Walk 13 - London City Passages, Alleys and Hidden Treasures

Approximately 4 Miles / 6.5 Km - about 2.5 hours.

Zoomable on-line map available at plotaroute.com/route/1652595


The walk starts at Barbican Tube station and ends at Aldgate or Liverpool Street stations.

The walk explores the City of London’s medieval alleys, lanes and passages, seeking out the unusual and quirky historical treasures found there. The walk also visits the sites of some of the major historical events that have occurred in the City. 


The walk is designed to be used directly from your phone. 
Just scroll down to start. 

There are links within the text to more information about things that are discussed in the walk. You can follow these up later if you wish. 

If you would rather use a printed version of the walk guide, you can download an optional PDF file from this link.

In the walk: 

- Directions are shown in black text.

- History notes are shown in red text.


Leave Barbican Tube Station and turn right. 

Cross over Long Lane on the pedestrian crossing and turn right along Long Lane.

Turn left into Cloth Street and then turn right into East Passage. At the end of East Passage, turn left and then immediately right into Cloth Fair.


Cloth Fair is a medieval street, where merchants used to buy and sell cloth during the Bartholomew Fair. The fair was an annual event around this area, starting on the 24th of August. It operated by Royal Charter, originally granted by Henry I in 1133.  The fair continued until 1855 and lasted for varying amounts of time, from three days to two weeks in different periods. As well as trading, Bartholomew Fair was also a Pleasure Fair. 

Bartholomew Fair as illustrated in 1808 - Public Domain Image

Jonas A Barish, in his book ‘Ben Johnson and the Language of Prose Comedy’ quotes a description of Bartholomew Fair from 1641:

“Hither resort people of all sorts, High and Low, Rich and Poore, from cities, townes, and countrys; of all sects, Papists, Atheists, Anabaptists, and Brownists: and of all conditions, good and bad, vertuous and vitious, Knaves and fooles, Cuckolds and Cuckoldmakers, Bauds, and Whores, Pimpes and Panders, Rogues and Rascalls, the little Loud-one and the witty wanton.”

Pass St Bartholomew the Great church on the left.

St Bartholomew the Great - Picture by Pattirelli - CC-BY-SA 3.0

The Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great was founded in 1123 by Rahere, who was an Anglo-Norman priest and a monk. Rahere was a favourite of King Henry I.

When Rahere was in Italy, he had a dream that he was taken to a high place by a winged beast. The beast gave him a message from "the High Trinity and the court of Heaven", that he should build a church in the Smithfield area of London. St Bartholomew the Great Church was the result. 

The priory gained a reputation for curing sick people. Claims were made about serious disabilities being miraculously cured after visiting there. Many of the cures took place in the church hospital. This hospital became the current St Bartholomew's Hospital, known as 'Barts', which we will pass later.

On the right of the lane is 41 Cloth Fair.

41/42 Cloth Fair - Picture by Elisa.rolle CC BY-SA 


41/42 Cloth Fair is the oldest privately owned house in the City of London. It was built between 1597 and 1614. In 1666, the house was enclosed within large walls, part of the Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great. This enabled it to be the only house in the City of London to survive the Great Fire of London.

The house was in a poor state by the 20th century, and was in danger of being demolished. But from 1995, new owners arranged for extensive renovation. You will see from a plaque on the building that this restoration was awarded a City Heritage Award in 2000.

Among visitors to the house were Sir Winston Churchill and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. They both followed a tradition of scratching their names in the glass of an upstairs window. 

John Betjeman used to live upstairs at 43 Cloth Fair, a fine Victorian house. It now belongs to the Landmark Trust and can be rented from them to stay in for holidays. The plaque and door to it is in Cloth Court, next to 41 & 42 Cloth Fair.

Continue down Cloth Fair until you emerge on to West Smithfield. Turn left, and about 20 metres on the left is St Bartholomew’s Gatehouse. Go through it and look at both sides. 


