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The lonely tower of St Augustine Watling Street: The history of St Paul’s next door neighbour

The story of the former church, which dates back to the 12th century.

St Pauls Augustine © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2020

St Augustine, Watling Street was the closest church to St Paul’s Cathedral

St Augustine church tower autumn © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2020

The tower overlooks Festival Gardens

Standing just a few feet besides St Paul’s Cathedral is the remains of St Augustine, Watling Street. Today, all that’s left of the Anglican church is the 17th century tower and spire, which has been incorporated into a prep school.

St Augustine, Watling Street dates back to the 12th century when it was built in dedication to St Augustine of Canterbury (d.604). The Benedictine monk was sent to England as a missionary in 597 and converted King Æthelberht of Kent to Christianity. The earliest recording of the church dates back to 1148. Located on the corner of Watling Street and Old Change, the Medieval church was around 61ft long, with a 59ft long extension added in the 13th century. It was partially rebuilt in 1630-31 for £1,200. Writing about its renovation, historian John Snow (1524-1605) called St Augustine “a fair church”, adding “every part of its richly and worthily beautified”.

Prior to the Great Fire of London, St Augustine was one of 109 churches in the City of London. The terrifying blaze of September 1666 ravaged 89 of these, with only 52 being rebuilt. Like most buildings in the City, the Medieval St Augustine was destroyed along with the neighbouring Old St Paul’s Cathedral.

St Augustine's steeple © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2020

The spire was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor

As rebuilding began, the parish of St Augustine was united with St Faith’s, whose congregation had worshipped in the crypt of the cathedral prior to the fire. Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723) designed a new St Augustine, along with 50 other City churches and the current St Paul‘s Cathedral. The main church was opened in September 1683 and was 51ft long, 45ft wide and 30ft high. An arcade of Corinthian columns separated the nave from the aisles with a barrel vaulted ceiling and three skylights on each side. The interior walls had up to 8ft of panelling, while galleries were erected on the north and west sections of the church. The Portland stone tower was rebuilt in 1680-84, with oculus windows and a belfry, topped with a Baroque parapet, obelisks and pinnacles. It was completed with a lead spire designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor (1661-1736) in 1695-96.

While the church probably sounds lovely to our 21st imaginations, it didn’t impress one 19th century critic. In the 1838 book, ‘The Churches of London: A History of the Ecclesiastical Edifices of the Metropolis’, architect and journalist George Godwin (1813-1888) writes: “The interior of the present church is plain and very small; and consists of a nave and ailes (sic) formed by Ionic columns that carry a waggon-headed ceiling. These columns are raised on exceedingly lofty plinths, which render the height and consequent diameter of the columns so small as to degrade them to mere props and produce altogether a bad effect.” Read the rest of this entry

William Blake’s Ancient of Days projected on to St Paul’s Cathedral

Where Light Falls: A spectacular sound and light show on St Paul’s Cathedral

Gaze up at the ‘Lunch Break’ angels for the London Festival of Architecture

Fearless Girl statue visits the City of London for the spring

Fearless Girl London © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

Fearless Girl by Kristen Visbal has come to London for three months

Fearless Girl London © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019Two years ago, a bronze sculpture of a young girl appeared in New York City and made international headlines. ‘Fearless Girl’ by Kristen Visbal was originally commissioned by State Street Global Advisors (SSGA) to highlight companies with more balanced gender representations and more women amongst leadership roles. The sculpture was erected opposite Wall Street’s famous Charging Bull statue.

A copy of Fearless Girl was unveiled in London on International Women’s Day (8 March 2019). The bronze statue stands outside the London Stock Exchange on Paternoster Square, just moments from St Paul‘s Cathedral. Standing at around 50 inches high, the sculpture will remain in situ until early June. The SSGA said it hopes the statue’s appearance in London will encourage companies to address gender imbalance in leadership roles.

  • Fearless Girl is on show until 4 June 2019. At Paternoster Square, City of London, EC4M. Nearest stations: St Paul’s or City Thameslink.

For the latest what’s on guide in London, click here.

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Madison London review: Cosy up with hot cocktails and great views at The Chalet winter terrace

© Madison rooftop
At this time of year, a rooftop bar isn’t always a natural choice for a night out. However, this season, City of London drinking destination Madison have given their terrace a winter makeover. Their outdoor space has been turned into an enticing, cosy festive hideout, with a special winter drinks menu of hot aperitifs.

© Madison Vin Brule

A Vin Brule (Italian Mulled Wine)

Last week, I went along with a friend to check out Madison’s new seasonal menu and to try their winter warmers. Madison is a restaurant and bar spanning the top floor of the One New Change complex and boasts amazing views of neighbouring St Paul’s Cathedral and the capital skyline. I’ve previously visited the bar for summer alfresco drinks and have always enjoyed their cocktails so was looking forward to seeing what they could do with the changing season.

The night of our visit was pretty cold, but fortunately Madison are well prepared with patio heaters and cosy faux fur and tartan blankets to snuggle up under. Their rooftop space features a series of alpine-inspired chalets with twinkling lights, which really gives it a Christmassy atmosphere.

