On a sunny day in March, eight of us set off from Blackfriars on a tour of the legal district of London (courtesy of Londonforfree.net). Our first point of interest was the Grade II listed Black Friar pub, which stands on the site of a former Dominican Friary, and is the only art nouveau-decorated pub in London. The building was threatened with demolition in the 1960s during redevelopment of the area, but was saved thanks to a campaign spearheaded by Sir John Betjeman. Photos of the interior can be found here: https://pubheritage.camra.org.uk/pubs/41
From there we walked to the site of the old Bridewell House of Correction, ‘established in a former royal palace in 1553 for the punishment of the disorderly poor and to house homeless children’ where public floggings took place twice weekly. More information about the Bridewell can be found here: https://www.londonlives.org/static/Bridewell.jsp
We then walked up Old Bailey (the street follows the line of the ancient wall around the City of London part of which enclosed the bailey) – to take a look at the Central Criminal Court – also known as the Old Bailey. The very imposing Grade II listed building dates from the early twentieth century and incorporates stones from Newgate Prison which was demolished in 1902. If you are interested in the history of the court and the trials that took place here, including people executed, transported or ‘burnt in the hand’ for theft, then more information can be found here: https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/
We walked up Fleet Street to the Punch Tavern, a former nineteenth century Gin Palace, this building is also Grade II listed. Originally called The Crown and Sugar Loaf it was renamed in the 1840s after it became the regular watering hole for the creators of Punch magazine. We couldn’t resist popping in to take a look at the original cartoons on display.
Our next stop was to the area known as Temple (after the Knights Templar who built the original Temple church in 1185). This part of London includes two of the four Inns of Court, the Middle Temple and the Inner Temple. We then walked back to Fleet Street and on to The Strand to the Royal Courts of Justice.
Further along the Strand we stopped at the original Twinings Tea shop, which has been selling tea since 1706!
Our route took us on through Lincoln’s Inn Fields, which was London’s first garden square, although it was originally a public execution site. By this time we were in need of our lunch (!) which we found at the pub “The Cittie of Yorke”. Suitably refreshed, we jumped on a bus back to Waterloo, making full use of our bus passes.
As ever, the motto when walking around London – or anywhere – is to look up and admire the architecture above ground level!