St Bartholomew's Gatehouse is the gate to The Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great that we passed on Cloth Fair. The Gatehouse survived the Great Fire. The small timber framed house above the gate was built in 1595.

In the 18th century, a Georgian frontage was built over the Tudor timbers and the building was used as a shop. In the First World War, a German Zeppelin caused damage to the frontage and the Tudor timbers were again revealed.

If St Bartholomew's Church is open, it is well worth taking a look inside. Here is a link to their opening times.

Opposite to the Gatehouse are the walls of St Bartholomew's Hospital. Cross over to them where there is a Memorial to Wat Tyler and the Great Rising of 1381.


The memorial reads: ‘At this place on 15th June 1381, Wat Tyler, John Ball and other representatives of the Great Rising (The Peasants Revolt) met King Richard II to finalise terms for ending the Rebellion. The King had agreed to all the political reforms aimed at alleviating the plight of the people. However he and his advisors later reneged on that agreement, after killing Tyler in the process near this spot. John Ball and many others of the Revolt were also later executed.’

Wat Tyler & Sir William Wallace Memorials

A little further along the wall to the right is a memorial to William Wallace.


Sir William Wallace was executed for treason near this spot on August 23, 1305. 

Wallace was tried in Westminster Hall, and sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered. He was brought to Smithfield, where the execution was carried out. His body was then cut into four parts, and sent to Scotland as a warning to the rebels. His head was displayed on London Bridge. 

Wallace was famously portrayed by Mel Gibson in the film 'Braveheart'. If fact, Wallace was never called Braveheart, it was Robert the Bruce who was given this nom de guerre. It referred to the fact that, because in life he didn't get to fight in the crusades, after his death his friend Sir James Douglas took Bruce's heart in an urn to the Holy Lands. It is said that during a battle, Sir James threw the urn at the enemy. 

Continue on in the same direction along West Smithfield. Turn first left into a road also called West Smithfield which then becomes Giltspur Street. Cross Giltspur Street at the point where Cock Lane connects with it on the right.

Giltspur Street gets its name from the fact that it was once a centre of spur making. In the medieval period, Cock Lane was a place that cock fighting took place, and also the site of legal brothels. It's thought that one (or both) of these activities are the reason for its name!   

On the corner of the building there is a carving of ‘The Golden Boy of Pye Corner.


This marks the spot where the 1666 Great Fire of London was stopped. We will be visiting the place where it started later in the walk.

Carry on down Giltspur Street, passing the Watch House on the right. 

Watch houses were shelters for Watchmen, an early form of policing the City. This Watch House is near St. Sepulchre's Church, and also near to St Bartholomew's Hospital. So, it is thought that it was used to deal with the body snatching for medical science dissection, which was done in the 18th and 19th centuries.

At the junction with Holborn Viaduct, look on the corner of the church railings to see The First Drinking Fountain in London. 


The Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association was formed in 1859 to provide free, fresh drinking water for Londoners and their animals. This was to help combat the poor quality of water in some areas of London, that had caused Cholera and other illnesses earlier in the century. The Temperance Movement also encouraged the building of drinking fountains, and many (like this one) were built opposite to Public Houses.

One of the Association's founding members, Samuel Gurney, who was an MP, paid for this, the first London drinking fountain. Over 800 drinking fountains were eventually erected by the Association. 

The church behind the railings is St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, meaning it was just outside the Newgate in the London City Wall. If the church is open, you may wish to go in and see the Execution Bell.

The original uploader was Lonpicman at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


The Execution Bell was rung outside the cell of condemned prisoners in Newgate Jail (just over the road from here) on the night before they were due to be hanged. The ringing was accompanied by this speech:

‘All you that in the condemned hold do lie,

Prepare you, for to-morrow you shall die;

Watch all, and pray, the hour is drawing near

That you before the Almighty must appear; 

Examine well yourselves, in time repent,

That you may not to eternal flames be sent.

