Posts Tagged ‘Museum of London’

This sculpture which stands at the entrance to the Museum of London in the Barbican is entitled ‘Union’ It depicts a horse with two huge discs one on either side of it. It is by Christopher Le Brun.

A quote from the artist reads:
“When you talk about horses and riders in my work it is important to me that they are not seen as real…I think of it as an entrance or key to the place that I want to enter. It’s as if ‘the horse’ enables the journey rather than providing the final subject.” (translations welcome as I have no idea what he is  trying to say)

 

I might not understand the meaning behind the sculpture but it is certainly an impressive figure as you approach the museum.

 

London Stone (on display in the Museum of London) May 2017

The London Stone is a city landmark which traditionally stood in a grilled alcove in a wall at 111  Cannon Street. It is the remains of ageing much larger limestone object, which seems to have stood on the site, or nearby, for many centuries.

A map of 1550  shows the stone located opposite St Swithern’s church in Candlewick Street (now known as Cannon Street). The first documented reference is in 1598, when the London historian John Stow, records ” a great stone called London Stone”. He claims it was listed in a bible from the reign of King Aethelstan (924-39) in a list of properties of Christchurch Canterbury ( a.k.a. Canterbury Cathedral) ”  being near to London Stone”. A further reference is found in documents of 1098 and 1108 of a man called “Eadwaker aet lundene stane” (Eadwacker at London Stone), who gives a property, or properties, to the Cathedral. It seems this use in names became fairly common as there are a number of mediaeval references, where people add the term ” of London’s stone”  to their names. Most notable of these is Ailwen of London Stone,  father of Henry Fitz-Alwen, Mayor of London from 1193 to 1212. It is known that the Fitz-Alwen house was located in Candlewick Street.

In 1540, the rebel Jack Cade made his way to the city stopping at the stone.  He struck the stone with his sword claiming to be the Lord of the city. It is unclear whether this is something he had made up or whether there was some ritual regarding city Lordship which he was imitating.

Jade Cade at London Stone. By editor: Howard Staunton; artist Sir John Gilbert (1817-1897) – Works of William Shakespeare (London: Routledge, 1881) vol 8, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25663723

By Elizabethan times, the stone had become associated with King Lud, the legendary founder of the city of London. It is listed in Samuel Rowland’s ‘Sights of London‘ published in 1608. In 1671, members of the spectacle makers company confiscated a batch of spectacles from a shop in Cannon Street. These were taken to the Guildhall, where they were condemned as being of inferior quality and ordered to be smashed on the remains of the London Stone.

By 1742 the stone had become an obstruction to the passage of traffic and the remains were moved to the wall of  St Swithern’s church opposite.

St Swithern’s Church 1831.By artist: T. H. Shepherd; engraver: J. Tingle – original engraving, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25706799

 

The London Stone (1887). By Image extracted from page 559 of volume 1 of Old and New London, Illustrated, by Walter Thornbury. Original held and digitised by the British Library. , Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32463347

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The church was destroyed by bombing in 1940, but the section of wall containing the stone remained standing. The remains of the church were actually not demolished until 1962 and were then replaced by an office building.

London Stone niche in the remaining walls of St Swithern’s Church Cannon St (1962). By David Wright, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13733522

The stone was relocated in a grilled niche in the wall of this building, the ground floor of which was used as a stationer and newsagents. This was not a very satisfying relocation as being at ground level it rather looked like a ventilation grill. I wonder how many people walked past it each day and didn’t even know it was there?

The rather unassuming location of the London Stone in the wall of WH Smiths in Cannon St. By John O’London – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25664002

This building, in turn, was scheduled for the demolition in 2016 and the stone was moved to the Museum of London,  where it is currently on display until it can be relocated when the new office building on the site is completed. It is hoped that the new location will show the stone off so it can once again become a tourist attraction – the heart of the City.

So what was this stone?

Over the years there have been many suggestions: a Roman milestone; a sacred city stone (as with the golden milestone in the forum at Rome); a talismanic stone (as in the Palladium in Troy); a prehistoric or a druidic sacred stone; a stone from the remains of the Roman praetorium or governors Palace,which is believed to lie under Cannon Street station; a mark stone of ley-lines or in a recent book, the stone from which King Arthur pulled Excalibur. No one knows, but it has clearly played a part in the history and conscience of the city of London for many centuries.

