A Walk around Smithfield Neighborhood

I just posted my week’s activities in my blog but wanted to keep this walk separate from the rest of the week. I thought it would make the post too long.  My thought was to post this first and my week’s activities last…so, in the blog it would be after the activities…I hit the “post” button too soon so this walk will appear first…darn!

Wednesday was a sunny day…the first in a long while so I was out the door to enjoy and absorb the sun!  I took bus 11 from Kings Road to the Temples to visit the Temple Church from the last walk that I did.  The church was closed and I really wanted to see the inside of it.  The round part of the church was built by the Knights Templar in 1185.  The Knights Templar was a monastic military order that protected pilgrims on crusades to the Holy Land.

This church was used in the movie The DaVinci Code.  Remember the scene where Tom Hanks is in the church with the these crypts?

The round design of the church was to replicate the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.  In 1240, the cancel was added…this church is old, old, old.  Well, it’s history.  Sadly, the building was struck by bombs during the German blitz in 1940. 

At the start of the 14th century, the Templars were suppressed. In 1604, King James I gave their former land from Fleet Street down to the Thames River to the Inner and and Middle Temples.   These are two of London’s Inn (group of lawyers) of the court.  Upon accepting this offer, they agreed that they would maintain the church, which they continue to do so today.

From the church, I walked down Fleet Street, towards St Paul’s Cathedral, until I came to St Bride’s Church near the intersection of New Bridge Street.  It was designed by the famous architect, Christopher Wren. The spire of the church is known as the “wedding cake spire” because wedding cakes were designed after the tiered structure.  On display in the church is the wedding dress of the wife of the baker William Rich, who made the wedding cakes.  He could see the spire from his bakery and it inspired him to make the tiered wedding cakes.

This church was destroyed in the 1940 German bombing blitz as well.  The bomb turned out to be a mix blessing.  The bombs uncovered the remains of a Roman building in the basement.  I saw them when I went down to the crypt.

I continued on my walk going north on Farringdon Street toward the Smithfield Market.  This is a meat market and there has been one here since 1868.  When I arrived, it was closed for the day…it opens at 3:00 in the morning. I arrived around 2:00 in the afternoon….just as well, I really have no desire to see all the meat on display.  There were several information boards hanging giving the history of the market.  One that I got a chuckle out of was the one that told of the “wife sale” that became popular in the early 1800s!  It was extremely difficult to get a divorce so husbands would bring their unwanted wives to market to sell them…..I can imagine that there are many husbands that wish they could still do that today….for that matter, wives, too!!!

Near the Smithfield Market is the Charterhouse Square that is an enclosed park today.  In 1348-1349 half of England’s population died due to the Black Death plague.  The city’s burial grounds couldn’t hold all the dead so plague pits were dug for mass burial of people who had died.  The park was one of those burial pits.  Across from the park, is London’s only surviving Tudor townhouse.  In 1370, it was a Carthusian monastery.  Today, it is a retirement home for men.

On the other side of the market, I walked down these narrow streets….Long Lane, Barley Mow Passage until I came to a building that predates the great fire of 1666.  The book said that this building gives an idea of what medieval London would have looked like.  I think this building has been lovingly preserved!  It looked very well taken care of.

Across the street from this building is the churchyard for the St Bartholomew Church.  Most churches throughout Europe have realized that they can generate income by charging tourist who wish to visit. I understand that it helps fray the cost of the maintenance of an old building but if you are a tourist who wishes to visit various churches, it can get darn expensive.  This church and the Temples Church I visited earlier both charged $6.50 entrance fee…that is $13.00!

I am so glad that I decided to go ahead and pay the entrance fee.  This church was magical!  There is the old gate house of timber and plaster.  It dates from 1595 and is the oldest surviving timber-framed facades in London today!

The church dates back to 1123 and is the oldest parish church in London.  It is just a beautiful old church that I spent much time in.  It has been used in many movies over the years.  A few that I recognized were Four Weddings and a Funeral and Sherlock Holmes.  

This photo is looking toward the alter.

When the church was first built, it was a  monastery for the Augustinian Canons.  This is the cloister and today, it is used as a cafe area.  I enjoyed a cup of coffee before continuing my walk.  Such a lovely setting!

Not far from the church along Giltspur Street is this statue of the Golden Boy or Fat Boy.  It is to commemorate the spot where the Great Fire of 1666 put itself out.  Many believed that the fire was God’s punishment for gluttony.  The inscription below the Golden Boy reads “Late fire of London occasioned by the sin of Gluttony…”

This statue, located near Bow Lane, is of a Cordwainer (a maker of fancy shoes)…I didn’t know what it meant, either!  It is to remind us of the medieval days when Bow Lane was called Cordwainer Street.

Bow Lane is about a 10 minute walk to Pudding Lane.  For the past couple of walks I have done, much reference has been made on the Great Fire 1666.  It started on Pudding Lane in a bakery.  I walked and found Pudding Lane, there is a plaque on a building where the bakery once stood.  There is also a 202 ft monument, designed by Christopher Wren, in memory of the fire.  There are 311 stairs that you can climb to get a view of the city. I got there just in time to climb it and snap a couple of night photos of London before they closed for the day.

Round and round you go, until you arrive at the top.  Well worth the climb!  The views and London lights were very pretty!

The Shard and City Hall complex.  The Shard is the tallest building in the building in western Europe and will open in February, 2013.  

The Tower Bridge.  It was opened in 1894.

It was a great day for exploring London and learning more about this fun and great city!

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