London Mithraeum Bloomberg Space: a popular new attraction

Bloomberg is conserving more than money with the opening of the Bloomberg Mithraeum Bloomberg Space, a new attraction in the heart of the City of London Financial district which is rapidly becoming a popular place to spend a few hours. When I visited on a recent weekday morning, the space was alive with visitors and groups of all ages, enjoying this new free attraction which opened six months ago. “Brilliant” said one, as we exited into the sunshine.

When the new Bloomberg European Headquarters began construction on a former World War ll bombsite close to the historic Bank of England and the Royal Exchange, a decision was made to preserve remains of the Roman Temple of Mithras a rare example of Roman Britain, which were discovered 9 meters below the new modern glass building. Having survived Pestilence (the Plague 1347), Fire (the Great fire of London 1666) and Wars including the devastation of World War ll (1939-45) the temple has now been preserved for the future, along with many artifacts found during archealogical excavations, thanks to the foresight and philanthropy of the Bloomberg Corporation.

The result is a wonderful cultural space on three floors showcasing the reconstructed temple, many roman artifacts and a series of contemporary art installations reflecting the significance of the site.

The present building lies over a lost River, the Walbrook, now underground, around which Roman London was founded, and where the Temple of Mithras was built in the 3rd century AD. First discovered by a fluke during a bomb clearing exercise after the war in 1952-54, ironically the last shovel before the site closed, the temple aroused great interest but plans stalled to preserve it and in 1962 a reconstruction was unveiled about 100 meters away but was criticized as not being authentic and didn’t attract much attention. When Bloomberg acquired the original site in 2010 they made the decision to restore the temple to its original location and make it as authentic as possible.

Working with the City of London and Conservation specialists the Bloomberg Space more than fulfills this vision.

Not much is known about Mithras, but it is surmised he was a Fertility God, and the central icon of the cult was of Mithras killing a bull. The stone head of Mithras was found in 1954, likely part of a statue and a re creation is on display, adding to the authenticity of the site.

Entering the building on the ground floor a large installation “London in its Original Splendour” by famed Pablo Bronstein, reflecting architectural styles throughout the centuries rendered in wallpaper design, captures the eye, along with many artifacts in glass cases. More than 14,000 roman relics were found during archealogical explorations. A fast elevator takes you down three levels, descending through time from 1941 – AD 410. to the temple remains, seven metres below present ground level. Great care was taken to replicate and repair the original structure, with mortar and bricks created where necessary from original samples to resemble the temple as originally built in AD240. It is a fascinating journey

londonmithraeum.com
The exhibition is free

Getting there:

Take Central Line Tube to Bank Station – about a two minute walk

Located right in the heart of the financial district other interesting buildings closeby include the Royal Exchange and the Bank of England and
St. Stephens Walbrook Church, designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1672 as the prototype for the dome of St. Pauls Cathedral. One of London’s oldest churches, it was badly damaged during the last war. Benjamin Moore, a leading Sculptor of the day was commissioned to replace the destroyed Altar, which proved to be a large circular design in the centre of the nave. It is made from marble cut from the very quarry used by Michelangelo, but the modern symbolism signifying Community Gathering around God at the centre, caused some controversy with traditionalists who felt the original message had been lost.
Go and decide for yourself.
Nearby LeadenHall covered market is one of the oldest markets in London dating from the 14th century. It was originally a poultry and game market and now caters to the business crowd, with some reasonably priced restaurants and historic pubs where you can enjoy a bite to eat and browse the delectable food stalls.

Tess Bridgwater July 6, 2018

Britrail passes for All seasons

Planning a trip to the UK?.  Be sure to take a look at the wide range of Britrail Passes before you leave. These include  Flexi Passes for a period of 3, 4, 8 or 15 travel days to be used within 2 months or Consecutive Passes for a period of 3, 4, 8, 15, 22 days or 1 month of travel.  You can also choose a first or standard class BritRail pass, where first class offers benefits on select trains such as free Wi-Fi, more spacious seating, at seat meal service, free newspapers and complimentary tea and biscuits.

BritRail Passes are available on http://www.acprail.com, http://www.britrail.net and through its wide network of distributors worldwide.

