually bounded by houses, including Bedford House, built the Earl of Bedford when Henry VIII granted the area to him after confiscating it from Westminster Abbey during the reformation.

From 1830, Covent Garden Market was housed in a grand neoclassical building designed by Charles Fowler (1792 – 1867, English Architect from Devon). Originally it included a number of open sections between the main ranges, which were later roofed over during the late 19th century with a large iron frame.

Around the square you will also find the London Transport Museum, housed in the Old Flower Market of 1871.

Behind the Market Hall, at the West edge of the square lies the Parish Church of St Paul, designed by Inigo Jones (1573 – 1652, English Architect from London) during the 1630’s.

When it was first constructed it was never consecrated due to the objections of the Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, whose Parish Covent Garden fell under. The dispute was solved in 1645 when Covent Garden became it’s own parish, with St Paul’s the Parish Church.

The Church is also notable as being the final resting place of the first victim of the Black Death after it reached England, a woman called Margaret Ponteous, who died in 1665.

My last stop was a bit of an in joke. I had another hour or two to kill before my train, so I took the Northern Line from Leicester Square, to the most southerly station on the network, Morden.

If you are a Lord of the Rings fan, you may remember a famous scene where Sean Bean – Boromir, says “One does not simply walk into Mordor”. Many people have likened Mordor to Morden based on the name, so I got a great picture, later captioned on Facebook as “One does not simply walk into Morden”. Worth it for a terrible joke. It’s a notable stop anyway as the terminus of the Northern Line, and was the perfect end to an incredible day.

A London Adventure: Pt 1 – The City, Spitalfields & Shoreditch

I was recently in London for a job interview, and seeing as how I was going to have the whole afternoon free from around 2 o’clock until 7 o’clock when my train home left, I decided to plan myself an extensive walk around some of London’s maybe slightly lesser known landmarks…

London Miscellaneous:

Boroughs Covered: Tower Hamlets, City of London, Hackney, Islington, Camden, City of Westminster, Merton

Date: 14/03/2017

Travel: Virgin Trains (Manchester Piccadilly – London Euston), London Underground: Northern Line (London Euston – Moorgate, Leicester Square – Morden, Morden – London Euston) – Circle Line (Moorgate – Tower Hill)

Attractions: George Peabody Statue, Smithfield Market, Christ Church Spitalfields, Spitalfield Market, St Stephen Walbrook, Christ Church Greyfriars, Shoreditch Town Hall, The Old Bailey, St Mary Le Bow Church, St Sepulchre’s Church, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, King Henry VIII Gate, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Covent Garden, Liverpool Street Station etc

My walked started just around the corner from the Bank of England, where, on a pedestrianised street directly behind the Royal Exchange, I came across a large pedestal, atop which sat a statue of George Peabody (1795 – 1869, American Philanthropist born in Massachusetts). George was later made a freeman of the City of London, after a significant financial contribution to the poor people of the city.

Until demolition in 1846, this area had been the site of the Church of St Benet Fink. The statue itself was erected before Peabody actually passed away, but sadly he was too ill by this stage to attend its unveiling.

Moving on, my next stop was Liverpool Street Station. In my various trips to London I have used a number of stations, including Euston, King’s Cross, St Pancras, Paddington and Waterloo, however there are many other well known stations we haven’t explored. Liverpool Street is one of these, and although we have actually taken a train from here to Chelmsford, we arrived by Tube from Euston, and never saw the exterior.

From the outside, Liverpool Street isn’t quite on the same scale as some of the much grander stations like St Pancras, whose street exterior shows off Victorian Architecture at its very best, yet it is still an interesting stop on my walk, and the site of plenty of history.

The Station was designed by Edward Wilson (1820 – 1877, Scottish Civil Engineer from Edinburgh), and originally opened in 1874, becoming the new Southern Terminus of the Great Eastern Main Line (GEML), which runs East towards Norwich and Ipswich, via Essex. Despite having a relatively small number of destinations, it was the largest station in London by 1895, with more platforms than even King’s Cross or Euston.

