Home UK Map A-Z England Scotland Wales Articles Links About Us
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Bookmarks Share via e-mail Print

LONDON WALL, EC2Y 5DN

GETTING THERE

WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?

Fragments of the wall can be seen around the former circuit. The underground London Wall Car Park includes a short section of wall within and is an ideal place to start the walk. Above ground, several towers can be seen in various degrees of ruin. The Museum of London also has an excellent Roman section. All gates are gone (with exception of the foundations of a postern). Nothing remains of the two medieval castles that, along with the Tower of London, ensured Norman dominance of this key city.

VISIT OFFICIAL SITE (Opens in new window)

A substantial Roman exhibition is found in the Museum of London.

London Wall. The line of the Roman Walls, initially an earth rampart and then rebuilt in stone around AD 200, remained largely unaltered for almost 1500 years. The location of London’s three Norman castles - Baynard, Montfichet and the Tower of London - also made use of the existing Roman defences.


POSTCODE

LAT/LONG

London Wall Car Park

EC2Y 5DN

51.517526N 0.095106W

Tower Hill Statute / Wall

EC3N 4DX

51.509882N 0.076163W

Tower of London

EC3N 4AB

51.507890N 0.075628W

St Magnus Church

EC3R 6AF

51.509559N 0.086211W

Baynard’s Castle (Site of)

EC4V 4EH

51.511956N 0.098430W

Montfichet Castle (Site of)

EC4M 7EP

51.515753N 0.102134W

Notes:  The remains of the wall aren’t particularly well sign-posted so printing this page (and/or the Google map) is recommended. London Wall Car Park is immediately adjacent to the Wall but many other options are also available including extensive public transport facilities.

BAYNARD’S CASTLE

Baynard's Castle was built circa-1067 by Ralph Baynard in the western corner of the City walls at the point where the River Fleet intersects with the Thames. Ralph was one of the Norman magnates who fought with William I at Hastings and had distinguished himself at that battle. He was rewarded with grants of land in Eastern England - then the population centre of England - as well as the site of Baynard's Castle. His initial fortification would have been an earth and timber structure and, along with the Tower of London and Montfichet's Castle, were key to maintaining the intimidation of the City to prevent any insurrection against Norman rule.


Ralph's grandson, William Baynard, forfeited the castle in 1110 when he was convicted of insurrection against Henry I. The site reverted to the Crown and was immediately re-allocated it to Robert FitzRichard, a descendant of the powerful de Clare family. Robert would go on to serve Henry I and King Stephen as Steward. In 1198 it passed to his grandson, Robert FitzWalter, who became one of the leading magnates opposed to King John during the First Barons War and Baynard's Castle was destroyed by Royalist forces at this time. Robert would continue to lead the rebels until his capture at the Battle of Lincoln but was reconciled with the regime of Henry III in 1218 and rebuilt Baynard's Castle. The site was granted by the FitzWalters in 1275 to the church to enable the foundation of a community of Dominican Friars (known as Blackfriars due to the colour of their cape).


At some point after 1285, a new Baynard Castle - built predominantly as a luxury residence - was constructed slightly to the east of the former site. Details as to who constructed this are sketchy; a charter from 1338 makes reference to a "tower of the Thames" erected during the reign of Edward II and by 1428 it was in the care of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester who rebuilt part of the structure following a fire. The site later reverted to the Crown which saw it used as a Royal residence and court. Of note Edward IV assumed the title of King at Baynard's Castle after overthrowing the regime of Henry VI whilst the Tudor monarchs all made use of the fine residential apartments. All traces of the castle were obliterated during the Great Fire of London in 1666.

Montfichet's Castle was built on Ludgate Hill inside the perimeter of the Roman City wall. Situated adjacent to the medieval crossing point over the River Fleet, overlooking the route that today is Fleet Street, it was first referred to in a document dated 1130 although it is likely the structure was built in the years following the Norman Conquest.


