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Monday, February 25, 2013
Blogger Cindy Eve picks out her favourite London haunts that have been in the city for years, but not many of us have discovered them yet.
London is without a doubt one of the most intriguing and fascinating cities in the world - a mix of very old, old and new! I have compiled a list of some of the hidden gems in London that have impressed me the most, which include places that have been in the city for years, or even eons, that are, as yet, undiscovered by the majority.
The Roman Wall at Tower Hill Station
I will never forget the first time I walked out of Tower Hill Station and saw this wall. Realising what it was sent a chill down my spine - the remains of the old Roman city wall...almost 2,000 years old. Of course the first thing I did was step over, close my eyes, touch it and imagine the person who put that very stone into the wall. How extraordinary that I could touch a wall that had been touched by hands nearly 2,000 years ago.
The Guildhall, a Gothic architectural wonder, has stood on this very spot for over 800 years, has seen wars, plague, fires and yet has withstood the test of time, albeit with some damage. Now repaired, I cannot tell you how amazing this building was to see for the first time. The interior is incredible with some wonderful statues, beautiful stained glass windows and as for the history extraordinary. In the past the Guildhall has seen the trials of some well known people from history - like Lady Jane Grey and her husband who were tried here and beheaded at the Tower Green and Tower Hill respectively. The Lord Mayor of London leaves from this building in his state coach for the Lord Mayor's Show, an annual event in November.
The Roman amphitheatre at Guildhall Art Gallery
This was one of the most incredible of my discoveries. Buried 20 feet below ground, the excavated area has been arranged with holographic figures as they may have appeared all those years ago. You can see an ancient drain and some artefacts that were excavated as well as original stoneworks and gravel put there by the builders of this most amazing place. I was in the same space as where 'civilised' people and wild animals from emperors, gladiators and slaves, to lions, tigers, and bears, had been almost 2,000 years before. Extraordinary!
The George Inn, Southwark
The George Inn is the last survivor of the ancient inns which once lined Southwark High Street. The earliest known reference of the George Inn is shown on a map dated 1542, and it is known that the George Inn was already well established during the reign of Henry VIII. The last coaching inn in London, did you know that Charles Dickens frequented this pub? Well if you didn't before, you know now, so get over there. It's fabulous. What a brilliant place, and trust me this is one place that is not unknown, it is really busy on a Friday night!!
A Masonic Temple at the Andaz Hotel
This is another of the hidden gems of London and it was surely one of my most extraordinary discoveries. What a magical room. The ceiling is an elaborate affair painted blue with gilded Masonic symbols and emblems, signs of the zodiac and much else. The floor, a black and white chequered design, is worth millions of pounds, I was told. On opposite sides of the room are two thrones, one much larger and more elaborate that the other, both beautifully decorated and one of which apparently used by Lady Gaga for one of her music promotions. Most certainly an extraordinary discovery!
St Bartholomew's Church, Smithfield
Stepping into St Bartholomew's is like stepping through the portals of time. In 1122 King Henry I granted a Royal Charter to found the priory - St Bartholomew the Great, once a thriving monastery dissolved by King Henry VIII. Standing just beyond the perimeters of the Roman City wall in the bustling area of Smithfield's, the church is one of the few that survived the Great Fire of London in 1666. Your first impression as you enter the church is of a dark and gloomy cavern, a gloom broken only by the sunlight that streams down from the windows set high in the walls. St Bartholomew's has withstood dissolution, wars, plague, fires and bombs - the air is heavy with spirituality as the weight of its history presses down on you. St Bartholomew was the venue for one of the churches in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral.
For more about my London discoveries do visit www.3daysinlondon.info