And when St. Sepulchre's bell to-morrow tolls,

The Lord above have mercy on your souls.

Past twelve o'clock!’

At the pedestrian crossing at the front of the church, cross over Holborn Viaduct, then turn left and cross over Old Bailey.  Continue along into Newgate Street.  

Newgate in the 17th Century - Public Domain Image

Soon, on the right, is a blue plaque marking the place that the Newgate straddled Newgate Street until it was demolished in 1777 to ease traffic congestion.

Carry on along Newgate Street, and then turn first right into Warwick Lane.  On the right you will see a blue plaque marking the site of The Royal College of Physicians (1674-1825). 

The proximity of Newgate Prison was useful for the Royal College of Physicians. They were allowed ten bodies a year for dissection, as were The Royal College of Surgeons, St Bartholomew’s and St Thomas’s Hospitals.

In 1721, Charles Maitland, a physician at the Royal College, received a Royal Licence that allowed him, under the direction of Sir Hans Sloane, to test ‘variolation’ on six prisoners from Newgate Prison. Variolation was a method of immunizing patients against smallpox. It worked by infecting them with material from patients with a very mild form of the disease, so they were resistant to the full version. The experiment took place in August of 1722. All of the prisoners survived, and they were also all pardoned later in that year. However, the process was not without side effect problems. At the end of the 18th century, Edward Jenner developed 'Vaccination' (the name derives from the Latin 'vacca', meaning cow, because of the early use of the cowpox virus against smallpox). Jenner's method was much more successful, and variolation was dropped.

Continue down the lane. On the right you pass Amen Court. 

Amen Court is private land so you can’t enter, but there is an old wall that was part of Newgate Prison that is visible through the arch. 

From here, Warwick Lane becomes Ave Maria Lane. A little further down the lane, on the right, is Amen Corner. 

Again, this is private land so you can’t go far down it, but you can get another glimpse of the old prison wall, and there are also some very attractive 17th century houses to see here.

The Stationers' Company is based in Ave Maria Lane.


The Stationers' Company of London was given a royal charter in 1557, the last year of Mary I reign. It was set up to regulate the various professions associated with the publishing industry. All published written works had to be approved by the Company. The professions regulated included printers, bookbinders, booksellers, and publishers. Already a centre for foreign book production, the area around St Paul’s Cathedral and Paternoster Row grew into the centre of the English book trade.

Over the other side of Ave Maria Lane, and down a few metres, is Paternoster Lane. Go down Paternoster Lane to emerge into Paternoster Square. 

Turn right and go through Temple Bar Gate. 

Temple Bar was the principal ceremonial entrance to the City of London from the City of Westminster, and was located where the Strand now meets Fleet Street, near to the Temple area. 

In the middle ages, London expanded the City of London's jurisdiction beyond its city walls to gates, set further out from the City. The new gates were called ‘bars’, and were erected across roads leading into London. 

There was a wooden Temple Bar before the Great Fire. After the fire, Charles II commissioned a new stone Temple from Christopher Wren, which is the one that you see here. It was constructed by masons Thomas Knight, and Joshua Marshall, between 1669 and 1672. 

In 1878, because the Temple Bar was slowing traffic, they decided to move it and widen the road. It was taken down and re-erected at Theobalds Park in Hertfordshire. In 2004 it was moved to its current spot, as part of the Paternoster Square redevelopment.

Turn right and walk around the front of St Paul’s Cathedral. After passing the front steps go left through a churchyard gate which takes you along the south side of the Cathedral. On the ground is a plan comparing the pre-Great Fire St Paul’s with the current one.


The St Paul's Cathedral shown in the paving here, superimposed on the outline of the current St Paul's Cathedral, is actually the fourth St Paul's built on this spot. It is usually referred to as the 'Old St Paul's' and was begun by the Normans after a fire in 1087 destroyed the previous one. It lasted until the Great Fire of London in 1666 destroyed it, and the current Cathedral, designed by Christopher Wren was built. As you can see in the pavement plan, the Old St Paul's was slightly larger than the current one, and was built at a slightly different angle. 

