Fishmongers and a Temple

Yesterday’s London visit was to the Fishmongers’ Hall – this may sound unlikely, but the Livery Companies used to be of immense importance in the City of London and the Fishmongers’ Guild was ranked fourth in order of precedence.  Can’t remember the second or third, but the Mercers were first and the Goldsmiths were fifth – which shows the huge importance of the fishing industry in mediaeval times and afterwards.  A fabulous building containing many treasures, including the famous Annigoni portrait of the Queen soon after her coronation, which was originally commissioned by the Fishmongers – who knew?  Also who knew? there was a pair to it, a youthful Prince Philip looking frankly quite pissed off.  Apparently, rumour has it, that he and the artist didn’t particularly get on.  Anyway, although the Fs own it, they don’t hold the rights to reproductions, which are held by A’s estate.

Then we went off to the Inns of Court for lunch.  We sat in the massive dining hall of the Middle Temple, some 101 feet long by 41 feet wide at the High Table, which easily seated the thirty of us, being made from four 29 feet planks of wood from a single oak tree, given by Elizabeth I.  Amazing, really was.  Good lunch, too.  And then I went to look at the Temple Church, built by the Knights Templar and modelled on the Temple in Jerusalem.

None of them the most obvious tourist attractions, but indicative of the wealth of fascinating historical buildings and artefacts in London.  And it was a gorgeous day.  I had a bit of time to stroll round the gardens and went along to look down on a sunken garden.  At eye level there was a wisteria in bloom, planted in the garden beneath, and it had the most gorgeous scent.  Ours has a slight scent, but nothing like that.  I wonder what variety it is – it was a deeper colour than ours, which still isn’t in full bloom.  I’ve never known it so late.

While waiting for the coach to pick us up, Pip and I stood on the Embankment looking at the Thames.  We noticed the tide was just on the turn, you could see that the water was flowing strongly downstream and then, a few minutes later, there were eddies and swirls when the incoming tide started to fight against it.  A couple of balloons tied together drifted downriver, and a few minutes later came back again, only to pause and bob about in the river in front of us, held by the turning tide.

8 comments on “Fishmongers and a Temple

  1. janerowena

    There used to be a school at the Temple. My father was a chorister there, before he transferred to St. Paul’s. I have never been there, I always meant to, one day, because he was very happy there in his funny little chorister’s prep school.

  2. allotmentqueen

    That sounds like the most immense fun day out. Would love to see the PP pissed off picture – is it available anywhere online – or did you snap a sneaky pic?

    You should have grabbed a crafty cutting of the wisteria – would have been well worth the effort.

    You were so lucky to see that ebb tide meeting the flow (?) tide thing – that’s sort of magical.

    Would that be Pip out of Great Expectations? Only I feel you were the wrong side of Docklands for that.

  3. Z

    Yes indeed, Ernest Lough was recorded here singing ‘O For the Wings of a Dove’.

    No pictures, and the curator was right there telling us about it. I’ll have a look and see if I can find it. The Queen’s portrait was available as a postcard, but not his.

    My friend really is called Philip!

    They went with Flo, Rog.

  4. 63mago

    I did not know that the Knights had a temple in London and that it is still here. I find the image of the bobbing balloons quite touching.

  5. Z

    There are still a number of historical connections with the Knights Templar, it’s interesting to delve into. And yes, I felt oddly sympathetic to the balloons.

  6. luckyzmom

    I love stuff like that. When we visited the Tower of London though, I totally embarassed my husband by arguing with the guide about his facts. It wasn’t until recently (over a decade later) that I was embarassed by it. Some indication I suppose of my misplaced courage.


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