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.
The Walk creates a portrait of London in the early 16th Century. It has a particular emphasis on the life and times of Thomas Cromwell and Thomas More who feature in Wolf Hall, the novel by Hilary Mantel.
More and Cromwell had much in common, both lawyers, commoners, who rose to be Lord Chancellor to Henry VIII and they both ended their career on the block at Tower Hill. But they found themselves on the other side of the gulf that suddenly opened with the religious ferment that accompanied Henry’s obsession with Anne Bolyen.
We start with a visit to the sites of More’s and Cromwell’s town houses and then walk through the market streets of Tudor London, to Cheapside and the Guildhall, St Pauls and outside the Walls to Smithfield where most of the religious executions took place. We visit Charter House where More took a break from the stress of public office, and whose Prior, Cromwell had hanged, drawn and quartered. We exit via the plaque pits, and finish off with a walk around the City Walls until we come to Tower Hill where both men ended their lives on the scaffold.
Saint or Sinner? What better place to ponder that question that the streets of Wolf Hall London?
This is a great find – very little neolithic pottery has been found in or near the City so this fills in a blank. It still doesn’t give us enough information to write authoritatively about the City before the Romans, but its a significant step forward.