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From stones to stories
Leo Hollis has a new book out called the "Stones of London" that charts the history of the city through 12 buildings. This builds on a previous study of its history through 12 walks. His real fascination is how the stones beneath his feet and in the buidlings that surround him reveal the stories of London's unique history,
Andrew Stuck accompanied Leo on a walk from the Royal Exchange to St Paul's Cathedral through the noisy streets of the City - filled with motor traffic and construction. On route they pass the London Stone, set in the wall of a one time sports clothing shop, this apparently insignificant oolite stone has borne witness to more of London's true and mythical history than any other surviving relic. However, this wasn't its original setting, instead it was moved by Sir Christopher Wren in an effort to widen Canon Street to allow more traffic!
It is the 17th century that witnessed the Great Fire of London and the rebuidling of the City and the constuction of St Paul's Cathedral that Leo belives is the real nexus of London's history.
In the latest episode of Talking Walking, Leo and Andrew discuss how Wren chose the site of the cathedral intentionally to sit on the Roman Watling Street to save on building fresh foundations, and how he shamelessly borrowed concepts from European architects for its design and construction. And although Leo is passionate about the history of the building of the City he is an admirer of many of the 21st century buidlings that are dwarfing the cathedral today.
Read Leo's take on walking in the Independent
Date added: 27 May 2011
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