10 Places Where You Can See London’s Old Buildings Todayadmin
Old London is not that hard to find if you know where to look.
Amongst the modern glass skyscrapers and buildings, there are signs of the past and some of the city’s most important monuments still standing strong. Here are ten examples of where you can see London’s old buildings today.
1 City of London Churches
The original heart of London is the area now centring on the financial district, with modern glass skyscrapers one every corner. Yet look a little closer and you’ll see many spires of historic churches still standing – some still active, and others ghostly remnants of where the rest of the building once stood, either because of demolition or war damage. Many of these churches in their current form were designed by Christopher Wren.
2 Buckingham Palace
Although not the oldest of London’s royal palaces, this is certainly a historic location which has been home to Britain’s two longest serving monarchs – Queen Victoria, and Queen Elizabeth II. The former Buckigham House was originally much smaller, with two iterations of the East Wing being built since the Victorian period. Today’s example is where the famous balcony can be seen at the end of The Mall.
3 The Roman Wall
The wall surrounding the City of London was built by the Romans to protect the city around 190-220AD. Many fragments of it still exist, with the best place to see it at the Barbican, and the Museum of London where you can learn more about its history.
4 Government Buildings of Whitehall
Little remains of the Palace of Whitehall, which is where King Henry VIII lived and ruled from for much of his time in London.
It used to lie along the road known as Whitehall today, opposite Downing Street and only metres from Westminster Palace, Abbey and Big Ben.
The only parts to remain today are the Great Gate and the Banqueting House, which you can visit.
5 The Tower of London
One of London’s best-known landmarks is the fortress of the Tower of London, once feared as a place of imprisonment and torture, as well as a line of defence for the city. It was built following the arrival of William the Conqueror.
The church of All Hallows by the Tower actually predates the castle, built in 675AD, making this area one of the most historic in London.
6 Around Westminster
The Palace of Westminster is the seat of power for the UK government. However, Westminster Hall is the oldest part of the complex, built in 1097, and used for a variety of official purposes over the years.
Neaby, Westminster Abbey was built originally as a monastery, and later a royal burial ground. The present structure dates from 1517, but the Pyx Chapel dates from 1066, with many medieval features still in place.
7 Along the River Thames
Many of the bridges across the Thames are on the site of much older structures. London Bridge is actually the third on the site. There’s also Cleopatra’s Needle from 1460 BC, transported from Egypt and erected on the Victoria Embankment in 1877. However, at low tide near the MI6 building you’re going to see London’s oldest surviving structures – the Thames timbers dating from 4,000-5,000 BC. The purpose of the structure is unknown, but it’s older than anything else in the city.
8 The Guildhall and its Roman Secret
The Grade-I listed Guildhall on Gresham Street is an iconic London building in its own right, and a home to many civic functions and an art gallery. However, dig deeper and discover one of London’s oldest buildings hidden in the basement.
The Roman amphitheatre discovered in 1985 were of the former place of entertainment and barbaric acts, which was built in 43AD. It could hold 7,000 people who came to watch the spectacle involving criminals, gladiators and animals.
9 Lambeth and its Palace
The official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury on the south bank of the Thames is part of a complex of historic buildings in London. Aside from the palace, with its Lollard’s Tower from 1495, there’s also the former parish church of St. Mary-at-Lambeth. The tower of this church dates from 1377 and some of the earliest archbishops are buried here.
10 The Queen’s House
One of the oldest structures in Greenwich, the Queen’s House is a former royal residence built from 1616 for King James I’s wife, Anne of Denmark. This building, which is part of the National Maritime Museum today, is a scheduled ancient monument and loved for its classical architectural style (as well as a few resident ghosts!).
London As It Was
Find out more and see hundreds of pictures of old London in our book, London As It Was – A Picture Postcard View by Araf Chohan.