The London Explorer
Once again using the guides of Peter Jackson, who wrote ‘The London Explorer’ and ‘London Is Stranger Than Fiction’ I tried finding more stuff that existed in the 1950s but which is nearly all obliterated now.
One thing that’s still there is the iron-gated entrance to St Bride’s Church. The boundary wall once ran along the front of St Bride’s Vicarage, so every year the vicar had to pay a guinea to the governors for permission to walk over his own front doorstep. This practice continued even after the war. There’s supposed to be a spout from the holy well of St Bride’s that you can still find, but I gave up – however, inside the Bridewell theatre, you can see the water passing from the Fleet river underneath.
Meanwhile, following the guide book to the other side of the Thames, we get to ‘Ye Clynk’. Well, the Clink prison is still there, although it’s now a tourist attraction, but there was once a sign outside of a fiddler to denote ‘the fiddling knaves’ inside. According to The Explorer you can still see stones from Marshalsea Debtors’ Prison, where Dickens’ father was imprisoned, in Borough High Street but I couldn’t find anything.
Wouldn’t it be good if new buildings incorporated bizarre traditions in their construction? As Europe’s tallest building, the monolithic and entirely featureless Shard nears completion at London Bridge, perhaps it’s time they sacrificed a small child to the household gods, or at least an irritating dog of the kickable variety.