London’s Roman City Wall – The Obscured – Part 3

Introduction

As a continuation of my quest to discover the hidden bits London’s Roman City Wall (see Part 1Part 2), I have targeted a number of other buildings located along the line of the eastern section of the Roman city wall.

After much Googling (other search engines are available), I have found the information available about these potential sites to be obscure and sometimes considerably out of date.  However, not to be put off, I thought I’d use my lunch-hours gainfully and seek out these ancient remnants

Roman Wall House

This post refers to a section of Roman Wall located under the appropriately named “London Wall House” located at the meeting point of Nos.18-20 Jewry Street and No. 1 Crutched Friars in EC3, London.

Roman Wall House - No. 1 Crutched Friars, London, EC3
Roman Wall House – No. 1 Crutched Friars, London, EC3

By the way, the Crutched Friars which give their name to the street are in fact derived from the House of the Friars of the Holy Cross. It seems the Middle English word for “Cross” was “Crouche” from the Latin “Crux” which readily gives the form “Crutched”. Now getting back to the main point, opposite these Friars is London Wall House, No.1 Crutched Friars.

The Crutched Friars
The Crutched Friars

My usual method of entry was employed: asking nicely if they have a Roman Wall hiding in their basement, which in this case provoked immediate positive action from the very nice chap who answered the main door.

I mentioned to the chap that the information I had gathered said the wall was incorporated into the Directors’ dining room in the basement, and so I was somewhat surprised when he grabbed a set of keys and led me back out of the building and further along the street to the entrance of a former nightclub known as Club II AD (That’s 2 AD. See what they did there?). 

Late bar and nightclub II AD, Crutched Friars, London, EC3
Late bar and nightclub: Club II AD, Crutched Friars, London, EC3

He unlocked the glass doors and we headed down stairs to basement level into the eerie gloom of the deserted former nightclub.  Light-switch duly located, I was escorted the length of the whole club and at the far north-east corner the wall was to be found behind one of the bars. The wall is separated from the bar a sturdy glass partition, incorporating a glass door to the left-hand side.

Roman Wall seen behind the bar at CLub II AD
First sight of Roman City Wall behind former bar of club.
Note the diagonal alignment with flooring.

The wall is on a diagonal alignment to rest of the building, which would mean this section is related with that section under Emperor House mentioned in my earlier post, in order for the alignment of the two sites to make sense. [Edit] I later found that these two sections of the wall are indeed one in the same. With this site featuring the west (inner) facing side of the same section of wall as that in Emperor House which is the opposite side of the same section. [/Edit]

Roman Wall House
Closer view of Roman City Wall

From what I have found out it was discovered in 1905 and described then as a 12m (40ft) length of inner facing wall, standing to a height of 2.5-3m (8-9ft) with the base 2.6m (8.5ft) below the present ground level.  Above the usual triple levelling course of brick tiles were four courses of squared ragstone, a triple bonding-course, size courses of squared ragstone and a double bonding-course with the usual offsets.

Roman Wall at London Wall House in 1905
Roman Wall at London Wall House as discovered in 1905.
(Image from Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England) – London Vol III)

The wall is set on concrete underpins, painted black which gives the impression of the wall floating above the floor. The original red sandstone base is not present as can be seen in the 1905 photo above and in the detail of the northern end of the wall shown below.

Detailed view of wall at Roman Wall House
Detail view of wall, at Roman Wall House

There was also an information panel next to the bar, but providing more general information on the London Wall rather than anything specific to the section on display.

Roman Wall House information panel
Information Panel near to the wall

So that’s it for now.  I have still yet to get access to some wall sections under other buildings in this area and I hope to post the results when I finally do.

For more general background information on the city wall and Roman London please refer to the Museum of London’s web site on this topic.  Better still, go make a personal visit to this often overlooked but truly excellent (and free) museum.

References:


Update of post for late 2019

I have migrated this article from Blogger to WordPress. In the process I have fixed some typos, enhanced and re-hosted the photos, and have updated the post a little.

Since writing this post back in 2013, much has changed regarding this site. London Wall House shown in the photographs above, have now been demolished and is being redeveloped in conjunction with Emperor House, as featured in Part 2, as a new building also to be called Roman Wall House. The Roman wall and bastion 4a will be made a feature of in the new building which is to be a mix of offices and student accommodation, and will be accessible to the general public for the first time.

I also note the due to the reorganisation of the Museum of London, and the separation of their Archaeological Services (MoLAS) to the separate commercial entity of MOLA, all of their old links are now broken. I have provided a list of alternative references below which are working as of 2019.

Historic England: London Wall: remains of Roman wall and bastion (4a) at Crutched Friars
Detailed record of this Scheduled Monument.

MOLA: Archaeological consultancy on Vine Street: London’s Roman Wall
Article from MOLA on the redevelopment of this site.

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in London, Volume 3, Roman London
Online version of this fascinating reference.

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