As well as their usual wine and cocktail list, Madison’s bartenders have curated a special Hot Aperitifs menu featuring a selection of six warm cocktails. My friend and I both have a sweet tooth so the Chocolate Delight (Bulleit Whisky, chocolate and salted caramel) seemed like a good place to start. There was just a hint of the whisky’s smokiness, but it was predominantly sweet. The cocktail did remind me of a boozy hot chocolate and was very easy to drink. As a regular gin connoisseur, I also couldn’t resist trying the Aromatic Genever (Gin and green apple), which was pretty strong with a hint of fruitiness. Meanwhile, my friend went for a more traditional Christmas drink – a Vin Brule (Italian Mulled Wine), which she really enjoyed.

Aside from our hot concoctions, we also ordered a sharing platter from the bar menu. We ate a selection of warm snacks, including tallegio and walnut arancini (my personal favourite), buttermilk chicken, sautéed mini chorizo sausage and smoked tomato hummus with seeded crackers. There was a good, tasty variety of food and the selection was a great accompaniment for a cocktail session.

Overall, we had a great evening. The service was friendly and attentive, while the atmosphere was very festive. Despite the cool outside temperature, we felt very cosy during our few hours on the roof thanks to the heaters and blankets. The cocktail menu had something for everyone’s tastes, although I particularly loved the Chocolate Delight, which really lived up to its name. I’ll definitely be returning for some Christmas drinks.

  • Madison (rooftop terrace), 1 New Change, City of London, EC4M 9AF. Nearest station: St Paul’s. The rooftop terrace chalets is open from 7 November 2018 – 28 February 2019. Open daily 4pm until late. To book a chalet, contact the Madison London events team on madisonevents@danddlondon.com . For more information, visit the Madison London website.

© Madison rooftop cocktails

For a guide to what else is on in London in Febuary, click here.

For more of Metro Girl’s bar reviews, click here.

Madison Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Broken Shaker pop-up comes to Madison for London Cocktail Week

© Broken Shaker BAD ATTITUDE

A Bad Attitude (Toasted Coconut Bacardi 4 yr, Campari, Sweet Vermouth, House Mango Vinegar) at Broken Shaker, which is bringing a pop-up to London for Cocktail Week

If you’ve been to Miami in the past few years, you’ve probably heard of The Broken Shaker. Originally launched as a pop-up in 2012, it’s now a fully-fledged permanent drinking spot at the Freehand Hotel and was No.17 on the 2017 list of the World’s Best Bars. Its team have already wowed Chicago, Los Angeles and New York and now it’s finally crossing the Atlantic just in time for London Cocktail Week 2018.

This Miami Beach hotspot will be bringing its eclectic Florida vibes to the capital for an exclusive pop-up at Madison London. From 2 – 5 October 2018, The Broken Shaker’s East Coast bar director Bobby Eldridge will be creating a bespoke drinks menu for the rooftop destination in the City of London.

Guests can expect a little slice of Miami in an urban oasis with sweeping views of St Paul’s Cathedral and the Square Mile. The team behind the Broken Shaker are bringing some Miami heat with its signature ‘backyard’ tropical décor. The special menu will feature a mix of local and exotic ingredients, overseen by Miami’s top female bartender Courtney Lane.

Among the concoctions will be the grapefruit and garden shrub-infused Lion’s Club, whiskey-based Thai Tea Sazerac, and Coco-nut Case (Olmeca Altos Plata Tequila, Koko Kanu, fresh lime, kaffir agave and a coconut citrus sea salt rim). Also on offer will be the Broken Shaker’s signature aperitifs such as the Mocha Negroni (tequila, vanilla and grapefruit-infused Sancho’s Special), and the Fair and Square (peanut butter-washed Bulleit Rye, dark chocolate-infused Hennessy, red Vermouth, Benedictine and bitters).

  • The Broken Shaker at Madison runs from 2-5 October 2018. At Madison (6th floor), One New Change, New Change, City of London, EC4M 9AF. Nearest station: St Paul’s or Mansion House. Open Tues-Thu 11am-late, Fri 11am-1am. For more information, visit Madison’s website. For more information about London Cocktail Week (1-7 October 2018), visit Drink Up London.

For the latest guide to what’s on in London, click here.

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Thames Rockets review: See iconic London sights at 35mph on a thrilling boat trip

Tower Bridge and Shard Thames Rockets © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

A view of Tower Bridge and The Shard from a Thames Rocket boat

Thames Rockets boat © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

One of the Thames Rockets departs London Eye Pier

I’ve long recommended a boat trip down the River Thames as a ‘must do’ to friends and family visiting London from abroad. It’s a great place to get an overview of the capital and some of its most iconic landmarks. such as the Tower of London, the London Eye and Cleopatra’s Needle. Personally, I’ve been down the river many times over the years on the Thames Clippers, party boats or the tourist cruises. However, the one Thames experience missing from my personal history was a speedboat ride… until now.

