diamond geezer

 Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Random City of London ward (15): Farringdon Without



My 15th random ward is the largest and also the furthest from home, so a bit of a challenge to cover. I haven't coloured it in wrong on the map, it really is in two parts (technically linked by the westbound carriageway of High Holborn outside Sainsbury's Head Office). Farringdon Without contains a lot of the City's historic legal activity, the whole of Smithfield Market and the medical heartland of St Barts. I can't possibly do it justice in a single post so expect considerable skating about. [pdf map]

First a word about the name of the ward. It's named after Sir Nicholas de Faringdon, the ward's alderman in the early 14th century and four-time mayor of London. In 1394 it was split into the part inside the City wall (Farringdon Within) and the much larger part outside (Farringdon Without). Neither ward contains Farringdon station, which was instead named after Farringdon Street, now Farringdon Road. The City's idiosyncratic boundary changes in 2003 recast Farringdon Without into two smaller segments, neither of which aligns with the old City wall. None of this is especially satisfying, sorry.



Let's start on the Victoria Embankment where a dragon guards the southwesternmost entrance to the City. It's also where you'll find the National Submarine War Memorial, an elaborate bronze commemorating 50 craft lost during WW1 and another 82 from WW2. Facing the Thames here is what's colloquially known as the Temple, more precisely two of the City's four Inns of Court called the Inner Temple and Middle Temple. They've been here on this site since medieval times and are officially outside the jurisdiction of the City of London despite being inside their boundary. Entrance is via the steps on Middle Temple Lane... unless it's Sunday in which case the enclave is closed and the iron gates are firmly locked.



I chanced my luck and asked the security guard at the Tudor Street gate whether I could come in "for a look round". He surprisingly agreed so I got to walk round the utterly empty interior of this legal fortress, a veritable labyrinth of courtyards and passages. At its heart is Temple Church, founded in 1185 by the Knights Templar, which boasts a rare circular nave and several chivalrous effigies. I was a tad early for Choral Communion, but the service is up on YouTube if you want to see what I missed. Elsewhere are numerous legal chambers (the names of their barristers neatly listed in the doorway), plus Georgian corners they hire out to film costume dramas, plus extensive splendid gardens (normally open to the public 12.30-3pm on weekdays), and what a treat to be able to wander round in peace. The security guard appeared to be asleep when I walked out.



Administrative normality is restored along Fleet Street, or at least the short stretch from Gino D'Acampo's pasta restaurant to where Temple Bar used to be. Among the buildings of note are Prince Henry's Room (one of the City's handful of Jacobean buildings, no longer open to the public), St Dunstan-in-the-West (an octagonal church whose clock gives off Trumpton vibes) and publisher DC Thompson's offices (a narrow block emblazoned with the names of classic Scottish titles).



Heading north the ward follows Chancery Lane (east side) and Fetter Lane (west side). Sandwiched inbetween is Cliffords Inn, oldest of the Inns of Chancery, or at least its gatehouse because the rest was demolished in 1934. More substantially unmissable is the Maughan Library, Kings College's neo-Gothic research fortress, which was originally the headquarters of the Public Record Office. Don't expect to gain entrance at present without a reader's card and a good reason why you can't study at home. The triple point where Westminster meets Camden meets the City is immediately outside.



It's taken several paragraphs but we've finally reached some bogstandard minor backstreets. Many are lined with anonymous newbuilds, one hosts the drab-but-officious Upper Tribunal Immigration & Asylum Chamber and one has an ex- churchyard sucked dry of heritage and transformed into a public garden. Of genuine interest are the London Silver Vaults, a quirky market consisting of 30 strongrooms off two underground corridors, very much the kind of place that London-based media revel in describing as 'secret'. As for the timber-fronted Tudor building facing High Holborn that's Staple Inn, the last surviving Inn of Chancery, though now crawling with actuaries rather than wool-taxers.



It's time to cross to the other half of the ward via the five-way junction at Holborn Circus. The church here is St Andrew Holborn, founded over 1000 years ago on a small hill above the river Fleet (hence named after the patron saint of fishermen). It survived the Great Fire but was in such a bad state that Wren rebuilt it anyway. Much of its churchyard was swept away by the building of Holborn Viaduct, which you can still duck under if you follow Shoe Lane round the back of the Vicarage.



Smithfield's famous meat market is divided into five buildings in varying states of decay. The General Market faces Farringdon Street, where the dragon is, and links to the smaller (triangular) Fish Market and larger (rectangular) Poultry Market. These three are being transformed into the new Museum of London, as sheaths of scaffolding confirm, although it's a complex job so the completion date (2021) keeps (2022) slipping (2024). Black wooden barriers were recently erected along one side of West Poultry Avenue, shielding decrepit butcheries from view, and it's going to be a long expensive haul prettifying this for the masses.



Business continues in the West and East Market Buildings, as the general whiff of slaughtered animal confirms. Huge refrigerated lorries park up outside, their cargoes trolleyed into the building between dangling plastic strips. The noticeboard in Grand Avenue has vacancies for lamb cutters, experienced butchers and multi-drop delivery drivers. It also reminds wholesalers that the City plans to relocate all its food markets to Dagenham in a few years time, with the vacated market halls subsequently converted into a tourist-magnet food campus. I expect it'll have all the appeal of the upgraded Spitalfields Market, for good and for bad, so get down and admire the genuine Smithfield while you still have a chance.



I've already blogged about the garden inside the market's spiral ramp, the end of the number 56 bus route and the incline of Snow Hill, so I'll skip describing those here. Instead let's turn to the naked cherub hung on the wall at the top, appropriately, of Cock Lane. This is the Golden Boy of Pye Corner, erected outside a pub in the late 17th century to mark the point where the Great Fire of London finally spluttered out. His chubby form represents the sin of gluttony, given that the conflagration started at a bakery on the other side of the city in Pudding Lane, as the inscription underneath confirms.



Across the street is St Barts, the famous 898 year-old hospital. It covers a vast site, part of which is Georgian and surrounds a large leafy quadrangle and part of which is a very modern redevelopment. The museum's just off the former. Hanging around outside you're likely to find patients in wheelchairs and/or dressing gowns, plus various members of staff, all of whom have crept out for a much-needed cigarette. Please don't throw butts in the planters, several signs warn. Inside it's very much a specialist heart hub, mainly thanks to A&E services being relocated in 1995 and the trust needing to do something useful with the building.

And St Barts is also the point where Farringdon Without splits Farringdon Within in two, because neither Farringdon ward is in any way geometrically straightforward. We'll be back here later.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
853
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
blue witch
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
the ladies who bus
round the rails we go
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel
from the murky depths
exploring urban wastelands

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
The DG Tour of Britain
#coronavirus

read the archive
May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv