London has been an incredible city throughout the ages, and with thousands of years of history to it, there are fantastic nuggets from the past to discover all over the city.
You’ll find glimpses from the Roman era and traces of London’s essential role through medieval England, too. And, as an important city of residence for the royal family and their court through the centuries, London is packed with fantastic heritage sites that allow visitors to hearken back hundreds of years.
Whether you’re a history buff keen to see some of the oldest sights in the capital, or simply want to learn more about London, there is plenty to experience and discover. To start with, book yourself the perfect stay at The Chilworth Hotel Paddington, and plan your ideal historic sight-seeing tour across the city.
Temple of Mithras
The story of London dates back to roughly 43 AD when the Romans founded the settlement that eventually became London, and built the first bridge across the Thames. With a long and complex history since then, there aren’t many remains of the city’s Roman origins, but this ancient temple, discovered in the City of London in 1954, is one of its most famous historic discoveries.
The Temple of Mithras, or the London Mithraeum, has been moved around a few times since its discovery, as it was originally found on a construction site during excavation for a new building in the area. While it was taken apart and relocated elsewhere for display for several years, in 2010, the company Bloomberg decided to bring it back to the original location, and the ruins are now on display beneath their building, in a separate exhibition space.
The site of the Temple is shown approximately how it would have looked when it was originally discovered, with many of the original stones and bricks. But you can also learn more about the background of the Temple, with a special immersive exhibition, that takes you back in time to AD 240, where you can experience the intrigue and mystery around the original Temple, and the Cult of Mithras that would meet there.
You can visit the London Mithraeum for free, and it is easiest to reach via Bank underground station, which is a short walk away.
The beautiful building that makes up Westminster Abbey is always one of the most interesting and intriguing historical sights to visit in London. The Abbey dates back over 1,000 years and was originally founded as a Benedictine Monastic church. It has always played an important role in royal life and served as the sight for every royal coronation since William the Conqueror’s in 1066.
Over the centuries, the church has taken on several layers of history, as the location for over 3,000 important figures from Britain’s cultural and political past, including important writers, scientists, military leaders and political figures. And while the building originally dates back to 960 AD, you can see the impact of later centuries in different parts of the church, as it evolved and grew over time.
Under the cloisters, you can explore one of its oldest sections, the Pyx chamber, dating back to the 11th century, when the Abbey was founded by King Edward the Confessor. Elsewhere, within the Lady Chapel, you are taken into the 13th century, with a glimpse of the dramatic Gothic features characteristic of the time. Later on, in the 15th century, you begin to see the lavish and opulent impact that later royals had on the church, with the ornate chapel built over the tomb of Henry V, as well as the dramatic Tudor decorative motifs added to the new Lady Chapel in the 16th century.
You can explore much of the Abbey and get a taste of its history through the diverse architectural styles across the church itself, but it’s also worth taking a closer look at the variety of artefacts and treasures still kept within it, including the 700-year-old Coronation Chairs, medieval panels of stained glass, and the evocative 13th century paintings, found within the Chapter House.
After your visit, treat yourself to a different kind of history, and have a taste of the classic English teatime ritual with the best afternoon tea in London.
St Bride’s Church
St Bride’s Church originally dates back to the 6th century AD and is one of the city’s oldest churches. It also has a special relationship with the media, since 1500, when one of the first printing presses in the city set up shop next door.
The church has also been through many of the major calamities that have hit London over the centuries and been shaped by their impact. In 1665, the Great Plague of London decimated much of the church’s parishioners, while the following year saw the church destroyed through the Great Fire of London. It was redesigned and rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren, before later being almost destroyed once again, this time in the 20th century, through the London Blitz in 1940.
The church is now an active church, but you can still take part in its history, with a special guided tour around the site, where you can get your fill of all the historical details behind each and every part of the church.
Down below, you can take a glimpse behind the original history of the Church to see some of the area’s Roman remains, including a mosaic pavement, while elsewhere you can explore the church’s medieval history. Nearby, you can even pop into Sir Christopher Wren’s old pub for a refreshing drink, The Old Bell Pub.
London has a wealth of historic locations all over, and it’s worth taking the time to see them all in detail, to appreciate and learn as much as possible about them. But if travelling all over the city to see its historic treasures proves a little tiring for you, make sure that you give yourself plenty of rest and recuperation, with a relaxing trip to the Chilworth Hotel Spa