Six Facts About Fleet Street

Nicola Sheppey

Fleet Street: it’s one of the most recognisable and prominent streets in our City, connecting the the Strand to St Paul’s. We’re all familiar with the shops, cafes and offices dotted along the busy street – and particularly the pubs. But have you ever wondered what other legacy lurks along this old road? We’ve rounded up six of our favourite stories and facts about this historical hub.

The Home of British Press

A long history of printing and publishing has made the name ‘Fleet Street’ synonymous with British journalism; the road was the home of London’s first daily newspaper, The Daily Courant, initially published in 1702. In the 20th Century it housed most of the more recognisable papers to modern readers – The Times, The Daily Express and The Sun to name a few – but sadly by 2016 all had relocated. Some newspapers’ shady journalism meant Fleet Street wasn’t always celebrated for its long publishing history, but it’s sure to mean that the street’s pub-goers were the first to eavesdrop on some juicy gossip over the years.

Protecting St Paul’s

Walk from west to east on Fleet Street and you’ll see the majesty of St Paul’s emerge. The great dome of our City’s finest monument, St Paul’s Cathedral, is subject to protected views: legislations that prevent architects from building modern towers that might block a particular view of the cathedral. While most of these views are from parks and hills around the whole of London, including Primrose Hill, Alexandra Palace and Greenwich Park, there are also some street-level restrictions – one of those being on Fleet Street. If you stand at a certain point in the street, you must be able to look up at the dome and see blue sky* on either side – complicating some planners’ ambitions to build on the eastern side of the City, but protecting a historical skyline. (*Well, grey sky. It is London, after all…)

The Demon Barber

For some literary and musical theatre fans, it’s difficult to hear the words ‘Fleet Street’ without thinking of the demon barber Sweeney Todd, made particularly famous after Tim Burton’s 2007 film starring Johnny Depp. First appearing in a Victorian penny dreadful, Sweeney Todd became an urban legend: a serial killer barber who polishes off his victims during a shave – often slitting their throats with his barber’s razor – and baking their remains into meat pies for the public. Don’t worry – it’s unlikely he was based off a real man (according to most scholars), but if he was we can only assume he was inspired by all that cut-throat journalism taking place.

Polly the Parrot

Historical pub Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese has had a few notable customers passing through it – Charles Dickens and Mark Twain included – but maybe its most beloved presence was its cheerfully rude parrot. Polly, the pub’s resident African Grey, was famous for memorising an extensive vocabulary of abusive words and even drew crowds from all around the country to come and be insulted by him. After he died in the early 20th Century, his obituary was published in over 200 newspapers (and even covered by the BBC). If you’re keen to see Polly, his taxidermied remains still reside in the taproom, his old home (though we hope he’s a bit quieter these days).

A Wordy Resident

Speaking of vocabulary, it’s suddenly become a lot clearer where Polly might have learnt all those swear words – Dr Samuel Johnson famously lived in Gough Square in the 18th Century. It was while he was here that his most famous achievement was published: A Dictionary of the English Language, the comprehensive book that formed the basis for most English dictionaries after it. Today his Gough Square house is a museum, commemorated with a Royal Society of Arts blue plaque, and it sports a variety of cultural and historical events – take a look here to see what’s on. You can even find a statue of beloved cat Hodge in the courtyard outside.

Winning Monopoly

Pass Go and collect £200 – if only living in London were that easy. It might be pricey to rent on Fleet Street in real life but you can live there vicariously through Monopoly (on the board, Fleet Street is teamed up with the Strand and Trafalgar Square). Within the game, the Chance card: ‘You have won a crossword competition – collect £100’ was inspired by the public crossword competitions of Fleet Street’s newspaper behemoths during the 1930s.

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What’s New in the City: Spring 2019

Nicola Sheppey

Bakeries, cafes, karaoke and gardens – we’re spoilt for choice for new openings in the City this spring. Below we’ve rounded up our top 5, so beat the crowds and put these on your to-do list.

 

If you’re after: sweet treats – Cutter & Squidge

 

We dare you to walk past the shopfront of Cutter & Squidge without pressing your face up against the glass. But don’t just freak out the staff – head inside, take your pick from an endless selection of goods and leave with a guaranteed smile on your face. The iconic Soho bakery has opened up shop in the Royal Exchange and the cakes, tray bakes, and trademark ‘biskies’ (think cake/cookie hybrid sandwiches) have taken sweet treats in the City to a whole new level.

