musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

The Monument: London

In 2008 when we were in London on business, my workmate and I were on our way back to our hotel when we spotted a strange building/monument that I could not place. 

At the time I could not figure out what it was, or what the context for it was either, to make matters worse, it was shrouded in scaffolding so there was no way of knowing what was going on. We did not hang around to investigate and headed back to our hotel, but I stashed the image away in my mind and when we returned to South Africa did some homework.

It turns out that I should have paid some attention because this was a very important part of the history of London, and I made a mental note that if ever I went back to the city I would go check out this structure (hopefully the restoration would be complete too).

Simply known as “The Monument”,  it is more correct to refer to it as “The Monument to the Great Fire of London”.  It stands at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill (Google Earth co-ordinates  51.510158°,  -0.085999°), and is 62 m tall and 62 m from the spot in Pudding Lane where the Great Fire started on 2 September 1666

The exif data of my images dates my visit to 14 April 2013, and it was one of the rare sunnyish days that I experienced in London in 2013. As I walked up London Bridge I noticed that there was a visitor alongside HMS Belfast.

HMS Westminster (F237)

HMS Westminster (F237) and HMS Belfast

That really made my day and I hoped that the stairs to the top of that structure would not kill me before I reached the top.

It is quite difficult to get far away enough to fit the whole structure into an image, but I am happy to say I was successful.

Then the grand stair climb began… there are 311 stairs to climb, each is 6 inches high and the stairwell is narrow, if 2 opposing climbers meet then there is a problem. On this occasion I encountered a crocodile of munchkins on their way down while I was halfway up. Fortunately I was able to find a  nook to squeeze into while heaps of small children clattered downwards past me. 

A pause for breath: and there we are with London at our feet.

Looking towards Tower Bridge. (1500x691)

Looking towards Tower Bridge. (1500×691)

Looking towards Southwark  (1500x907)

Looking towards Southwark (1500×907)

The Walkie-Talkie and the Gherkin (1024x768)

The “Walkie-Talkie” and the “Gherkin” (1024×768)

St Pauls towards the left edge, (1500x715)

St Pauls towards the left edge, (1500×715)

The view is stupendous, although it was probably much better way back when the view to St Paul’s Cathedral was unobstructed. Unfortunately high rise buildings have really ruined the view.

The doorway onto the viewing platform faces east, with “The Shard” sticking out on the left. It was not there when we were in London in 2008, and I would really love to see the view from the top of it. 

As you can see, the platform is fenced because this has been a favourite place for potential suicides. 

And then it was time to head downwards…. 

Do you ever go down these in your dreams?

Do you ever go down these in your dreams?

Fortunately going down is easier than going up, although it is still dangerous. One slip and it is a long fall. 

Did I mention it has a very unpretentious door?

And there is this really nice relief too…

That concluded my brief visit and daily exercise. Overall it is a really great find (and a reasonably cheapish one too) and in spite of those 311 stairs I was suitably chuffed. That’s what I love about London; it is full of history, and often it is the small gems like this that bring it to life.

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