Uncovering London’s ancient secrets

A walk through the city is the best way to uncover London’s ancient secrets (and a few modern ones.) In the hustle and bustle of daily life in the City of London, it’s easy to forget it is of the most historical cities in the world. Having worked in the city for many years I’m definitely guilty of that. I had some vague knowledge about the history behind some of the street names but that was it. While I love the mix of modern and historic in the city, I always found it quite hard to imagine what London was like in the past. Particularly in the areas I walk through regularly, sit and have lunch at or hang out at after work. It just seems so at odds with modern life in the city now.  So when the opportunity to join a private walk (part of a work event) to uncover London’s ancient secrets at night came up I jumped at the chance. Starting at Bank, the walk took us through the history of London (or Londinium!) right up to the present day. There was a good mix of stories from the past and of the modern buildings that are now popping up.

Highlights of the walk

  • The Roman Temple of Mithras – reconstructed on its original site (now Bloomberg’s European HQ), this immersive experience showcases Roman London. One of the UK’s most significant archeologically sites, many of the artefacts discovered during the excavation are on display.
  • St Stephen Walbrook – rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London and a prototype for the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral. Visit the Rothschild’s London building for a grew view of the dome, framed by it’s offices.
  • The facade in front of the Lloyds building. I’ve walked past this hundreds of times and never noticed! The original building (1928) was demolished so the current monstrosity could be built. Thankfully the original entrance was preserved.
Lloyds Building
  • Remains of the original London Bridge in the courtyard of St Magnus the Marytr’s on Lower Thames Street.  The gateway to the city for over 600 years, the arch is where people used to enter/exit the bridge. There is a piece of timber here the old Roman Wharf (dated AD 75) and stones from the bridge are displayed in the courtyard. Inside the church is a four meter long model of the old London Bridge.
Timber from the roman wharf at the old London Bridge
  • Leadenhall Market. Once a meat market it is now a shopping area with bars and restaurants. If you are visiting London, make you sure you pop here for a wander round. Though avoid after work hours (particularly towards the end of the week) as it can get very busy in the pubs.
The historic and modern sitting side by side
The present day
  • I couldn’t not include The Gherkin (or 30 St Mary’s Axe, to give it it’s official name), one of London’s best loved buildings. Thought its relatively new (opened in 2004) it feels like it has always been part of London’s skyline. The bar at the top is now open to the public so for a great view over the city this is the place to head.
The Gherkin or 30 St Mary's Axe
30 St Mary’s Axe, otherwise known as The Gherkin

The details Our walk was with London Walks and our fabulous host was Simon. He was very knowledgeable and really brought the history of the city to life.  The walk was around 2 hours, though you won’t notice that. It goes far too quickly. If this walk doesn’t appeal they offer many more.  I’m already looking at what one to do next. Host: London Walks Length: 2 hours Cost: £10 Booking:  Just turn up! I hope you enjoyed that brief trip through ancient London. Have you done any walks on your doorstep and discovered things you didn’t know about?

London Ancient Secrets

10 thoughts on “Uncovering London’s ancient secrets

  1. Bexa says:

    This is such an interesting post! I’ve been to London many times but never knew about any of this! The timber from the Old London Bridge is such a cool find, lots of people would probably walk past this everyday and not notice. Thank you for sharing these hidden gems! I really love your photography too ? xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

    • emmaonline says:

      Thanks. Its mad to think of how many little gems are there in London that you just don’t realise. I used to run past the bit where the roman timber is all the time when training and had no idea. I also worked round the corner from the Bloomberg space had no clue it was there. Visited that yesterday. So odd that thousands of people are working nearby and most probably have no idea. Thanks again

  2. Miss Blogs-A-Bit says:

    Great post and photos too. I love London and am long overdue a return visit. I agree about the Gherkin, it’s such a wonderful building! I’m yet to make it to the top of there though, so need to add that to my list ?

  3. Danial says:

    London is one of those cities that would take months to fully cover nook and cranny – and we’re just talking about all the things above ground!

    • emmaonline says:

      yes it’s an amazing building. They’ve just opened the bar at the top to the public so you can go inside now too. The piece of timber is amazing. I used to run past that area often and had no idea it was there! So many hidden gems in London. Thanks for reading.

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