Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Creating a walk – ‘Walbrook where art thou?’

Nouormand: Pliaque à Londres
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This was never meant to be a stand-alone theme,  it developed from a walk I was asked to do for the Lord Mayor’s Show, which started at Mansion House and ended at Blackfriars. It was all planned and prepared but somehow the story of this long disappeared river of London kept coming up en route - when you are aware of the evidence of its existence it is hard not to mention it. So instead of a walk about food I've ended up with water!

My interest had started to be aroused nearly a year earlier at a LAMAS Lecture at the Museum of London when Stephen Myers gave a talk, he is the author of ‘Walking on Water’ about London’s hidden rivers. It was riveting and the notes taken by a colleague became the basis of this walk.

Not sure why I did not go out and buy the book, it just didn’t happen that way. Just used the notes, Stow, and a couple of interesting Victorian writers on the subject, one with the surname ‘Foord’!  So appropriate to the subject. Copious notes followed all to be pared down to bullet points taking up three pages – definitely a page and half too long!

Also began walking what was recorded to be the meanderings of the river picking up from the West end of Broadgate, under the Roman Wall, across London Wall, along Copthall Avenue, down Token House Yard through the church of St Margaret Lothbury and so on.  The fact that St Margaret straddles two wards is because? Yes, a river ran through the site of the original church. Also the name Lothbury is a clue, previously known as ‘upon Lothberi’ perhaps describing a crossing over a tributary of the Walbrook.

MOLA Hoarding - Bucklersbury Hythe -
 Artists Impression of dock as high up as Bucklersbury

In Court of Common Council records it is written that the Walbrook created an administrative division between the then 24 Wards (self-governing districts within the City), denoted by ‘East of Walbrook’ or ‘West of Walbrook’ certainly until the end of the Tudor period. The church rebuilt in 1440 straddled the culverted Walbrook and still has plaques denoting Coleman and Broad Street Wards on the building.

Nero coin found Bucklersbury Site
and shown to us on 18/02/13
Creating a walk requires considerable time and research and then it has to be walked and tried out several times. Even on the day of the first walk there are still tweaks, omissions and additions to consider. Also your audience can ask a question which you may have the answer for but did not initially recognise its relevance, and importance to the listener, so the next time you include it. Of course you need to be timely with your stops and when you have so much to tell but only a short time to tell it, you have to be succinct. Which can be frustrating, but that’s what the training and practice is all about. I think that is the hardest part to know when to stop and move on.

(c) Steve Duncan - Urban Explorer
Walbrook 'springs eternal'

Today I found a copy of Stephen Myer’s book at the Guildhall Library and it’s a great read. Of course I have now discovered even more interesting things to include.  It also raised further questions and perhaps even doubts.  That’s the way with talking and walking history, you never know what will be discovered or what new information is forth coming, there is not one way of telling it but many. 

One thing is for certain the Walbrook may have been the first of the London rivers to disappear but it will certainly not be the last time you will be hearing about it.

Come and join me and let me tell you more -

Check out the MOLA site below:

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1 comment:

  1. Very interesting to see how your Walbrook Walk developed over time. We loved following along via twitter! You'll have to let us know when your next one is!