Like every major city in the world, London boasts a huge selection of historically important and fascinating places to visit but many are often ignored or forgotten. The Romans, Normans, Saxons, Vikings and everyone that called London home over the centuries have made their mark on the city – some more aggressively than others! – and they have all left an enduring and fascinating legacy that is the fabric that binds the rich and vibrant history of this city together.
London, or as it has been known, Londinium, Londinio, Kaerlud, Llundain and Lowonida is an incredible city and if you go to the major tourist spots – Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London – you’ll be competing, elbows up, with thousands of others for the best vantage points. While the places are undoubtedly amazing, they get very busy, so why not follow the path less trodden!
The same as every bustling metropolis, there’s so much more to London than the ‘celebrity’ sites. It is a city full to the brim of astonishing places to visit which are often ignored and largely forgotten but equally, if not more impressive than the A-list stars.
Just to the east of the Rathbone is the City of London, traditionally our nation’s financial and business heart but if you scroll back two thousand years, the Red Porsches and Filofaxes were preceded by stunning architecture, fascinating history and a legend that made it all the way into one of the 21st century’s best-selling novels…
All Hallows-by-the-Tower, Byward Street EC3
Founded in 675AD, All Hallows-by-the-Tower is the City’s oldest church, built by the Anglo-Saxons a full 300 years before the Tower of London. A 7th century Saxon arch can still be seen, as can the mosaic flooring of a 2nd century Roman villa, Saxon coffins and stones from a Crusader castle.
London Roman Wall & Fort, Various Locations
The Romans arrived in 43AD and started to fortify the new city which included the construction of a city wall. Most of it has been destroyed with the passage of time but there are some very-well preserved sections at Tower Hill, on Noble Street and in an underground car park close to the Museum of London.
St Dunstan-in-the-East, Dunstan’s Hill EC3
Originally built in approximately 1100, St Dunstan-in-the-East was eponymously named for the 10th century Bishop of London and Archbishop of Canterbury. The original church was damaged in 1666 during the Great Fire of London, subsequently patched up, including a steeple designed by Sir Christopher Wren, but is was largely destroyed during WW2. Today, the ruins are framed by a pretty public garden.
Temple Church, Temple EC4
The Knights Templar, made famous again thanks to their role in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, built this 12th century round church in the heart of the City as their English HQ. Modelled on Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, highlights include effigies of ten Templar knights on the floor.
Winchester Palace, Pickfords Lane SE1
Winchester Palace was one of the largest and most important buildings in medieval London. The 12th century mansion was used as an episcopal palace for the all-powerful Bishops of Winchester and it was used until the 17th century. After a fire in the early 19th century, the ruins were discovered and parts of the Great Hall (built around 1136) and the stunning Rose Window remain visible.
St. Bride’s Church, Fleet Street EC4
St Bride’s, possibly founded by Celtic monks from Ireland, is one of the oldest churches in the whole city. The current church was designed entirely by Sir Christopher Wren in 1672 – one of only six in London designed entirely by his hand – though it was damaged during the Second World War. The restored St Bride’s is a well-known stop in the City and you can visit the church itself as well as its fascinating underground crypt.
So if you’re coming to London this summer, take a trip off the beaten track and discover the hidden gems that make this city great. And don’t forget to make sure you book your stay at The Rathbone now and our concierge will point you to wherever you want to go and whatever you want to see!