The London Wall was originally built by the Romans in the late 2nd century in order to defend the city of Londinium against attackers. It fell into disrepair during the Saxon period but was rebuilt and refortified during the middle ages. The gates were later maintained for the purpose of levying taxes on goods coming into the city and the wall was only fully demolished in the 18th century. Many parts of the wall were incorporated into new buildings over the years. The wall ran a C-shaped course around the city starting in the west at Blackfriars and ending at the Tower.
The pub The Black Friar, on the corner of Queen Victoria Street and New Bridge Street, was redesigned to its present look around 1905 by H. Fuller Clark in a combination of Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts.
Blackfriars Station is just across the road. Originally, the train station was opened under the name St Pauls in 1886. It was renamed in 1937 and rebuilt in the 1970s.
At Ludgate, we find the church of St. Martin within Ludgate. The present structure was built by Christopher Wren during the reconstruction of the city after 1666. A plaque at the entrance explains that the first church here was built some 1300 years ago by a King Cadwal, whose crypt is supposed to be somewhere under the church. There is also a plaque next to the church marking the former site of Ludgate, one of the ancient gates to the city.
St Paul's Cathedral can be seen from the site of Ludgate and was rebuilt after the fire of 1666 by Christopher Wren. It's west front mixes a somewhat sober classicism with baroque elements. The previous gothic structure was also a very large building, with a spire reaching a height of 149 metres. The cathedral lost the spire in a lightening strike in 1561 and was never rebuilt, while the exterior was redesigned by Inigo Jones in the first half of the 17th century. The portico added to the facade by Jones probably influenced Wren in his design.
The name Newgate is mainly associated with a prison. The first was built in 1188, subsequently enlarged, and then rebuilt after the fire of 1666. Work on a new prison was started in 1770 to a design by George Dance the Younger. Construction was disrupted by riots in 1780 but the building was completed two years later. It was demolished in 1904 to make space for the Central Criminal Courts, known as Old Bailey.
The Old Bailey was designed by Edward William Mountford and completed in 1907. The Lady Justice on top of the dome was executed by the sculptor Frederick William Pomeroy.
Across the street: 16 Old Bailey (Britannia House) was built as offices for the London, Chatham and Dover Railway in 1912 to designs by Arthur Usher. 15 Old Bailey was built in 1874 as the Imperial Hotel by architect Evans Cronk.
Just nearby, we find this church, St. Sepulchre without (as opposed to within) Newgate. It was originally a Saxon church dedicated to St. Edmund. The church became known as St. Edmund and the Holy Sepulchre during the years 1103 to 1173, when it was in the care of Augustinian canons, who were knights of the Holy Sepulchre. Later, the name became abbreviated to “St Sepulchre”. Rebuilt and much enlarged in 1450, the wall, tower and porch has survived from that period. Badly damaged in the Great Fire of 1666, the interior was restored in 1670 and has been much altered since.
There is no way to trace the wall exactly here, so we we wander down Newgate Street and turn at St, Martins Le-Grand towards Aldersgate. Just off Newgate street we find the Cutlers Hall, originally built as the Royal College of Physicians in 1888 by architect T. Tayler Smith. The terracotta frieze was executed by sculptor Benjamin Creswick.
Located nearby is the ruin of Christchurch Greyfriars. It was destroyed in the blitz and the nave was converted into a park. A plaque nearby explains that a Franciscan priory called Greyfriars used to exist around here until it was swept away by the reformation. The medieval church was destroyed in 1666 and replaced with a new design by Christopher Wren.
At the corner of St Martin's Le-Grand and Gresham Street: the modern building in the back (25 Gresham Street) was built in 2002 by Nicholas Grimshaw and partners.
The church at Aldersgate, St Botolph without Aldersgate: A church has stood on this site for almost one thousand years. The church survived the fire of 1666 but was demolished because it had become unsafe to use. The present building dates to 1788-91 and was designed by Nathaniel Wright.
