Spotting History in the City of London

Eva

Although its many skyscrapers make it hard to believe, the City is actually London’s oldest hub. Dating from around 47 AD no less, it was this part of our capital which was used as a trading port during the Roman occupation. Fast forward circa 1700 years, by the late 16th Century the City slowly started to become the centre for banking that it still is today.

So why is its ancient history so hard to find? That’ll be because it was almost entirely destroyed not once, but twice: in the Great Fire in 1666 and during the Blitz from 1940 to 1941. That said, there are still some absolute gems that have stood the test of time. You just have to know where to look for them.

Billingsgate Bathhouse

1. Roman House at Billingsgate

Starting with one of the oldest remains, tucked away under an office block on Lower Thames St sits an ancient Roman bathhouse that is surprisingly well preserved. You can now explore this bit of history either by yourself or in a group with the official Museum of London tour. During this 45-minute window, the exposed ruins will be complemented with the tour guide’s interesting insights and details, including a model of what the bathhouse would have looked like in full: a must for fans of ancient Rome.

mice sculpture

2. Mice Sculpture at Philpot Lane

Even if you’ve walked up and down this street a million times, chances are you’ve never seen the tiny sculpture hidden on the front wall of house number 11. Often referred to as London’s smallest public statue, the two mice fighting for a piece of cheese are easy to miss. The statue dates back to 1862, the year of the building’s construction. Word has it that two workingmen were engaged in a fight over one’s stolen sandwich, during which one of them tragically fell to his death. All the while it was most likely a cheeky rodent who was to blame for this theft.

Newgate prison wall

3. Newgate Prison Wall

Newgate Prison opened in 1188 as requested by Henry II, and remained one of London’s most notorious prisons for over 700 years before it finally closed its gates in 1902. During all those years it was a place known for its horrible conditions, both in terms of hygiene and inmate treatment. Although the prison was destroyed shortly after it closed, around the back of Amen Court near St. Paul’s, one of its main walls is still standing strong.

Londons first drinking fountain

4. London’s first drinking fountain

Once upon a time, London’s drinking water was so filthy that beer was often used as a healthier alternative. Caused by the rapidly growing population and lack of management, these appalling water conditions ended up being the main cause of the numerous cholera outbreaks in the early 19th Century. Drinking fountains were the city’s first attempt to improving the bad water system, with the one integrated within the railings of St-Sepulchre-without-Newgate church being the very first one. 

30% Off Food at Hawksmoor

Joe Burford

Yes you read that right – a whopping 30% food at one of the finest steak restaurants in the big smoke… and it’s on your doorstep.

This one-off promotion is for City of London employees and can be redeemed between Monday 11th and Wednesday 13th June between 12 and 3pm. Make sure you reserve a table before midday on the 11th by emailing Stefana@thehawksmoor.com

Happy steaking!

 

Top 5 Vegan Eateries In and Around the City

Nicole R.Nolan

2018 is turning out to be the year for veganism. Worldwide, the number of people opting out of meat, fish, egg, and dairy consumption (as well as honey – save the bees!) has risen exponentially over the past decade, helped in no small part by Meat-Free Monday campaigns and more. London is no exception to this animal-friendly and health conscious trend, either. With benefits including lower cholesterol and blood pressure, not to mention a lower BMI and reduced risk of heart disease and cancer, opting for a vegan diet really does seem the most sensible option for Man (and the kindest for animals).

Veritably a way of life most suitable to an increasing environmentally concerned world, the ability to purchase vegan-appropriate products from supermarkets and smaller stores in the capital has become much easier, too (almost to Californian standards). However, it has taken a little longer for restaurants to catch up – but now, finally, they are starting to do so. Here are One City’s top picks for a delicious vegan luncheon or supper – whether you’re fully vegan or mere flexitarian and curious.

(1) Amico Bio, Barbican

Opposite St. Bartholomew the Great church on Cloth Fair, Amico Bio claims to be London’s “first vegetarian-organic Italian restaurant”. Known for its Vegan Cheese Tray, there are – unusually – plenty of vegan options among the ordinary vegetarian here. A three-course meal with wine will set you back £30, but the tranquil setting is worth it.

(2) VeganYes!, Shoreditch

Also known as Italko due to its Italian/Korean fusion, this splendid company is “now offering Italian beer and vegan wine” to suit its edible choices, too. With seaweed and kimchi options aplenty and tofu pocket wraps galore, this is an unusual but tasty option for lunchtime indulgence. And they have Dark Chocolate Mochi for dessert

(3) Essential Vegan Café, Shoreditch

A Brazilian-inspired vegan café (run, as it is, by Brazilian vegan chef Vanessa Almeida), Essential is open Tuesday through Sunday and offers takeaways as well. Note that if you want a naughtier tipple with your food they aren’t licensed but are quite happy to run a BYO policy. Dogs are welcome too.

(4) Mooshies Vegan Burger Bar, Shoreditch

Situated on Brick Lane, Mooshies serves the tastiest non-animal flesh burgers going. Open 7 days a week from 12 noon to 9.30pm (later Thursday through Saturday), Mooshies’ vegan burgers are all handmade fresh daily and served on a multigrain seeded brioche bun. The options include “What’s Ur Beef?” (an organic quinoa and black bean patty), “Fillet-Om-Phish” (battered aubergine), and “The G Burger” (chickpeas, spinach, and green peas; limited edition). Vegan-friendly cheesy fries and nachos are also available. This is fast food for kind hearts.

(5) Andina, Shoreditch

Although known for its ceviche, vegan options at this delightful eatery include the nibbles menu “torrejas” (carrot fritters with maca powder and avocado uchucuta), the lunch special “Locro and brown aromatic rice” (a Peruvian vegetable stew basically), and the side order “Ocopa chips” (thick cut fries with ocopa peanut herb and Amarillo chilli sauce). Yum!