I had occasionally seen Thames Rockets on the Thames over the years as a pedestrian on dry land. Finally, last week, I got the chance to experience a trip on a Rocket myself. The company, which launched in 2006, offers six different experiences, ranging from a 15 minute ‘Thames Taster’ to the 80 minute Thames Barrier Explorers Voyage. I was on the Ultimate London Adventure, which aims to provide a “fun-filled adrenaline-fuelled 50 minute” journey. Ahead of my trip, I was intrigued how they would combine a sight-seeing tour and speed.

Arriving 15 minutes before departure, I was greeted by the friendly Thames Rockets team, who fitted my lifejacket at the pier just by the London Eye. Next, we were given a safety briefing before climbing in. The Thames Rockets boats are speedboats with seats for about 12 people, each with a driver and guide abroad during your journey. I managed to get a coveted spot at the front of the boat, which was perfect for me as I was planning to photograph and video a lot of the journey. We were introduced to our driver Doug and our guide Bill and prepared to set off.

Tate Modern © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

The Tate Modern and Millennium Bridge

The first part of our journey was a musical trip past some of London’s most famous sights, such as Shakespeare’s Globe, Waterloo Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral. We slowed down a bit just before Tower Bridge so we could get some good photos. Soon after we passed under Tower Bridge and passed the River Police Station at Wapping, it was time to crank things up a gear. With this eastern passage of the Thames being wider and less busy than central London, Doug was free to increase the speed. Soon enough, we were holding on tight to the railings as we twisted, turned, and jumped over the waves at speeds of up to 30 knots (35mph). There was plenty of whooping and screaming as the group reacted to the various stunts. Sitting by the port side of the boat, I did get a little wet from the spray, but I was well prepared in a raincoat and it was all part of the fun. As we raced towards Canary Wharf, there were times I couldn’t even see the skyscrapers as the bow rode up in front of us as we leaped over the waves. The side turns were particularly hair-raising and certainly showed our skipper’s impressive skills at the wheel.  Read the rest of this entry

Millennium Bridge: A piece of modern London, aka the wobbly bridge

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

The Millennium Bridge links the Southbank to the City of London

London is one of the oldest and most iconic cities in the world. While there are – admittedly very few – pieces of Roman London left, the capital is full of architecture from across the centuries – an amalgamation of old and new. When tourists visit London, they tend to head to the older parts of the city, such as the Tower of London or Buckingham Palace. When it comes to newer additions to the capital, it can take a while for us Londoners to embrace them. Even several decades later, many still hate the Brutalist architecture on the South Bank, while others have slowly grown to love it.

One of London’s newest landmarks is the Millennium Bridge – the steel suspension footbridge spanning the River Thames, linking the Tate Modern to St Paul’s Cathedral. The bridge was one of three structures built in the capital to commemorate the Millennium – along with the London Eye and Millennium Dome (best known now as the O2 Arena). Unfortunately, both the Eye and Bridge fell prey to technical issues and ended up opening later than planned, which I remember was quite embarrassing for us Londoners at the time.

Millennium Bridge Shard Thames © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

The bridge links the City with London’s former entertainment hub Bankside

Millennium Bridge © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Not wobbling any more… Millennium Bridge & St Paul’s

The bridge was the result of a competition in 1996, with Arup, Foster and Partners and Sir Anthony Caro submitting the winning design. Construction on the Millennium Bridge started in late 1998. The bridge is comprised of three sections, 4 metres wide and 325 metre long. The structure includes eight suspension cables tensioned to pull a force of 2,000 tons. The north and south part of the bridges feature slopes, rather than stairs, meaning it is accessible for everyone.

The bridge finally opened on 10 June 2000 – two months later than scheduled and £2.2million over budget, bringing the total cost to £18.2million. However, two days later it was closed after the bridge began to sway while people were crossing it. This instability lead to the public and media dubbing it the ‘wibbly wobbly bridge’ – which has stuck as a nickname for many Londoners. Finally, the bridge was re-opened on 22 February 2002 after a £5million operation to fix the structure in place. Nearly 12 years later, it appears the Millennium Bridge is very much secure and has yet to ‘wibble wobble’ again.

  • The Millennium Bridge is accessible from Bankside in front of the Tate Modern or Peter’s Hill. Nearest stations: Blackfriars, Mansion House and St Paul’s.

Arty: The bridge leads straight to the Tate Modern


For the history of London Bridge, click here.

For a post on another Millennium landmark, the London Eye, click here.

To read about the history of the so-called ‘Christopher Wren House’ beside the Tate Modern, click here

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Eerie shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral on the sky

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Eerie: A shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral dome on the sky

Tonight I was out in the City of London for dinner and a spot of theatre. I’ve heard about the roof terrace at One New Change and popped up in the lift to the sixth floor to check it out. Although the sky was overcast, it was a lovely view of St Paul’s, The Shard, Oxo Tower and more. However, a few hours later, once the ‘sun’ (cough cough) had gone down, we were passing One New Change on our way home so couldn’t resist popping back up to the terrace for another perspective at night. Bizarrely, thanks to what I assume was a combination of low cloud cover and the powerful lights on St Paul’s, there was actually a silhouette, shadow of the iconic dome on the sky. I must confess it was very strange, and slightly eerie and I’m glad I had my proper camera on me to capture the shot.

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