Walk 8: The Inns of Court and Fleet Street.

Walk number 8 in the 1980s AA guidebook was of the Inns of Court and Fleet Street. I completed this walk on Sunday 24 June 2018.

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The outline of Walk 8.

The walk commenced at Blackfriars Station. For some reason it didn’t mention the Blackfriars pub as part of this tour. Though the pub does get a mention at the back of the book in a section titled ‘London’s Pub’s’ – where it claims:

“Occupying a sharpley-angled corner site, this wedge-shaped building is a splendid example of a Victorian Pub, with wrought-ion balustrades on the upper stories and a large Black Friar perched on the corner above the entrance. A nearby Dominican Priory founded in the 13th century was the inspiration for this tavern’s name and visual theme. Hand-beaten copper murals in the bar depict jolly friars carousing, fishing and otherwise enjoying themselves. Gold leaf on the ceiling, gas lighting, open fireplaces with brass firedogs, and some good art nouveau decoration combine to make the Black Friar a most unusual and interesting pub.”

After this rather pleasant stop over I proceeded to the walking tour.

The walk commenced along the Victoria Embankment and past The City of London School, an 19th century successor to the 15th century school for the education of ‘four poore men’s children’.

From here the 1980s guide book tells me to take a right at the HMS President (which was obscured by construction work, possibly now located at a different location?

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This was the site of the HMS President in the 1980s

The next stop on this walking tour is The Temple. This is the site of the Knights Templars headquarters, which later developed into Inn’s of Court.

Above: The Inns of Court.

From here the walk took me to the Royal Courts of Justice on Fleet Street.

The next place in my 1980s AA guide book was the Public Records Office in Chancery Lane. However I was to discover that these offices had moved to Kew in 2003. The site is now a campus for Kings College.

Just up the road from this is the Lincoln’s Inn old buildings. This law school dates back to the 14th century.

The guide book then took me down to Gough Square, where I could see Dr Johnson’s House – now a National Trust Museum.

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Hodge – Dr Johnson’s cat

From here I walked past the famous Ye Olds Cheshire Cheese, rebuilt shortly after the Fire of London. Sadly this establishment wasn’t open when I was walking past.

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Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

The tour then took me back to Fleet Street. The 1980s AA guide book says:

Nearly every national and provincial newspaper or periodical has an office in or near Fleet Street. It is one of the most ancient thoroughfares in London, and has links with the printing trade since about 1500.

This link with the printing trade was to be abruptly broken in the 1980s, as the below from Wikipedia explains:

In 1986 News International owner Rupert Murdoch caused controversy when he moved publication of The Times and The Sun away from Fleet Street to new premises in WappingEast London. Murdoch believed it was impossible to produce a newspaper profitably on Fleet Street and the power of the print unions, the National Graphical Association (NGA) and the Society of Graphical and Allied Trades (SOGAT), was too strong (an opinion endorsed by the Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher). All Fleet Street print staff were sacked and new staff from the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union were brought in to operate the presses at Wapping using modern computer-operated technology, rendering the power of the old unions obsolete. The resulting Wapping dispute featured violent protests at Fleet Street and Wapping that lasted over a year, but ultimately other publishers followed suit and moved out of Fleet Street towards Canary Wharf or Southwark. Reuters was the last major news outlet to leave Fleet Street in 2005.[24] The same year, The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph announced they were returning to the centre of London from Canary Wharf to new premises in Victoria in 2006.[28]

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Fleet Street – looking towards Saint Paul’s

From here the walking tour took me past The Old Bailey, London’s central criminal court and the site of the old New Gate Prison.

From here the tour took me up up Ludgate Hill and past Saint Paul’s Cathedral.

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The steps of Saint Paul’s 

The next stop was The College of Arms. This is the official authority in Great Britain (except Scotland) and the Commonwealth on armorial bearings and pedigrees. Its officers have impressive titles such as ‘Dragon Pursuivant’.

From here the tour took me back towards the Thames, past the tower remains of St Mary Somerset. This church was built in 1695 and all but the tower was pulled down in 1871.

The tour then concludes at The Blackfriar station.

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