No. 651: Aldgate High Street, EC3
Aldgate High Street, London, EC3. Photo © Roger Dean 2012
Round London: Down East and Up West – Montagu Williams Q.C., 1894:
The morning was a glorious one. This was an ideal summer Sunday, and the church bells seemed to say, as they chimed, ‘Thank God for life I thank God for life! thank God for life !’ There was scarcely a foot passenger to be seen in Park Lane, and no vehicles save an omnibus or two, almost passengerless, journeying from Victoria to Kilburn, Edgware, or some other remote suburb. Within the Park all was solitude, the gravel walks and green sward being alike deserted. It was a good season for vegetation, and the beds and borders were bright with blossoms and full of fragrance. Those croakers who say you cannot grow flowers in towns can never have seen Hyde Park in June. Who could desire better geraniums, fuchsias, marguerites, and-calceolarias than are to be found there?
Sitting down on one of the Park seats, I could not help comparing the beautiful scene around me with the hideous, squalid locality I was shortly to visit. There were no songbirds about, though there were many self-asserting, impudent, well-to-do West End sparrows.
I took my dog home, and set forth on my journey. On looking at my watch I found that I had plenty of time to spare. The hours I wished to spend in Shoreditch were from half-past ten to one. Hailing a hansom, I drove to Baker Street Station, and took a ticket to Aldgate.
[ The structure in the photograph above is Palace on Pillars by Studio Weave. It is on the site of Aldgate one of the original gates into the City and home to Chaucer from 1374 to 1386. It was here, in two rooms over the gate, that he wrote The House of Fame and The Parliament of Fowls. According to a plaque beneath the structure it was also built to mark the beginning of the High Street 2012, the route from the City to the Olympic Park in Stratford. I have no idea if it is intended to remain after The Games. R.D.]