Alternative Architecture

Living in London means that you are living amid some of the oldest and the newest buildings in the city. London has been burned down twice in its history and was bombed during both world wars. The city has always rebuilt and moved forward, continually developing and changing in response to the changing times, and yet right in the heart of London are some of the oddest, quirkiest examples of building that have survived for centuries.

The Watch House

Definitely odd and with a rather dark history, The Watch House was built during the 17th century overlooking the graveyard of St Sepulchre’s. It was an attempt to stop the massive amount of grave robberies which were being conducted all over the city. The reason for the grave robberies was to supply the hospitals with bodies for medical study and research. The only source for the teaching hospitals to this point had been the bodies of executed criminals, but someone, I bet it was a desperate med student, came up with the idea of stealing bodies from the graves and selling them to hospitals. The Watch House is located on Giltspur Street and is a great example of an original building with an interesting history.

Tower Subway

Unnoticed by visitors to the Tower of London, this brick building is at the entrance to the second tunnel that was built under the River Thames. The tunnel was used to carry pedestrian traffic under the Thames. Over 20 000 people per week used the tunnel until the opening of Tower Bridge in 1894. Today it is only used to carry television and power cables under the river, but at the time it was a remarkable feat of engineering and manpower, taking only ten months to dig. The original tunnel took nearly 15 years to dig and is used as one of the main tube lines today. Found on Tower Hill, this small monument is a remnant of the great tradition of innovation and engineering in England.

Many of these buildings do not house museums, or shops, but are worthwhile visiting if you want to learn more about the forgotten side of history when you are living in London.


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