Hidden London

Cannon Street

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City of London

One of the City’s longest streets and site of its most symbolically important relic. Linking the Monument to St Paul’s Churchyard, Cannon Street traces the route of the ancient riverside track that ran alongside the Thames towards the Strand. It was first recorded in 1183 as Candelewrithstret – the street of the candle-wrights. The City ward of Candlewick takes its identity from the same root. Cannon Street used to stretch only as far west as Walbrook. It took its present form in the mid-1850s, when a path was cleared through a network of small lanes south-east of St Paul’s and the whole route was widened. Cannon Street station and its accompanying bridge over the Thames opened in 1866. The station served as the new terminus of the South-Eastern Railway, which had originally run into London Bridge. British Rail reconstructed the bridge in 1981 and an office block was built over the station later in the same decade.

Sometime in the Middle Ages a limestone monolith was placed in the middle of Cannon Street, where it may have acted as a focus for judicial proceedings. Over the years legends arose that a Trojan king had brought it here, that it marked the site of Druidic sacrifices and that London’s prosperity depended on its safekeeping. Edward III made it the axis of the City’s trade when he granted Londoners the right to hold markets within a seven-mile radius of London Stone, as it had become known.

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As Dr Johnson said in another rocky context, London Stone is worth seeing but not worth going to see

Postal district: EC4
Station: Circle and District Lines and South Eastern and Kent Coast terminus (Zone 1)

Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

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