Carry on around the south side of St Paul’s Cathedral.


On the outside walls of the Cathedral there are some wonderful crisp Grinling Gibbons stone carvings of swags of fruit and flowers around cherub faces. Gibbons is more famous as a wood carver, and there is lots of his work inside St Paul’s. However, he also carved in stone and these are some examples of this work.

Go out of the gate by the south doorway of St Paul’s, turn left and follow the churchyard fence. You will pass a red telephone kiosk, and next to it is Gandhi's Oak. 


Gandhi's Oak, also called The Friendship Tree, was planted by H. E. Dr. L. M. Singhvi, High Commissioner for India, in 1996.

Continue along in the same direction and you will arrive (next to another red telephone box) at New Change, turn left and walk up the pavement along it. 

New Change was formerly called Old Change, which was destroyed in the Second World War. When it was rebuilt, it was renamed. Old Change was so named as there was a mint and gold exchange there in the later medieval period.

You will pass on the left, a plaque announcing the site of St Paul’s School. 


St Paul’s School was founded in 1509 by John Colet, a Dean of St Paul's Cathedral. Colet inherited money when his father died. He was a celibate priest, and his twenty one brothers and sisters had all died in childhood. So, he used most of his inheritance to fund and to leave an endowment for the school. The present day St Paul’s School is based in Barnes.

Continue along New Change almost to the junction with Cheapside. On the left is a gate into the churchyard, enter it, and just ahead is St Paul’s Cross.

There has been an open air pulpit here since the 13th century, used for preaching and public proclamations.  

Among other subjects, the cross had been used for preaching against plays. In 1577 (a time before William Shakespeare had come to London - he was 13 and still in Stratford Upon Avon) a preacher named Thomas White accused plays of causing the plague:

"...Looke but vppon the common playes in London, and see the multitude that flocketh to them and followeth them: beholde the sumptuous Theatre housee, a continuall monument of Londons prodigalitie and folly. But I vnderstande they are nowe forbidden by cause of the plague, I like the pollicye well if it holde still, for a disease is but bodged or patched vp that is not cured in the cause, and the cause of plagues is sinne, if you looke to it well: and the cause of sinne are playes: therefore the cause of plagues are playes..."  

The above is from 'A sermon preached at Pawles Crosse on Sunday the thirde of November 1577’ - taken from ‘In the time of the plague' by Thomas White 1550-1624.

Bishop Bourne gave the first sermon preached here after Queen Mary's accession in 1553. It provoked a riot – the crowd were not pleased with the changes proposed, and a dagger was thrown at Bourne. It missed him, and stuck into one of the wooden side posts. Shaken, he had to be rushed to safety in nearby St Paul's School. 

William Shakespeare would have known the 'Pawles Crosse' as a boarded up monument.  Elizabeth I had it covered, as it had become a focus for what we might now call 'demonstrations' of religious difference, which tended to end in violence. 

Exit the churchyard through the gate you entered by. Cross over New Change on the pedestrian crossing, and turn right to walk down New Change on the opposite side that you were walking before. 

On the left you will pass a pedestrian entrance to the New Change Shopping Centre. If you go up the glass lift to the roof, you can get a good view of the Cathedral Dome and the London skyline.

Return to the pedestrian entrance to the shopping centre that you came in from, and turn left to continue walking down New Change.

Turn the next left into a pedestrian way with trees, and arrive into Watling Street. 

Watling Street - Creative Commons image by LlywelynII CC-BY

Watling Street is a historic route that crosses the River Thames at London and which was first used by the ancient Britons and later paved by the Romans. The route linked Dover to London in the southeast, and then continued through London to St Albans, and then on to Wroxeter to the northwest.