At Noble Street, there are various remnants of a Roman fort. One London Wall was designed by Fosters and Partners and was completed in 2003. The building incorporates Plaisterers' Hall, which was opened in 1972 and was based on a design by the 18th century architect Robert Adam.
The church in the background is St. Anne and St. Agnes from 1680 by Christopher Wren, possibly with assistance from Robert Hooke. The first reference to a church on this site is from 1137, under the name of St Agnes near Alderychgate. Wren's church was mostly destroyed in the blitz but subsequently rebuilt.
Some more wall remnants and a guy sleeping. 88 Wood Street (left) was designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and was built in 1993-2001.
The Barbican estate was built in the 1960s and 1970s by architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon. The word Barbican is derived from the Latin Barbecana, meaning fortified outpost or gateway.
Within the estate we also find this church, St. Giles without Cripplegate. A church has stood on this site since Saxon times. The present church, which dates from 1090 was extended in 1340, and restored after fires in 1545 and 1897, and again after bombing in 1940. St Giles, by a strange coincidence, is a saint for cripples, although Cripplegate supposedly has no reference to cripples.
Moorgate was added to the list of gates in medieval times. It has no church but there is a square with three Georgian terraces from the early 19th-century. The stuccoed fronts are from the 1870s. Moorhouse was designed by Norman Foster and was completed in 2004.
The construction of the new Broadgate tower can be seen towards the north. The tower was designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill.
St Botolph without Bishopsgate is the church at the next gate. The church survived the fire of 1666 but fell into disrepair. The present church was first consecrated in 1728 according to a design by George Dance the elder. It suffered severe structural damage after the IRA terrorist bombings in 1992 and 1993. The highrise in the background is 99 Bishopsgate, reclad as result of bomb damage. It was originally built in 1976.
A small church, St Ethelburga, Bishopsgate, has survived amidst 19th and 20th century commercial development. It was severely damaged by the IRA attack but the facade was kept and restored.
At Bevis Marks, between Bishopsgate and Aldgate, is the oldest synagogue in England, still in use.
Last gate on our tour is Aldgate. The church here is also dedicated to St. Botolph, and is called St Botolph without Aldgate. It also survived the Great Fire but fell into disrepair and had to be rebuilt, which was done to designs by George Dance the elder.
From Aldgate, a series of small streets take us down to the end of the walk at Tower hill. The ones to follow are Jewry Street, Vine Street, Crosswall, past Fenchurch Street Station, and finally Cooper's Row.
The most substantial wall remnant is at Tower hill, next to the Tower of London. There stands a replica of a Roman statue, thought to represent Emperor Trajan. You will also find here a replica of a tombstone that was found embedded in the wall, dedicated to Julius Classicianus, a Roman Provincial procurator, basically a financial administrator.
The plaque on this site reads:
This impressive section of the wall still stands to a height of 10,6m. the Roman work survives to the level of the sentry walk, 4,4m high, with medieval stonework above. The wall was constructed with coursed blocks of ragstone with sandwiched rubble and mortar core. Layers of flat red tiles were used at intervals to give extra strength and stability. Complete with its battlements the Roman Wall would have been about 6,3 meters high. Outside the wall was a defensive ditch.
To the north is one of the towers added to the outside of the wall in the 4th century. In the mediavel period the defences were repaired and heightened. The stonework was more irregular with a sentry walk only 0,9m wide. To the west was the site of the Tower Hill scaffold where many famous prisoners were publicly beheaded, the last in 1747.
Tower bridge was completed in 1894 to a design by George D. Stevenson, altering the winning proposal by Horace Jones from ten years prior. Jones' project was meant to be clad in brick and would have been less ornate. The idea of a bascule bridge with two towers built on piers came from Jones' engineer, John Wolfe Barry.
Tower of London, begun by William the Conqueror. The keep known as the white tower was completed circa 1097, while the curtain walls of the inner and outer ward were added under the reigns of Richard the Lionheart at the end of the 12th century and Henry III and Richard I in the 13th century. The expansions brought the footprint of the castle east of the Roman wall, which had originally been incorporated as part of the construction.