Shifting Sites: 10 Relocated London Landmarks
Not everything is as it seems in London. Pubs “Est. 15thC” were entirely rebuilt in the 1950s, an ornate Medieval-style building most likely dates from 1890 and quite often a huge part of a stone building has been entirely moved from one location to another!
Here are 10 relocated London landmarks. The pick of the most interesting buildings, monuments and decoration that have been on extraordinary travels across the city and beyond.
1. The London Bridge Alcoves
Probably the most famous of all London’s ‘moving’ structures is London Bridge.
There have been many different London Bridges, all crossing the Thames at roughly the same location since the Roman period.
The most spectacular was Old London Bridge. Finished 1209 and lasting until the 1830s.
With houses, shops and even a chapel built on top of the arches, you can see a wonderful model of the Medieval bridge in the church of St Magnus the Martyr (I wrote a blog all about it here.)
Between 1757 and 1761 the buildings on the bridge were demolished. It was widened and improved for pedestrians by the inclusion of stone alcoves with benches dotted along its length.
The watercolour below from 1832 by Thomas Shotter Boys records the last few months of Old London Bridge before demolition. You can clearly see one of the stone alcoves which I’ve circled in blue. John Rennie’s new London Bridge had opened in 1831 and its stone steps can be seen on the left.
Incredibly, four of the stone alcoves survive!
Two can be found in Victoria Park.
One is within the old Guy’s Hospital buildings a short walk from the new London Bridge.
And the fourth is within the Courtlands housing estate in North Sheen!
2. Temple Bar
Standing literally in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral, Temple Bar was also designed by Christopher Wren and was finished in 1671.
It previously stood on the western entrance into the City of London on Fleet Street right outside the Royal Courts of Justice.
The site is now occupied by the Temple Bar Memorial which has plenty of fascinating details you can read about here.
By 1878 the original Temple Bar was considered too much of a traffic bottle neck and over just 11 days was dismantled stone by stone and moved to Theobalds Park.
It returned to the City of London in 2004 and now stands at the entrance into Paternoster Square. You can read more about its incredible history here.
3. Crosby Hall
On Cheyne Walk, you might have to double take as you spot what appears to be a Tudor Riverside Palace.
Although much-altered as the private home of Dr Christopher Moran, the great hall at its centre is an authentic Medieval survivor that was transported from the City of London to Chelsea in 1910 then rebuilt under the direction of Walter Godfrey.
You can admire the hall (built in 1466!) and the rest of the house from the blog when I was invited on a special personal tour by Dr Moran himself.
4. St Antholin’s Steeple
One of the strangest juxtapositions you can stumble across in South London is this church steeple by Christopher Wren a short was from Forest Hill Station.
The Church of St Antholin used to stand on the site of today’s Bloomberg HQ on Queen Victoria Street. It was rebuilt after the Great Fire by Christopher Wren but was demolished in the 19th century.
A churchwarden, Robert Harrild, who felt attached to the beautiful stone steeple paid £5 to move it to his garden in Sydenham.
He lived in Round Hill House which itself was demolished in the 1960s and replaced with a housing estate. Luckily they kept the steeple!
Read more about the history of St Antholin and the steeple here.
5. The Tower of All Hallows, Lombard Street
If you haven’t already gathered by now, quite a few things have been moved from the crowded City of London and churches seem to always be in the demolition firing line.
All Hallows, Lombard Street was first recorded 1054 and rebuilt several times. It was destroyed in the Great Fire and rebuilt by Christopher Wren in 1694.
In 1937 the church was deemed unsafe and the tower and the majority of all the interior furnishings were moved to Twickenham.
Today the tower is a huge landmark along Chertsey Road, a short distance from Twickenham Stadium.
The interior details are staggering and it deserves a full blog which I’ll share soon!
6. Paul Pindar’s House
This is probably my favourite exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington.
It’s a ghostly former facade of a City merchant’s house built in 1599. Known as Paul Pindar’s house it stood on the site of Liverpool Street Station before it was replaced by said station.
Paul Pindar’s house later became a pub and there’s an incredible photo from the mid to late 19th century.
Thankfully the outer wooden skin was saved and you can see it on display for free in the V&A’s Medieval and Renaissance galleries.
7. The Seven Dials Pillar
Seven Dials is north of Covent Garden and was laid out in 1693. It gets its name because it’s a cluster of seven streets bursting from a central point.
At the centre from the very beginning was an impressive stone pillar. There’s a drawing in the British Museum that shows the original design by Edward Pierce.
In 1773 the pillar was removed by the paving commissioners (supposedly because they were scandalised by “undesirables” gathering at its base). It was bought by James Paine for his house in Addlestone, Surrey but by 1820 the majority of the pieces were reassembled and erected on Weybridge Green as a memorial Frederica, Duchess of York (1767-1820).
It’s still there today so the one in the centre of Seven Dials today is a replica built in the 1980s and an exact copy of the original. For more fun facts and hidden history around Covent Garden you can join my walking tour, Sinful Seven Dials.
8. Marble Arch
Sometimes a new arrival fits in so well with its surroundings you can believe it’s always been there. This is especially true when it lends its name to the whole area.
Marble Arch is a case in point because the stone triumphal arch built in 1827 by John Nash wasn’t always on the westernmost edge of Oxford Street.
It was originally outside Buckingham Palace, as seen in the below engraving from 1837.
In 1847 (to make space for a new facade being built in front of the Palace) the Marble Arch was transported to its new location where it can be admired today.
9. The Embankment Dragons
The penultimate moving landmark comes as a pair. These silver dragons are symbols of the City of London, signifying you are crossing into the City once you pass them on the Embankment.
They are two of many little silver dragons marking the City’s boundaries but these are unique for their size and provenance.
The used to stand on the Coal Exchange and you can see them in situ in this picture below, either side of the base of the circular turret.
10. St Olave’s Tooley Street Steeple
St Olave’s church used to stand on Tooley Street, dedicated to the 11th Century Norwegian King.
In 1734 a replacement church was designed by Henry Flitcroft then patched up again in 1843 after a fire. In 1928 it was demolished and a section of the turret was converted into a drinking fountain.
Today it can be found in Tanner Street Park, Bermondsey and you can read more about its history here.
I hope you enjoyed this list of my favourite of London’s relocated landmarks. There’s countless other examples but some honourable mentions include the Church of St Mary Aldermanbury (now in Missouri, USA), The remains of Crystal Palace, this historic room within Lloyds of London, the Wellington Clock Tower (now in Swanage) and of course, John Rennie’s London Bridge which is now in Arizona, USA.
Any more that I’ve missed?!
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