Not so much history for the return trip … we now will note some sites of interest … probably a fair number of taverns!, gruesome tellings, literary connections …
|Brunel standing against|
the launching chains of
the SS Great Eastern
Dickens, along with a great many Londoners, watched in great excitement the launch of the Brunel’s SS Great Eastern from Burrell’s Wharf in the afternoon of 3 November 1857 … he vividly recorded the event: see link below: it’s worth reading for the descriptions!
|Great Eastern before launch|
The launch was on the opposite side of the river on our return trip towards Westminster … there’s a site called the Drunken Dock – with no obvious derivation of the name ‘Drunken Dock’ but possibly because it was a tidal lock … so drowned on the tide, as regular as clockwork …
|Aerial view of the Isle of Dogs|
We’re going round the easterly meander of the Thames leaving the Isle of Dogs behind … to Canary Wharf, formerly the West India Docks, now one of two business and financial centres in London – the other being the City itself.
|The Grapes - at low tide|
The next major pub of interest we come to is “The Grapes” which has stood on the pebbled Limehouse Reach for nearly 500 years. It has a lot of history – best checked out at the pub’s site. Raleigh, Pepys, Dickens … now Sir Ian McKellen and the owner of The Evening Standard, Evgeny Lebedev …
… the last two mentioned have teamed up with The Felix Project, the food waste charity recently launched, … in this instance ‘to re-use your loaf and make beer’ …. they get more ‘waste’ bread than the Project can give away … so are using the surplus to make beer: sold at The Grapes, amongst other outlets …
|Bread Banger - outlet for|
the Felix Project
The history of beer and bread are inextricably linked … as evidenced in a 3,900 year-old Sumerian poem describing the production of beer from barley via bread. So the wastage our modern world ‘allows’ us … utilises that bread waste into various modern ales.
The tavern’s history is long … and has a dubious reputation being situated next to the former Wapping Execution Dock. “Hanging” Judge Jeffreys lived nearby so he could watch … as according to legend, criminals would be tied up to posts at low tide and left to drown when the tide came in – actually three tides … just to make sure?! Not nice - if you want to read more: it is here!
Opposite in Rotherhithe (south side) – the Mayflower lay at anchor before departing on her voyage to the ‘New World’ in July 1620.
|The Mayflower painted by William Halsall in 1882 -|
in Plymouth Harbour
This voyage has become an iconic story in some of the earliest annals of American history … those 102 Pilgrims with crew established a rudimentary form of democracy after their landing in the New England winter.
|The Tower of London and|
We cruise upstream ever westwards past numerous docks, admiring Tower Bridge as we go underneath it, passing the imposing Tower of London – a fortress, a royal residence, an arsenal, more famously a prison … finally the keeper of the Crown Jewels and major tourist attraction.
The Museum ship: HMS Belfast – the last big gun cruiser from World War 11 … which escorted convoys as part of the Arctic Campaign … dwarfs our tour boat as we pass her by …
|Billingsgate Open Air Fish Market|
beginning of 1800s
Old Billingsgate – had been London’s main fish market for over 900 years … it is situated in the City. The new fish market is now within the Canary Wharf development, but outside of the 'City'.
|Top of the Monument|
with viewing platform
Fishmongers’ Hall is the headquarters of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers (founded in 1272), one of the livery companies of the City of London.
Behind these two is “The Monument” designed by Christopher Wren, completed in 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London 1660. The column stands 202 feet (62 m) high – the same distance as from the starting point of the fire in Pudding Lane.
Check photo out for how
the composite of this image
was put together and where
the shots were taken from
Southwark Cathedral – you have to see and spend time in – so I’ll leave that for another day … but completely swamping this part of London is The Shard (shard of glass). It is 1,016 feet (309.6 m) tall … the picture has all the details of how and where from it was taken – worth a read … if you’re interested in photographic technicalities …
Borough Market – a foodie heaven – is just south of Southwark Cathedral … well worth a snack, coffee, dining interlude …
Another tavern – Anchor Tavern – dates back to Tudor times and has associations with both William Shakespeare and Samuel Johnson.
|Borough Market - foodie heaven!|
On the opposite side of the river sits the Livery Hall of the Worshipful Company of Vintners established in 1364 – it has an interesting history … see link at end.
|The 'wobbly bridge' connecting|
South Bank to the north with a vista towards
St Paul's Cathedral
The Vintners face Shakespeare’s Globe on the south bank, along with the house where Christopher Wren, the architect, lived whilst St Paul’s was being built …
… the spread of theatres, taverns, bear-pits and brothels were common in Southwark, free from the restraints of the City regulators … which have a history all of their own.
|Gloomy as you can see ... but the scaffolding|
is just visible as it surrounds the
tower of Big Ben
We now have the Millennium Bridge (often known as the ‘wobbly bridge’) … which allows pedestrians to walk across the river – tying together the Globe, the Bankside Gallery and Tate Modern on the south bank, with a clear view across to St Paul’s Cathedral …
We have passed lots of bridges, other sites of historical interest, new developments that seem to abound in London and on its skyline – and finally one last mention “The London Eye” – the Ferris Wheel – the tallest in Europe – something else I have yet to do …
|Big Ben and its environs|
Big Ben is in dire need of some restoration … actually that’s wrong … the Great Bell as it is correctly known, though affectionately called Big Ben by us all … the tower needs repair and is officially, as of 2012, known as the Elizabeth Tower.
|Big Ben's clock face - the hour hand|
is 9 feet (2.7m) long, the minute
hand is 14 feet (4.3m) long
I guess as I’m talking about Big Ben … I’ll add a few notes – the clock bells will remain silent for four years (except at odd times – New Year’s Eve, and Remembrance Day). Do you know the ring of the 13.7 tonne bell can be heard ten miles away … some distance: I wouldn’t like to work in its close proximity …
|Lamp posts on|
Previously the clock has been stopped, or slowed the passing of time by starlings perching on the minute hand in 1949; by an explosion in 1976; for maintenance in 2007 … but life will go on now as then and when the bells return to ring in 2021 Big Ben will return to normal.
|'Revolving Torsion' kinetic|
sculpture/fountain by Naum Gabo
We walked over Westminster Bridge, walked a little way down the southern embankment noting St Thomas’ Hospital, Florence Nightingale Museum, and in the Gardens overlooking Parliament was Mary Seacole’s Memorial Statue …
|Judge Jeffreys - I've no wish for|
you to summon him!
Well – we have now returned, I expect you’re tired of my ramblings … but sometimes better ‘too much’ than too little ... and anyway guess what – we needed a drink!! Well wine for one and water for t’other (me) … and then our train home – when I could have a slightly stronger drink …
Thanks for being with me along this journey – I will add a couple of posts after our We are the World Blogfest this weekend …. when contributing bloggers spread Love and Peace … please join us – all welcome! Details in this post.
Description of the building of the SS Great Eastern, and Dickens' 'write-up' on its launch ... the expectations of the crowds on the river banks, on little ships, in the water ... including development in this area of the land of promise - do read!
History of The Grapes public house
The Felix Project .... reducing food waste and food poverty ...
The Weird Beard Brew bread bangers ... recycle bread into beer for charitable purposes ....
Origins and Development of The Vintners' Company
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories