Bits and Pieces
For anyone interested in Tower Bridge, Amazing old photographs of its construction follow this link and be surprised.

Dragons or Griffins ?
Some people say that the legendry beasts that guard the City's Boundaries are more amiable Griffins. However, according to experts Griffins have the claws and wings of an Eagle and the Hind legs of a Lion. Ours it seems are therefore definitely Dragons.

City Dragon

The original dragons that support the City of London corporations bearings first made their appearence in 1609. The recent addditions guarding the various entrances to the City are quite Modern. The first was cast in bronze to surmount the Temple Bar Memorial at the top of Fleet Street. By the end of 1964 it had been joined by Dragons at Holborn. Farringdon Street, Moorgate, Bishopsgate, Aldgate High Street, Blackfriars Bridge and London Bridge.

Doggett's Coat and Badge
The oldest skulling race in the world. Held every year, first race 1715.  Thomas Doggett offered a prize for the fastest apprentice oarsman, London Bridge to Chelsea Bridge The winner receiving his "coat and badge".

Billingsgate Fish Market

Why is it called Billingsgate ?
"Lost in the mists of antiquity" - even Stowe had no idea - thus it must be very old indeed. It was first referred to in 870A.D. when Ethelred made custome regulations for ships on Blynesgate. By the 1370's the name had settled down to Billingsgate.

Its History
Its first Charter was granted in 1297 (Edward I). Under Edward III The City was granted Market rights, with it being prohibited to set up markets within a 6.66 mile radius of The City.. In 1699 the Market became exclusively identified with the fish trade. An Act of Parliament was passed making it "a free and open market for all sorts fish whatsover. (Excluding the sale of eels whuch remained the prerogative of Dutch fishermen. (They had helped provide food to Londoners during the Great Fire  - 1666.  

Its Buildings


There were no buildings until the Mid 1800's, when the advent of the raiways and  huge volumes of fish arriving every day, necessitated the building of same. The first Building (1850) was totally replaced by the Old Market in Lower Thames Street (1876). Designed by Sir Horace Jones and built by John Molem. The foundations are underpinned to a depth of 50 feet to counter tidal movement. The Market moved to Docklands in 1982.

"Shoring" - bringing of goods into the market, this work, called "barrowing" is done by Porters who are pad fixed rates of pay (bobbin money)
With thanks to the City of London Corporation

Bells of City Churches
Almost all of the City of London Church Bells were rung as the Queen passed various parts of the City during her Jubilee Pagent - June 3rd 2012. Leading the procession was a specially designed boat carrying one set of new bells - a peal of 12, cast by Whitechapel Bell Foundry (we visited them in 2011) for St Dunstan in the West. (Fleet Street)

"Oranges and Lemons, say the Bells of St Clement's, You owe me five farthings say the Bells of St Martin's, When will you pay me says the Bells of Old Bailey, When I grow rich says the Bells of Shoreditch, when will that be says the great Bell at Stepney, I do not know says the great Bell of Bow (Cheapside)"

Did you know that it was the  Bells of St Mary le Bow (as above) that Richard Whittington is meant to have heard when travelling up Highgate Hill in 1397 - calling out "turn again Whittington - Lord Mayor of London". He was Lord Mayor three times. The peel of 12 bells each has an inscrption from the Psalms on them, the first letter of each spells out D Whittington

Leadenhall Market
Its current claim to fame is being used for various scenes in Harry Potter films (area around The Leaky Cauldron and Dragon Alley)
It was the sight of the Forum in Roman Britain - the largest of its size at the time in Northern Europe. It became the meeting place for Poulters sin the 14thC shortly followed by Cheesemongers. In 1411 it was bought by The Lord Mayor of London, "Dick Whittington". The current version was designed by Horace Jones in 1881 - he also designed, Spittalfield and Billingsgate markets.

Leadenhall Market - some more information

Leadenhall Market dates back to the 14th century and is situated in what was the centre of Roman London. Originally a meat, poultry and game market, it now features a variety of vendors as well as commercial shops, restaurants, cafés and pubs.

In the early 1300s the Manor of Leadenhall is listed as belonging to Sir Hugh Neville. Within a few years the area around the manor became a popular meeting place first for poulterers, and -then cheese-mongers. In 1411 Lord Mayor Richard 'Dick' Whittington gifted Leadenhall to the City and in 1440 Lord Mayor Simon Eyre replaced the manor hall with a public granary, school and chapel and donated it to the citizens of London.

The market was enlarged to provide a site for selling poultry, grain, eggs, butter, cheese, herbs and other foodstuffs. Over the next 200 years Leadenhall Market became a centre of commerce and further markets were added for wool, leather and cutlery. In 1666 Leadenhall Market suffered only a small amount of damage in the Great Fire. Rebuilding after the Fire, the market became a covered structure and was divided into the Beef Market, the Green Yard and the Herb Market.

In 1881 the City's architect Sir Horace Jones, who was also the architect of Billingsgate and Smithfield Markets, redesigned Leadenhall. His designs replaced the earlier stone structure with wrought iron and glass and was relatively unscathed during the Second World War.

The Poultry Market remained at Leadenhall until well after WW2, when most of the shop units were let for the sale of meat, fish or provisions. In the succeeding years the shops were also being used for general retailing and leisure.

In 1972 the Market was given Grade II heritage listed status.  

It is hard to imagine the noise and smells of a 19th century market when you look at the beautifully clean and vibrant Victorian building of today. Even into the early 1970’s it was still mainly a Fish and Meat Market, plus such things as a Pet Shop selling fresh food for Dogs and Cats, News Agents, Tobacconists, a small Mini Mart!  

As of 2019, the three Public Houses, The Lamb, The New Moon and the Grapes have survived although the Ship on the opposite side of Lime Street has been converted into a fast food restaurant. Today there are many new cafés and restaurants including the one constructed from a  former underground gentlemen’s lavatory! Giorgio.

As well as the connection to Dick Whittington, Leadenhall Market has played host to a few other famous names.  During the 18th century 'Old Tom' was a celebrated character in Leadenhall. He was a gander who managed to escape his fate of being slaughtered along with 34,000 other geese. He became a great favourite in the Market, even being fed at the local inns. After his death in 1835 at the age of 38, he lay in state in the Market and was buried on site.

Part of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (the first film in the blockbuster series) was filmed in Leadenhall in 2000/2001. The Market was used to represent the area of London leading to the popular wizarding pub The Leaky Cauldron and magical shopping street Diagon Alley. Leadenhall Market is a popular choice as a filming location and can be seen in many other movies including: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, SpyThe Imaginarium of Doctor ParnassusHearafter; and Love Aaj Kal. The pop group Erasure also filmed their music video for Love to Hate You in the market in 1991.

Gin at the end of Dinner ? 
Traditionally I believe at the end of formal Dinners with The Clothworkers Company - guests have a choice of Brandy or Gin - with the question "Do you dine with The Alderman (Brandy) or Lady Cooper (Gin) ? 
Why ? 
Tradition says that Alderman Cooper in 1664 collapsed and was given brandy to help resuscitate him - he died. His wife complained that if he had been given his normal "tipple" - Gin - He would have recovered. 

Livery and Titles
The 24 Ward Clubs have different names for their annual or biennially elected "Senior Person", Master, President... but how about Livery Companies? 
The majority have a Master, The Weavers'have an Upper Baliff and the Baskert Makers', Blacksmiths', Dyers', Fishmongers', Goldsmiths', Shipwrights' and Sadlers use the title of Prime Warden.