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The City


This is the oldest part of London, exactly when the first ancient Britain's settled here is unknown, but it predates Christianity and the Romans. The reason why this site was chosen is due to the river, this was the furthest point down stream that the Thames could be forded.

The current look of the City has been forged by 2 key events, the Great Fire of 1666, which destroyed almost everything in this area. And the German bombing in the second world war when again almost everything was flattened.

This area is now the financial centre, it's one of the key Banking and Commercial centre's in the world.

Austin Frairs SquareMansion House Tube Area

At the junction of Queen Victoria St. and Cannon Street is Manson House Tube Station .

Running south from the junction is Garlick Hill with the church of St. James Garlickhythe. It was built by Wren in 1676. This leads on to Queenhithe Dock which is the site of the earliest fish market, it is first mentioned in 899.

Eastwards along Queen Victoria St stands St. Mary Aldermary. The names means the older Mary, this probably refers to the fact that this church is older than St. Mary-Le-Bow close by. The original church was built in the 11 century, it was rebuilt in 1510. In 1681 it was rebuilt by Wren.

Further along the south side of Queen Victoria St. between Queen St. and Bank are the remains of the Temple of Mithras, which was built by the Romans between 90 and 350 AD.

From the junction running north is Bow Lane a pretty little street that leads to Cheapside. At the junction of Cheapside and Bow Lane is St. Mary Le Bow. It was rebuilt by Wren in 1683. The original church on this sites dates from 1080. To be a true cockney you must have been born within the sound of it's bell. The bell is also, by legend, the one that called Dick Whittington to return to the City.


At the junction of Princes St. and Threadneedle Street is the Bank of England. The building dates from the 18 century.

Mansion HouseOn the south side of Bank is Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London. It was built in 1739 by George Dance the Elder

To the north of the Bank on Lothbury stands St. Margaret Lothbury. This church was rebuilt by Wren in 1686. The original church dates from 1197. The inside is filled with woodwork that comes from other now demolished Wren churches.

To the south stands St. Stephen Walbrook. There has been a church here since 1100. The current church was rebuilt by Wren in 1672, it is one of his masterpieces.

Between Threadneedle St. and Cornhill is the Royal Exchange, the present building dates from 1842.

St Stephen WalbrookAt the junction of Threadneedle St. and Old Broad St. is the Stock Exchange.

To the west from Bank runs Poultry, with Old Jewry leading off to the north. This area used to be the Jewish quarter until 1262, when it was ramshackle and 500 people where killed. Along the street there are some restored houses from 1776.

On Gresham St. is the church of St. Lawrence Jewry. The church was founded in the 12 century and dedicated to St. Lawrence who was roasted to death on a gridiron. The church was rebuilt by Wren in 1671. The weathervane is in the form of a gridiron.

To the north of the church is the Guildhall, the "town hall" for the City. The building was first erected in 1411. The porch, gatehouse, part of the Great Hall and the crypt still survive. The building was damaged by the Great Fire and rebuilt by Wren, further changes were made by George Dance the younger in 1789. The building was very badly damaged during the war, and rebuilt.

At the junction of Gresham St. and Aldersgate St. is the church of St. Anne and St. Agnes, rebuilt by Wren in 1676.

On Cornhill stand St. Michael's Cornhill, the church was rebuilt by Wren in 1670, but the tower itself is much older, it was built in 1421.

In the Alley by the church London first coffee house was established.

London StoneFurther along Cornhill is St. Peter's upon Cornhill. This is supposed to be the oldest church in London, having been originally been built in 179. The church was rebuilt by Wren in 1677.

Cannon Street

Opposite Cannon St. Station, embedded into the wall is the London Stone. Tradition has it that this stone used to mark the centre of the Roman province of Britain. It used to stand in the grounds of the Governors palace. Recently remains of a palace have been found beneath the station on the other side of the road.

On the north side of the street runs Abchurch Lane with the church of St. Mary Abchurch. The current church is another one of Wren's, rebuilt in 1686, many believe it is one of his best. The original dated from the 12 century.

On the south side is Laurence Pountney Hill. Numbers 1 and 2 date from 1703.

On College Hill stands the church of St. Michael Paternoster Royal. It was founded before 1219. The current church was rebuilt by Wren in 1686. Sir Richard (Dick) Whittington was buried here in 1423

At the corner of Lombard and King William Streets in the church of St. Mary Woolnoth. The church is on the site of a Roman place of worship. The church was rebuilt in 1716.