Pass holders are always pleased to discover that a BritRail Pass really does cover it all;   travel on all trains throughout Great Britain’s National Rail network!  Hop on and off trains at your leisure, without being restricted to a specific seat on a specific train, and keep to a flexible schedule all your own.  A BritRail Pass even covers travel on Airport Express trains, the most convenient way to skip traffic from Heathrow Airport, Gatwick Airport and Stansted Airport into central London.

For added convenience  the BritRail London Plus Pass also includes two Airport Express coupons valid on the Heathrow Express,  Stansted Express or Gatwick Express, making airport transfers to central London hassle free.

Remember to buy before taking flight as BritRail Passes cannot be purchased in Britain.

Get your BritRail Pass by visiting  www.  acprail.com or www.britrail.net or  a local distributor in North America.


A gem worth discovering

There’s a hidden gem in the heart of Toronto, that I only discovered this summer, although I lived closeby for years. It’s the Evergreen Centre, a non profit activity and educational  centre located on the old brickworks property, nestled in the Don Valley, off Bayview Avenue.
Now its a fascinating source for heritage and ecological studies and a wonderful place for a summer or fall outing without having to travel a long distance.
You can drive, bike or take a free shuttle bus from Broadview station to reach this quiet urban paradise, where there are many activities to keep you occupied and interested for day out; most of them for minimal cost or free. Explore the trails through the valley on your own, or take a guided site tour, nature or heritage walk. A large garden centre offers an interesting selection of plants and shrubs along with “Beyond the backyard” workshops like urban Bee keeping, and Eco studies include  the Weston Quarry garden, a large pond in a former quarry, another philanthropic project of the Weston Family, which contains a marvellous collection of water lilies and other plant and waterlife. Rare plants and trees are dotted around the property and labelled for easy identification. There’s even a bike repair and swap shop where you can give your bike a tuneup and some TLC.
An indoor community education building includes a cafe which serves healthy all natural food and freshly baked goodies and a shop selling natural locally made products, preserves and crafts,  or you can bring a picnic and enjoy the outdoor environment.
Designed as an educational experience, a visit will inspire you to come again, and discover the delights of urban living.

A free shuttle bus runs every 30 – 45 minutes to and from Broadview station,
EVERGREEN CENTRE, 550 Bayview Avenue, Toronto
For more information and a calendar of special events –  see evergreen.ca    or tel 416 596 1495

London’s first Cable Car

London’s first Cable Car

Built as a people mover for the Olympics, it has fast become London’s newest tourist attraction. If you are visiting Greenwich, try this little known way to cross the river and return to central London.
A 1.1 km cable car crossing connects Emirates Greenwich Peninsula terminal near North Greenwich Tube Station across the Thames to Emirates London Royal Docks terminal and the ExCel (lightrail) in east London, also serving as a commuter alternative to London’s busy business hubs. The Thames is quite wide at this point and swinging high and wide across the river in one of the ten person gondola cars is an interesting alternative to the popular London Eye. Rising to a height of 90 metres the journey takes between five and ten minutes and provides unusual views of London, with the Thames barrier, Greenwich and the Olympic park downstream and St Paul’s Cathedral, the city and the new Shard building upstream.The view is even more impressive at night time with lights twinkling all over the city.
It is an inexpensive new attraction, and you can use your Oyster card to pay, which gives you a discount. Single adult fare is 4. 30 GBP only 3.20 GBP with an Oyster pass.
At present there is not much to do or see on Royal Docks side but restaurants are coming and you can take the light rail to St. Pauls and back to central London.

The next best thing

Had a long flight and need a nap or stuck with a long layover?

Currently being tested at Munich airport with some success, a Napcab might be your answer.

These portable rooms containing a comfortable single bed and a workstation – If you must work – are currently available at Munich Airport in Germany, with plans for future locations. There is even an Alarm clock for a wakeup call!

Cost is between 15 – 18 Euros per hour depending on time of day, with a minimum of 35 Euros.

Munich is an ideal stopover point for Germany and central Europe.

Air Canada and Lufthansa offer direct flights from Canada and there are connections to Venice and most large European cities.

See http://www.munichairport.com

Visit the Elora Festival

  • Ontario is bustling with festivals during the summer season and classical music lovers should not miss the Elora Festival,   which takes place annually in July. The  Opening night gala always features a major classical work and there is a varied program of Classical and popular music, by well known Canadian and US performers, backed up by the renowned Elora Singers .

