London illuminated. PICTURE: Christopher Burns/Unsplash
PICTURE: Gordon Williams/Unsplash
Designed by Rafael Viñoly, this £200 million commercial building at 20 Fenchurch Street was completed in 2014 with its ‘sky garden’ opening on the top levels last year. The nickname of the controversial 37 storey building – which has attracted its fair share of opprobrium for all manner of reasons, not least the way it reflected the sun’s rays and wind onto those below as well as its place in the City’s skyline – comes from its rather distinctive shape. PICTURE: Marcela Andrade/Unsplash.
There’s a couple of alternate theories for the origins of this City of London street’s name.
Running between Gracechurch Street to the west and Aldgate to the east, Fenchurch Street isn’t actually home to Fenchurch Street Station (one of the four Monopoly board stations!) – that’s located in adjoining Fenchurch Place. And for good measure, there’s also a nearby Fenchurch Avenue.
The name apparently relates to a church that once stood here, known as St Gabriel Fenchurch. The fen part of the name is believed to either stand for what may have been nearby ‘fens’ – that is, swampy or marshy ground – related to the now lost Langbourn River once located here or for faenum, a Latin word for hay which may have referred to a nearby haymarket.
The church, which is known to have existed from at least the 14th century and stood between Rood and Mincing Lanes, burnt down in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and was not rebuilt but merged into the parish of St Margaret Pattens (there’s a plaque marking its site in Fenchurch Street opposite Cullum Street – we’ll have a look at the church in more detail in a later Lost London entry).
Landmarks in the street include Lloyd’s Register of Shipping at number 71 (a Grade II-listed building dating from 1901) and the somewhat controversial tower at 20 Fenchurch Street, nicknamed the ‘Walkie Talkie’ building.