Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Victoria Park

London The Unfinished City
Bonner Gate.

One of the parks and, to be honest, areas of London that I have rarely walked around is Victoria Park and, by extension, the East End. I have always had a fascination with the East end, but seldom visit it, considering its history.

So I took the opportunity of having some time away from work to explore the park, which covers some 86 hectares.

Having walked from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park I entered Victoria Park, via St Mark's Gate, and immediately turned right, having spotted two brick alcoves that were once part of London Bridge and, a little further up the path, the War Memorial.

London The Unfinished City
One of the two alcoves from the old London Bridge.

I then made my way along one of the tree-lined avenues. To my left were large open spaces with people training, sitting and enjoying the sun, walking dogs or, like me, just enjoying the warm weather. To my right cricket and football pitches stretched towards the edges of the park.

This brought me to the Model Boating Lake, splashpool, skatepark and the children's main playground and cafe. To my right, hidden behind some trees there was an Old English Garden, unfortunately not in full bloom, so not as impressive at it usually looks, but still nice to see. 

As I continued the East Fishing Lake came into view, on my right, along with the Burdett-Coutts Drinking Fountain and bandstand, while to my left the open green spaces continued.

Crossing Grove Road, via Diamond Jubilee Gate, I entered the West Park and found myself by the West Boating Lake, with its abundance of wildlife. Herons, ducks, cormorants and geese of various species. The trees surrounding the lake were filled with the sound of Parakeets, screeching to one another.

London The Unfinished City
The West Boating Lake.

Following the path to the right, around the lake, to my right the green spaces continued along with another children's play area. As I moved out of the trees I spotted a Chinese Pagoda to my left across a bridge. 

London The Unfinished City
Pagoda Island.

Saturday, April 08, 2023

Sir William Wallace Memorial

London The Unfinished City
Sir William Wallace Memorial.

The memorial, above, was installed in 1956, and adorns the wall of St Bartholomew's Hospital, close to where the execution took place.

Below the English text follows an inscription in Latin and Gaelic that translates as:

"I tell you the truth, son, freedom is the best condition, never live like a slave."

"Victory or Death."

The Smithfield area, originally known as Smoothfield, of London was once used by the Romans as a place to muster troops and to bury the dead, and was a large area of open ground outside of the Roman walls. 

Once the Romans had left Londinium the land was used for many different uses throughout the centuries, that included the grazing of livestock, summer fairs, jousting and executions.

Executions took on varying forms that included burning at the stake, for heretics, hanging, and the most vicious execution of all... hanged-drawn-and-quartered, usually reserved for treason. Executions would carry on at this spot until some time in the 1400s, when the gallows were moved to Tyburn. 

The execution area was known as the Elms, which was a medieval word for scaffold.

It is impossible to quantify the amount of people who were put to death here, throughout the centuries, but the most notable for me would be the execution of Sir William Wallace.

Thursday, April 06, 2023

Walking with Keilyn: Olympic Park to the Mithraeum... and beyond

London The Unfinished City
Aquatics Centre.

 Tuesday April 4, 2023.

With the first week of the Easter holidays begun and with the weather on our side Keilyn, my 9 year old daughter, and I decided to take a trip to London. On Keilyn's insistence we headed to Stratford, via the Jubilee line, as she wanted to explore the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Our journey was uneventful and after grabbing a hot drink and some food, at Stratford station, we made our way to the park. 

London The Unfinished City
West Ham FC Stadium.

Crossing WaterWorks River, via Stratford Walk, we were immediately in front of what is now West Ham FC Stadium, while below us, on the river, the Water Chariots and swan pedalos were moored up.

London The Unfinished City
Water Chariots and Swan pedalos.

Turning right we headed towards the Pleasure Gardens Play Area, which Keilyn thought was 'Okay'. We continued by following the course of the River Lea via Middlesex Way, which brought us to Eastcross Bridge, next to which the 'Agitos' stood tall and proud against the blue sky. 

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Following the path around brought us to the London Blossom Garden and the Tumbling Bay Playground. Keilyn was suitably impressed with this little park.

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Keilyn just swinging around.

From here we clambered up and down hills to see the Olympic Rings, set among a small copse of trees. 

London The Unfinished City
Keilyn, an Olympian in the making?

Then it was back down the hill to Gaskell's Fort play area, which Keilyn loved.

London The Unfinished City
Gaskell's Fort Play area.

Then we crossed Knights Bridge and turned left and ourselves back on Middlesex Way, which we followed until we reached Marshgate Lane. We followed this until we turned onto Bassett Lane, which took us across the River Lea Navigation. 

Tuesday, April 04, 2023

Oldest House in the City of London

London The Unfinished City
41-42 Cloth Fair

Wandering, as I do, along the labyrinthine streets of London I always discover something to which I was unaware. This is exactly what happened whilst I walked from Farringdon towards Barbican.

Having headed south from Farringdon station and along the Grand Avenue, that divides Smithfield Market, I headed onto West Smithfield and turned onto a narrow road named Cloth Fair. 

As I approached the courtyard of the Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great I noticed a timber framed building to my left. It was unlike any other building on the street, so I took some photos.

Saturday, April 01, 2023

London's Lost Churches

London The Unfinished City
Christchurch Greyfriars Church Garden.

On my many wanders around and through the City of London, I have always been struck by the amount of churches dotted throughout. Occasionally, I have stumbled across the ruins of churches either destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 or bombed via Zeppelin raids of World War I, or the Blitz of World War II.

Some of these ruins have been turned into pocket parks or gardens of remembrance, while others have been lost forever, with, very little to show that they were ever there.

London The Unfinished City
St Mary Aldermanbury Garden.

I soon became intrigued to see if there was a complete list of churches within the City of London that were either still standing, ruined or lost to the ravages of time.