(Note: I wrote this blog post just before the Coronavirus struck. So, I decided to wait before I published it. As we are still in the middle of the pandemic and safe at home, I thought to myself why not go ahead and publish it. That way we all can take a break from the grim news all around us. Please sit back and take a break for a few minutes and come on a walk with my husband and me.)
Sunshine outside your window and temperatures above normal were invitation enough for us to explore the streets of London. We shook off our winter blues and left early to head towards Moorgate Tube Station.
I have wanted to explore the Mansion House, Royal Exchange area for a while. During my earlier walks to explore that area I had stuck closer to the banks of the Thames and had explored the areas from Temple to Embarkment. I have written about that area in my earlier blogs.
We covered part of Jubilee Walkway’s Loop 3, The City Loop. The Jubilee Walkway is a walking trail around London which covers London’s most iconic landmarks. We have done most of the Walkways. You have as well if you have ever visited the monuments in London. There are five such loops around London. It’s my plan to formally do each loop so I can write about my impression of them. Loop 3 is only 2 miles. But we did not stick to the formal map. Once again, we got distracted by the buildings and views. We explored the Bank Junction area and the buildings that surround it. At this junction, nine streets meet. This area is heart of London. It’s within the City of London or the area known as Square Mile (1.12 miles actually). It is the business and financial center of London.
We walked pass the Bank of England, the central bank of England. The first Bank of England was built by architect Sir John Soane in a neoclassical style between 1790 and 1827. The building that stands there today was built by Sir Herbert Baker in the early 20th century. He replaced the masterpiece created by Sir Soane in what was described later as an architectural crime (on a side note if you have not seen Sir John Soane museum in Lincoln Inn Fields, London then do so on your next trip to London. It’s a worth a trip). The Bank of England building is also known as The Old Lady of Thread and Needle Street.
The Royal Exchange building is one of the buildings that face the Bank Junction. It was built in sixteenth century by Sir Thomas Gresham as a commercial hub in London. Today there is a Fortnum and Mason bar and restaurant in the majestic courtyard of the Exchange. We had planned to have a cup of coffee there, but it turned out, that from that Saturday only, they had shut the restaurant for the weekends. Most of the luxury shops and restaurants there were closed. We just walked around and admired the elegance of the building. From the steps of this building, by tradition, Royal Proclamations are read announcing the death and accent of a Monarch.
Another notable building that borders the Bank Junction is The Mansion House. It’s the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London. It holds official functions for the City of London. Built in Palladian style, the building majestically looks over the Bank Junction.
There are other notable buildings that surround this Junction. One of them is Number 1 Poultry. It’s an office building in the postmodern architectural style. What a contrast that is! The junction is surrounded by various classical style buildings but suddenly my vision had rested on this postmodern building when we arrived on this Junction from Princes Street. I admired this totally different style of architecture. Well, London is a city of contrasts, so nothing jars the senses here! When you stand at the Junction and look behind the Royal Exchange you see the modern steel and glass buildings rising above the massive Corinthian pillars and Pediment of the Royal Exchange building. These mammoth glass buildings tell you the story of architecture, rising from Greek architecture and ending with modern architectural marvels.
Another important building facing this junction is the triangular building of City of London Magistrates’ Court on Queen Victoria Street. It has four court rooms and it mainly deals with financial crimes.
We moved on towards the river. Somehow the Thames always beckons me. We walked admiring the buildings across the river and enjoying the mild winter sun. Our stomachs growled at us to let us know that we had missed our coffee at Fortnum and Mason. We had planned to walk further to the Tower of London alongside the river but we dropped the idea and decided to end our walk at our favorite burger place.
I wish you all health in this trying time. Be safe, be positive.