05 April, 2007

Highgate and Archway - Maundy Thursday afternoon

Maundy Thursday has come round again and therefore I, in common with all other Civil Servants, have the afternoon off. I'm never sure what to do with this jolly half day, but today I went to Archway and Highgate. Starting off at Archway Station, after the obligatory visit to the Coöp supermarket (which puts some of the others to shame) I walked up the hill past the Whittington stone where Dick Whittington heard the bells of St Mary le Bow calling him back to London. He subsequently made his fortune there as a mercer and banker, becoming Lord Mayor four times (three in the pantomime) and giving money to various charities somewhat indiscriminately.

At the top of Highgate hill is Waterlow Park, given by another Lord Mayor of London out of lands surrounding 5 Houses, including Lauderdale house, where Charles II 'entertained' Nell Gwyn, who threatened to throw her bastard first child off the roof unless the King gave him a peerage! The King begged her to save the Earl of Burford! The other dwellings included one where the poet Andrew Marvell, a friend of Milton, lived. The picture shows Lauderdale House the other houses have been demolished.

Highgate also contains the Whittington Hospital and a fusty old secondhand bookshop with everything priced at £12.50. The crusty old proprietor must love his stock so much he never wants to let it go. The other item of note, for gentlemen only was the spectacular public urinal, from the days when sanitary fittings were big.

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