The history of Monument and its neighbourhood

London Monument

The Monument itself – an imposing Doric column topped with a gilded urn of fire – commemorates The Great Fire of London in 1666. The blaze started in the shop of the king’s baker on nearby Pudding Lane, just months after The Great Plague.

One of the best things about London is that every corner is teeming with history. From invasions, fires and plagues to inventions, royal romps and extraordinary architecture, London has played host to some of the history books’ most fascinating tales.

Native Cannon Street and Native Fenchurch Street sits in the heart of the traditional City of London. Today, the City is the financial hub of the country, and it was established around 50AD – just seven years after the Romans invaded Britain and founded Londinium. To this day, you can explore the remains of the City’s Roman wall, the Roman temple of Mithras and even the amphitheatre that was found under the Guildhall in the 1980s, all less than 15 minutes’ walk from your apartment.

There was no fire service at the time, so Londoners took it upon themselves to extinguish the flames over four days and nights, with only buckets of water to hand. The fire consumed over 13,000 houses, the old St Paul’s Cathedral, 87 churches, the Guildhall, the Royal Exchange, 52 livery company halls and four stone bridges. In fact, it was said that the heat from the fire was so great that the lead roof on St Paul’s Cathedral melted and flowed down the streets.

Miraculously, only five people are known to have died in the Great Fire, and some of the City’s most beautiful architecture was born out of the 50-year rebuilding effort, led by Sir Christopher Wren. The Monument, one of Wren’s creations, is great for getting a panoramic view of your City surroundings, so be sure to pay a visit and take a photo or two from the viewing platform.

While you’re just moments from The Monument, you’re also just a three minute stroll from one of the City’s best loved (and least known) historical hideaways – St Dunstan in the East church garden. The Church of St Dunstan was originally built around 1100 and is a Grade I listed building. It was named for St Dunstan, a tenth century monk who reportedly survived black magic and leprosy to become Archbishop of Canterbury.

St Dunstan in the East Church Garden, Peter Trimming

The building partially survived The Great Fire but was severely damaged again in the Blitz bombings of 1941. Today it’s a public garden, with trees growing through windows and vines winding their way around arched doorways and crumbling walls, making a gorgeously green haven from the bustle of the City. Here you’ll find suited and booted workers escaping office life alongside art students sketching the beauty around them. It’s the ideal spot for a picnic, a lunch break with a book or a breather from a day’s sightseeing.

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