Saturday, 11 September 2010

The London Stone

Behind the grate, impossible to see in this photo, sits the legendary London Stone. Thursday morning Benedict was in charge of finding it. He had to look up what it is, where it is, and how to get there. And so he did, quite easily. The limestone remnant of the original stone is located on Cannon Street in the City of London, that square mile within greater London that is today's Britain's financial center. After the Romans founded the city until about the 17th century this area was protected by city walls within which most Londoners lived. Part of the stone's legend is that so long as the stone remains in London, so long will London remain safe. You can read more about the London Stone at the link above, including a quote from Shakespeare. This BBC story tells how the stone was saved from destruction by 'cowboy' developers just a few years ago by a sports shop owner. The building the stone is attached to is the same building the sports shop was in, only now the building is being used by the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation. Perhaps the developers lost. Hear are some more images.

A few steps away we shared a plate fish and chips and a pint of bitters (for me, anyway) for lunch in the London Stone Pub. The pub is in the basement and has a gothic theme of ghouls and midnight murderers. Its most important inspiration seems to be John Dees, an occultist for Elizabeth I.

After lunch we wandered down to the Thames and walked east along the river bank, past the Southwark and London Bridges, at least three Starbucks, the London Tower, and the Tower Bridge. The Thames is a tidal river, its waters mixed with sea water ebbing from the English Channel to the east a couple of times a day. That's why there are occasional signs warning about flooded passageways. This area was heavily bombed during the Blitz of WWII, so there is a mix of old buildings and churches, and ultra-modern skyscrapers in juxtaposition with one another. We spent some time in the Tower Gift Shop, the sort of thing I normally don't like to do. But this shop, in addition to the usual tourist kitsch, also sold attractive china and delicate glass models of the Mary Rose, Henry VIII's favorite ship that sunk accidentally in 1545 and was recently discovered and restored.

At one point it rained and we ducked into a Starbucks next to the Tower of London for hot chocolate and a mocha. The ceasing of the rain coincided with the completion of our refreshments. Taking our time, we proceeded to look for an entrance to the underground for our way back home.
A London Bridge has crossed the Thames at this spot since the Romans.

The Custom House

Newer building next to the Custom House

The Tower of London

Tower Bridge

These buildings are directly across the river from the Tower of London. The building on the far left is London's City Hall.

Pub near the Tower of London
Photo from web. All Hallow's Church, the oldest church in London. Between the Tower of London and the Pub.

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