Monday, 15 June 2009

the City of courtyards

The old city was a city of courtyards, a very inward looking city. While there was life aplenty in the streets, these squares and courtyards were perhaps where the real life of the city took place. You can still see this way of life in many European towns that maintain their medieval pattern - and a few survivors in the City of London itself - private little courtyards in the shadows of the mega corporations.

Many of the finest of these courtyards belong to the Livery companies - the fine facade above is in the courtyard of the company of Apothecaries.

Off Old Jewry there is Fredericks court, a wonderful surviving example of a Georgian city courtyard. And further along Old Jewry (The old Jewish quarter - hence the name) I could see another pleasant looking courtyard, this one unfortunately blocked by a gate and a blue platform machine. Unfortunately this is the case for a good few of the surviving courtyards - whether they are owned by Livery companies, inns of court of banking companies, they are not open to the public.

There is another little courtyard off Cornhill that is usually gated off - white Lion court. Once though it was open, and i had a bit of a look inside. I alwalys feel sad though that these houses, with histories of centuries, are now dead brokering houses. Maybe one day they will be resurrected...

Monday, 1 June 2009

Cheapside - the city's oldest, and newest market

The plans for Cheapside are some of the most interesting in the City, and an area I will return to again and again I imagine. The Corporation are driving this area as a centre for retail, and, for what I can see the first time, supporting it as a weekend destination. Of course, originally it was the City's oldest and largest market, and a thriving shopping area up to the second world war, when it was largely destroyed and the shops moved out permanently to the West End. After the War it was rebuilt as a pretty grim office street. Its still fairly grim, architecturally wise, but could once again be a shopping area. This should all be going ahead over the next year or two, and I will be keeping a close eye on it.

A couple of interesting websites -

Cheapside Area strategy

Interesting PDF booklet, showing what they plan for the Cheapside area. The Cultural Programme seems particularly interesting.

in cheapside - seems to be aimed at almost at retailers, trying to get them to sign up to their Cheapside inititative.

"Cheapside is becoming one of the City of London’s most prestigious shopping destinations, offering visitors a variety of contemporary retail and leisure facilities seven days a week."

We'll see if that happens - if it does, then it would change the face of the City of London, in my opinion indesputably for the better.