Tuesday, May 16, 2006


I was advised by a colleague that Whitecross St. was a good place to get decent food at lunchtime (which in London seems to be 1pm). Alas for me, I had left my London A to Z (said: ZED) on my desk, and I found myself lost in the maze of London streets. Getting lost has its upside: I find I often discover cool things when I am wrong way bound, and yesterday lunchtime was no exception.

I ended up on Fore St. (where there's a golf course, haha, just kidding). And as I was trying to pick my way around the Barbican Centre, I spied something that looked like a crumbled wall. In fact, it was one of the few standing sections of the old Roman wall around the city of London. As I learned from the handy plaque nearby (God bless Londoners' obsession with plaques), the wall was incorporated into the Church of St. Alphage, named for the 29th archbishop of Canterbury who was martyred by Vikings. The church no longer stands, but the section of wall does.

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And what's cooler is that you can take a 1.75 mile walk along the perimeter of the old London wall starting from either the Tower of London or the Museum of London, with 14 or so plaques along the way. I can't wait to don my walkin' shoes.

As if that wasn't enough history for one day, I rounded the corner of Fore St. and saw engraved in the side of the nondescript concrete edifice there: "On this site at 12:15 am, 25 August 1940 the first bomb fell on London in the Second World War." At that moment, I forgot about finding Whitecross St.


Blogger oldest kid said...

That is so cool! I knew there was a bit of the old Roman wall near the Tower of London, and I want to see that whenever we get to London.

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Kitkat said...

I haven't been for years, but if you're interested in history the Museum of London is well worth a visit. For a more gruesome history try the London Dungeon.

8:50 AM  
Blogger oldest kid said...

Hmm. I heard that the London Dungeon wasn't worth spending money on and was just there for the tourists.

12:44 PM  
Anonymous Kitkat said...

it probably does attract more tourists than locals but still, it is dead creepy. And if you want to know about Jack the Ripper, the Great Plague and similar it has a very atmospheric feel. You want to avoid going when there's a school trip though, you really don't want to be wandering around in near darkness with screaming kids!

1:19 PM  
Blogger Schmutz said...

A cursory glance at my two London walking tours books didn't show the site of the Roman wall so I hope you remember where it is so that we can see it when we visit. What a marvelous site to come across when wondering!

1:39 PM  
Blogger Middle Kid said...

Mrs. W, I am SO coming to visit!!!

3:55 PM  
Blogger Smitty Werbenmanjensen said...

What is it with the Londoners' obsession with the gruesome? Probably 1 percent of what went on at the Tower of London was the imprisonment and execution of traitors, but they spent at least half of the tour talking about who got beheaded where, and where their bones are now.

4:43 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Werbenmanjensen said...

Don't dis the gruesome! I for one want to take the Jack the Ripper evening walk. Smitty's such a killjoy. Let me have my ghosts and martyrs!

And for those interested, I do remember how to get to the wall and I look forward to going back there with some nosh and a good book!

9:36 PM  
Blogger Middle Kid said...

Mr. M.K. and I took the Jack the Ripper evening walk about 16 years ago and thought it was o.k., but not as good as the Westminster walk I took earlier. We stayed at the Royal Horseguard Hotel. Aaahh! London on an expense account!!!

3:15 AM  
Anonymous pseudonymous in nc said...

The Ripper walk is interesting as much for the area as the story. Whitechapel, Smithfield, Clerkenwell: they're all part of a London that's somewhat off the usual tourist trawl, and all the better for it.

10:08 PM  

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