This section of Watling Street in the City of London is on the route of the original Roman road, which crossed the Thames over the first London Bridge, and then ran through the City in a straight line from London Bridge to Newgate.

Carry on walking down Watling Street, cross over Bread Street and continue on. 

Bread Street is one of a number of streets in this area that reflect the products that were sold around here from the Medieval period. Other local streets that are derived from what was once sold there include Milk Street, Honey Lane, Friday Street (Fish), Fish Street Hill and Ironmonger Lane.

Turn Left at Bow Lane. 

Just before the top of Bow Lane is the church of St Mary-le-Bow, turn left just before it, into Bow Churchyard. Continue around St Mary-le-Bow, to the front.  If it is open, it is worth looking inside. 

St Mary-le-Bow is where the “Great Bell of Bow” is from the nursery rhyme “Oranges and Lemons”. Dick Whittington, (a former mayor of the City as well as a pantomime character) is said to have heard Bow Bells, and decided to return to London to make his fortune. It is also the church whose bells, it’s said, a true Cockney must be born within the sound of. Unfortunately, the famous bells were destroyed in the Blitz, but were recast in 1956, and rehung in 1961.

There was originally a Saxon church on this spot, and the Norman crypt of the current church (which now holds a cafe) is the oldest parish building in the City still in use.  St Mary-le-Bow was one of the first churches to be re-built by Christopher Wren after the Great Fire in 1666.

A statue of Captain John Smith, a former parishioner of St Mary-le-Bow, and the founder of Virginia in the USA is just outside the church.

Emerge from the church on to Cheapside, and turn right. Continue along, and then cross Queen Street, staying on Cheapside.  


The street name Cheapside comes from ‘chepe’, an Old English word meaning 'market'.  Cheapside, starting at St Paul’s Cathedral, was the western end of a market street that stretched to Eastcheap (east Market).

Just after crossing Queen Street, on the north side of Cheapside, at the junction with Ironmonger Lane, is a metal head of Saint Thomas Becket, and a plaque announcing that his birthplace was near here.

Thomas Becket (also known as Saint Thomas of Canterbury, and in the past as Thomas à Becket) was born here in Cheapside on 21 December 1119. Becket was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170. 

Thomas Becket was involved in disagreements about church rights and privileges with King Henry II. Oral tradition has it that the King was overheard saying “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”

Becket was then murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by some of the King’s followers. Henry was blamed for the murder, and was banned from hearing mass by Pope Alexander III unless he took responsibility and expiated his sins. As part of this, Henry did public penance in Avranches Cathedral. Becket was canonised.

Plays about the events were dramatised by T.S.Elliot in “Murder in the Cathedral” and by Jean Anouilh in “Becket” among others.

If you crossed to the north side of Cheapside to see the Becket plaque, re-cross to the south side, and carry on a little way along Cheapside. On the wall of the Tesco Metro on the south side of Cheapside is a plaque commemorating the site of the Great Conduit, the first conduit built to supply fresh drinking water to the city. 

The Great Conduit shown on the 1561 Agas Map.  - © London Metropolitan Archives


The Great Conduit. In 1237 the City of London acquired the rights to the springs of the Tyburn (near where Green Park is now) and built a reservoir. The following year the construction of the ‘Great Conduit’, to supply the water to the City of London, was started. It took until 1245 to complete. 

The route of the conduit was approximately (using modern day place names) Constitution Hill - Charing Cross - The Strand - Fleet Street - Cheapside - Poultry.

Carry on along Cheapside. It turns into Poultry (another reminder of what was sold in the area). Cross over Queen Victoria Street and turn right into Walbrook. 


Walbrook is so named from the now subterranean River Walbrook that rose around Shoreditch. It then flowed south to near where Moorgate is now, continued south through the City of London and past where you are here, finally flowing into the Thames. One theory is that the River Walbrook gets its name from the fact that is went under the London Wall at Moorgate (Wall - Brook).

