We’ve added a new title to our bookshelf this week: I Never Knew That About London. And we’ve discovered a kindred spirit in Christopher Winn, the author. His miscellany ‘begins where London began, on the north bank of the Thames where the Romans built their bridge, then follows the river… Villages merge. Boroughs change their names. Post codes are indistinct. The river is the one constant.’ Like a first class gold panner, Winn has dredged London’s deepest deposits and compiled a book filled with 24 carat curiosities.
An illustration of Elizabeth I entering St John’s Gate in Aug 1574 [image: brisray.com]
Just like us, Winn thinks about London as a patchwork of neighbouring villages. But the sort of local knowledge he searches for is vanished from plain sight, sealed up in stones, coded in signs for the initiated. It’s an enkindling thing, for example, to read about St John’s Gate, just up at the top of St John’s Lane, where our new offices are. Most of us pass beneath the arch on the way to the office each morning – its a walk made by Londoners since its erection in 1504.
Jerusalem Passage on the left of The Modern Pantry [image: london.eventseekr.com]
And just beyond, across St John’s Square, is Jerusalem Passage – it’s a shortcut we take to our other office on Bowling Green Lane. In the late 17th century Thomas Britton hosted the first musical club in the room above his coal shop there. Being a great entrepreneur he introduced a subscription fee and put some of the age’s greatest musicians, (including Handel on the harpsichord), on stage for the fee-paying public… listen carefully next time you’re sneaking past the Modern Pantry.Google+