The Romans built a stone fort in the NW corner of the Londinium settlement. Work appears to have commenced around the year 120AD, some forty years after the conquest. This may have been in conjunction with the visit of the Emperor Hadrian, who came to Britain in AD 122. It is known that similar large construction projects were undertaken in other parts of the empire in conjunction with the Emperor’s visits

LOcation of Roman fort c122AD

LOcation of Roman fort c122AD

Plan of Roman fort c122AD

Plan of Roman fort c122AD

Unlike most Roman forts it was unlikely that the main aim was of a defensive nature and the fort was probably used to house men on secondment from other units who were serving as the Governors personal guard or on other administrative or construction duties in the Londinium area. It seems to have had a lot of storage space and so may also have acted as a warehouse before supplies were shipped to units in other parts of the country.

Its walls were 4.5m high and 1.2m wide and each wall was approx 200m long. The area of the fort was approx 12 acres. It is estimated that it could house approx 1000 men and it is likely that these were made up of both infantry and cavalry.It had four gatehouses, to the west and the north leading out of the city and to the south and the east giving access to the city area.

The forts life was short-lived however and when the new city wall was built in 200AD, the west and north walls of the old fort were widened and incorporated into it. Within 20 years the fort had been decommissioned and the eastern and southern walls demolished.

Incorporation of fort into Roman City walls c200AD

Incorporation of fort into Roman City walls c200AD

Artists impression of Fort c200AD

Artists impression of Fort c200AD

The only remaining part of the Roman fort is part of the western gatehouse which is now preserved in a room under a new road. It was found in 1956 when the new road was being built and is accessible twice a month on a guided tour from the Museum of London, which is adjacent to the site. For details see http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/london-wall/whats-on/events-calendar/?etype=Tours

Artists drawing of the Western gatehouse showing current remains of gatehouse

Artists drawing of the Western gatehouse showing current remains of gatehouse

Model of possible appearance of Western Gatehouse

Model of possible appearance of Western Gatehouse

Guardroom in Western Gatehouse

Guardroom in Western Gatehouse

Remains of guardroom of Western Gateway

Remains of guardroom of Western Gatehouse

Bases of central pillars of gatehouse

Bases of central pillars of Gatehouse

This is the title of an exhibition currently running at the Museum of London on Sherlock Holmes.

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Entering into the exhibition area trough a book case you are immersed into the world of Sherlock Holmes and his creator Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle. Included in the exhibition are Conan-Doyle’s original notebooks along with Sydney Paget illustrations together with a copy of the first Sherlock Holmes story to be published.

One of Conan-Doyle's original notebooks

One of Conan-Doyle’s original notebooks

Sydeny Paget illustration

Sydeny Paget illustration

A copy of the first Sherlock Holmes story to be published in 1887

A copy of the first Sherlock Holmes story to be published in 1887

There is also a section on the portrayals of Holmes on TV and Film with screens showing clips from the productions so you can compare the different actors and make you choice. Who is your favourite Holmes?

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The last section which you enter through the famous door to 221B Baker St is on articles that are associated with Holmes and his detective techniques.

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Deer-stalker hat - never mentioned in the books but shown in Paget's illustrations

Deer-stalker hat – never mentioned in the books but shown in Paget’s illustrations

Violin liked the one used by Holmes to relax and help concentration.

Violin liked the one used by Holmes to relax and help concentration.

The exhibition ends with The Richenbach Falls, a painting by JMW Turner where Holmes and Moriarty fell to their death. Did Conan-Doyle always intend to bring him back or did he really mean to kill off his hero? As we know Holmes survived and returned to London to continue his work.

Richenbach Falls by JMW Turner

Richenbach Falls by JMW Turner

An excellent exhibition which is well worth seeing.

The Cheapside hoard is a collection of around 400 pieces of jewellery dating from the 16th and 17th centuries. It gets it’s name from the fact that it was discovered by builders excavating a cellar in Cheapside, London in 1912. The quality and variety of the items within the hoard demonstrates the international jewellery trade from all around the world At the time.

A new exhibition of the hoard opened this week at the Museum of London and can be seen until April 2014. When I get to see it, I will publish my comments and pictures on this blog. But in the meantime, here are some preview videos and a link to the exhibition page at the Museum of London website.

http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/london-wall/whats-on/exhibitions-displays/cheapside-hoard-londons-lost-jewels/