Nitty gritty first, mood music second… Iconic City buildings – the Gherkin, the Cheesegrater, Lloyds. London a world centre for business, finance, insurance, shipping – now, and across the centuries. Where to insure your voice, your hands, your next Space Mission. The secrets of the nation’s gold – and perhaps yours too? Churches where Londoners have worshipped for centuries. A1 walk. (Yes, we’ll explain what that means. Lots of takeaway nuggets on this walk, one of which is getting you au fait with City of London lingo.)
Ok, mood music time: London. 2,000 years old. Higgledy-piggledy. History haunted. Secretive in the extreme. A labyrinth where the past lurks in the present. Aggressively modern when you look up. A tear in space-time when you peer round this corner or go down that alley. A city that preserves features – like so many geological strata – of its earlier selves. A city that’s not easy to figure out – you don’t reap London in one traverse. Why bother? you ask. Here’s why: 1) London’s of world-historical importance and 2) depths, intricacies and secrets are always interesting. Bottom line: this is a great walk. It’s the London labyrinth and London highlights and the shaping past. You’ll see both the hoary old City and today’s London. Best of all, you’ll see into them. N.B. the walk ends in Guildhall Yard, a very short walk from St. Paul’s Tube Stop.
LONDON WALKS PRACTICALS
The Heart of the City walk takes place every* Saturday at 2 pm. The meeting point is just outside the exit of Tower HillTube (meet by the “Tower Hill Tram” coffee stall).
*Except Nov. 9, Dec. 7, Jan. 4, Jan. 11, Jan. 18, Jan 25, Feb. 1, Feb. 8 and Feb. 15
“WHAT WILL I SEE?” “WHAT WILL BE PARADED BEFORE US?”
Here’s a baker’s dozen, a sampling. Important thing to remember is it’s just a sneak peek. There’s lots more than this.
1. a dense network of small streets and alleys weaving between the main thoroughfares
2. Victorian palazzi, a streetscape “as peaceful as an Italian town at siesta time”
3. an unfurling panorama that demonstrates perfectly why, in the words of one historian of city planning, “the compactness of a 2000-year-old urban core is fortuitously well suited to the operation of a globalised financial service centre.”
4. one of the few City churches to survive the Great Fire
5. a hilltop in whose “stony soil lie some of the oldest bits of London”
6. the oldest arch in the City of London
7. the building that changed public perception of tall buildings in London
8. the first of the City’s railway termini (and its “air-rights” development)
9. London’s boldest piece of architectural art (properly integrated into the project rather than a pointless add-on)
10. “a welcome restatement of the City tradition of lanes and alleys
11. a cesspit “impregnated with putrid animal and excrementitious matter”
12. there’s seeing these buildings and “seeing” them. You “see” them when you understand the relationship they achieve with their neighbours. That’s another takeaway this walk serves up
13. this place: “even today one can sense the impact this structure must have had when new, towering over the mean timber houses of the city”
And that’s just for starters, a taster…
It’s the Sky Garden. Perfect “fit” with this walk. Apres walk. Free to go up. But you have to book.