Directly beneath the station lies Liverpool Street Tube Station, on the Central, Circle, Hammersmith & City, and Metropolitan Lines, providing good access to most of central London.

During World War II, Liverpool Street was the main arrival point into London of thousands of Jewish Child Refugees from Europe during 1939, through a campaign known as the “Kindertransport”, after the German word for children. They usually arrived in Britain by ferry to Harwich in Essex, and would then take the GEML to Liverpool Street. The rescues ceased after war broke out, and Europe was cut off.

In 2006, a sculpture called “Kindertransport – The Arrival” was installed outside the main entrance to the station. Sculpted by Frank Meisler (Born 1929, German Architect), it features a number of children arriving at the station after escaping Europe.

Leaving the area around Liverpool Street Station, the next stop was Spitalfields Market, across the border into the Borough of Tower Hamlets. The route took me up Bishopsgate, past the striking Heron Tower, whose shiny glass exterior creates an impressive hue amongst the darker, Victorian constructs.

The Heron Tower was designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF), a firm of American Architects based in New York City, although they also have a regional office here in London. The Tower has a mixture of commercial tenants, as well as a public restaurant on the 38th floor, spread across 46 floors, which total a grand height of 755 ft.

Spitalfields is an ancient area of London, originally named after St Mary’s Spittel, a Priory/Hospital founded in the area in 1197. It also has a lovely historic feel to it, and at the centre of the district lies the famous Spitalfields Market. The Market can trace it’s origins back to 1682, when King Charles II approved the creation of a Market to be held here on Thursdays and Saturdays. It is now held in a vast Victorian complex completed in 1893 (shown left), which has since grown as both the trade, and population in Spitalfields has increased.

In the foreground is the 3.5 metre tall “I Goat” sculpture by Kenny Hunger. The Goat, which is stood atop a mountain of packing crates represents the history of the area, and Goats would have been one of the many animals which were traded here in days gone by.

At the rear of the picture, you can see “Christ Church Spitalfields”, the local parish Church constructed in 1714. By the 18th century, London’s population was expanding rapidly, so in 1710 the “New Churches in London & Westminster Act” was passed, which allowed for the building of 50 new Churches across London, one of which was Christ Church, one of the earliest of the 50. It was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor (1661 – 1736, English Architect from London).

Leaving Spitalfields behind me, I began to head in the direction of Shoreditch High Street, roughly 3/4 of a mile North into the Borough of Hackney.

The area between Spitalfields and Shoreditch is certainly one of contrasts, as evidenced by the picture above. Old Georgian/Victorian terraces line cobbled streets, whilst behind them, an ever growing array of steel and glass rises above the skyline.

This picture was taken on Fleur De Lis Street, with the 541 ft tall Broadgate Tower in the background, completed in 2009.

Onwards to Shoreditch, and a charming walk up Shoreditch High Street. Shoreditch itself grew up around “Ermine Street”, a historic Roman Road from London to York via Lincoln, exiting the City of London at Bishopsgate and heading North through Shoreditch.

The central feature of the High Street is the Church of St Leonard, which has Saxon origins. The Tower of the original Church collapsed in 1716, necessitating a rebuild by George Dance the Elder (1695 – 1768, City of London Architect) during the 1730’s. The Steeple now stands an impressive 192 ft tall.

Turning left off the High Street onto Old Street, Shoreditch’s second most prominent landmark is the Town Hall, whose existence was brought about by the “Municipal Reform Act 1835” which made provisions for new Municipal Corporations to cover the major areas of London. Shoreditch was an up and coming area, and was designated as such. The new Town Council needed somewhere to make a base, so during the 1830’s a Vestry Hall was built here. This was the section to the right with the main Tower. It was the most expensive new Vestry Hall in London, and it’s grand design celebrated this.