Little is now known about the structure although it is believed to have consisted of a tower (the site is often referred to as Montfichet Tower) which, based on archaeological investigations in the late twentieth century, seems to have been surrounded by a defensive ditch plus a supporting bailey. It is probable the defences on the western side abutted the Roman walls.


In 1212 the then owner - Richard Mountfitchet - joined the rebellion against King John. Like nearby Baynard's Castle, it was destroyed by Royalist forces along with a number of other rebel owned fortifications including Richard's Mountfitchet Castle in Essex. Richard does not seem to have been deterred in his rebellion - he continued to support the Barons’ cause including compelling John to seal Magna Carta in 1215 and was one of the twenty-five Barons tasked with enforcement of the charter. Richard made peace with the Royal family after the death of King John and rebuilt his London castle shortly after.


Richard never married and the Montfitchet family died out with him in 1258. Like nearby Baynard's Castle, the site was purchased by the church in 1275 to form part of the new Dominican Priory that became known as Blackfriars. All traces of the castle have now gone but its legacy remains; the name of the Old Bailey Law Courts is believed to derive from its location within Montfichet Castle's bailey.

GATES OF LONDON


Roman London had six major gates leading out from the City through the walls. These remained the main entry/exit points for 1500 years with just one additional road access added in the fifteenth century.


Aldgate. The Roman era Aldgate was rebuilt between 1108 and 1147 with further upgrades in 1215. Even though Colchester was less significant in the medieval period, the Priory of Holy Trinity was established nearby ensuring it was maintained. It was rebuilt for the last time between 1607 and 1609. To improve traffic access it was demolished in 1761.


Bishopsgate. Through this gate passed the Roman road now known as Ermine Street which led to Cambridge then beyond to Lincoln and York. How it acquired its medieval name is unknown but presumably it was connected in some manner with the Bishop of London. It was rebuilt in 1479 and again as a ceremonial entrance in 1735. Just twenty five years later, in 1760, it was demolished to improve traffic access.


Moorgate. This gate was built here in 1415 by Mayor Thomas Falconer originally accessing a relatively marshy area. By the seventeenth century this had been drained and Moorgate was rebuilt as a ceremonial entrance to the City in 1672. It was demolished in 1761 to improve traffic access.


Cripplegate. Originally the northern entrance to the Roman Fort, it was rebuilt in 1491 and would later be used as a prison. Additional defences were constructed outside the gate earning the area the name of Barbican. In 1663 it was once again rebuilt as a grand ceremonial entrance but was demolished in the 1760s.


Aldersgate. In the third century AD, the Romans built a dedicated gateway to replace the nearby western entrance into the former fort. It remained an important access throughout the medieval period as it led to the livestock market at Smithfield and towards St Bartholomew's Priory. Rebuilt in 1672 it was demolished in 1760.


Newgate. Through this gate ran Watling Street, the main Roman road to Chester, and it seemingly pre-dated the City wall. It was used as a prison from as early as 1190. Sir Richard (Dick) Whittington, Mayor of London bequeathed money to rebuilt the structure which was duly done in 1422. Rebuilt again in 1628, it was badly damaged by the Great Fire of London prompting another rebuild in 1672. It continued to be used as a prison becoming notorious for the squalid conditions. The prison was moved to dedicated facilities in the eighteenth century and the gate was demolished in 1777.


Ludgate. The Roman access to the bridge over the River Fleet. It was rebuilt in 1260 by Henry III and again in 1586. It was demolished in the 1760s.

Roman Wall. Fragments of the City wall can be found in several places throughout London. This segment is within London Wall Car Park near the Museum of London.

MOD Main Building. Today home to the Ministry of Defence. The Roman Fort in the north-west corner of Londinium would have served a similar function.

Postern Gate. A medieval postern gate through the City wall near the Tower of London. This provided pedestrian access only.

Roman Wall. The Roman wall consisted of roughly prepared Kent ragstone cemented into position with strengthening provided by layers of Roman tiles.

MONTFICHET’S CASTLE