Standing along Bishopsgate Churchyard among towering modern office buildings, this unusual and decorative building was once a Turkish Bath built in 1895 by Nevill’s Turkish Baths Limited. The ornate building served as the entrance to the actual baths that were located underground. The bather (gentlemen only) would enter and continue down a winding staircase where he would buy his ticket and enter the cooling-room which was decorated in the style of the Alhambra in Spain. From the cooling-room, the bather would enter one of three hot-rooms, each decorated with marble mosaic floors, tiled walls and ceilings, and stained-glass windows. The adjacent rooms included a ‘shampooing-room’ and a cold plunge pool. The baths closed in 1954, and the building was used as storage until converting into a restaurant in the 1970s. (www.victorianturkishbath.org)
7-8 Bishopsgate Churchyard, London EC2M 3TJ
Underground: Liverpool Street
Once a haunt of William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens, The George Inn is London’s only remaining galleried coaching inn. The galleries which front the building were once common features found on inns in London, and most other surviving examples were destroyed during World War II. Records of the inn date back to 1542, and the current building dates back to 1676 when the original inn was rebuilt following a devastating fire. The George once had galleries surrounding three sides of the existing courtyard where plays were staged for its customers during the 17th century. Shakespeare would have been a customer of the inn while living in Southwark and working at the nearby Globe Theatre, and Dickens mentions The George in his satirical serial novel ‘Little Dorrit’. Today, the George Inn is owned by the National Trust and serves traditional pub fare and fine ales.
The George Inn
77 Borough High Street, Southwark, London SE1 1NH
Underground: London Bridge
Standing on the site of London’s first coffee house, The Jamaica Wine House can be found tucked away at the end of medieval St. Michael’s Alley in the City of London. The original coffee house that opened in 1652 was named Pasque Rosee’s Head, and it was the first of dozens of coffee houses that would soon be opened in the narrow alleyways around Cornhill. London’s coffee-houses became popular meeting places where people would gather to share news, conduct business, discuss politics, write, create and exchange ideas, and many of London’s great institutions such as Lloyd’s of London and the London Stock Exchange originated in the local coffee-houses. Between 1674 and 1680, the site became the Jamaica Coffee House and those with interests in Jamaica and the British West Indies became the primary clientele. The current red stone building dates back to 1869, and the original 19th century ovens used to roast coffee beans can be found in the cellar bar. Today, The Jamaica Wine House is owned by Shepherd Neame and serves traditional English pub fare.
The Jamaica Wine House
St. Michael’s Alley, London EC3
Underground: Bank and Monument
A bronze cast of one of Auguste Rodin’s most famous and acclaimed sculptures stands prominently in Victoria Tower Gardens with the Houses of Parliament as its back-drop. Rodin’s sculpture, The Burghers of Calais, was created to commemorate the siege of the French coastal town of Calais in 1347 during the Hundred-Years War with England. It represents the six distinguished citizens of Calais who volunteered to be taken into captivity by King Edward III in order to spare their city from extermination. Rodin’s emotional sculpture portrays the men as they came forward prepared to die, bareheaded and barefooted with nooses around their necks, carrying the keys to the city. The Burghers of Calais were eventually spared execution by the King’s pregnant and sympathetic Queen. Rodin won the commission for the monument by the town of Calais in January 1885, and the original sculpture was installed ten years later in 1895. Apparently, under French law, no more than twelve casts of Rodin’s memorial were permitted and the London sculpture was cast in 1908.
The Burghers of Calais, by Auguste Rodin (1840 – 1917)
Victoria Tower Gardens, London