On the left you will come to the church, St Stephen's Walbrook, which is well worth a look inside, if open.

St Stephen’s Walbrook was, as were many of the City churches, designed by Sir Cristopher Wren after the Great Fire of 1666. His church replaced a medieval predecessor. The internal dome is thought to have been a trial run for the one later built in St Paul’s Cathedral.

The rector of St Stephen's from 1953 was Dr Chad Varah, the founder  of The Samaritans charity. The first Samaritans branch was set up at the church, and you can see the telephone that was used in a glass box.

In 1987, a massive white, circular, polished stone altar was commissioned from the sculptor Henry Moore. It was placed in the middle of the church, and caused some controversy when first installed, but the issue was finally resolved by an ecclesiastical court.

Continue down Wallbrook past the London Mithraeum. 


The London Mithraeum is a recreation of the ruin of the Roman Temple of Mithras, which was discovered here in 1954, during the excavations following the Blitz. The original temple stood here, on the banks of the Walbrook, in the third century. You can visit the Mithraeum for free, but pre-booking is normally required.

Where Wallbrook meets Cannon Street, turn left.

Cannon Street is a contraction of ‘Candlewick Street’ (14th C), as it was once a street that was a centre for candle-making.

On the left, just after Salters Hall Court is the London Stone. 

The date and original purpose of the London Stone are not really known. However, there has been interest in it, and speculation about it, since around 1100. It is possibly a remnant of a Roman building.

In 1450, Jack Cade, the leader of a rebellion against Henry VI, struck his sword on the London Stone and claimed to be "Lord of this city".

In the time of Queen Elizabeth I, the London Stone was shown on maps, as a landmark and as a visitor attraction. It was thought then that it was connected to King Lud, a legendary ancient king. In some medieval texts, it’s said that Lud was a pre-Roman king of Britain, and the founder of London. It was thought that Lud was buried at Ludgate, which was named after him.

If you are in need of a quiet sit-down at this point in the walk, you can go up Salters Hall Court where there are benches in the lovely St Swithin’s Church Garden

Salters Hall Court is so named as it was the former site of the Hall of the Worshipful Company of Salters, one of the City guilds.

Return to the London Stone, and on the nearby pedestrian crossing, cross over Cannon Street and turn left.

Cross Bush Lane, then turn right into Laurence Pountney Hill.

Bush Lane is thought to be named after an inn, since demolished, called The Bush. 

Laurence Pountney Hill gets its name from the former St Laurence Pountney church, which was dedicated to St Laurence, and built by Sir John Poultney (spelling was flexible then!). Sir John was an entrepreneur and property owner who was four times Mayor of London. He died in 1349. The church was destroyed in the Great Fire, and not rebuilt.

Turn first left to follow the churchyard fence, cross over Laurence Pountney Lane, into an alley with metal bars across it to stop bikes. At the end of the alley, turn right and then immediately left into Arthur Street.

At the top of Arthur Street, at the junction with King William Street, you can see The Monument, over the road. Turn left and walk up to the pedestrian crossing. 

Cross over King William Street near Monument Tube Station, then turn right and walk down towards London Bridge. 

King William Street is named after William IV, who was the reigning monarch when the street was built in the early 1800’s.

Turn first left into Monument Street and walk down to the Monument to the Great Fire of London.

The Monument to the Great Fire of London is 202 feet (62 m) high and 202 feet west of the place in Pudding Lane where the Great Fire started on 2 September 1666. It was designed by Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke, and was completed in 1677.

At the Monument, turn right and go down Fish Street Hill.

Fish Street Hill gets its name from the fish selling trade that once flourished in the area. Billingsgate was only about 150 metres away from here, which was a general market until the 16th century when the neighbouring streets developed into a specialist fish market. 

At the junction with Lower Thames Street, use the pedestrianised crossing to cross over Lower Thames Street and go through the gates of Saint Magnus the Martyr's Church to see the Roman Wharf Timber and stones from the old London Bridge.

