London is a city that is forever changing. Once a place of cobbled pathways and narrow streets, the city is now filled with modern buildings, impressive skyscrapers and busy roads. However, there are still some areas in London that remain untouched. Though they are unusual places in London that many would not initially think to explore, these historical gems are ideal for history lovers and those keen to see a more traditional, authentic window into the capital’s fascinating past. These untouched areas showcase a different side to the city, a side that is in a stark contrast to the fast paced environment most of us would more readily associate with this vibrant, cosmopolitan city.
Apsley House, Hyde Park Corner
The former home of the first Duke of Wellington, Apsley House was originally simply referred to as Number 1, London and is thought to have had the best address in the city. It is a Grade 1 listed building and one of the best examples of an aristocratic townhouse from the period. Though it is still owned by the current Duke of Wellington, a number of rooms are open to the public and visitors are able to explore the museum and art gallery onsite.
Original Street Signs, Lombard Street
Though it can be found right in the middle of London’s busy business district, Lombard Street is one of the few remaining places where it is possible to see original London shop signs. These 17th and 18th century hanging signs are displayed outside of shops and restaurants up and down Lombard Street. In fact, many still have the original iron brackets that creek back and forth in the breeze.
Borough Market, Southwark
Borough Market has seen a lot of modernisation over the years as it has made strides to keep up with the demands of tourists and residents alike. It is now large, spacious and bustling with vendors, stalls and produce from every corner of the world. Despite its modern gourmet fare, it is still the oldest market in London and is well worth a visit even if your cooking abilities leave a little to be desired. I fact, Borough Market can trace its history back to 1014. Even then, it was a primarily food-based market – an approach it remains true to today.
London’s First Drinking Fountain, Smithfield
Built in 1859, the drinking fountain located at the corner of Giltspur Street and Holborn Viaduct was London’s first. Though it no longer works, it’s an interesting piece of history to see and you’re sure to be impressed by the condition it has been kept in. This is a quirky piece of nostalgia that hints at London’s industrial past. If you’re passing, take a few moments to appreciate its functional design and the fact that it is unchanged more than 150 years later.
Cloth Fair, Smithfield
Though not an attraction as such, Cloth Fair is one of the more unusual places in London to add to your city break itinerary. It serves as a prime example of what a historical London street would have looked like, making it a must for keen historians. Cloth Fair dates back to medieval times where merchants would gather to buy and sell items. 41 Cloth Fair survived the Great Fire of London and is now the oldest residential home in London.