Monday, 28 March 2022

Turning Round Through Four Centuries

Last week I spent a few days in London with Liz and the girls. On Thursday I took Jess for a walk in the buggy to enable Liz to get some housework done. The sun was shining and I strolled up through the Rockingham Estate. A lot of council housing was built in the 1920's after much slum clearance in Southwark. Nobody has their own garden - but there is great enthusiasm for the allotment project. I felt very grateful to have my little plot at Cornerstones with my own raised bed.


A little further on I came to a beautiful park and play area, which opened in 2021 to the delight of the locals. Somewhere safe to go for fresh air during the pandemic. Good play equipment/exercise machines for all ages. Dickens Fields is named after the author, who lived in Southwark 200 years ago. 

I walked on, up Tabard Street. This is named for the Tabard Inn, where pilgrims bound for Beckett's shrine at Canterbury would gather before setting off down the Old Kent Road.(including poet Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century) I finally got to the Church of St George the Martyr. Next to the church is an area full of street food vendors (and I was pleased to smell the delicious aromas) and beyond that, the old churchyard has been turned into public gardens with benches, blooms, and trees (some newly planted, and others quite ancient. 
As I stood there in the gardens, I realised that I could literally turn round and see buildings from four different centuries
  • 18th - the Church itself (built on site of an older church) 
  • 19th - part of the Wall of Marshalsea Debtors' Prison (where Dickens' dad was incarcerated) 
  • 20th - the Tabard Gardens Estate (more development after the slum clearances) built in the years after WW1
  • 21st - The Shard, gleaming and pointing to the sky
Jess would not sleep, she was getting fractious. I lifted her out of the buggy and walked round with her. I told her all about debt, and Dickens, Chaucer and churches, Slums and the Shard. In a boring soporific voice. She stared at me with her huge, wondering eyes. Then I sang some nursery rhymes. Would she ever settle down? Finally I started explaining about The Raised Bed. At this point she began yelling. I was truly grateful that Liz arrived with her lunch, and Mummy-cuddles!
When Jess is older, I'll tell her again about the rich history of the area around her home.






10 comments:

  1. What a fascinating area. Thanks for sharing a little about it.

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    1. There is a different bit of history round every corner.

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  2. I know that part of Southwark fairly well because of the years I used to commute to the Elephant and Castle and regular visit to the Maudsley Hospital in Denmark Hill. Its an area full of history as you say.

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    1. The area round E&C has changed so much in the two decades Liz haslived there. The demolition of the Heygate Estate and the Shopping Centre, and now the fancy new "Elephant Park". The Metropolitan Tabernacle opposite the Tube station retains its Victorian facade (my great gran attended Mr Spurgeons Bible Class there in Victorian times)

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  3. That sounds amazing - and with those buildings the echoes of so much longer.

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    1. It is a place full of memories and stories of years gone by.

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  4. What a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing some of the history you see all around you! :)

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  5. The park and play area sounds great. These are so important for people to get out and enjoy. Any city that doesn't have enough parks is not people friendly!

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