A Great History Walk
St Paul's To Old Street
Approximately 3.7 Miles / 6 KM
Fast walk around 1 hour 20 mins.
Allow a day to visit most of the sights
There's a lot to discover!
Start: St Paul's - Central Line (Red on the Tube Map)
End: Old Street - Northern Line, (Black).
Highlights Include: St Paul's, Dr Johnson's House, Old Bailey, Postman's Park, Museum of London, Little Britain, St Bartholomew's, William Wallace Memorial, Smithfield Market, Clerkenwell, The Order of St John, LSO St Luke's.
A) St Paul's station. Central Line
Leave by the Cathedral exit.
B) St Paul's Churchyard
This square immediately surrounding the cathedral is delightful and contains a 75 ft (25 metre) sandstone column topped with a gold leaf urn, which locals call the Pineapple. Here, you can also see sculptor Dame Elisabeth Frink's masterpiece, ‘Shepherd and Sheep' and the Wren-designed Temple Bar Gate, which once stood on Fleet Street. It looks stunning in its new location.
This spectacular cathedral is considered to be Sir Christopher Wren's masterpiece. It's built on the site of the cathedral destroyed in the Great Fire of London. Construction took twenty-two years and the first service was held there in 1697. Until the middle of the last century, St Paul's was London's tallest building. I recommend climbing to the top as the views inside and out are amazing. The audio tour is recommended and if you're an organ fan, come at 4:45 pm on Sunday for free half-hour concerts. Check the website for concerts, events and admission details.
Walk up Ludgate Hill on the right hand side into Fleet street and look out for a tiny alleyway Hind Court this leads to Gough Square
C) Samuel Johnson's House
This charming 300 year old house is hidden among the old courts and alleyways of the City. Here Johnson wrote his Dictionary Of The English Language, published on 15th April 1755 and described as one of the greatest achievements of scholarship. This wonderful museum has a genuine Georgian atmosphere, and contains many of the great man's artefacts, books and period furniture. Don't miss the statue dedicated to his cat Hodge in Gough Square outside the house.
D) The Old Bailey – Free Entry - Must Be Over 14 Years
If you are interested in Law this is a fascinating place. Security is understandably very tight at the Old Bailey - you won't get in with any electronics, food, liquids etc. For certain trials you will also need your passport / photo ID. Before entering visit Capability Travel Agents on the same street. Here you can leave your phone for £1 or bag for £5. Then ask the guard which courts to visit. If you enter a court, you must sit for a minimum of half an hour so as not to disrupt proceedings. Also, there is a good self-guided tour, which you can pick up from reception. Don't miss the famous Sword and Scales of Justice statue on the roof.
E) Postman's Park - Free Entry
You will never forget Postman's Park. It is delightful green space that has been used as a location in many films. But it is the Memorial to Self Sacrifice that people really remember. Here, ordinary people who have given their lives to save others, are honoured with tiles detailing their heroism.
F) Museum Of London – Free Entry
The history of London from prehistoric times to the present day.
G) Little Britain
A historic street mentioned in Dickens' ‘Great Expectations' and ‘Waverly' by Walter Scott
H) St Bartholomew's Hospital Museum – Free Entry
The hospital dates back to 1123 and you can see a copy of the original grant. The museum traces the history of the hospital and contains surgical equipment and Hogarth paintings. For Sherlock Holmes fans, Watson studied at Bart's and Holmes and Watson first met in one of the laboratories there. In the BBC series, Sherlock appeared to leap from the roof of St Bartholomew's in the final episode of the first series.
I) The William Wallace Memorial.
This memorial is on the wall of the hospital facing Smithfield. It's hard to find but it's a charming small monument dedicated to William Wallace - ‘Braveheart' - who was executed at Smithfield in 1305. The Latin inscription reads, “I'll tell you the truth, freedom is the best of things. Never live under repression as servants”.
J) St Bartholomew the Great
London's oldest church. Lots of history and some famous artworks including a Damian Hirst sculpture, ‘Exquisite Pain'. The church is also a well-known music venue. The website is full of information.
I've had to split the walk into two sections. If you are running out of time you can stop here, as Barbican station is a two-minute walk away. Facing Smithfield turn right to Barbican tube station. Alternatively, you can continue the walk with a delightful amble through the backstreets of Clerkenwell.
A) Smithfield Market
There has been a market here for over 800 years. Today it is one of the largest meat markets in Europe. The market is teaming with activity from 2.00am every weekday.
Behind the market is Clerkenwell – lose yourself in the maze of small lanes and head towards Charterhouse Square, home to the largest of London's mass graves during the Black Death of 1348.
B) Museum Of The Order of St John. Free Entry
The order first established a hospital in Jerusalem nearly a millennium ago. The museum traces the history of the Knights of St John and the more recent St John Ambulance Brigade. Some of the paintings are lovely. Don't miss the church and cloister garden stocked with medicinal herbs. The guided tours are recommended
C) St James' Church Clerkenwell
The church was built in 1792 and is surrounded by an attractive green.
D) Sans Walk
Walk around these lanes and then head for St Luke's
E) LSO St Luke's
An 18th-century, Grade 1 listed, Hawksmoor-designed church. Today the church is used as a music venue for the London Symphony Orchestra. Some of the lunchtime concerts are free. See the website for details
F) Old Street Tube Station
At the end of the walk you are rewarded with an excellent Jim Vision street art mural.
London Street Art
London Street Art 2
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