The City is the oldest part of London and therefore holds many secrets. It’s fascinating to delve into its history and learn more about the place where thousands of people come to work every day. Even familiar landmarks have more to them than meets the eye and there’s always something new to learn about the Square Mile.
The dome of St Paul’s Cathedral is among the most iconic sights in The City, but it could have looked somewhat different if architect Sir Christopher Wren had been granted his wish. He wanted to put the symbol of peace, prosperity and hospitality – the pineapple – right at the top of the dome. This dream was not brought to fruition (get it?!), so he had to make do with stone pineapples atop the two western towers instead.
A statue of a woman that had been standing in the West Smithfield Gardens since 1873 was finally given a wedding ring in 1924. The incident came when a superintendent at the nearby market found the wedding band and nobody claimed it. He decided that a sculpture that is said to represent fertility should really be married and therefore had it welded to her finger.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub on Fleet Street may not have views of the Thames, but the pub is actually located on a river. There are many buried waterways across London and the Fleet River actually runs below the Cheshire Cheese’s cellar. It was an important river in Roman times, when a tide mill sat at its estuary. The waterway actually gets its name from the old Anglo-Saxon word for estuary and has gone on to give its name to thoroughfares in The City.
With a name like St Bride’s, it’s not surprising that this church in The City is associated with weddings, but there’s one element of modern receptions that wouldn’t be the same without it. Local lore suggests that a baker’s apprentice by the name of Thomas Rich drew inspiration from the tiered storeys of the church to create an extravagant cake for his nuptials in 1703. Looking at the edifice it seems quite possible this tale could be true.
There aren’t many opportunities for contemplation in a place as bustling as The City, but Postman’s Park is an exception. This hidden space was given its name due to the workers from the local post office frequenting its tranquil setting during their lunchbreaks. In 1900, the philanthropist GF Watts created the Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice, where the good deeds of everyday people are commemorated.