London’s medieval architecture – an umbrella term covering styles including the Romanesque and Gothic – stretches from the invasion of William the Conquerer in 1066 all the way to the end of the 15th century. Features of this period were high, pointed arches and stained glass windows. Set aside a couple of hours and take our walking tour through some of the best architecture from the Middle Ages in the capital.
Walk five-minutes north to St Olave’s Church on the corner of Hart Street and Seething Lane. The building as it stands today was constructed in about the 1250s, and replaced an earlier structure – probably made from wood – on the same site. It is one of the smallest churches in the City of London, and one of only a few churches from the Middle Ages to have survived the Great Fire of London in 1666; this was largely the result of famous diarist Samuel Pepys, who is buried at this church, ordering the surrounding buildings to be demolished to create a firebreak. The church was badly damaged during the Blitz in World War II, but has been sensitively restored with the exterior in the Perpendicular Gothic style. Check out the stainless window showing Queen Elizabeth I on the east side of the building, which is a nod to the thanksgiving service she held at the church in 1554 to commemorate her release from the Tower of London.
Stroll five-minutes south to Cloth Fair. This name of this medieval street comes from its original use as the place where merchants bought and sold materials at the Bartholomew Fair. Houses on this street were previously within the walls of church St Bartholomew the Great, which runs along the eastern side of the street, and this helped to protect them from destruction in the Great Fire of London. Most of the homes from the Middle Ages were demolished during the slum clearances after World War I, but this street still contains the oldest house in London at number 41/42, which was built between 1597 and 1614.