As restrictions very slowly begin to lift, we can begin to travel outside our immediate locality. Whilst this doesn’t mean some of my favourite places in London are flinging their doors open just yet, it does mean that soaking up some of the things we love in London, we can go and see. I’ve devised a walk from Blackfriars which takes in a few wonderfully London sites.
I am starting my journey at Blackfriars station, which in my view, has the best vista possibly any station has! First stop outside the station, is The Black Friar pub which is ‘wedged’ into a corner. The pub stands on the former site of a Dominican monastery, obviously remembered in the name. Apparently, the interior is stunning – we’re counting the days until we can get inside …Notably, this pub was almost demolished in the1960s until the poet Sir John Betjeman and Lady Dartmouth (Princess Di’s stepmother) spearheaded a campaign to save it.
Walking up Ludgate Hill, towards to St Paul’s, we’re darting off to the left. Firstly, through Temple Bar Gate. The gate, built by Sir Christopher Wren, originally was the ceremonial entrance from Westminster to The City. Frequently, the heads of traitors were aloft on spikes.However, from 1880 – 2003, it resided within an estate in Hertfordshire belonging to the Meaux family. It returned and became an entrance to Paternoster Square, our next stop.
Paternoster Square was developed in 2004. It stands on the former Paternoster Row which was destroyed in The Blitz. The square has some notable sculpture: Firstly a Coirinthian Column, which has gold leaf covered flaming copper urn, which is a symbol of the fires in 1666 and 1940. It also acts as a ventilation shaft!
To the corner, there is a sculpture of a figure with sheep by Elisabeth Frink representing when the area was Newgate meat market. However, many see it as a theological nod to their neighbour, St Paul’s, as a representation of The Good Shepherd.
A 5 minute walk later along the A40 and King Edward St, you will come to Postman’s Park, one of the few green oasis’s in the middle of The City. Built on former graveyards, it is rather spookily a few metres higher than the surrounding roads, as due to a lack of burial space, bodies were placed on the ground with earth thrown over to cover them.
However, the most poignant part of the park is a wall of plaques dedicated to those who lost their lives trying to save others. This is known as George Frederic Watts’s Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice, remembering those who may otherwise be forgotten.
On your way back to Blackfriars, on the corner of Newgate and King Edward Street, is a sculpture remembering the 350 years Christ Hospital School spent in the city before it moved to a rural idyll in Sussex. The school was created to provide a good education to those who would otherwise be unable to afford it.
Then, of course, the beauty that is St Paul’s ….