City of London Ward Walk - Langbourn Ward

Yesterday, after days of research, I gave my walk around Langbourn.  The ward is small, almost arrow shaped ward, that runs from Bank to Fenchurch Street.    It is basically the land on either side of Lombard Street and the west end of Fenchurch Street, although recent boundary changes mean it is now only on the north side of those streets.

It actually begins as St Mary Woolnoth, the Hawksmoor Church, crosses Lombard Street and the southern border runs west to Billiter Street. The North side runs from Billiter Street, through the lanes and alleys south of Cornhill.

Its a great walk because the alley ways around Change Alley are very charismatic.

The walk began with a look at the Royal Exchange which despite not being in the ward is intrinsic to the story of the ward which is as the centre of London's financial district.

Lombard Street was where the Italian banking community set up after the Jewish Bankers were expelled by Edward 1st.  It was the medieval centre of business until Thomas Gresham built the Royal Exchange.

In the 17th Century the nascent stock and shares industry set up in Change Alley in Jonathan's and Garraway's Coffee House.  Across the road Edward Lloyd set up his Coffee House that became the centre of the Insurance industry. He had a pulpit set up n the centre for announcements.  In the 19th/20th Century banks such as Barclays, Lloyds and the TSB had their HQ's here, as well as the London Metals Exchange and tea and rubber traders, amongst many other.

The first Coffee House in London was founded here at which is now the Jamaica Wine House in 1652. The main investor was a member of the Levant Company one of the early Joint Stock companies.

At St Michael's Alley the walk changes tone as this is the western edge of the Roman Forum, and the road alignments have an important part to play in any discussion of Dark Age London and early christianity in London.   The area is full of Churches, present and past. Along Lombard Street are St Mary Woolnoth, St Nicholas Acon, St Edmund the King and Martyr; All Hallows Gracechurch, St Dionis, St Gabriel Fenchurch. Just out of the ward are St Michaels, and St Peter's.  So it honours 2 ArchAngels, the founder of the Roman Church, the evangelist of the Greece Church, and the Virgin Mary. Is this a coincidence or is it to do with the Forum.  St Michaels and St Peters are on the Basiclica front of the Forum, Saint Dionis, All Hallows and St Edmund, on or near the southern range of the Forum.  Archaeologist suggest a late 10th/11th origin for the road system and churches here. But it seems hard to accept the position of the Churches is purely coincidental.

Lime Street is thought to be named because lime burners were making a living, using the Roman remains to make lime, well into the 12th Century.

Back on Lombard Street we went to Plantation House, a huge development by Arup, HQ to many financial businesses.  Excavations here uncovered a totally unexpected Roman Fort dating to AD63.  Thought to be for reinforcements in the aftermath of the Boudiccan revolt of AD60.  It would have sheltered a Cohort of around 500 troops, and finds suggest Calvary as well as infantry. It went out of use 20 years later.

We then walk back along Lombard Street back to the Tube.  


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