Starting next Thursday will be four days to celebrate the City of London in the form of heritage and art. The four day event has actually been timed to slot-in between the Spitalfields festival and the 50th City of London Festival.

The Celebrate the City event, although a one-off, is itself part of an ongoing project to open up the City facilities to the wider public, which I think most of us who enjoy nosing around buildings can appreciate.

In addition to a number of Livery Halls opening, 26 of the City’s 40 Churches will also be open. Some just open to look at and others with events taking place. Some guided walks, and self-guided tour guides will link the churches together.

It was actually the Canon of the church next to Guildhall, St. Lawrence Jewry who pulled the churches together for the event.

The events actually kick on the Thursday evening with around 200 choralists, an orchestra playing Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and 2 cannons to go boom at suitable moments.

A few buildings are open on Friday, but the main choice will be free visits to the high walkways at Tower Bridge between 6:30pm-9pm.

However, the main events take place on Saturday when the Guildhall Yard is given over to a food market and stalls by the Livery Companies. Cheapside will host a “family fayre” and free rides around local streets by horse and cart will be offered.

For heritage, Guildhall itself will be open all weekend, and numerous Livery Halls and Churches will open around the City.

An exceptionally rare copy of the Magna Carta will be on display in the basement of the Guildhall, amongst the Roman Ruins. This document is so valuable it got a police escort from the London Archives to Guildhall!

It’s in the basement by the way because the lighting there is minimal to protect the document.

The Grand Hall

Basically a weekend of heritage and architecture. And most of it is free.

Some of the events do need pre-booking though, and I gather that about half the guided walks have already been booked up.

The full list of what is on is here, and my personal pick is below:

Thursday

2:00 PM The sartorial City: from ceremonial garb to street wear through the ages (Cheapside, City of London)
F Sue King, Chairman of the City of London Guide Lecturers Association, discusses the history of clothes in the Square Mile.
2:00 PM All Hallows by the Tower tour (City of London)
F Take a tour of this historic church based just by the Tower of London – reputedly the oldest in the City – which examines its heritage.
2:00 PM Carpenters’ Hall
F A chance to look around the historic Livery Company building.
6:00 PM Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture (Bishopsgate)
F A free performance of Tchaikovsky’s dramatic 1812 Overture in the shadow of the 600 year-old Guildhall.

Friday

Various Vintners’ Hall
F B A rare chance to see inside this beautiful 17th century hall where the Vintners of London have owned a hall since the 15th century.
Various Art tours at ING Bank
F B Historical collections and archives will also be on view, allowing visitors to delve into the history of Baring Brothers,
6:30 PM Free Access to Tower Bridge Walkways (Southwark)
F A chance to watch the sunset from the high walkways at Tower Bridge without having to pay their usual admission fee.

Saturday

All Day Bank of England tours
F Take the opportunity to see inside the parts of the Bank not generally accessible to the public
All Day Cheapside Street Fayre
F One of London’s oldest shopping thoroughfares, Cheapside, closes to traffic and fills with people today for this vibrant street fayre.
All Day Guildhall Open Day (Bishopsgate)
F This majestic 600 year-old Guildhall throws open its doors – peek into the Great Hall which will be set up for the next Sheriffs election.
All Day Cutlers’ Hall (St Paul’s Cathedral)
F A chance to see the Victorian era City Livery Hall.
All Day Fishmongers’ Hall
F B Aptly placed for the Fishmongers on the banks of the Thames, this Grade I-listed building opens for regular guided tours
All Day Plaisterers’ Hall (Barbican)
F A look around this modern City Livery Hall built in 1972 in a neo-classical style.
All Day Badger ham and stewed sparrows: a curious history of English food (Cheapside, City of London)
F Dr Peter Ross presents a history of some of the more extraordinary recipes to be found in Guildhall Library’s historical cookery book collection.
2:00 PM All Hallows by the Tower tour (City of London)
F Take a tour of this historic church based just by the Tower of London – reputedly the oldest in the City – which examines its heritage.

Sunday

All Day Guildhall Open Day (Bishopsgate)
F This majestic 600 year-old Guildhall throws open its doors – peek into the Great Hall which will be set up for the next Sheriffs election.

 

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