Yesterday was not a good day for English football; 2-1 to Croatia. However, English football has had worse days. Like 1314 when the then Mayor of London, Nicholas de Farndone, banned football entirely! Why do I know this? Because I’ve just had a fabulous time in the Guildhall Art Gallery which, as a bred Londoner, I really should have visited before… I have a genuine excuse; this building was completed in 1999 replacing the one destroyed in the Blitz in 1941. It’s fabulous!
I initially went to see John Whitehead Walton’s 1873 painting of The First London School Board where, amidst a sea of male faces, are those of two of my favourite ladies, Mrs Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Miss Emily Davies both in the forefront of female emancipation; one for medicine and the other education.
Alongside this important painting is a plethora of pre-Raphaelites and other paintings depicting old London etc and, of course, the story of banning foteballe. There is even a copy of the Magna Carta!
The Art Gallery is built above the London Roman Amphitheatre. Head to the basement to see it in all its theatricality. Experts and archaeologists had all agreed London must have had a Roman amphitheatre – but it was only discovered in 1985. It is now, of course, a protected monument and, like the rest of the exhibits at this Art Gallery, free to visit.
I was not the only woman walking around the art gallery with a smile on my face (remember, this is before England lost the match…) Another was beaming ear to ear about its largesse. She, too, had never been and she was a London tour guide. That made me feel better.
If you are in this fascinating area of London, pop next door to the rebuilt Wren church, St Lawrence Jewry, destroyed in the Great First of London 1666 and again during the London Blitz.