Visit London Blog » medieval london Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 22 May 2015 17:44:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What’s On This Weekend: 28-29 December Mon, 23 Dec 2013 10:00:09 +0000

That tricky weekend between Christmas and New Year’s Eve doesn’t have to be spent in a food coma watching all those comedy DVDs you were given on Wednesday. As always, there is lots to see and do in London, including Boxing Day sales and a medieval celebration at the Tower of London.

Boxing Day Sales

You may know them as the January sales, but many of the best shops, malls and department stores start their sales on 26 December. We have a guide to the sales dates and how to make the most of your shopping spree, including Westfield, Harvey Nichols and Harrods. From 26 Dec

Medieval Christmas at Tower of London

The Christmas events haven’t dried up just yet, as the Tower of London is putting on a special exhibition from 27 December. Head to the famous London landmark and be transported back to Christmas 1284, where the Norman court of the King of England Edward I is preparing to celebrate the festive season in the newly built White Tower, complete with disgruntled Saxon workers outside of the castle walls. 27-31 Dec


The Roundhouse welcomes back its fastest-ever selling show, Fuerzabruta, this week, making this the perfect weekend to see what all the fuss is about! The show defies a straightforward explanation as it blends special effects with amazing stunts and a nerve-shredding soundtrack, as actors appear all round the venue for what is a captivating spectacle. 23 Dec-2 Mar

Disney on Ice: Dare To Dream

Disney on Ice is back for a short run at The O2 Arena for a celebration of Disney Princesses new and old. Kids can see Rapunzel, Tiana, Cinderella and, of course, Snow White strut their stuff on the ice. 26 Dec-5 Jan

Catch an Exhibition

It’s a great time to check out an exhibition this weekend, as the museums should be quieter than usual. Our list of the top ten current exhibitions would be a good place to start, including Paul Klee, Henri Matisse, Paul Smith and the Taylor Wessing Prize.

Spa Day

If you didn’t get that spa day you were hoping for, why not treat yourself to some post-Christmas pre-New Year’s pampering? We list London’s best spas and can think of little better to melt away the stress of stuffing the turkey and deciding where to go on NYE than a full body massage!

More London events

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Visiting the Past: Traitors’ Heads on Old London Bridge Wed, 23 Oct 2013 09:00:58 +0000

As Halloween looms, London is likely to be awash with people dressed as zombies and other members of the ‘undead’. Less than 400 years ago, you could have witnessed the genuinely ghoulish sight of the rotting heads of traitors, stuck up on poles on Old London Bridge.

The first recorded head displayed on London Bridge was that of William Wallace, the Scottish patriot executed in 1305 for fighting against the English rule of King Edward I. From then on, heads were shown on the Drawbridge Gate before they were moved to the Great Stone Gate at the southern end of the bridge in 1577. A Keeper of the Heads had the job of looking after the rotting skulls, which were often par-boiled and dipped in tar to preserve them.

Tudor visitors to London recorded the grisly sight in their travel journals. In 1592, one German visitor saw a total of 34 heads on display. The political and religious upheavals of the 16th century led to the execution of many people and a ready supply of heads for London Bridge, including Henry VIII’s ministers Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell.

Bishop John Fisher, who refused to accept Henry VIII as head of the Church, was executed in 1535. His head was displayed on the bridge for 14 days and instead of decomposing “grew daily fresher and fresher, so that in his life time he never looked so well”. So many people visited London Bridge to view this macabre miracle that it caused serious traffic jams. The head was discreetly thrown in the river at night to end these disturbances.

The practice of exhibiting traitors’ heads on London Bridge continued into the 17th century (the heads of Guy Fawkes and the other Gunpowder Plot conspirators are famous examples) but it finally ceased in the 1670s.

Find out more about 16th and 17th century London at the Museum of London’s Medieval London and War, Plague and Fire galleries.

Learn more about the legendary Tower of London in Tudor Times by watching Tower Beefeater Barney Chandler sharing his London Story. Watch this video  for a chance to win a dream trip to London for two. Find out more here.

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Visiting the Past: London’s Ancient City Walls Tue, 09 Apr 2013 09:00:42 +0000 Did you know that the City of London used to be protected by a great wall dating back to Roman times, the remains of which can still be seen today?

The Romans built a wall around the city of Londinium in around AD 200 but it fell into disrepair after the Roman occupation of Britain ended in AD 410. The city was abandoned for the next 400 years.

London was re-established inside the city walls in the 9th-century and throughout the medieval period the wall was repaired and strengthened. From the 16th-century onwards, London outgrew its ancient walls and much of it was either knocked down or covered by new buildings. The remains of the wall, hidden inside more modern buildings, were revealed after bombing in the Second World War destroyed large areas of the City of London.

Several sections of city wall have been preserved and are well worth visiting. They give a glimpse back in time to Roman and medieval London. Highlights include:

  • Outside Tower Hill Underground station –  the Roman part of the wall is more than  four metres (13 feet) high
  • The courtyard of the Grange City Hotel in Cooper’s Row – the windows (loop holes) used by medieval archers can still be seen
  • St Alphege Gardens, Wood Street – you can see almost the full height of the medieval wall
  • The churchyard of St Giles’ Cripplegate – medieval towers added to the city wall in the 13th-century are still visible
  • Museum of London – two medieval towers and a section of city wall, altered in the 19th-century, stand in a garden next to the museum

Museum of LondonYou can find out more about the ancient city wall on the Museum of London website, or if you’d like to explore the remains of the wall, you can download the London Wall Walk guide.

A guest post by Meriel Jeater, of the Museum of London as part of our Visiting the Past series. More about London’s fascinating history next week.

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