Saturday, 23 March 2013

Exploring the Lost City - North and South

On Thursdays, our morning walk "Aldgate, Bishopsgate and beyond" starts in Shoreditch High Street and explores the area immediately to the north of the city before continuing through its heart, finishing at Monument.

Exploring a little way off the beaten track of our usual route, we found this plaque, in Hoxton -

marking the site of the “Pimlico Tavern”, where Ben Jonson killed Gabriel Spencer in a duel.    Spencer is buried in the church of St Leonard, Shoreditch, which is on the walk. Jonson himself is buried (famously upright!) in Westminster Abbey, which is on the “St Paul’s to Westminter Abbey” walk (please note - entry to Abbey is not included on the walk itself).

Also, again a little beyond the scope of our usual route, in Devonshire Square, we found this rather remarkable Denys Mitchell sculpture, 

symbolising and commemorating the “Cnihtengild”.  The explanatory plaque reads as follows:  

“King Edgar (959-75) granted  this derelict land to thirteen knights, on condition that they each perform three duels, one on land, one below ground, and one on the water.  These feats having been achieved, the king gave the knights, or Cnihtengild, certain rights over a piece of land, ‘from Aldgate to the place where the bars now are, toward the east, on both sides of the lane, and extended it towards the gate now known as Bishopsgate in the north, to the house of  William the Priest ... and to the south to the Thames as far as a horseman riding into the river at low tide can throw a lance’”.

Back on track, our "Aldgate, Bishopsgate and beyond” walk passes this plaque 

marking the site of the “Cross Keys” Inn on Gracechurch Street, near the junction with Cornhill (and the church of St Peter, Cornhill, with its  weather-vane bearing the saint’s crossed keys).   

Inns such as the “Cross Keys”, the immediately adjacent “Bell”, and the “Bull” on Bishopsgate, among others, offered entertainment as well as accommodation in post-Medieval London (see Julian Bowsher’s excellent recent book “Shakespeare’s London Theatreland”).

On our “Historic Southwark” walk, available on Thursday afternoons (or by private arrangement at other times)  one of our favourite sights is this bizarre coat of arms (for the Wicked Witch of the West perhaps??)  in the grounds of Guy’s Hospital.

For further details, including how to book either of the above Thursday walks (or to request one as a private walk), please follow the link to our website

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