Discover a few interesting London stops and a few museums including the Museum of London. In the neighbourhood, there was once a watchtower, or barbican, from which the area gets its name.
Twice fire almost destroyed the area, first via the Great Fire of 1666, and again during WWII German bombings. Some buildings remained in good shape while others, with no real plan, were reconstructed over time. On you walk you will see a variety of architectural styles that are the result.
Exit the tube at St. Paul’s. After exiting the tube walk north on St. Martin’s le Grand, turning right at Gresham Street and continue walking for a few blocks where you will encounter Guildhall which is open daily from 10am to 5 pm; closed on December 25 and on Sundays in winter. For more than 800 years ths has remained as the City’s seat of government. The building dates from the 15th century, with the walls surviving the fire of 1666 and the bombings of 1940.
Originally utilized as a Town Hall for many centuries, it is now home to the Clockmaker’s Museum and the Guildhall Art Gallery. Built between 1411 and 1440 this building is full of London history and tradition. The Clockmakers’ Company Library was first established in 1813 and in 1925 became housed in London’s Guildhall Library. Guildhall’s facade is a combination of Classical and Gothic. It extends across nine bays, rising four stories, culminating on four buttresses, dividing the face into equal parts, with large pinnacles. In the central area sits the City Arms with griffin supporters. The inside of the hall is partially medieval with the walls dating to the 15th century and houses the chamber in which Lady Jane Grey and others were tried. The Great Hall is where the mayor and sheriifs are elected and the large open hall displays the shields and banners from the 12 principal London livery companies. At the western end is the minstrel’s gallery with statues of Gog and Magog in addition to replacements of figures destroyed in the Blitz.
Following your visit at this interesting piece of London’s history backtrack to Gresham, then turn right on St. Martin’s le Grand and continue on to the Museum of London which is open Monday through Sunday 10am to 6pm. Within the museum are many exhibits to discover, including the remains of the London Wall, built during the Roman Empire and a selection of Roman coins. The exhibits will allow your to travel through the city’s history, finding fashions and weapons, family photographs and phonographs, and so many items in between! Discover the history of London from 450,000 BC to the present day! Open galleries are divided into bays according to time and theme, telling the story of the city of London. There is so much to see, Oliver Cromwell’s death mask, Queen Victoria’s gowns, the 18th century Blackett Dolls House, or a stoll down an 18th-century London street. If you are ready for a snack the Museum offers a few options, including a space for picnics and packed lunches!
Museum of London Tour
Exiting through the northern side of the museum, you will walk past the residential Barbican Estate. After the area was bombed during WWII, the area was rebuilt with a complex of multi-use housing in the heart of the city. The project included a residential neighborhood with schools, shops, open areas, and a conference and arts centre. Construction began in 1962 with the first residential phase completed in 1976. The arts center opened in 1982. The Barbican is home to the Royal Shakespeare Company, the London Symphony Orchestra and the London Classical Orchestra. On level three is the Barbican Art Gallery which hosts one of the best photographic exhibits in the city. While a stop at the Barbican isn’t included on your walk today you may want to return another day as there is plenty of entertainment to be found through the Batbican’s website.
Continue down the steps of Aldergate, walk across the street, then turn left on Long Lane, turn left onto Cloth Fair, finally, turn right on Middle Street and you will arrive at St. Bartholmew the Great, also known as Great Saint Barts. This London church goes back to the 12th century, a lovely building and one of the oldest churches in the city. You may have seen this church in the movies, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Shakespeare in Love. If you get a chance to have a peek at the interior it is worth a visit as it issupposed to have the most significant Norman interior in London. Built by Rahere, after he recovered from illness and fever, the church itself is believed to have curative powers. The athentic Norman arches and details are well worth a look and is like taking a journey back in time!
St. Bartholmew’s Church
If you are ready for lunch, or just a snack, take a break at the Cloister Café within the church.
Moving on, continue your journey to the end of the street and turn right. You will have now reached the large Smithfield Market. Historically this was where London’s meat trading took place, today it remains to be the largest meat trade market in England, and one of the largest in Europe. Smithfield opened as a wholesale and retail market in 1868. The buildings are constructed of red brick and stone with domed towers at each end. Housed within the 8 acres are 15 miles of rail, capable of hanging 60,000 sides of beef! The market is for early risers open from 3am to 10am.
If you plan on shopping you can visit before your Barbican Walk or plan on a visit on another day.
Cross through the market and across Charterhouse Street, turning left on Cowcross to find the end of your journey at Farringdon Tube Station.
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More to Explore
Bloomsbury Literary Tour – Bloomsbury has long had the reputation of being, traditionally, the center of London’s literary world. In addition to this stroll for bookworms, you will also have the opportunity to shop and to visit the world-class British Museum.
Covent Garden Market – This interesting walk will guide you through historical sights in the heart of the city.
Green Park & St. James Park – Select a nice day to stroll through two of London’s royal parks while you check out if the Queen is at home!
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