St Paul's Cathedral, in the heart of the City of London

Memories of the City of London

In Cities, London, Memories, Mini Breaks, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, UK Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

The London city worker’s infamous ‘Square Mile’

I am currently working for a Japanese bank, situated right next to St Paul’s cathedral. So I thought to myself, “I know where to go for a mini break, to get away from it all’; the ‘City of London’.

St Paul's from One New Change, City of London, London, England, UK

Consequently, I took time out of my normal 9 to 5 daily regime, to head back to the City of London as a tourist.

One of the reasons I took this opportunity was that the Grange Hotels in London, were running an offer to stay at the Grange St Paul’s hotel or the Grange City hotel, at fraction of the normal price.

So not to venture to far, we chose the Grange St Paul’s hotel.

The City of London is an odd shape. After further investigation I have subsequently found out that some roads, buildings and monuments, that I believed were in the square mile are not, e.g. Tower of London, Trinity Square, Tower Hill naval monument, Spitalfields market & Petticoat Lane to name just a few.

Just goes to show you learn something new every day.



Highlights


St Paul’s Cathedral – Top of the list has to be Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece St Paul’s Cathedral. This building is stunning and unfortunately I take it for granted, seeing it every day. The work that has been carried out over recent years to clean the outside and restore the gardens has transformed it.

St Paul's Cathedral, in the heart of the City of London, England, UK

Up until restoration work was completed in 2011, parts of the cathedral had been under scaffolding for the last 15 years.


One New Change – To continue on the St Paul’s theme, I highly recommend taking the lift to the 6th Floor of One New Change (the city’s newest shopping centre).

The view from One New Change of St Paul's Cathedral with the London Eye in the Distance, London, England, UK

From this stunning roof top terrace, you can get an unhindered view of St Paul’s Cathedral’s dome, (and it is free of charge!!!).


The Tower of London – Technically this is not in the city, but go take a look anyway.

The view of the Tower of London, which site outside the City of London on it's eastern perimeter, London, England, UK

The Royal Exchange – Flanked by the Bank of England on Threadneedle Street, truly is a lovely building. It was originally built in 15th century and was razed to the ground, along with so many other of the Cities medieval treasuries, by the Great Fire of London in 1666. The Royal Exchange as it stands today, with the bronze statue of the Duke of Wellington outside, has had many guises and in more recent years housed the trading floor for LIFFE.

The Royal Exchange in the background, with the war memorial standing in front, London, England, UK

As the building was in disrepair it was remodelled and is now home to exclusive boutiques and restaurants, how times change…


The Monument – Built to commemorate the Great Fire of London of 1666. This structure is commonly known just as ‘The Monument’, which is quite a bold statement really. Another of Sir Christopher Wren’s designs.

If the Doric column were laid down, including the flaming orb that sits upon it, the 202 feet (61 metres) structure, would be the exact distance between it and the site in Pudding Lane where the fire began.

The Monument to the Great Fire of London 1666.

The Temple area. Again, outside the city waslls.  This is one of the main legal district of the capital and is still notable to the present day. Two out of the four Inns of Court are in the city. They are the Inner Temple and the Middle Temple.

Middle Temple Hall: Hidden away from plain site is this impressive area of the City of London, England, UK

The history in this area dates back to the times of the Knights Templar.


The Skyline – In more recent times, The new imposing modern structures really are quite unique. Although these buildings are in the ‘Square Mile’, I think to actually appreciate them you need to take a step back.

The modern skyline of the City of london dominated by the likes of the 'Walkie-Talkie', 'Cheese-Grater' & the Gherkin to name but a few, London, England, UK

The view from many of the Thames river bridges are quite striking.



Pleasures


Postman’s Park – In St Martin’s Le-Grand. It is such a lovely place to discover.  I have walked passed its entrance so many times, but didn’t really even notice it. Its name is due to the popularity of its lunchtime visitors from the nearby old General Post office. Postman’s Park is home of The Watts Memorial for Heroic Self-Sacrifice by George Frederick Watts and was built in 1900. It is a lovely tranquil garden.

Within the Postmans park you will find the Watts Memorial for Heroic Self-Sacrifice, London, England, UK

You really should take the time to stop and read the glazed plaques commemorating acts of bravery, often involving children. The covered gallery displays these tiles with their touching inscriptions. In June 2009 another plaque was added and this had been this first one for 78 years.

You can read more in our post ‘Postman’s Park in St Martin’s Le-Grand


St Dunstan in the East – A gem of a church garden. Built around 1100, the church is a Grade I listed building. It has been repaired and rebuilt over many years and was severely damaged in 1666.

Sir Christopher Wren added a steeple and tower, which still stands. The rest of the church took a huge blow in the Blitz of 1941.

In 2015 the gardens were revitalised and is used by many as a haven of tranquility in the hustle and bustle.

St Dunstan in the East, a quiet gardens in the City of London around a ruined church, London, England, UK

You can read more in our post ‘St Dunstan-in-the-East


The Riverside – Strolling along the banks and the bridges of the River Thames.

The view, at night, of St Paul's Cathedral from the Tate modern gallery looking across the Millennium Bridge, London, England, UK

I know the ‘square mile’ doesn’t stretch south of the river (except for one tiny section), but it is a pleasure looking over this great city from the South Bank. Equally standing on some of London’s famous bridges.



Treasures


Leadenhall Market – This has to be my favourite ‘market’ in the city. It is like stepping back in time.

Leadenhall Market a bustling Victorian market packed with fine shops & restaurants, London, England, UK

Now made famous by Harry Potter as Diagon Alley.


Smithfield meat market. It is equally a really eye opening experience as this is still a working market.

mithfields Meat Market, a working meat market in the City of London.  Housed in a wonderful wrought iron framed structure, London, England, UK

Traditional pubs. There are still a few ‘spit and sawdust’ pubs remaining in the city, and well worth searching them out.

The Old Bell Tavern.  A traditional pub in the City of London, on Fleet Street, London, England, UK



A funny moment


  • I have had many funny moments day and night around this city, but for my dignity I’m not going to tell you…



A slight disappointment


  • I take it all for granted.



Point of Note


  • If you are mainly interested in the architecture of the city, it is best to visit at a weekend when the streets are fairly deserted. If the hustle and bustle of daily life in this financial hub interests you then visit during a weekday.
  • I really didn’t think there would be as much to see and do in such a small area. Once you start exploring you’ll be surprised what lies beyond the avenues & alleyways. We walked 29 miles in the 2 ½ days we were there. That did include evening strolls along the River Thames. You’ll be amazed how it mounts up.



About the Author

Janis

Janis, the co-founder of Our World for You, was born in London and raised in Kent and the Isle of Wight. Along with Gary her partner, they have been travelling part time since 1995. In 2016, they decided that enough was enough with the 9 to 5, so armed with the knowledge and experience that they had gained on their adventures, that they wanted to inspire others to travel the world near and far.

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