Today’s brisk and sunny weather was perfect for another walk, so I headed off to follow walk #12 in Frommer’s 24 Great Walks in London. After visiting a park that was the site of the massive burial of plague victims during the Black Death of 1348-1349, I walked through the Smithfield Market, a wholesale meat market where livestock have been sold for at least 800 years.
The tour then took me to St. Bartholomew’s Church, which is the oldest parish church in London, founded in 1123. Wonderfully atmospheric, the church has been used in a number of films, including Four Weddings and a Funeral and Shakespeare in Love. St. Bart’s has survived over time largely because it wasn’t damaged in the Great Fire of 1666 or in the German bombing during World War II.
After 1539 and the Dissolution of the Monasteries, parts of the church were destroyed and some of the chapels were secularized. The Lady Chapel behind the main altar was used as a house, a printing business where Benjamin Franklin worked as a young man, and finally a lace and fringe factory. It was restored as a chapel in 1896.
Another church on this tour is St. Bride’s near Fleet Street. St. Bride’s was destroyed in the Great Fire, then rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren. The spire he designed is called “The Wedding Cake Spire” because it inspired the tiers used in modern wedding cakes. The Church was also heavily damaged during World War II. Bombs revealed Roman remains in the crypt, which can be viewed.
I also saw an iron coffin that some people used to prevent the bodysnatching that became popular in the 1800’s.
Finally, I headed up to St. Paul’s to see the “Occupy London” anti-capitalist protesters. They’ve set up camp right by the front steps to the cathedral and have vowed to remain there indefinitely. Fortunately, they are peaceful and polite, unlike the protests that have happened in other places like Rome.