"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on January 31, 2017 by Sioux under General
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There’s literally a pub on almost every corner in this city, and every one of them has a history of some sort. I didn’t stop in at them all though or I would never have gotten home!

 

Ye Olde Cock Tavern originally dates back to 1549 and is well known for the pub with the narrowest frontage of any London pub. It is opposite Temple Church which was made famous in Dan Brown’s book “The Da Vinci Code”.  

Originally on the North side of Fleet Street, the pub has been on its existing site since 1887 and was the preferred watering hole of famous historic figures such as Samuel Pepys, Charles Dickins and Doctor Johnson. The pub closed briefly in 1665 because of The Great Plague but reopened in 1668 as Ye Olde Cock Tavern and has traded as an ‘ale house’ ever since.  

Ye Olde London is a delightful 18th century pub situated on Ludgate Hill

close to the spectacular St Paul’s cathedral. It is one of London’s most

historic areas and can trace its history back many years.

 

Originally built in 1749 on the site of an old London Coffee House where all the leading people of the time would meet to debate all the new scientific and philosophical theories of the day including Joseph Priestley and Benjamin Franklin. Ancient London’s Roman ramparts ran close to the site, with the Ludgate forming part of the fortifications that were built to safeguard a burial site situated where Fleet Street is now.

 

The gate was demolished in 1760 but its position is kept alive by a blue plaque on St Martin’s Church next door to Ye Olde London. St Martin’s church is usually missed by visitors to St Paul’s but it has just as an impressive history dating back to 1167. It was rebuilt after the Great Fire of London by Christopher Wren and is often thought to be one of his more remarkable churches with its tall lead-black spire in contrast to the pale dome of Wren’s more famous St Paul’s.  

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Walking down Ludgate Hill towards Saint Paul’s cathedral, I could feel my throat tightening. No matter how many times I see that building, the emotion gets me every time.

 

For its beauty, and the tenuous link to my childhood, and my beloved Mom. She never saw St Paul’s in real life, but through the movie ‘Mary Poppins’ she fell in love with the cathedral. In fact when my sister first came to live in the UK, every time she went to St Paul’s – and she went there a lot – she would message or phone me so I could hear the bells chime.

 

Every time I see the steps I am reminded of the song from the movie, ‘Feed the birds’, and I choke up. I wish I could have brought my Mom here. She would have loved it.

A childhood dream recently broken however when I learned that the scene was never filmed in situ, but in a Hollywood set; as was the entire movie! Oh well, I keep my own memories securely tucked away, only to be brought out when I see the steps and picture the old lady calling out to people….. Feed the birds, tuppence a bag….  

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Early each day to the steps of Saint Paul’s

The little old bird woman comes

In her own special way to the people she calls

Come, buy my bags full of crumbs

 

Come feed the little birds, show them you care

And you’ll be glad if you do

Their young ones are hungry

Their nests are so bare

All it takes is tuppence from you

 

Feed the birds, tuppence a bag,

Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag

Feed the birds that’s what she cries

While overhead, her birds fill the skies

 

All around the cathedral the saints and apostles

Look down as she sells her wares

Although you can’t see it, you know they are smiling

Each time someone shows that he cares

 

Though her words are simple and few

Listen, listen, she’s calling to you

Feed the birds, tuppence a bag

Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag…..

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For more than 1,400 years, a Cathedral dedicated to St Paul has stood on Ludgate Hill, at the highest point in the City. Frequently at the centre of national events, traditions have been observed here and radical new ideas have found expression under the iconic dome.

 

In many cases these events have left some physical record as well as echoes in the intangible memory of the building. The present Cathedral, the masterpiece of Britain’s most famous architect Sir Christopher Wren, is at least the fourth to have stood on the site. It was built between 1675 and 1710, after its predecessor was destroyed in the Great Fire of London, and services began in 1697.

 

The year 1666 was catastrophic for London and St Paul’s Cathedral. On 4 September, a  combination of factors caused the building to burn with great ferocity. The catastrophic blaze     consumed the cathedral which had stood at the heart of London life for over 500 years.  

