As a boy, I was fascinated with London. Ever since the first visit I can recall, I was captured by the feel of the city, the restless energy and steady beating heart of the Thames, by its magnificent buildings, by its seething humanity and perhaps above all, by the fact that this was a physical, lasting legacy left to my generation by our visionary ancestors.
Of late, and particularly under the former less-than-illustrious Labour Government, the city, and above all, the City of London, has changed immeasurably, covering everything from towering finance buildings – the glass Babels of our day – to new railways, to reformed legislation and altered boundaries. As my interest in the city grew, what fascinated me was that in spite of the relentless surge of progress and change in a city that is plausibly more ‘international’ and ‘cosmopolitan’ than it is English, bastions of Englishness, of our shared heritage and of the bold ambition of our predecessors still exist, and more importantly, continue to serve their original purpose into this brave new age.
I longed to discover what the continued significance and importance of London’s secret heritage is to the modern Englishman. What can we learn about our ancestors; what echoes of those who spoke with such conviction? What can we learn about our place in this modern city; what can we claim as truly ours? What can we ascertain about ourselves? Over the next three days, I shall be documenting recent exploratory visits to the capital, taking in visits to the Churches of the City of London, to the London Borough of St. Pancras, and to the City of London Cemetery and Crematorium, to discover the living and dead legacy of our forebearers.
As always, feedback, contributions, recollections and insights are heartily welcomed: please feel free to make full use of the comments section below, or get in touch on Twitter.