The Monument commemorates the Great Fire, which started on the 2 September 1666, 202 feet to the east of the column at Farryner's bakery in Pudding Lane. The fire raged for 5 days and destroyed 460 streets, 89 churches and 13,000 homes. The Monument is the worlds tallest isolated stone column, it is 202 feet high. It was designed by Wren and built in 1671.

On Lower Thames St. is St. Magnus the Martyr. As with almost all churches in this area it was rebuilt by Wren. It dates from 1671 and is renowned for its steeple. The church was founded in 1067 and stood at the foot of London Bridge.

Next to the church is the former Billingsgate fish market. This is the site of one of the oldest wharfs in London- The first fish market was established here in 1699. The current building dates from 1874. The market closed in 1982 and the building was turned into offices.

Leadenhall MarketOn Lombard St. is the church of St. Edmund the King and Martyr, the church was rebuilt by Wren in 1670.

On St. Clements Lane stands the church of St. Clements, rebuilt in 1683 by Wren.


Just off Bishopsgate is St. Helen's, one of the largest churches in the City. Legend has it that this church was built by Emperor Constantine on the site of a pagan temple in the 4 century. The church is dedicated to his mother. In 1204 a Benedictine nunnery was founded here. The current church stems mostly from the 17 century.

Close by is St. Ethelburga-the-Virgin within Bishopsgate. The Great Fire did not reach the church, so the original from the 15 century still remains. It is one of the smallest churches in the City.

On the south side of Leadenhall St. is Lloyds. The current building dates from 1986 and was designed by Richard Rogers.

To the south is Leadenhall market.

At the junction of St. Mary Axe is the church of St. Andrew Undershaft. It was built in 1520. The name comes from the May pole that was set up here each May day. It is believed that Hans Holbein died here of the plague in 1543.

Further up from St. Mary Axe is the Baltic Exchange, this is where merchant vessels find cargos. The exchange was founded in 1744 in a coffee house on Threadneedle St. In 1992 the building was almost destroyed by an IRA bomb.

St. Katharine Cree church or Christchurch, was part of an Augustinian priory from 1108.

London Bridge

If anything can be seen as being the reason why a city grew in this location it is due to the river Thames. If you look at the geography of Britain it can be clearly seen that the Thames forms a massive barrier between the south east and the rest of the country. The lower reaches of the river are tidal, they reached what is nowadays London Bridge or there about. It also seems that in this area the river was shallow. Therefore this was the the point closest to the sea at where it was reasonably safe and easy to cross the river. It therefore became a natural focus for all routes from the Southeast to and from the north.

When the Roman invaded Britain in 43 AD they landed in Kent, the most direct route to the northern parts of the country were of course via London. Fairly early on in the campaign they built the first bridge over the river and a settlement on Cornhill. Recently the remains of a foundation pier of this first bridge have been found very close to the current London Bridge, the line of the road to the bridge followed what is now Fish Street Hill.

In 1014 it was burned down by King Ethelred to split up the Viking armies. In 1091 the rebuilt bridge was swept away in a gale. It burned down again in 1136.

The first stone bridge was built in 1176, and the first houses appeared in 1201. This bridge was made up if 12 spans, the piers blocked the flow of the river and passing the bridge was similar to running rapids. Upstream a pool formed which would freeze over in winter, and would the the site of the "Frost Fairs". A fund was started to pay for the maintenance of the bridge, it was run from a house on the south side, known as Bridge house, hence Bridge House Estates.

In 1212 fire broke out at both ends and 3,000 people died. In 1758 the houses were removed. In 1823 a new bridge with 5 spans was built. This bridge was sold to the Americans in 1972 and now stands in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. They believed they were buying Tower Bridge. The bridge used to act as a display ground for the heads of traitors. The view from the bridge is worth seeing.

The Tower and environs

As a result of a great deal of confusion at the coronation of William 1 in 1066, when troops set fire to nearby houses, a wooden keep was built on a mount on the east side of the city, to overawe the population. In 1078 work was begun on the White Tower. Most of the rest was built by Henry 3 and Edward 1

Tower Hill

In the gardens by the tube station a large section of the medieval wall can be seen, a further section can be found in Cooper's Row.



Williamsons Tavern
Ye Old Watling

Of Interest
St. Mary Aldermary
St. Mary Le Bow
St. James Garlickhythe
Farryner's Bakery
Pudding Lane
St. Magnus the Martyr
St. Edmund the King and Martyr
Bank of England
St. Helen's
St. Ethelburga-the-Virgin
St. Andrew Undershaft
St. Katharine Cree
Richard Rogers
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Copyright 1998 - 2012 Juerg Mueller. Date last modified: Tuesday, 20-Oct-2009 18:54:49 CEST