shewhomust (shewhomust) wrote,

Old Street to Bank

And in the spirit of my previous post, a virtual walk through a wintry London, which has been sitting here unfinished for - ooh, for too long: when I wrote a catch-up post about our pre-Christmas visit to London, I said that our Tuesday lunch date with [personal profile] durham_rambler's niece and her husband had been a day out in London which deserved its own post, and illustrations. That was before Christmas (just) and here we are nearly Easter - time to get on with it!

Niece was working from home that day, and quite flexible about place and time, so we made a date for a trendy bike-themed café on Old Street, near enough to Husband's place of work that he could join us. Ignoring Niece's advice that since it was on Old Street, what we needed was Old Street tube, we found a bus that made its leisurely way very nearly door to door, and this is where we alighted:

Street art to order

I'd never thought about all that mural work being a specialist trade, though it's obvious when you think about it that there must be a business that paints all the commercial hoardings, and here it is.

A bit more detail, because I particularly liked this one:

Singing in the Rain

Round the corner was the Hat & Feathers pub:


but that's not where we're going - so we headed off to our lunch date, and made pleasant conversation as best we could (it was quite busy and quite loud) and ate hummus and drank interesting beer. Too soon, the younger generation had to return to work; [personal profile] durham_rambler and I had booked a visit to the London Mithraeum, and since we are persons of leisure, decided to walk there.

This was the signal for the rain to start, not heavy, but enough to put a chill in the air and take the last brightness out of the sky. Which made it all the more impressive when, on the very threshhold of the Barbican, this building reared up like a cliff in front of us, glowing in the dusk:

! Golden Lane

Once upon a time, according to the panel on one side, this was the Cripplegate Free Library. Now it is 1 Golden Lane, commercial property to let. I don't know whether that address is another of those pieces of history that London keeps throwing at you, or a piece of marketing, an incentive to rent offices there, just for the address. The photo diesn't do it justice.

From here we plunged into the 1960s labyrinth of the Barbican, all staircases and walkways and roof gardens and glimpses of Londin's wall, and wait, is that the Guildhall School of Music? How did that get here? It finally spat us out right by the Guildhall itself, and that's somewhere I'd like to visit, but another time, because today we hyave timed tickets for the Mithraeum. Nearly there, and we're almost out of historic buildings, the office blocks looming ahead of us:

A wet December dusk

But that's all right, what we are heading for is a big anonymous plate-glass office block. Even so, I was taken aback when the door opened not on a reception desk, but on a brilliantly lit cavernous space dotted with golden giants:


A Mithraic temple in the basement isn't enough for Bloomberg's, they also dedicate their ground floor to temporary ast installations, and at the time of our visit it was 'Human Activity' by Daniel Silver. I found the size and the brightness and all that gold quite overpowering, but the attendants greeted us warmly, found us on their list, gave us fancy booklets which explained how they have organised the display (I seem to have mislaid filed mine away carefully, but no doubt it will turn up) and left us to look round.

Beyond the giants is the real evidence of human activity:

Human activities

a panel displaying some of the finds from the excavation - knives, bells, lamps, broken bottles, broken pottery, writing tablets, a tiny brass bull, all the usual delights. When we'd had enough of this we took the lift down to a waiting area, and in due course we - and the other, maybe a dozen, people waiting - were ushered down a ramp into the Mithraeum itself, for a dramatic immersive sound and light show, which I couldn't really follow. No matter, you can't go wrong with a Mithraeum:

In the Mithraeum

Although it was a light-and-sound sequence, no-one tried to hurry us out when it came to an end, and the lights came on, and we were able to walk around and work out what we'd been seeing: the temple seems more elaborately constructed than the one at Carrawburgh.

Even this isn't quite the end of the excursion. We asked the attendants the way to the nearest underground station, and they were very polite about pointing out that it is literally next door: turn hard right as you leave the building, and you find yourself in the entrance to Bank station. I always had a low opinion of Bank - it's the station where you avoid changing lines, because it's all tangled up with Monument, and you end up walking miles between the two. But this is the new Walbrook entrance, revamped during the redevelopment, to create a hall on an intermediate level between the entrance and the trains, for the display of the Hutton panels, engraved panels designed by artist John Hutton for the offices which previously stood next door:


A visit with some good overall views and information about the restoration.

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
Tags: london

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