To paraphrase Dorothy: 'There is no place like London.' I hope I can convince you of that here. Also check out my blog at damselwithadulcimer.wordpress.com and my theatre reviews at www.playstosee.com
Published December 18th 2011
Although the national newspapers have all moved their offices out of Fleet Street, it is still a synonym for journalism and publishing. The first daily paper, the Daily Courant, was printed near the now defunct Fleet Bridge in 1702, and in 1500, Wynkyn de Worde located his printing press near the entrance to Shoe Lane. Thus began the association between printing and Fleet Street, a connection that is still maintained in the form of St Brides Church, the journalist's place of prayer. De Worde was buried in St Bride's after his death in 1535.
Start your walk at Ludgate Circus, where Ludgate Hill meets Fleet Street. If you look to your right you will see Holborn Viaduct spanning Farringdon Street. This bridge was opened by Queen Victoria in 1869 and is reputed to have cost £2.5 million.
Crossing to the left hand side of the street you will come to St Bride's Church, named after St Bridgit of Kildare. Six churches have occupied this site since the sixth century and the present Wren designed building dates to 1675. However this was badly damaged in 1940 but restored and rededicated in 1957. Over the centuries the crypt has served as a place of burial and a charnel house. You can join a 90 minute guided tour of the church and crypt on alternate Tuesdays at 3pm.
Back on the other side of the road again is El Vino. This wine bar and wine merchants (formerly Bower and Co) can be found at 47 Fleet Street. Once the haunt of journalists, it is now heavily patronised by members of the legal profession and was featured in Rumpole of the Bailey as Pomeroys.
A little further along at 145 is Ye Old Cheshire Cheese, a pub built in 1667. It is said to have been frequented by Dr Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith, Tennyson, Thackeray, Oscar Wilde, Yeats and Mark Twain. It is also mentioned by Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities.
Cross back to the other side of Fleet Street, turn down Fetter Lane, right into West Harding Street and following the signs to Dr Johnson's House in Gough Square. This was where he compiled his famous dictionary, that was published in 1755.
and you will immediately be aware that the traffic noises of Fleet Street fade into the distance. Wander along and experience the peace and calm of the Inner Temple and take a look at the Temple Church that was built by the Knights Templar in the twelfth century. This also suffered bomb damage during WW2 and was renovated and rededicated in 1954. If the church is open you can go in and look round.