Friday, October 4, 2013

London Layers

I haven't posted any medieval content here for a while, nor have I ever written about my trip to London--so I'm using this post to do both. I've long been fascinated by London, and I finally had the chance to visit (for a conference and sight-seeing) in July. I'm no less fascinated, and my wonder of the city is even more now.

While there, my wife and I had several conversations about how much of a remix-mashup the city is: its earliest bits coming from the Romans, through tot he medieval mercantile hub that it became, into the modern, surviving the Great Fire, with reconstruction and continued growth up to the present.

Layers. Layers of the city are visible everywhere.

There some are pieces--like the Saxon arch in All-Hallows-by-the-Tower (below) and the remains of the earlier Roman building in the basement below, where visitors can still walk--that have been preserved pretty well intact, with more recent (though still medieval) construction around them. Yes, some of the city's treasures are quite well preserved in the many museums, but many are still kept in street corners, in the open, or tucked into churches that have stood against time. There are other bits--like the London Wall, once spanning along the city, now only visible at certain sites--that are crumbling, in need to restoration. And still some sites--like the Tower of London, with its Norman keep and massive fortification built up around it over time--are now regarded as national treasures, teeming with guards and security. Walking along the streets in central London, many of the buildings show the layering quite visibly, as the soot from the Great Fire lines the walls.

The mashup of the city's history is stunning, and a wonder I look forward to beholding again.

So here's a photo-set of just a few of my favorite details.

Sutton Hoo exhibit in the British Museum
The Charterhouse in Charterhouse Square
The Saxon Arch in All-Hallows-by-the-Tower
An Anglo-Saxon stone cross in the basement of All-Hallows-by-the-Tower
A detail from the Tower of London

One site of the crumbling London Wall


Jennifer Lynn Jordan said...

Gorgeous photos! You're right, London is a city of layers. When I was there 8 years ago (yikes) I wandered for hours and marveled. Lovely!

Anonymous said...

Great photos. I am lucky enough to work near some of these places - near London Wall and Charterhouse, loads of history out there!