Cutter & Squidge put creative combinations at the forefront of their products, with combos like banana peanut caramel, popcorn with cherry and chocolate, and salted caramel marshmallow, to name a few. Come in for anything from a single biskie or mini selection box to a whopping multi-tier luxury cake or hamper and feel rest assured that you’re about to become the office favourite. The ethos behind their goods is that nothing is gratuitous – the products only have exactly as much fat and sugar as needed to make them delicious, firmly excluding any excess. Plus, the cafe area is perfect to curl up in for an afternoon.

Find it: The Royal Exchange (access via Threadneedle St)

Learn more: https://cutterandsquidge.com/ | @cutterandsquidge

 

If you’re after: a relaxing spot to sit – The Garden at 120

Free to access, no need to book, and you can even bring your own food up – the new Garden at 120 is a rooftop garden like no other. Keen to combine the free access of a public garden with the luxury views of a sky-high rooftop, Eric Parry Architects design brings nature and architecture together to create a shimmering oasis under the City sunshine.

Here is not a place to look down on a toy-town London, but to sit comfortably among the mid-level section of the skyscrapers, apart from the chaos of the streets but still nestled in the heart of the City. Add a gently trickling stream, a bower of wisteria and London’s iconic horizon, and it hardly gets any better. At least, not until later this year, when the new D&D restaurant opens just one floor down.

Find it: 120 Fenchurch Street

Learn more: https://www.thegardenat120.com/

 

If you’re after: a great night out – Lucky Voice Holborn

Karaoke: you either love it or you hate it, or at least you think you hate it until you’re two tequilas down, a microphone has been guided in your hand, and you hazily realise that for your whole life you were just a missed opportunity away from being Britain’s answer to Ariana Grande. But even if you’re still not a fan, you’d be hard pressed not to feel genuinely delighted with Lucky Voice Karaoke’s latest branch in Holborn.

The colourful and well decorated bar/lounge area makes for a musically-inspired drinks spot in its own right; our personal favourite features are the coloured transparent boxes in the middle of the room with song title riddles inside for you to solve (a barbie doll? Whatever song could that be?). But karaoke is the star, with a variety of sized rooms fitting anything from 6 to 30 singers inside each one. Queue up a playlist of all-time classic belters alongside current chart bops, with easy-to-find categories including every song genre you can shake a stick at, plus some useful shortcuts like ‘duets’, ‘musicals’ and ‘Disney’. And the party doesn’t stop when nature calls – step into the ladies’ loos for disco decor like no other (we’ll say no more).

Find it: 84 Chancery Lane

Learn more: https://www.luckyvoice.com/bars/holborn/ | @luckyvoiceholborn

 

If you’re after: delicious dinner – Emilia’s Pasta Aldgate

 

The St Katharine Docks favourite, known for its refined and authentic take on simple Italian pasta dishes, has come to the fringe of the City. Emilia’s Crafted Pasta was born out of its founder’s genuine desire to make and serve pasta exactly the way the Italians do, which can be a little different to our softer, slightly distorted English offerings (something anyone who’s gorged on an authentic Roman dish will know). The restaurant seems prepared for a little British tradition getting in the way – up on the wall of their new, airy venue in Aldgate are a set of strict rules denoting exactly how they’ll serve their pasta (‘parmesan will not be used in or on a carbonara’, and so on), so no pesky requests get in the way. And trust them on that – for what is served up is genuinely delicious.

The menu is small and focused on the classics – we tasted and can highly recommend the slow-cooked béchamel bolognese (pictured), or the smoked salmon carbonara with pecorino and beaten eggs. What might be considered safe choices in chain restaurants become stand-out offerings at Emilia’s – it’s a struggle to leave anything on your plate at all. With a selection of similarly simple and truly delicious sides and desserts to accompany it, Emilia’s is a taste of Italy on our home shores, without skyrocketing costs. Brexit, be gone – we’re not ready to abandon this European cuisine just yet.

Find it: 77 Alie Street

Learn more: https://www.emiliaspasta.com/ | @emiliaspasta

 

If you’re after: a healthy breakfast or lunch – The Good Yard Shoreditch

With its quirky decor, friendly staff and cheeky marketing, it seems like Shoreditch is the natural home for The Good Yard, but their Leonard Street branch is the baby of the bunch compared to the longer-running Liverpool Street and Leadenhall Market cafes. The Good Yard pride themselves on “dirty health food”, and if that’s a synonym for moreish and indulgent without the guilt, we’re very much on board.

