Last Monday, I took a walk from my office down Fleet Street to St Paul’s Cathedral and was struck as ever by just how much history we have around us in London. It’s just everywhere and covers all periods. It was a gorgeous spring day and I just reached for my iPhone and started snapping. This was just a 15 minute walk but it explains why I’m a Londoner born, bred and likely to die here too!
First I stopped by St Mary le Strand which was originally the Strand Cross in medieval times, possibly a market place. The south side of the Strand was originally a line of bishops’ palaces going all the way down to Whitehall. One nearby palace was built by the Count of Savoy (the hotel still bears the name) and later was owned by John of Gaunt, who let Chaucer stay. Gaunt was hated by the ordinary people and his palace was burnt down in the Peasants Revolt.
Further down the road is St Clement Danes which was built by the Danish settlers/invaders in the 9th century. The Danes ended up ruling England in the early 11th century and King Harold Harefoot was buried there – regrettably his brother dug him up and threw his body in marshes next to the Thames but he was eventually put back in the ground.
St Paul’s cathedral needs no introduction and it’s believed that a place of worship has been on this hill since Roman times – possibly a temple to the goddess Diana. And speaking of Diana – Princess Di was married there in 1981.