Treat Dad to a Tipple this Father’s Day and Some Top City Fare

Nicole R.Nolan

It’s that time of year again – time to celebrate all the dads out there who’ve done a brilliant job of fatherhood for the last 12 months, in whatever capacity. It’s not easy being a father in a globally competitive urban landscape like London. So, make sure you plan something suitable in the City for Sunday 17th June; something your dad or stepdad or paternal figure of whatever sort will hold dear as a memory.

Given the age old adage that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and given also the general propensity for one’s old man to enjoy a tipple or two, we think the following shops and establishments might just do the trick…

1. COLD Gin Distillery (22-24 Bride Lane)

This being England, summer signifies a turning of tastes to a nice cold G&T, but like most things in life not all gins are created equal. That becomes somewhat less true if you wander into the City of London’s Gin Distillery, however. Given the historic Gin Craze of the 18th Century (who hasn’t seen William Hogarth’s Gin Lane?) fired by frequent imports of spices and citrus fruits into port, when before a gin shop had stood on every corner, all were closed. Indeed, there wasn’t one to be found until the COLD Gin Distillery opened in 2012.

Located within Jonathon Clark’s cocktail bar on Bride Lane, the distillery won a trio of awards last year and entered into a partnership with Halewood International Ltd. Why not take pops on a Distillery Experience this Father’s Day, the tours including some delightful tasting opportunities? The COLD Bar opens at 4pm as well.


2. The Trading House (89-91 Gresham Street)

A truly unique establishment to venture into is The Trading House. Think gorgeous design; a man’s decadent establishment where he can indulgence in the finer things in life. Harkening back to the days of explorers and adventurers, The Trading House’s atmosphere is all about the global exotic. Cocktail and Ale masterclasses are offered (if you’ve been gin-ned out, though they provide those too), and there is also the ability to privately hire sections. Nonetheless, the food – and the extensive list of New World wines – is what The Trading House is all about in its proffered sanctuary for masculinity. Think tried and tested “man food”, public house staples, and its specialty: “hanging kebabs”.

Be aware that The Trading House is opening up for the City Run on Sunday 17th June (run by Adidas City Runs). However, if your father and you prefer sport as a spectator sport, the establishment will be screening the World Cup Games as well.


3. Sagardi Basque Country Chefs (95 Curtain Road, Shoreditch)

The London flagship restaurant for Basque-region steak specialty cooking, the layout is large dining room with “high-class dungeon” ambience. Split between the grill bar restaurant area and Pintxo Bar (both the grill and the pintxos being typical of Basque culinary culture), there is also an in-house butcher shop should you wish to treat dad to some prime cuts afterwards, too.

Although fish is on Sagardi’s menu also, for paternal veggies in your life perhaps try Beany Green Café in Moorgate instead.

 

MR PORTER London Nocturne: Celebrating 200 Years of Cycling in the City

Nicole R.Nolan

Rare, it seems, is the City dweller who isn’t in possession of a bicycle this day and age – despite the dangers of buses and other fuelled traffic yet polluting the capital. However, in fact a penchant for cycling London’s streets has been popular for two centuries now, and is only set to increase as residents become more and more environmentally conscious (and London itself strives towards a necessary and noticeably expanded pedestrianisation by 2020). To this end, MR PORTER Nocturne returns in 2018 (after much success in previous years), celebrating everything two-wheeled and foot-pedalled in an action-packed day to prelude Bike Week.

Cheapside is transformed for the day: the City’s “historic and modern financial centre” becomes instead a 1.2 kilometre circuit on Saturday 9th June. Sponsored by the globally-known men’s online fashion destination and style content hub, MR PORTER Nocturne commences during daylight hours at 2pm and runs until the streets are lamp-lit at 10.30pm.

The event is free to attend and watch, and has something for everyone, pretty much regardless of age. Expect run-o’-the-mill bicycles, but also “Penny Farthings, fixed gear bikes, World Tour riders and much more race around a fully-barriered race circuit” too. The finish line under St. Paul’s Cathedral lends a nicely dramatic touch to competitors’ efforts.

Indeed, the atmosphere at this year’s event is sure to exceed expectations, not least due to the added extras of event villages, live music, bars, VIP areas, and big screens to keep up with the action wherever you’re watching from, as well. The food and drink (alcoholic and non-), and a “pump track” for children, make MR PORTER Nocturne 2018 a truly great idea for a day out this June.

Not simply an event for amateurs, semi-pros and pros will be taking part also, such as the likes of track and road cyclist Ed Clancy OBE (triple Olympic Gold medallist for the JLT-Condor team). Get closer to the action by standing shoulder to shoulder with other cycling buffs along the winding barriers of the Cheapside circuit, watching in awe the speed of the competitors, sharing in the joy of their wins, and grimacing at the inevitable crashes that occur, too, unfortunately. Yet, what sport doesn’t have its mishaps?

One area of cycling that is taking off particularly at the moment is the French-inspired fixed gear critérium (or ‘crit’) racing, where the bikes don’t have brakes. “Technical and aggressive”, and one of the hardest forms of cycling, crit racing is an aptly urban sport for inclusion in MR PORTER London Nocturne. Speed and manoeuvrability are key; if reactions are slow on tight bends, riders will be hitting the concrete with force.

If this sounds a bit brutal, an entirely different competition (also from France) is the Concours d’élégance, where “participants compete for the most elegant entry, best bike and most considerate cycling style”.

It’s like two different Londons encapsulate in the same 1.2km zone – a microcosm of City life on two wheels.  Make sure you head to Cheapside on Saturday 9th June to experience this and so much more at MR PORTER London Nocturne 2018 first-hand.