With four venues around the lovely village of Elora, set in one of the prettiest parts of the province with the beautiful Elora gorge and ancient tooth of time rock, on the Niagara escarpment, take time to enjoy a picturesque village centre with tiny interesting shops and cafes and heritage B & B accommodation. Come for a concert, stay a day or two,  for a true Getaway.

For the full program or to order tickets see: http://www.elorafestival.ca

or call Festival office   519 846 0331

You can dine with the Watermen at The River Thames Luncheon Club

Full course Dining with a dash of History at the Watermen’s Hall

The bus set me down on a bustling street, a mix of graceful historic architecture and glass and chrome Towers, with smartly dressed people dashing to business appointments and lunch engagements. The medieval façade of Southwark Cathedral stood to our left, down the hill loomed the mighty Tower of London and Tower Bridge and the impressive monument to The Great Fire of London in 1666, the tallest isolated stone column in the world, is just down the road in Pudding Lane, on the spot where the fire began. This is the heart of the City of London, centre of Commerce since the Middle Ages and I’m on my way to the Watermens Hall, St. Mary at Hill , one of the ancient Livery companies, which still thrive in “ the city”.

Livery Companies had their origins before 1066, similar to Cities and Guilds which controlled the provision and manufacture of goods in the City of London and provided some protection for the people, really the forerunners of present day Trade Unions. Ancient companies included spectacle makers, vintners, pewterers, haberdashers, coachmakers and goldsmiths. Companies whose original purpose have virtually vanished, like Fanmakers and Horners have adapted to become Air conditioning and Plastics. One of the first charitable tasks undertaken by early guilds was care of their members in sickness and old age. Education was also a component and both these endeavours remain important parts of the Livery function today.

Halfway down a narrow lane leading to the riverfront we entered the headquarters of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames, one of the oldest Livery companies, founded in 1555, when a one year apprenticeship program which still exists, was instituted for boy’s wishing to learn the Waterman’s trade. The watermen, ferryman on the River Thames, long before there were bridges, who were the equivalent of today’s Taxi drivers, were granted arms by Queen Elizabeth I in 1585 and in 1770 they were joined by the Lightermen, who ferried cargo up and down the river.

Their original meeting hall and all the records were completely destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and although they rebuilt, they eventually moved to the present premises in 1780. The small but attractive Georgian style building was designed by William Blackburn for the Company of Watermen. After suffering bomb damage in the last war, it has undergone several restorations which blends its historic ambience with modern up to date enhancements, and Watermen’s Hall is now the only original Georgian Hall in the City of London. You can see some of the historical possessions in the beautifully restored rooms, paintings, a collection of old silver and some old documents.

The Company still maintains its old traditions, offering Apprenticeship programs, Almshouse accommodations and pensions for aged watermen and encouragement of river activities. Among these are the 800 year old the Lord Mayors Show,  originally a water pageant, when a  company of watermen  escorts  the Lord Mayor’s coach in a colourful street parade showcasing the fabric and diversity of the Livery companies and other organisations,  through the old City of London, in November every year.

But necessarily, interest in the Watermen’s trade has declined and the Company looked to other methods of raising revenue. Now the hall can be hired for weddings and special events or you can dine with the Company of Watermen and Lightermen on selected days, for lunch or dinner with a difference. They welcome visitors and enjoy informing visitors on the past and future activities of this ancient and interesting corner of old London.

The River Thames Luncheon Club began eight years ago and is open to the public. Meeting monthly on Friday’s throughout the year,  the inclusive package  includes a five course taster luncheon with a cash bar and superb wine selection. At 55 GBP,  it is a high end choice, but come here for a special atmosphere and historical setting you won’t find elsewhere.

The event proved so popular that a Dinner Club was formed in 2014. The monthly dinners take place on Tuesdays with the same enticing menus.

Of the many ancient customs and traditions in London, the Livery Companies are among the oldest and most interesting and it is not often that non members can be part of them. It is a unique dining option to consider and a place to unwind on your next business trip to London.

Cook and Butler have now taken over Catering and Banqueting functions at this historic venue.

For further information or to make a reservation,

Contact:  Mark Grove

The Cook and  The Butler Event Company:

Tel: 020 7620 1818

Email:  cookandbutler@btconnect.com