Serving breakfast and lunch boxes, bowls and wraps in a relaxed, takeaway style joint (complete with trendy art, of course), The Good Yard has found their niche and they do it well. We could describe their food as ‘simple with an edge’ – a chicken and halloumi wrap sounds tasty in an accessible, safe way, but it’s the Spanish chorizo and Sriracha mayo that takes this into ‘holy s*@$!’ territory. Similarly, the herby chicken salad has the perfect balance of pesto folded up in its shredded chicken to add a punch, without it being overwhelming. Everything here just tastes GOOD – it’s difficult to imagine being disappointed by anything, especially when the prices and loyalty scheme show your contact card some love as well.

Find it: 94 Leonard Street

Learn more: http://www.thegoodyard.com/ | @goodyardldn

 

Got any other new openings in the City you’d like to recommend? Drop us an email at info@onecity.london! For more updates on what’s happening in the City and exclusive discounts at some of our favourite brands, sign up for our newsletter by clicking here.

Eggcellent Ideas for an Easter Break in the City

Nicole T Raleigh

If, like me, you’re struggling to find ideas to keep the younger members of your family occupied this spring (whilst trying to juggle myriad other tasks, naturally), then look no further than this humble yet oh-so-useful blog.  Yes, the One City team have put their heads together and taken the thinking onus off your shoulders to compile a handy, not-too-long list of things to keep youngsters (and adults) amused and intrigued this Easter Break – including the requisite chocolate egg or two, of course.  From shopping to the animal kingdom and even our breath-taking built environment, this holiday make sure you become even more familiar with the global wonder that is the City of London.

(1) Egg Marks the Spot @ the Bank of England Museum

On until 18th April, Egg Marks the Spot brings a little Easter fun and frolics to exhibits that can sometimes be a tad informatively dry at the Bank of England Museum.  Not every young mind has aspirations to later work in finance, it’s true (despite our brilliant world-class locale), and so the museum has brought in a savvy flourish of seasonal activities such as arts and crafts and an egg hunting trail (together with some fact finding, too, of course).  All so that younger generations will link finance with absolute enjoyment. Clever stuff, that. Oh, and there’s a tasty treat waiting at the information desk for those who find all six eggs, too.

(2) Beasts of London @ the Museum of London

If you like your exhibits even more fantastically interactive, however, then head to the Museum of London for Beasts of London.  Run in partnership with the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, it travels through time from the Roman era, into the heart of Medieval London, and on into the mad modernism of today, all the while following the animals that once roamed our fine city’s streets.  Expect celebrity-voiced critters (Kate Moss in foxy role, a regal eagle Pam Ferris… you get the gist).  Surprisingly, there roamed through London beasts of far larger proportions than foxes and rats and cats and dogs. As Dorothy said it, “Lions, and tigers, and bears – oh my!”

(3) Garden Tours @ various locations in the City

Of course, imagining the travels (and travails) of animals big and small can only lead one’s offspring (and perhaps more sprightly elder generations, too) to hanker after a quick stroll en plein air (in what is hopefully lovely sunshiney spring weather… But one can’t have everything).  To this end, London Gardens Trust have advised a list of top semi-sightseeing walking routes to undertake.  So, be inspired by the Museum of London’s exhibit and start 2000 years ago in the Roman heart, before widening out into the skyscraper City haven of the modern day, the global financial hub that you all learned of at the Bank of England museum.  You’ll be raising not only wannabe zoologists, but perhaps even brilliant architects to boot (we’ll make no further mention of banking, promise).  And there can only be a hurrah, and maybe a nice cup of well-earned tea, to that!


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Top Fitness Trends in the City this Spring

Nicole T Raleigh

Ah, spring: that wonderful season that brings on its blossom-scented breezes a wave of hope for the months to come. The arrival also necessitates a digging out of one’s wardrobe more suitable attire for the (somewhat) warmer days. Nonetheless, if the previous seasons have done their best to sabotage both your diet and your fitness regime, then look no further than these top fitness trends in the City right now to get back the body you want, well in time for summer.

