Corridors of power edited
Route type: Other
Total climb: 161.32 ft
Distance: 5.87km, 3.65 miles. Like (1)
London - AA Walks Distance: 6.4km Minimum Time: 2hrs 30mins Ascent: Negligble Difficulty Level: 1 - Easy Paths: Paved streets Landscape: Main processional routes, busy streets Dog Friendliness: A dog's nightmare Public Toilets: Westminister, Strand Description: Itâs easy to take sights for granted in a city where, around every bend, is another symbol of its historic importance. Hopefully, this walk, through some of the better-known parts, will sharpen your senses and alert you to some of the buildings and streets you may be familiar with, and others that you have yet to notice. Itâs best to avoid this walk on Mondays when some of the places mentioned are closed. The walk begins across the road from the Houses of Parliament at Westminster Abbey, where every king and queen since 1066 has been crowned and where many are buried. On a corner opposite Horse Guards Parade is one of the best places to stand for a grandstand view of the Queenâs carriage as it heads up Whitehall for the State Opening of Parliament. We move on to the Strand, once one of the most influential thoroughfares in Britain with many fine mansions, some of which you can still see today. One of these is the magnificent Somerset House, which has awesome grounds for central London and is much-loved by film companies for its grandeur and seclusion. The street names from here on give a clue to the past inhabitants. Think of dukes and earls - Arundel, Surrey and Essex - as the Strand enters Aldwych (a name that derives from âOld Wicâ meaning old settlement). The grand buildings in this area are symbols of the architectural legacy of the Empire. If youâre after proof, notice how Canada House, the South African Embassy and the Australian High Commission each take pride of place in Trafalgar Square, the Strand and Aldwych respectively. Where the Strand ends and Fleet Street begins are a number of banks. These serviced those working at the Inns of Court, including Lloyds Bank with its floral tiles, and Child & Co Bankers. The latter has a display of guns in a cabinet that the partners of the bank acquired during the Gordon Riots of 1780 âfor the defence of the buildingâ. Here too is one of the first cheques ever written - made out in 1705. We end the walk by another church, St Bartholomew-the-Great, which dates from 1123 and is still surrounded by small streets as it was in the Middle Ages. Near by is Smithfield, the scene of jousting, tournaments and fairs and the site for executions where criminals were not just hanged but boiled, roasted or burnt. During the Peasansâ Revolt of 1381 the rebel leader Wat Tyler was stabbed by the Lord Mayor William Walworth and taken to St Bartholomewâs Hospital, but soldiers dragged him out and decapitated him. While you're there: If you go early in the morning to visit Westminster Abbey before the coaches arrive, you can easily spend two or three hours there. The tombs and monuments in Poetâs Corner are dedicated to those worthy of the highest posthumous honour the monarch can grant. Along with architects and historians, these include Darwin and Newton. What to look out for: St Johnâs Gate was the main entrance to the Grand Priory in Clerkenwell and later became a coffee house. When the nave of the church was blown up, the stone was used by the Lord Protectorate, in 1550, to rebuild his palace on the Strand, known as Somerset House. Where to eat and drink: The Black Friar in Queen Victoria Street is one of those special pubs. It has a bronze art nouveau/Edwardian interior and tongue-in-cheek phrases such as âhaste is slowâ and âwisdom is rareâ written above the doorways. There are bar snacks, ales on hand-pump and gallons of atmosphere. The Jerusalem Tavern in Britton Street was an old style coffee house. Now itâs cavernous and hugely attractive and serves an interesting selection of beers, including organic wheat beer. Directions: Leave Westminster tube following signs to the Houses of Parliament. Cross St Margaret Street to Westminster Abbey and the adjacent St Margaretâs Church. Turn back along St Margaret Street and continue ahead as the road becomes Parliament Street, and then Whitehall. Follow it past the Cenotaph, a simple memorial to those people who died in the First and Second World Wars, all the way to Trafalgar Square. 2 Turn right here and cross Northumberland Avenue. Turn right into the Strand, which links Westminster with the City of London. Turn right at Savoy Street, to see the Queenâs Chapel of the Savoy; or carry on along the Strand, past Somerset House. 3 Turn right into Surrey Street, past the Roman Baths, left into Temple Place and left again along Arundel Street. The two churches in the middle of the road are St Mary-le-Strand and St Clement Danes. After these the road becomes Fleet Street. 4 After the banks of Lloyds and Child & Co turn right into Whitefriars Street. At the end turn left and left again into Dorset Rise. Take the next right into Dorset Buildings, past the Bridewell Theatre and along Bride Lane to St Brideâs Church. Cross New Bridge Street. 5 You are now in Ludgate Hill. Turn left into the street called Old Bailey and continue to the Central Criminal Court, known as âThe Old Baileyâ - it lies on the site of the notorious former Newgate Prison. Cross Newgate Street and follow Giltspur Street to reach St Bartholomewâs Hospital. 6 Walk under the archway to the hospital, with the only remaining sculpture of Henry VIII, to visit St Bartholomew-the-Less, the parish church of the hospital where Stuart architect Inigo Jones was baptised. Otherwise continue past the central square opposite Smithfield Market, and notice the marks on the stone wall left by a Zeppelin raid during the First World War. At St Bartholomew-the-Great turn left on West Smithfield, right on Long Lane and left into Hayne Street, then turn left again into Charterhouse Street. 7 At St John Street turn right and then bear left into St Johnâs Lane. A few paces on is St Johnâs Gate. Keep going and cross Clerkenwell Road to reach Grand Priory Church, bear left ahead to Jerusalem Passage, then turn left at the end, on to Aylesbury Street. Cross Clerkenwell Road and walk along Britton Street, turning right into Benjamin Street and left at the end to reach Farringdon tube where the walk ends.