 

   During the Blitz, between September 1940 and May 1941, which was a period of sustained      bombing of the whole of the Kingdom, the most devastating period for the City of                          London occurred between 29 & 30 December 1940. For almost twelve hours the German          Luftwaffe attacked the city with incendiary bombs and high explosives causing a fire storm         that became known as the ‘Second Great Fire of London’. St Paul’s was not exempt and in       total twenty-eight incendiary bombs fell on the Cathedral and its precincts. With the iconic          building in serious danger of being destroyed, Prime Minister Winston Churchill issued a          message stating that “St Paul’s must be saved at all costs”. It was saved through the tireless      work and dedication of an army of volunteers.

 

      Services held at St Paul’s have included: the funerals of Lord Nelson, the Duke of                       Wellington, Sir Winston Churchill, and Margaret Thatcher; jubilee celebrations for Queen            Victoria; peace services marking the end of the First and Second World Wars; the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer, the launch of the Festival of Britain and the thanksgiving services for the Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilees and the 80th and 90th birthdays of Elizabeth II.  

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Just beyond St Paul’s, is this plaque which marks the site of the Upholders Hall, destroyed during the Great Fire of 1666. There are many such plaques around the city, marking various historical sites.  

 

The Upholders are one of the ancient Livery Companies of the City of London, formed on 1 March 1360 and incorporated by a Royal Charter granted by King Charles II in the year 1626. The term “Upholder” is an archaic word for “upholsterer”.

 

In past times Upholders carried out not just the manufacture and sale of upholstered goods but were cabinet makers, undertakers, soft furnishers, auctioneers and valuers.

From St Pauls I headed down Peter’s Hill towards the Millennium Bridge and over to the Tate Modern viewing deck. The view across the city was stunning. 

From there I headed along Southbank to Westminster Bridge and Big Ben; then back to Victoria Station and home. A thoroughly enjoyable day out! 

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Fare thee well London town, until next time….. 

Blackfriars Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral in the background. This is the present bridge which was opened in 1869 by Queen Victoria.

The London, Chatham and Dover Railway (LCDR) was a railway company in south-eastern

England created in 1859. Its lines ran through London and northern and eastern Kent to form

a significant part of the Greater London commuter network. The company existed until

December 1922 when its assets were merged with those of other companies to form the

Southern Railway.  

The tide is out – lets play!

Badge of the LCDR from the first Blackfriars Railway Bridge

The Tate Modern (left), an old power station and now a modern art gallery, and The Shard (right). 

Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of

Westminster and often extended to refer to the clock and the clock tower. The tower is

officially known as Elizabeth Tower, renamed to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II in 2012; previously it was known simply as the Clock Tower. Completed in 1859, it was “the prince of timekeepers: the biggest, most accurate four-faced striking and chiming clock

in the world.” The tower had its 150th anniversary on 31 May 2009.  

These youngsters were having a whale of a time.

The statue of Nelson Mandela in Parliament Square, is 2.7 m high, and made in bronze. It is located alongside the statues of other important figures including Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Disraeli, South African prime minister, Field Marshal Jan Smuts, and Winston Churchill.  In a speech during the unveiling in 2007, Mandela said that it fulfilled a dream for there to be a statue of a black man in Parliament Square.  

The Wind Sculpture in Victoria, London, measures 6 x 3m, and explores the notion of harnessing movement, through the idea of capturing and freezing a volume of wind in a moment in time.

 

The work echoes the sails from Yinka Shonibare’s Fourth Plinth commission in Trafalgar Square, ‘Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle’, now on permanent display outside the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

Westminster Cathedral, or the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in London is the mother church of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. The site on which the cathedral stands in the City of Westminster was purchased by the Archdiocese of Westminster in 1885. Westminster Cathedral is the largest Catholic church in England and Wales and the seat of the Archbishop of Westminster.

 

John Betjeman called it “a masterpiece in striped brick and stone in an intricate pattern of bonding, the domes being all-brick in order to prove that the good craftsman has no need of steel or concrete.” Construction started in 1895 and the building was completed in 1903. Under the laws of the Catholic Church at the time, no place of worship could be consecrated unless free from debt and having its fabric completed. The consecration ceremony took place on 28 June 1910, although the interior was never finished.

 

In 1977, as part of her Silver Jubilee celebrations, Queen Elizabeth II visited the cathedral. Although the visit was to a flower show at the cathedral, it was highly symbolic as the first visit of a reigning monarch of the United Kingdom to a Catholic church in the nation, since the Reformation. 

 

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