Now, we don’t want to give you the impression that anything worth visiting in the City is in ruins. Clustered into the Square Mile is a host of perfectly preserved historical wonders.
For example, heading north from Saint Dunstan will lead you to St Katharine’s Cree, a church with a history dating back to the 13th century that has a churchyard garden where City workers can relax and socialise. Plays used to be performed there in the 15th century by travelling actors, and they have even had jazz bands perform during summer events. However, during your amble to St Katharine’s, keep an eye out for London’s smallest public statue The Two Mice Eating Cheese, depicting a mouse on either side of a delicious block of cheese. We’re not sure where they got the cheese from, but it doesn’t look too dissimilar to our own Somerset Reserve cheddar.
If you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy a real ale, the City is home to a vast number of taverns and pubs. West of St Katharine’s is the cobblestoned Leadenhall Market, which the eagle-eyed - or perhaps in this case owl-eyed - amongst you may recognise from the Harry Potter films. Here you can find the Lamb Tavern, a historic pub that dates back to 1780, which is nearly as impressive as dating back to 1707. However, there’s another pub that has us beat over in Cornhill - Jamaica Wine House. Known locally as “the Jampot”, it was originally a coffee house. In fact, it was the first ever coffee house in London and was visited by Samuel Peypps in 1660. Pepys was a prolific writer of the 17th century, who has come to be known as the most famous London diarist despite tough competition from the likes of Bridget Jones. But be warned, this old tavern is believed to be haunted.
If ghosts, ghouls and the paranormal are your cup of tea, however, you’ve wandered into the right square mile, as the City is teeming with otherworldly activity. Perhaps you’ve heard of the ‘Old Lady of Threadneedle Street’, a nickname for the Bank of England? In the early 1800s, there was another old lady of Threadneedle Street called Sarah Whitehead. The story goes that her brother who worked at the bank was found guilty of murder and hanged without her knowledge, and when she discovered her brother’s terrible fate she lost her mind and returned everyday to the bank to ask for her brother until the day she died. It is believed that, even to this day, if you find yourself in Threadneedle Street, you’ll encounter Sarah herself enquiring ‘Have you seen my brother?’.
Another church untouched by the numerous assaults waged on the City over the years is St Bride’s, which is tucked away in an alley over on Fleet Street. This 17th century church was designed by Wren and boasts his second highest pinnacle after St Paul’s Cathedral.
Fleet Street is the home to a number of other historical gems. The Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is a grade II listed tavern that has entertained an impressive roster of famous punters from the past. Charles Dickens - best remembered to the world for his love of Fortnum’s (and a few novels apparently) - regularly drank at this tavern, as did other writers such as G.K. Chesterton and Mark Twain.
From literary figures to literary creations, Fleet Street was also the supposed haunt of the demon barber Sweeny Todd whose barbershop was reputed to be next door to the Old Bank of England and the Hen and Chicken Court alleyway (ingredients Mr Todd was not putting into his pies).
MEMORIALS OF THE CITY
The small street of Pudding Lane, whose name derives from the fact that butchers used to transport offal down here to the river, is an unassuming cobblestoned strip that was actually where the Great Fire of London began, when baker Thomas Farriner caused possibly one of the worst cooking mishaps in history. Thankfully the fire has been extinguished for quite some time now, and the Monument to the Great Fire of London by Wren has been erected to commemorate the tragedy on Fish Street. So if your own culinary creations aren’t quite coming out perfectly, do remember that your cooking hasn't left a city in ruin.