London Winter Walks: St Paul’s to Monument
The Square Mile is one of the oldest parts of London, dating back to Roman times. Take in the City’s historical sights – and a couple of it’s cosy pubs – on this walk from the mighty St Paul’s Cathedral to The Monument…
Start at Sir Christopher Wren’s baroque 17th century cathedral St Paul’s, at the top of Ludgate Hill. Originally built in 604AD and rebuilt several times, the cathedral we see today is the fifth on the site designed by Wren after the Great Fire of London in 1666. If it is open, step inside the crypt to see monuments to Admiral Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington.
From St Pauls walk to the Guildhall, the ceremonial and administrative centre of the City of London built in the 15th century to demonstrate the power of the merchants of the City. The east and west crypts are the largest medieval crypts in London.
Continue to Mansion House, official residence of the Lord Mayor of London since 1752. Pause at the impressive entrance with its six Corinthian columns designed in Palladian style.
Mansion House is still used for official functions including banquets but the public can view its collection of 17th century Dutch and Flemish paintings along with a collection of sculpture.
A brisk walk through the City takes you to the Bank of England, the first privately owned National bank in the world, established in 1694. Originally in Walbrook, it moved to its present position on Threadneedle Street in 1734 and covers site of 3.5 acres.
The underground vault holds one of the largest stocks of gold bullion in the world. The main building is not open to the public but the Bank’s museum is free to enter via Bartholomew lane.
Pause for refreshment in The Royal Exchange. Originally opened in 1571 by Elizabeth1, it was destroyed in The Great Fire and rebuilt as part of Charles II rebuilding of the City of London.
The present building was opened by Queen Victoria in 1844 and inside you can see 24 large panel paintings of the history of trade in the UK. The Royal Exchange ceased trading in 1929 with the outbreak of war and today it is an exclusive shopping centre with top end boutiques and restaurants.
Step back in time at magnificent Leadenhall Market built in 1881 on a site use for trading since Roman times. Today it has cobbled streets full of fresh food market stalls, florists and shops. The nearby Crosse Keys pub was a former bank.
For contrast, stop at Lloyds of London building designed in 1986 by the recently deceased Sir Richard Rogers. Like the Pompidou Centre in Paris which Rogers also designed, all the service and utilities run in pipes on the outside of the building.
Finish at The Monument on Fish Street Hill which commemorates the 1666 Great Fire of London and at 61.5 metres is one of the tallest free standing columns in the world.