St Magnus the Martyr’s church lies on the original alignment of the London Bridge between the City and Southwark. In the churchyard you can see stones from the Old London Bridge and an old timber from the Roman Wharf that stood near here. If the church is open, inside there is  a four metre model of the old London Bridge.

When you leave, re-cross over Lower Thames Street, then turn right and walk along a few metres. Above the road is one of the remaining London City Pedways.


With origins in the German Bauhaus movement, the City of London Pedway Scheme started after World War II when parts of the City were being rebuilt. The plan was to separate pedestrians from the traffic on raised walkways. The scheme has now largely been discontinued.

At Pudding Lane, turn left and walk up it. When you are level with the Monument, turn right into Monument Street, then left into Botolph Lane. Turn right off Botolph Lane into Botolph Alley, and from that left into Lovat Lane.


Pudding Lane is the location of Thomas Farriner's bakery, where the Great Fire of London started in 1666. The name Pudding Lane is said to come from the fact that the butchers of Eastcheap Market used the lane as a route to transport unwanted parcels of offal, then called ‘Puddings’, to be thrown into the river.

At the junction with Eastcheap, cross over it to the corner of Eastcheap and Philpot Lane 

(a few metres left).  On the wall, a couple of metres up Philpot lane, is the Philpot Lane Mice Sculpture.

There is an old unsupported story that the Philpot Lane mice are supposed to commemorate an incident that happened when the building was being built in 1862. The tale goes that two builders working on the building argued about a missing cheese and bread lunch. The argument escalated into violence, and in the fight one of the men fell to their death. It turned out that the missing food had been eaten by mice. Their fellow builders added the mice and cheese sculpture as a memorial to the incident.

Return down Philpot Lane to Eastcheap and turn left along Eastcheap.

Continue along Eastcheap passing Rood Lane on your left, then Mincing Lane, and Mark Lane. Eastcheap has become Great Tower Street here. Straight ahead, you can see the Tower of London.

At the junction with Byward Street, turn left, and then turn left again into Seething Lane. 


Seething Lane was formerly Sivethenelane, which came from the Old English word 'sifetha', meaning the chaff left behind after corn was threshed. Presumably this was connected to activities which took place in the lane.

Seething Lane was the home of Samuel Pepys (1633 -1703), who was an author, politician, administrator of the navy, and a Member of Parliament. He is most famous for the diary that he kept for ten years. This described contemporary events such as the Great Plague, the Great Fire of London and the Second Anglo-Dutch Wars, as well as lots of domestic details of living in the 17th century.

On the right of Seething Lane is a small park with a sculpture of Pepys.

Continue along Seething Lane to St Olave’s Church on the left. Go through the gates to see the small, pretty churchyard. 

St Olave’s Church was Pepys’ church, and he is buried there. If the church is open, you can find the busts of Samuel Pepys and his wife, Elizabeth, on their memorials on different walls of the church, eternally gazing at each other.

When you emerge from St Olave’s Churchyard, cross Seething Lane and enter Pepys Street.

At the bottom of Pepys Street, at the junction with Coopers Row, a few metres to the right is a square open entrance through and under the Leonardo Royal London City hotel.  Behind the hotel is a stretch of the London City Wall. If you are interested in seeing more of the London Wall, you may be interested in another walkspast.com walk, "A Walk Around the London Wall".

The London Wall was originally Roman, but was repaired and added to in the Medieval period. Most of what you can see here is Medieval, and there are archer’s loopholes at the top of the wall that would have had a timber structure for the archers to stand on. The bottom 2-3 metres of the wall is Roman, which you can identify by horizontal rows of red tiles between the stones. You are inside the wall here. On the other side of the wall would have been a ditch, to increase the height of the wall and to make the ground wet and boggy.

Come back out of the hotel entrance to Coopers Row, and turn right up it.

