On Sunday, I had just started the walk with Sarah, Tim and Sue and also Christina and Dave (who came on one of my first ever Saturday morning walks just over a year ago) when we were approached by four others searching for another guided walk, a company who describe themselves as the 'first and best' in London. Well, all I can say is that their loss is my gain, because Dennis and Ann from Canada, Gretchen from Los Angeles and John from Kent joined us and I really enjoyed the walk around the east end.
Here they all are in Hoxton Square. The building behind them is currently occupied by bluu, (one of the many bars in the area) on the site of the home of James Parkinson (1755 - 1824), who aside from a career in medicine was variously a geologist, paleontologist and political activist. He wrote an essay on what he referred to as the 'shaking palsy' and is now more commonly known as 'Parkinson's Disease'. It was his tumultuous political career and activism that lead him to being arrested and questioned about a plot to assassinate King George III (often referred to as 'the mad King'), know as the 'pop gun' plot as it seems the plan had been to use a pop gun to fire a poison dart at the King, thus ending his reign.
Gretchen was keen to see the site of 'The Theatre', so called because, in 1576 it was the first purpose built playhouse in London. The troop who occupied it were called the 'Lord Chamberlain's Men' of which a certain William Shakespeare became an integral member. I know I've mentioned this before, but basically it was the same theatre that in 1599 opened on Bankside as The Globe. They dismantled it and took it over the Thames due to an ongoing feud with the landlord who wanted to get rid of them, but as they owned the building (but not the land) they removed it. Gretchen told us an interesting little snippet of information as to why they were keen to maintain the fabric of the building, which was that the price of oak had soared due to ship building requirements necessary to repel the Spanish Armada. There were two Elizabethan theatres in the vicinity, the other, was The Curtain. Now Great Eastern Street and Old Street are connected by Curtain Road, which during the Victorian period was the hub of the furniture industry and looked like this ...
And now looks a bit like this ...
Sorry, I got distracted. The reason Gretchen was keen to visit the former site of The Theatre, was because she happens to be an author of children's books and has written a book entitled 'All The World's A Stage - A Novel in Five Acts' about a young boy called Kit who as an orphan gets embroiled in to a life of crime at the very same theatre, but gets caught up by the drama on stage and the whole dismantling of the theatre I just mentioned, as well as rubbing shoulders with William Shakespeare himself. You can even watch a nice little trailer for it, if you feel inclined.
Most likely to run 10 miles home - Tim
Best hat - (joint winners) Sarah & Gretchen
Best moustache - No winners
Bowl Of Chalk veterans - Christina & Dave
Most Canadian - Dennis & Ann
Image of Curtain Road courtesy of Hackney Archives Department
All three London walks took place this weekend, albeit with varying amounts of people, beginning with just one person, Luciana from Argentina, who came on the Trafalgar Square to St Paul's walk on Saturday morning. Here she is outside Twinings Tea Shop, where we stopped for a cuppa.
Twinings have been operating from the same premises on the Strand since 1706, when Thomas Twining opened Britain's first tea room. Twinings also hold the distinction of holding a Royal Warrant (which you can see just above the door), which basically means they provide tea for HRH Queen Elizabeth II, and also lay claim to having the world's oldest continually used logo.
Next up was the St Paul's to the Monument walk and I was joined by two young French men, Anthony and Mickael spending a year over here to improve their English. It seems to have worked, as their English was 'Superbon, fantastique et tres, tres, tres bien'. Here they are (and me actually for once) standing beneath the Monument, a monument (not surprisingly) to the Great Fire of London. If you come on one of my walks, I'll probably talk about this particular fire quite a bit. It happened in 1666 and in just four days burnt down most of the City of London. The idea is that the Monument stands 202 feet tall, exactly 202 feet to the west of what at the time of the fire was a bakery on the now infamous Pudding Lane, where the fire started.
Today was the east London 'my neck of the woods' walk and I was joined by Maddi and Kim from Australia, Mike, Susan, Kahlee and John from the USA and Brynn from Stoke. The Sunday walk is a mixture of history and street art, and right at the beginning, noticed that Street artist Eine's CHANGE mural on Old Street is in the process of being ... well ... changed. I haven't been able to confirm it, but it looks like Eine himself is doing it. It seems to be half finished and still masking tape all over it. It currently looks like this ...
Here are the group standing outside the Foxtons Estate Agents on Curtain Road. You may wonder why I chose to take a photo of them there, but back in 1577 a building was built on that very site, and was the first in London to be devoted to the performance of plays. It was called The Theatre and was run by a group called the Lord Chamberlain's Men. They moved The Theatre in 1598 over the Thames to Bankside and re-opened it the following year re-naming it 'The Globe'. The Lord Chamberlain's Men employed a young man who arrived in Shoreditch from Straford-Upon-Avon as an actor and playwright. You might have heard of him. He was called William Shakespeare.
So, there we have it. Another weekend of walks. Thanks as ever to everyone who came and made it so enjoyable.
Most Australian - Maddi & Kim
Best Moustache - Mike
The only English person all weekend - Brynn
Looking after English peoples kids award - Luciana, Anthony & Mickael
Most American - Everyone else (inc. Mike)
My neck of the woods - then & now
I know you can get apps that do this sort of thing, but I thought it might be fun to show a few pictures of the Shoreditch and Hoxton area, which are covered in the 'My neck of the woods' walk, as they were 'then' and as the same place looks 'now' in 2011. Quite simple really. If you know the area, it might be quite interesting. Then again, it might not.
This is Shoreditch Town Hall, originally built in 1865.
This is the north end of Hoxton Square in 1921. The square was originally developed in the 1680's. St Monica's Catholic Church on the left is still there ... as you can see.
Just up the road is Hoxton Street, which was home to the Britannia Theatre, built in 1841 and could seat 3000 people. It was frequented by Charles Dickens (amongst many others), but unfortunately WWII got the better of it. The photo below was taken in about 1936, by which time it was being used as a cinema. It's now a block of flats opposite the Macbeth pub.
Curtain Road was once home to The Theatre, which was where William Shakespeare strutted his stuff before his troupe 'The Lord Chamberlain's Men' dismantled the theatre, took it across on the Thames, re-erected on Bankside and called it The Globe. This is Curtain Road in about 1900.
Pitfield Street is named after Charles Pitfield, who bought a large moated mansion house nearby in 1648. It runs down the side of Hoxton Square and runs from Old Street pretty much up to the Regent's Canal and also joins up with New North Road. The photo below was taken in about 1905 and shows the library and what used to be the baths to the left. The baths were demolished after the war, and the library now houses the Courtyard Theatre.
Archive photos courtesy of L.B Hackney's Archive Department.
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.