From Tower to Tate
a riverside walk taking in 900 years of London's history!
Starting with the Tower of London, that ancient fortress built by a nervy William the Conqueror after he defeated King Harold at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, the tour ends at the Tate Modern art gallery, first open for business in May 2000.
We will spend a fascinating 45 minutes or so walking around the outside of the Tower hearing tales of torture & execution, the Crown Jewels, the zoo and the ravens before crossing the iconic Tower Bridge. Looking out on the stretch of water between Tower and London bridges today, it is hard to imagine that at the peak of the British Empire, it used to be the busiest waterway in the world! After comparing and contrasting William's forbidding castle with the modern skyline of the City of London, we head towards Southwark.
Southwark was London's first borough and was one of its roughest areas, not that you would know it today! Its sophisticated and classy look nowadays is a world away from the brothels and gin shops which used to line the narrow alleys which led to the river's edge where pedestrians had to dodge the contents of piss pots being emptied from above. But there are still enough clues dotted around to appreciate what Southwark was like centuries ago.
Highlights of this part of the tour include the ruins of a once beautiful medieval palace built for the influential Bishops of Winchester, the full size replica of the ship in which Sir Francis Drake sailed around the world in the late 1570s and the fearsome Clink prison complete with tales of what its inmates had to endure.
If you would like to do so, we will pop inside Southwark Cathedral which, although dating back to the 1100s, is hugely relevant to the Southwark of today with a memorial to those who lost their lives in the recent Marchioness disaster and a gorgeous stained glass window commemorating Queen Elizabeth II's 60th Diamond Jubilee.
For a while, we will concentrate on the theatre as our riverside ramble brings us to the modern Globe theatre - but it would not be right to admire it without also looking back at how the Globe came to be built in the first place and why Bankside was such a popular area for entertainment in general and the theatre in particular.
Before we finally arrive at the Tate, we will enjoy the work of two modern artists, Jimmy C from Australia and Ben W from London - their art mediums? A wall and chewing gum!! You will have to wait and see!
I love this walk - it provides a fascinating alternative to the better known areas of London and will leave you with memories of how London used to be as well as an appreciation of the beauty of the developers' art in bringing life to an area without destroying its legacy.