After going under a railway bridge, cross Crosswall, then turn right up Crutched Friars.  

Crutched Friars gets its name from an order of friars that carried a staff with them which had on it a crucifix. The Middle English word ‘crucche’, means a staff. 

Crutched Friars turns into Jewry Street.  

Jewry Street got its name because it was the home of a Jewish Community in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

Continue up it to the junction with Aldgate. Walk about 80 metres left, and at the junction of Leadenhall Street and Fenchurch Street is the Aldgate Pump.

CREDIT: Loco Steve from Bromley , UK  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0

Aldgate Pump. Traditionally, 'East of Aldgate Pump' was another way of referring to the East End. 

Originally, the pump sat over a well served by an underground stream, and was well thought of for the water’s taste and clarity. Unfortunately, in the mid 19th century, it is thought that the increase in the number of cemeteries built on or near the path of the stream, as it flowed through north London, tainted the water. As a result, hundreds of people died in what became known as the ‘Aldgate Pump Epidemic’.

To solve this, in 1876, the New River Company changed the supply, to the pump to water from the New River. 

Return the way you came, to the junction of Aldgate and Jewry Street.  On the Boots the Chemist shop there is a plaque marking the position of the Aldgate.

Continue down Aldgate High Street to opposite Aldgate Tube Station. This is thought to be the site of one of London’s Plague Pits. 

Here are two short extracts from Daniel Defoe’s novel ‘A Journal of the Plague Year’. It was written about 50 years after the 1665 plague, and was based on the experiences of Defoe’s uncle, Henry Foe. The book is fictionalised, but based on real events.

“...Some were immediately overwhelmed with it, and it came to violent fevers, vomitings, insufferable headaches, pains in the back, and so up to ravings and ragings with those pains; others with swellings and tumours in the neck or groin, or armpits, which till they could be broke put them into insufferable agonies and torment...

...They dug the great pit in the churchyard of our parish of Aldgate. A terrible pit it was, and I could not resist my curiosity to go and see it. As near as I may judge, it was about forty feet in length, and about fifteen or sixteen feet broad, and at the time I first looked at it, about nine feet deep; but it was said they dug it near twenty feet deep afterwards in one part of it, till they could go no deeper for the water...For though the plague was long a-coming to our parish, yet, when it did come, there was no parish in or about London where it raged with such violence as in the two parishes of Aldgate and Whitechapel.”

Continue a little further down Aldgate High Street. On the right is a pub, The Hoop and Grapes. 

The Hoop and Grapes is the oldest licensed house in the City, built in 1593. Two lovely old oak posts stand either side of the main door, with vine designs carved into them. There is a crooked Tudor frontage, and sash windows fitted in the early 18th century, which sit at odd angles. Inside, you can see the remains of the beams that once divided the pub into separate, smaller rooms. At the back of the pub is a large chimney breast and a flagged floor that was part of the original kitchen,

The cellars are even older, and are said to date back to the 13th century. The pub's greatest claim to fame is that it avoided being burned down in the Great Fire, although it's only about 900 metres away from Pudding Lane, the fire's origin. Luckily (for the Pub), the prevailing wind was blowing west, away from Aldgate.

The two buildings either side of the Hoop and Grapes are also wooden framed buildings, also dating from before the Great Fire. The one on the right was refaced with brick in the 18th century.


The nearest tube is Aldgate, which you passed earlier. Alternatively, to get to Liverpool Street Station, go up Blue Boar Alley, which is at the side of Aldgate Tube Station, and then turn left into St Botolph Street.  Continue on the left side of St Botolph Street. The street then becomes Dukes Place and swings right, becoming Bevis Marks, and then Camomile Street. At the junction with Bishopsgate, turn right and cross over Camomile Street and continue walking up Bishopsgate. Liverpool Street Station is 150 metres on the left. 

The total distance from Aldgate to Liverpool Street Station is 750 metres.

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