The functions of the Council soon outgrew the Hall, so in 1866 the foundation stone for Shoreditch Town Hall was laid. This was the first phase of building work, completed by 1867, covering the area left of the main tower, with the five large bay windows. To the far left of the bay windows is a smaller, set back section comprising just one window, and a door on the ground floor, which was added sometime prior to 1897.

The second phase of building work commenced in 1899, when a new act created Municipal Boroughs, covering larger populations and granting extra powers to the new local authorities which covered them. The Vestry Hall and phase one of the more recent Town Hall were combined to create one large building, which we can still see today. This part of the building houses the main Council Chamber.

Moving away from Shoreditch, I re-entered the City of London near Moorgate Underground Station, shown above, after following Tabernacle Street to the border with the City from Shoreditch.

I had changed tube trains at Moorgate earlier in the morning to get from London Euston to Tower Hill, but only ever saw the platforms, not the exterior.

Moorgate Station opened in 1865, as part of the “Metropolitan Railway”, the worlds first underground line, although at the time it was called Moorgate Street Station. The Railway eventually became what we now know as the Circle Line, the Yellow Line on the Tube Map around Central London. In 1900, the “City & South London Railway, which eventually became the Northern Line, was constructed and was routed to connect up with Moorgate. Sadly the station itself is most famous for the Moorgate Tube Crash of 1975, which killed 43 people. The exact cause of the disaster is unknown, however the driver made no attempt to stop the train as it over ran the station at high speed and crashed into a set of buffers.

Behind the station is “Moor House”, a large office block built in anticipation of the arrival of Crossrail, in 2004. The building has a large ventilation shaft directly beneath it specifically for Crossrail, and at the time of construction it had the deepest foundations in the whole of London.

My next planned stop was the Old Bailey, so I took a scenic route via Bank to St Paul’s Cathedral. Bank is covered by an area known as Walbrook, named after a subterranean River called the Walbrook which has long since been covered over. The area is marked by the Church of St Stephen, just behind Mansion House.

The original St Stephen’s was one of many Churches which succumbed to the Great Fire of London in 1666. A vast programme of rebuilding was instigated after the Fire, lead by Sir Christopher Wren (1632 – 1723, Famous English Architect) who rebuilt many of the cities Churches, including St Paul’s Cathedral. The new St Stephen’s was completed in 1679, based on an early design for the reconstructed St Paul’s.

Closing in on St Paul’s Cathedral, I took a wander up Watling Street, past a sculpture called “The Cordwainer”. A Cordwainer is another name for a Shoemaker, after a town in Spain called Cordoba, which was well known for its quality leather.

Created by Alma Boyes, it originally stood outside St Mary Le Bow Church, until it was moved to Watling Street a few years later. Cordwainers had become important parts of London society after the Crusaders brought the materials and techniques back to England many centuries ago.

Watling Street also offers a stunning view up towards St Paul’s itself, with it’s distinctive dome the stand out landmark in this area of the city. Watling Street was originally based on another Roman Road, which ran from Canterbury in Kent, through London towards St Albans, and then on to the Roman Fort at Wroxeter in Shropshire.

Instead of approaching St Paul’s head on, I turned right off Watling Street onto Bow Lane, which brought me out into Bow Churchyard, by the famous St Mary Le Bow Church.

Much like St Stephen’s Church, the original incarnation of St Mary’s, completed in the Norman Era, was destroyed during the Great Fire of London, and it fell to Sir Christopher Wren to design and build its replacement. The new Church was one of the first Churches to be reconstructed, as at the time it was one of the most important Churches in the City of London, behind only St Paul’s itself. This was because St Mary’s was, and still is the home of the “Arches Court”, which gives it jurisdiction from the Church of England over religious matters in the area.

