Monday 15 June 2009

Monument and some churches

Walking from St Paul's to London Bridge takes you down Cheapside (one of the City's busier thoroughfares) and along Poultry to Bank and Mansion House.

On the way along Cheapside you'll pass St Mary-le-Bow - home to the famous 'Bow Bells'. It is London tradition that those born in the sound of the Bow Bells are 'true' cockneys. St Mary-le-Bow was originally re-designed by Sir Christopher Wren following the Great Fire (one of many London churches so to be) and was re-built again following severe bomb damage in the Second World War.

The churches of the City could take a day to see by themselves. I visited three today and passed by four or five more without stopping!

Next I took a shortcut through Number One Poultry and onto Queen Victoria Street. On the south side of the street you can see the Temple of Mithras. This ruin of a Roman Temple was discovered in 1954 when excavations for nearby Bucklersbury House were being undertaken. The ruins were painstakingly reconstructed some 18 feet above the level of their original discovery on Walbrook on the bank of the original Walbrook stream. These ruins date from the second century AD.

After this I re-crossed Queen Victoria Street to visit the church of St Mary Aldermary. Another Wren church this is notable for it's beautiful plaster ceilings.

Heading south from here onto College Hill I encountered the church of St Michael Paternoster Royal, Seafarers Church. A more modern building than the Wren churches the interior was still enhanced by some beautiful stained glass windows.

After this I headed along Upper Thames Street (famous for rush-hour traffic jams) to visit the Monument. Built between 1671 and 1677 the Monument commemorates the Great Fire of London which burned for three days in 1666 destroying most of the City of London. The Monument is 202 feet high and if laid down flat would reach the exact spot in nearby Pudding Lane where the fire started.

A rush of blood to the head led me to think that it was a good idea to climb the 311 steps to the viewing platform. The views from the platform (160 feet above London) are fantastic. A complete panorama of London is laid out pretty much unobstructed (apart from the nearby cluster of tall buildings in the City).

Ready to go... and starting the climb
Going up!
Views from the top
The flames on the very top

Going down
You get a certificate when you get back to the bottom, and I certainly felt I deserved it!

Monument is a short walk from St Paul's Cathedral, London Bridge and Southwark.

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