1. Set a Challenge

Forget a quick fit fix: think long term goals. Dream of running a marathon one day? Why not start training now? Always dropped out of that gym membership the week after you signed up at New Year’s? Why not set yourself the goal of going regularly for just one whole month, but religiously? In short, 2019 is the year where fitness and gym attendance and exercise classes have transformed from fleeting affairs into enablers to getting to a higher end goal. The only question is: what’s yours?

For help with this mind-body balance and focus, try Educo Gym.

2. HIIS (the next level HIIT)

High Intensity Interval Training steps away from its recent popularity, leaps to the next level – with a skipping rope in hand. Yes, HIIS is the same, but with bounce. A workout long-used by boxers and a favourite of Victoria’s Secret models, a whopping 1,200 calories can be burnt in just one session. Enough said.

If the maths appeals, then check out the class timetable at GymClass City.

3. Group Rowing Classes

Boost that marvellous trio of metabolism, muscle, and mood with this City fitness craze; all in a circa 45 minute session working 85% of your body. Nice. Bid farewell to lonely periods at the rowing machine of old, staring at your own reflection and sullenly keeping on going, and instead imagine yourself out on the Thames in the Boat Race – though actually indoors with the camaraderie of your fellow local City gym-goers.

Originally beginning in Camden’s Metabolic London, it spread to the boutique Engine Room in Marylebone in October last year, while City-folk can find a group rowing class at Frame Farringdon.

4. Muay Thai

Otherwise known as Thai boxing, Muay Thai is a big hit (pun intended) at the moment. Known also as “the art of eight limbs”, it pretty much use every angle of the body (think impact; think fists and elbows, knees and shins – anything that places a ‘punch’). A great one for expulsion of aggression built up from the working week, Muay Thai is so popular at the moment that it’s even entered Hollywood style through the fashionable touch of the likes of Ilaria Urbinati recently. Well, we’re impressed.

Try Third Space City for your taste of Muay Thai Kickboxing (there is also the appealingly named Bitch Boxing, too… See you there…).

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City Views: A Walk in the Clouds at Garden at 120

Nicole T Raleigh

For a while there in February it seemed like spring might very well have sprung. The brollies could actually have a break for a few days; the rainproof coat a rest upon the rack. Nonetheless, though March may have swung us determinedly back into a more apt wintry chill – replete with the rain and bluster garnered upon us most recently by Storm Freya – it is through dreams that we continue along the quotidian path, day in and day out. And what more warming dream is there when sat at one’s desk than the image of summer, strolling through a roof top terrace with a view and resplendent with plants, luxuriating in the sun-kissed touch of light only lofty heights can offer?

Well, take heart: such a dream doesn’t involve any pricey trip to the Continent, but rather has come into existence fifteen floors above ground level at One Fen Court, “a building of a hundred views”. Open to the public and completely free, Garden at 120 is accessible via lift to those who want to walk about away from the usual humdrum, pedestrian crowded pavement pounding at 120 Fenchurch Street. With 450,000 commuting into the City every day for work, this is sure to be a very successful garden sanctuary indeed.

The new HQ of Generali, the Italian insurance group, One Fen Court was designed by Eric Parry Architects and sits midway between the Gherkin and the Walkie Talkie. The Garden at 120 rests at the peak of One Fen Court and its approximate 3,000 sq. ft. were landscaped by the German company Latz + Partners. Its vista stretches to London Bridge and Canary Wharf, as well as the across river Shard, of course.

As far as gardens go, the Garden at 120 offers the expected peaceful ambience, the effect of “neatly trimmed hedges, wildflower patches, and tranquil water features” brought together with a statement piece metal pavilion which, come summer, will be adorned by the sweet pungent bloom of Wisteria. Who needs an escape to the Home Counties when the glory of Shire gardens can be enjoyed in the heart of the City?

Currently open weekdays between 10am and 6.3opm, summer times come into effect as of 1st April, when you can head up to these landscaped heights until 9pm each day. Weekend opening hours are also being trialled, from 10am to 5pm.

Of course, you probably know what comes next… Yep, you guessed it: being as this location is at the epicentre of City dining, a new restaurant is set to appear in the none-too-distant future on the level beneath Garden at 120, the venue offering near 8,000 sq. ft. of space to work with in hospitality and top-notch gastronomic manner. So stretch those dreams of wandering en plein air to the working up of an appetite for afterwards, too – but do head along for the simple joy of the open air experience now as well! Trust us: it’s worth it.

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