During World War II, London was heavily bombed by the German Air Force, the Luftwaffe. Many of the City of London’s Churches would not escape unscathed, during a fire-storm which many have dubbed the Second Great Fire of London, due to the sheer area of devastation which was left. A number of them were rebuilt, whilst others were left in a ruinous state as a permanent reminder of the horrors of war. I came across one such Church during my walk, as shown above.

This is Christ Church Greyfriars, although it is sometimes referred to as Christ Church Newgate Street. It lies at the junction of King Edward Street and Cheapside, not far from St Paul’s Underground Station just round the corner from the Old Bailey. It was a monastic Church until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530’s, when it was seized by Henry VIII and became a Parish Church. Rebuilt by Wren in 1687 after the Great Fire, it was bombed out on December 29th, 1940.

The Parish it covered was later merged with St Sepulchre’s, negating the need for the building to be repaired.

Speaking of St Sepulchre’s, that happened to be my next stop. It is just a little further up Newgate Street, which follows on directly from Cheapside, almost directly opposite the Old Bailey itself. It faired slightly better than some of the other Churches in the City, originally created by the Saxons prior to 1137. It was rebuilt in the 15th century, before being completely gutted by the Great Fire in 1666. The stone Tower, and outer walls survived however, which immediately stands out as many of the Churches completely rebuilt by Wren used Portland Stone. It survived the Blitz intact, and is one of the stand out historic buildings in the area.

You can see one of London’s new Routemaster Double Decker Buses passing by in front of the Church. They continue the well known tradition of the Red London Bus, but with a modern touch. They are a Hybrid design, with a mix of diesel and electric power, and have been serving the Capital since 2012.

Moving across the road, I stopped to admire the grand exterior of the Old Bailey, the highest court in the land in England. The Old Bailey’s origins relate to the original Courts held by the Lord Mayor/Sheriffs of the City of London, which also covered the historic county of Middlesex at this time.

They built a courtroom sometime prior to 1585, although it burnt, along with the rest of London, in 1666 in the Great Fire. A new building was completed by 1674, and stood near the old Newgate Gaol. A new act was passed in 1856, called the “Central Criminal Court Act”, which allowed anyone who committed a crime to be tried at the Old Bailey, regardless of whether it was committed in London. This was to ensure impartiality when it came to high profile cases, as the accused may be discriminated against in their home county.

In 1902 the Newgate Gaol was demolished, and the new Old Bailey, still standing today, was built in it’s place, to designs by Edward William Mountford (1855 – 1908, English Architect who also designed Lancaster Town Hall, Sheffield Town Hall and Battersea Town Hall, all of which still survive). The famous statue of Lady Justice can be seen atop it’s great dome, with both the statue and the rest of the building surviving bomb damage from the Blitz.

The final stop in the first half of my walk was St Bartholomew’s Hospital, which can be found just up Giltspur Street, heading North away from the Old Bailey. The Hospital was founded in 1123 by a Monk called Rahere, and is the oldest hospital in the UK that is still a practising medical establishment on it’s original site.

The original St Bartholomew’s was run by the Priory of St Bartholomew the Great, until the 1530’s when the Dissolution of the Monasteries almost bankrupted the Hospital when the main source of income, the taxes levied by the Priory, were removed. The instigator of the Dissolution, King Henry VIII, didn’t let the Hospital close however, he refounded it with Letters Patent, and it came into the care of the City of London Corporation.

Of the buildings themselves, the present complex was designed by James Gibbs (1682 – 1754, Scottish Architect from Aberdeen), and opened during the 18th century. The hospital consisted of the North Wing (1732), South Wing (1740), West Wing (1752) and finally the East Wing (1769). At the Hospitals heart there is also a small Church, called “St Bartholomew the Less”, a 15th century construct founded by the Priory in 1123.

The main entrance to the Hospital consists of a large gate which features a statue of King Henry VIII above it, the only statue of him in London.

I carried on, passing St Bartholomew’s, towards the King Henry VIII Gate, and approaching the large wooden archway which leads into the Churchyard of St Bartholomew the Great, the original Priory Church here…