This walks looks at the development of the City of London as a financial centre. Its origins were among the money lenders of the Jewish and Italian quarters of Old Jewry and Lombard Street. We continue the story with the introduction of the first commercial companies and the Merchant Adventurers of Elizabethan London, alongside the revival of the cruel trade in Slaves. We walk through the alleyways of the City where innovation went side by side with the introduction of Coffee in the Coffee Houses of Stuart London.
We look at the distinctive architecture of the City as we walk around one of the most specialised market places in the world that once prided itself on the virtues of providing face to face contact.. The financial institutions in the City have encountered many changes since the scandal of the South Sea Bubble and it has weathered them all, so far. It was given a huge boast by the ‘Big Bang’ in Mrs Thatcher’s time. But the consequences of the effects of Brexit and Covid on top of the Internet are not yet clear on the City.
A couple of my regular places have been affected by the effects of the toppling of the Colston Statue in Bristol.
Firstly, the statue of Robt Milligan outside the Museum of London, Docklands has been taken down. I have often used this as a meeting point for my students from Westminster University as we explore the Docks and the Docklands Museum.
Slavery was a big part of the visit, although we didn’t make Milligan the villain.
Another site is the Geffrey Museum which is going to open as the Museum of the Home, although this was determined before the George Floyd murder, but now I expect the Geffrey part of it to quietly disappear, as he is also contaminated by slavery.
Interesting fact about slavery, is that UCL have done a brilliant study of all the recipients of the compensation for the end of slavery. The govt at the time paid compensation of £20m to the slave OWNERS. This was a vast amount said to be 45% of the GDP for the year. It was funded by a long term loan which was paid back, as late as, 2015. In modern terms it was 16 billion £.
This has completely changed my mind on compensation for slavery which I was against. But it seems to me if we know that £16 billion was spent then to compensate the owners we could set up a fund of £16 billion now to give, for example, educational grants and start up grants for black people to give them the boost they need to make up for centuries of oppression..
Bermondsey – Archaeology & History. 2.30 Feb 22 2020
Bermondsey has a fascinating history which can be traced back to important prehistoric discoveries. It was home to one of Britain’s leading Monasteries, and was, for a time, fashionable. But as London swallowed it up, it became a very polluted and over-crowded industrial area. It was an important part of Britain’s economy and saw the invention of the tin can. It also housed the largest hat making and leather working factories in the world. Of course it attracted the attention of Dickens and it is here that the devilish Bill Sykes met his end.
Although parts of Bermondsey have become fashionable again much of its heritage and charm remain intact which will make a pleasant afternoon stroll.
Blackfriars to Fleet St. Pub Tour.
Jan 25th 7.15 Blackfriars Tube
We take a slice of London’s history as we explore the banks of the River Fleet. On the East Bank, the Roman Wall and Blackfriars Monastery in the shadow of St Pauls. On the West Bank, Fleet Street and Legal London. To reflect on our discoveries we stop in some of London most historic and beautiful pubs.
Our timespan will stretch from the Romans to the Present day, and we will discover Palaces, Monasteries, Roman Temples, and visit the home of Katherine of Aragon; the Street of Shame, the best modernist building in the City, and Wren’s best Spire. A feast of topography, history, architecture and literature not to mention the best pubs!
London’s East End – The Peasants’ Revolt to Street Art.
Aldgate Tube High Street Exit 2.30pm Sat Dec 21st 2019
The walk sets out to explore as much of the East End as is possible in 2 hours. We start at Aldgate London’s ancient East Gate to investigate Roman and Medieval origins as well as the dramatic events of the Peasants Revolt of 1381.
The fields, Monasteries and villages of Whitechapel, Brick Lane, Spitalfields, Shoreditch and Hoxton became the home for poor people and groups of immigrants excluded from the City’s Guild system. From the 16th century it gave refuge to European protestants fleeing from French Catholic.repression. From the 17th century it welcomed Jewish refugees particularly from Russian, and in the 19th Irish, and exiles joined in.
The area was one of the main centres of industry for London until the 20th Century when the vacant workshops and the crumbling historic housing began to attract artists and bohemian incomers. The opportunities this gave created a vibrant new area and eventually must people began to appreciate the street art that covered virtually every inch of its walls.
Meet Kevin just outside the exit of BarbicanTube Stop.
One of the greatest place for London history. Just outside the Roman City Wall and used by the Romans as a cemetary. The “smooth field” became the main live stock market of London, occassional tiltyard and place of public executions. The Peasants’ Rebellion climaxed here. On 23 August 1305 William Wallace (‘Braveheart’) was hanged, drawn and quartered here. Religious martyrs were burnt here and forgers boiled in oil. There are two monasteries which give a great insight into the Reformation, with connections to Thomas More. St Bartholemews hosted Britains’s greatest fair, and provided the oldest hospital in the United Kingdom – the second oldest in Europe. There are more pre-Great Fire buildings than anywhere else in London. There are also the trace of World War 1 bombing and Zeppelin raids. There are street names that sing: Cow Cross Street, Giltspur Street, etc. There are people names that resonate: Ben Franklin, John Milton, Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Rahere, to name but a few. Oh, and did we mention this is where Holmes met Watson and where Benedict Cumberbatch fell off the roof.
23rd November 2019 2.30pm
Moorgate Underground station, London (West side exit)
Following the devastation of Guenica the question for London was could it cope with the predicted catastrophe of Nazi terror bombing? Could London develop plans that reduced the predicted millions of casualties and thousands of people driven mad? On this walk, we look at London before the war and the measures taken to protect the City and its Citizens. We find out what it was like to come to work after a night in the shelters to find your work place in ruins. We visit the site of the earliest bomb raids on London, and explore the sequence of continuous bombing that followed the Battle of Britain, and on to the great City raid of 29th December 1940 which was centred on St Pauls. By May, 1941 the Luftwaffe had transferred to the Eastern Front, but the fear returned with the V1 and V2 secret weapons. Before the war was over London developed the Abercrombie Plan to direct the rebuilding of London after the war. We have a look at what happened to the plans for an optimistic modernist dream of a Corbusian City in the Sky.