Thursday, August 14, 2008

More hidden treasures

A few more photos of London's not-quite-so-well-known past. Certainly, none of these are on the usual tourist trails.
First up, for all of you Braveheart fans, is the spot where William Wallace was hanged, drawn and quartered. The plaque is built into the wall of Barts (St Bartholemew's teaching hospital) where I lecture junior doctors in metacognition. No, don't ask. Incredibly, people still leave floral tributes (often sprigs of heather) at the site despite the fact that Wallace was excuted in 1305. The chunky chappie in the shot, by the way, is me 56lbs ago.

Next, we have the General Lying-In Hospital in York Road, near County Hall. I just loved the name. The building is currently used by Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Tust as a training facility and offices. It has a rich history dating back nearly two and a half centuries. It was founded by Dr John Leake and first opened in 1767 on Westminster Bridge Road and moved to the York Road building in 1828. At least 150,000 babies were born at the hospital and it is said that Florence Nightingale took a personal interest in the associated midwifery training school. The hospital moved to St Albans during World War II and the building sustained some damage. It re-opened in 1946 as part of St Thomas' Hospital. It closed as a hospital in 1971 and fell into dereliction. In later years it appeared on English Heritage's Buildings at Risk register. It was restored and refurbished in 2003 at a cost of £4.27 million including a grant from the Guy's and St Thomas' Charity.

Finally, we have the Kings Weigh-House Chapel just off Oxford Street in Duke Street. This hugely imposing building is missed by millions of tourists every year as they rarely venture down the side-streets. It was built by the great Alfred Waterhouse, the architect also behind London's fantastic Natural History Museum. It is now the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Exile; part of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in England. However, it began life as a Free Chapel (free of the bishopric anyway) for the rich friends of the Duke of Westminster who commissioned the building.


Debby said...

I'm intrigued at the 'Weigh-House' chapel thing. Was it a building that performed two functions?

Congratulations on the weight loss (did you lose it at the Weigh House Chapel). My sister lost half her body weight. nearly two hundred pounds. Once, I was looking for her in a crowd. I realized, suddenly, that I was looking for her as she used to look. She'd walked right past me and I did not notice....

Stevyn Colgan said...

Debby - According to Wikipedia ... 'It was formed around 1695 when Thomas Reynolds was called as minister. In 1697 the congregation built a meeting house over the King's Weigh House in Little Eastcheap, and from this home the church took its name. The King's Weigh House was where "Merchant Strangers" were required to have their goods weighed so that customs duties could be assessed, and was rebuilt after the Fire of London.' So now you know!

As for weight loss ... it's been a constant battle for me. Last year I lost five stones (70lbs) but I've put about a stone of that back on. So now I'm on the downsizing trail again ... sigh.

Stevyn Colgan said...

Oh, and congratulations to Sis. Wow. That's an amazing achievement. x

willow said...

Love history. Where have you been hiding these treasures?

Thanks for a great post! :)

Stevyn Colgan said...

Willow - Oh, I have thousands more. A few years ago I spent some time in Charlotte, North Carolina and got very friendly with one of the local cops who was fascinated by older buildings. So, for about a year, I took hundreds of photos to send to him. Your worry should be just how many I choose to post as I could bore the pants off my small but perfectly-formed group of blogging chums. x