Lost London – Greenwich’s Romano-Celtic temple…

Although little now remains of it (and none to be seen above ground), a mound in Greenwich Park is thought to have once been the location of a Romano-Celtic temple.

Site of the temple remains in Greenwich Park. PICTURE: Matt Brown (licensed under CC BY 2.0)

Given its site close to Watling Street – the main Roman road linking London and the Kent ports, it’s believed that the temple may have served travellers as well as the local community. The Historic England listing for the ruins, which are a scheduled monument, suggests the temple was in use by 100AD and continued to be used until about 400AD.

The remains, which are now located on the eastern side of Greenwich Park on a site known as Queen Elizabeth’s Bower, was excavated in 1902 after they were stumbled across during works on the park. Three different floor surfaces were revealed, one of which was a tessellated pavement, along with the right arm of an almost life-sized statue, fragments of stone inscriptions and more than 300 coins dating between the 1st and 5th centuries.

A further excavation occurred in the early 1970s and another in 1999 – all of which provided further evidence of a temple.

Finds from the 1999 dig – which was undertaken by TV Channel Four’s ‘Time Team’, Birkbeck University of London and the Museum of London in the creation of a programme broadcast the following year – included part of an inscription to Jupiter and the spirits of the emperors and a stamped tile.

It is thought the temple precinct, known as a temenos, would have included a main temple building known as a cella as well as ancillary buildings and been surrounded by a stone wall.

Treasures of London – The Cordwainer…

The-CordwainerThis bronze sculpture, located in Watling Street in the City of London, commemorates Ward of Cordwainer which in medieval times was home to London’s shoe-making industry.

The term ‘cordwainer’ relates to a shoemaker who makes shoes from new leather and is derived from the fact that shoe-makers used leather – “cordovan” – from the then Moorish town of Cordoba in Spain (in London this trade was controlled by the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers).

The statue, the work of Alma Boyes, was erected in 2002 in celebration of the centenary of the Ward of Cordwainer Club and was a joint initiative of the club and the City Corporation. Initially erected in Bow Churchyard, it was relocated to its present location alongside St Mary Aldermary Church, close to the Queen Victoria Street end of Watling Street, a couple of years later.

London Pub Signs – Ye Olde Watling…

Ye-Olde-WatlingThis pub, located in the City, takes its name from the street upon which it stands – Watling Street.

The street, which is just 180 metres long, bears the same name as a great Roman road which ran all the way from Dover through London to the long gone Roman town of Viroconium (now known as Wroxeter in Shropshire).

The Roman road followed, to some extent, the route of an ancient Celtic pathway. But while the Celtic pathway crossed the Thames at Westminster, the Roman road, once the bridge was constructed, crossed at London Bridge and headed through London, apparently taking in this surviving piece.

The building itself – located on the intersection with Bow Lane – is said to have been constructed from old ship’s timbers by none other than Sir Christopher Wren in 1668. The upstairs rooms were said to have been used as a drawing office during the construction of Wren’s masterpiece, St Paul’s Cathedral. It may have also been used as  pub by the workmen building the cathedral – in fact it’s said to have been the first pub built after the Great Fire of 1666.

The pub is part of the Nicholson group. For more on it, check out www.nicholsonspubs.co.uk/yeoldewatlingwatlingstreetlondon.

PICTURE: Duncan Harris/Wikipedia