I was a child of the baby boom generation born just after the war. Growing up I remember large bomb sites in the centre of Bristol in particular the area around Castle Park which was covered with grass and purple buddleia. My husband who is older than me can even remember going into air raid shelters to escape the blitz and the big street parties which marked V.E. day in 1945.
However when I saw a walk advertised on the “Walk in the past” website “the Bristol Blitz,” I realised I did not know very much about the actual details of the blitz itself. My mother who was a teacher had taken evacuees to Cornwall and my father lived near Bath so they had not experienced it directly. Continue reading “The Bristol Blitz – A walk in the past”
My husband and I are members of the National trust. For any one who is unfamiliar with the National Trust it is the organisation which looks after many stately homes and gardens as well as large swathes of countryside in England. It is a charity and membership fees help pay for conservation and upkeep of the property and land. It is also possible to pay an individual admission fee to each property.
I belong to a meetup group called “A walk in the past “. This combines two of my loves history which I studied at university and walking. Normally we meet in Bristol or surrounding areas but last week I ventured further afield to London in search of Roman Londinium. I was able to combine this with a visit to see my son who was happy to join me on the walk.
Our group met at a suitably classical location, Trajan’s statue by Tower Hill tube station. This is close to a surviving section of Roman town wall. Roman walls can often be spotted as they have a tile level every couple of feet. We were able to follow the wall for some distance and I was surprised by how much survives. We even found one section in a car park with the brown tile levels clearly visible.
Roman London is buried under modern London and much of it remained undiscovered for centuries. However during the second world war the blitz destroyed many buildings revealing Roman remains. One such building is the London Mithraem, the remains of a temple to Mithras. It has been lovingly preserved and is now in the basement of the Bloomberg building, the European headquarters of the American corporation. It is beautifully present with a sound and light show. It can be visited for free by prior arrangement. The London Mythraem They also have an interesting display of Roman artefacts found at the site including part of a collection of over 400 wax writing tablets. Another important building in any Roman town was the amphitheatre. The London amphitheatre remained hidden until 1988 when developers rebuilding the Guildhall discovered unusual curved walls. The remains can now be seen for free in the basement of the Guildhall.
Originally Colchester was the capital of Roman Britain but Londinium soon became more important. Boudica led the Iceni on a raid which resulted in many wooden building being destroyed and it was decided to build a fort and walls to strengthen the town. Londinium became more important under the emperor Hadrian who used his own money to build civic buildings. The Romans were able to build a bridge across the Thames near the site of the modern Tower Bridge and it became an important trading port. Lead from the Mendips and copper and tin from Cornwall were traded for olive oil , wine and other luxury goods. I was shown the site of the London arena, where soldiers would have trained which was discovered about forty years ago and the enormous forum basilica. which is now under Leadenhall market. We ended our walk by looking at Roman artefacts in the excellent museum of London. This is also free and is well worth a visit. I particularly liked the model of the original London bridge.