…….and my daughter!!! As mentioned in a previous post, yesterday was my birthday and I had the joy of spending this special day with my daughter and enjoying a couple of adventures in London.
I slept over at my daughter’s house the night before and our day started with a lie-in (unusual for me with the type of job I have), then tea and cake (chocolate of course) in the garden. The weather was perfect , already warm and the heat a precursor of the temperatures ahead. After a lazy morning we set out on our adventure: first into Twickenham to Sweetie Pies Boutique Bakery for tea and cupcakes. Along the way we stopped to smell the roses
and admire the wisteria, now in full bloom just about everywhere you look! Of course this is the easter weekend too so naturally we had easter cupcakes!! 🙂 We sat out in the courtyard, in the shade and enjoyed our tea, chatting away enjoying the slight breeze that wafted by.
From there we headed off to Richmond and onto the first train out, into London Central for the next leg of our adventures – first a guided tour of The Guildhall in the City of London, then a guided Shakespeare Trail. Exciting!!! We alighted from the tube at Temple thinking to get a bus from The Royal Courts of Justice to St Paul’s Cathedral to meet our guide. We were ever so slightly behind schedule, so when we got to Strand and discovered massive roadworks going on in the area had pretty much wrecked any chance of getting a bus, our hearts sank. However, not all was lost and quick as wink we hopped into a London Cab and within 5 minutes we arrived at our destination. Love that you can just hop in a cab in this city!!
We met up with the lovely Zoe who is a City of London tour guide and set off for the Guildhall. I have been to the Guildhall a couple of times before but never on a guided tour! So cool! I wish I could have recorded all the interesting little snippets she told us! Suffice to say it was brilliantly interesting and I loved all the little details she pointed out. The Guildhall is so worth a visit, it is fabulous inside: the memorials are fabulous works of art and the stained glass windows; breathtaking
After the tour, we parted company briefly with our delightful tour guide and headed over to the Guildhall Art Gallery for a look at the Roman Amphitheatre and it was fun for me to play tour guide for a wee bit and show my daughter around. We had a quick look at some of the beautiful paintings on display and marvelled at the talent and work put into these paintings, some of which look like photographs the detail is so perfect. In fact in many ways they are better than photos coz they have texture and depth. Then it was a quick look at the massive painting in the foyer of gallery, stunning!! Exiting the Gallery we saw a wedding party; the outfits were a glorious spectrum of rich colours, and what a perfect day for a wedding!
We then strolled across the city back to St Paul’s to meet up with Zoe again who would be conducting the Shakespeare Trail. Along the way we discovered all sorts of interesting things and items of historical note. I love just walking about this city, you just never know what you will find!
This time we were joined by a young man and the four of us set off on a jaunt around London and through the portals of history, to discover more about Shakespeare and the places in London he frequented. There was however, one piece of information that gave me quite a jolt……Shakespeare pre-dated the current St Paul’s Cathedral!!!! I just never really even thought about it and just kind of assumed that this was the building that he saw on his daily walks.!!!! And…..in order to cross the river to the Globe Theatre he would have had to use a ferry!! How about that!
The weather was perfect, hot and sunny and the city was quiet/ish with not many people about. Wonderful.
We learned so much that I can’t even begin to tell you everything, so instead I will give you a brief run down and suggest you book yourself on one of the tours for a more comprehensive view of Shakespeare and the London of his time.
London in Shakespeare’s time was miniscule in comparison to the size it is today, and the great urban sprawl we know wasn’t even a figment of his imagination I am sure, and the Great Fire of 1666 would have destroyed much of what he did know. Our first stop was the remains of Roman walls discovered during excavations for new buildings, I constantly marvel at how these places are largely preserved and not ripped out…..thank goodness. Zoe gave us a glimpse into what London would have been like in Shakespeare’s day; pretty grubby and smelly by all accounts!!! Not at all the romantic images we tend to carry around.
Next stop was the remains of the historical site of a wee church where Shakespeare was likely to have worshipped: the Parish Church of St Olave’s. We learned some delectable tidbits about his connections to this church and one of the families he was closely associated with. We also got to see the site of the lodgings where Shakespeare made his home in later life, just over the road from St Olave’s. On our way to the next stop of the tour we walked past the remains of St Alban’s Church and I finally discovered a) the name of it and b) that it is now privately occupied!!! How amazing is that! To live in the remains of an ancient church, albeit only a very small part of it. This area of the city is closely associated with The Museum of London (in my opinion the best museum in London and totally underrated) and the road we briefly walked along; London Wall marks the boundaries of the Roman City. Of course the area is now filled with towering skyscrapers and busy roads, but you can still catch glimpses of Roman, Mediaeval and Tudor London in hidden corners.
Our next stop was the ancient site of St Mary Aldermanbury Church, now a tiny little park, where you can find relics of the original walls, and Love Lane where you will find a decorative memorial with a bust of Shakespeare looking towards the River (a good 5-10 minutes walk away), as well as a carved marble book depicting his first folio; published according to the ‘True Originall Copies London 1623’. Compiled by John Heminge and Henry Condell, close friends of Shakespeare’s, these two gentlemen are in fact buried at this site. The memorial commemorates John Heminge and Henry Condell – fellow actors and personal friends of Shakespeare.
Next it was back to the Guildhall where once again I was surprised and delighted to discover the links that Shakespeare had with the Guildhall, albeit not very pleasant links.
Also to be found at the Gallery are the busts of four famous citizens of the city: William Shakespeare, Christopher Wren, Oliver Cromwell and Samuel Pepys.
Heading back towards St Paul’s Cathedral we next discovered his associations with Carter Lane, The Cockpit Tavern, St Andrews-by-the-Wardrobe Church and many other interesting snippets and fascinating sites. These are places that we tend to walk past without even the tiniest clue of what went before. At the King’s Wardrobe we parted company with Zoe and meandered once again along ancient lanes to take ‘sup at one of the oldest pubs in London; with links to Charles Dickens!!! Guess who is next on my list! 🙂
We enjoyed a delicious meal of Burger and chips with onion rings for CJ and baked spud with bacon and cheese, chips and onion rings for me. A draught of apple cider (juice) slaked our thirst!!! Replete, we strolled down to the riverbank passing a headless man along the way,
then we meandered along the Thames Path. I love these views of the river!! By now the horizon was black with rain, and the wind whipped the rushing incoming tide into a frenzy of choppy peaks and troughs! As we hurried along (not too fast mind), we felt spots of rain, but not enough to discourage a number of stops along the way to take photos!
By then we had come full circle and reached Temple station where I said goodbye to CJ, she heading into the underground and me on my way to Charing Cross. I discovered a memorial to Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the entrance to Inland Revenue, And then the rain came down and I got soaked along the Strand! 🙂
A marvellous day and what an adventure! I have created a short video with more views of our wonderful city that you might enjoy.
p.s. you will notice some of the photos have a wide border….it seems I am having some HTML issues. I have no idea why it’s doing this!! So, if you do….please let me know 🙂