Today’s route begins at Charing Cross and ends at Chelsea New Bridge, from where Mr Bradshaw suggests ‘..we can take an omnibus back to Charing Cross, or stroll leisurely through St James’s Park, by way of varying our return..’. Well, according to Google the outward journey is about 4 miles, but then we have to return. So about 7-8 miles. It could be done if we walked briskly from one point to the next, with a running commentary in the background, like a tour bus, or audiotape. But I like to linger, with my camera, so please be patient, as I anticipate Mr Bradshaw’s route will take me at least three days to complete!
Charing Cross was, 250 years earlier, ‘..within bowshot of the open country..’! ‘From old St Martin’s Church there was a quiet country lane, leading to St Giles’s, then a pleasant village sheltered by clumps of fine trees..’. I need to make a small diversion here (oh dear, already!) and this blogsite is fascinating. The map below shows clearly the connection between the two churches, just over one mile.
‘..There has been a house of prayer on the site since 1101, when Queen Matilda, wife of Henry I, founded a leper hospital here..’. The current building, the third, dates from the 1730s. And just behind the Church, in the grounds of the old leper hospital, is Phoenix Gardens, an oasis just one block away from Centrepoint, and the hustle of Oxford Street.
Back to Charing Cross, where the original cross was built by Edward I in memory of Queen Eleanor of Castile. The cross was destroyed in 1647, and a Victorian replica now stands outside the Station. (The 12 ‘Eleanor Crosses’ were placed at the stopping points of the cortege returning her body from Lincoln to Westminster.)
In 1674 the Cross was replaced with a statue of Charles I which now looks down Whitehall.
‘At the entrance to Craig’s Court is Cox and Greenwood’s, the largest army agency office in Great Britain.’. ‘..They were not only bankers, but the official brokers so to say for the sale and purchase of Military Commissions, the recognised intermediaries for effecting regimental exchanges and transfers; and the executive agents for the onerous and responsible work involved in the clothing and equipment of the army..’, more information here. And the name lives on in Cox and Kings, the travel agent.
Craig’s Court was created by Joseph Craig at the end of the 17th century, and it is believed that his home was Harrington House, which is the only remaining original building.
The Metropolitan Police, the police force for Greater London (excluding the City) was founded in 1829 by John Peel. Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police, was originally in 4 Whitehall Place, expanding into other buildings in Scotland Place. In 1907 there was a move to the Embankment, and in 1967 there was another move to the present site in Broadway.
‘..The Prisoners Property Act of 1869 gave authority for police to retain certain items of prisoner’s property for instructional purposes and … a Central Prisoners Property Stored was opening on 25 April 1874… in No.1 Great Scotland Yard..‘.
All along Whitehall are ‘..public buildings of considerable importance..’ which address the administration of the country. The Admiralty is now known as the Ripley Building and was built in 1726 to ‘..contain the house and offices of those who superintend the marine department…The two telegraphs that stood at the summit of the building, one communicating with Deal, and the other Portsmouth, have been quite superseded by the …electric telegraph..’. (Interesting pictures with and without the outer wall here.)
Robert Adams added the screen wall with its archway in 1788.
‘The Horse Guards, a fine spacious stone building, with an arched opening into St James’s park, is easily recognised by the two mounted sentinels that do duty in the small recesses on the side..’.
The Banqueting Hall on Whitehall, built by Inigo Jones in 1622, is the only building remaining of the Royal Palace. The stunning ceiling was painted by Rubens in 1635.
Behind the Banqueting Hall, in Whitehall Yard, is the United Services Museum, which was founded in 1830 ‘..for the collection of objects of the professional arts and sciences, and the delivery of lectures of an appropriate character..’.
The Treasury, with its fine massive exterior, [was] built by Barry in 1847..’.
And of course…
The Foreign Office, adjacent to Downing Street, with an extraordinary archway – one could spend hours just looking at the decorations on the buildings.
There are many reminders of war in Whitehall, statues and memorials which Mr Bradshaw would not have seen. These are just two.
At the end of Parliament Street a new Westminster Bridge was being constructed in 1860, and ‘..the new bridge is lighted by the lime light..’.
And a wonderful article on the Bridge of Old London on Spitalfields Life here.
New Palace Yard derives its name from the ancient palace that stood here from the reign of Edward the Confessor to that of Queen Elizabeth, and of which Westminster Hall and the crypt of St Stephen’s Chapel (known as the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft) are the only portions remaining.
‘..Westminster Hall, now the focus of our superior law courts, was originally the hall of a palace built by William Rufus in 1097, and considerably altered by Richard II in 1399..’. The legislature and judiciary were finally separated in 2005, and the Supreme Court of the UK is now housed in a listed building on the western side of Parliament Square. It is open to the public who can listen to the Law Lords debating points of law.
St Margaret’s Church was originally founded in the 12th century by Benedictine monks; it was rebuilt around the 1500s, and updated in Victorian times. (Wonderful picture here.)
More to follow…
Bradshaw’s Hand Book, The West, Sixth Day, Regent Street & surrounds, (no.31) | London Life with Bradshaw's Hand Book
[…] Martin’s Lane is a very old road, leading north from Charing Cross to St Giles, and out into the country. It was built up in the 16C and 17C and very little remains to give an […]