August is upon us and my first walk of the month was with the Weinstein family from Israel. Here they are outside the church of St Dunstan in the West on Fleet Street, not to be confused with St Dunstan in the East, which has become, with a little help from bombing during the Blitz, a walled garden. In case you are in any doubt of the proximity of the church to Fleet Street (two words that were for decades a byword for the newspaper industry), the wall adjoining the churchyard is emblazoned with old newspaper titles. The statue behind them is of Elizabeth I, which I mentioned a bit ago in a post about London statues and their stories.
In the afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting Gurudhan and Jennie from the States. I had the feeling they might be nice, as it had been suggested they come on a walk with me by their friend Dylan (also very nice) who had joined the east London walk earlier in the year and taken a few photos along the way. As they were the only two that had booked, we ended up doing a completely different impromptu walk that began at St Katharine Docks near to the Tower of London, then worked our way through the City of London to St Paul's ... and back again. Here they are standing by Tower Bridge, having just passed through Dead Man's Hole.
The walk can't have gone too badly, as they decided to come back for the Sunday east London walk, joining a group of eight people ... sorry nine people if you include five month old Arya. Here they all are standing on Curtain Road, which featured on a piece I posted ages ago, with 'then and now' photos of Shoreditch. The 'then' photo of Curtain Road was taken in 1900, when it was the hub of London's furniture trade.
Youngest - Arya
Tallest - Petra
Best laces (on footware) - Anja
Best Moustache - No winners
Best beard - Gurudhan
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
Then & Now - Shoreditch / Hoxton
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.