Thankfully, this view is not what I’m writing about, with its jumble of old, recent and dubious…
We are spending a few days with the South London branch of the Tanham family, who are shortly to leave, with granddaughter Alice, for a new life, as, doctors, in Australia. We are staying in a budget hotel on the South Bank of the Thames, and it has been a delight to see how well and organically this ancient part of the city has been preserved and renovated.
A case in point is the recently excavated Winchester Palace.
These ruins are all that remain of the home of the very powerful Bishops of Winchester, among the most influential figures of medieval London. They lie one street behind the Thames, in a densely developed area which beautifully balances leisure, housing, dining and entertaining, using a human scale of construction that maximises the re-use of existing resources, such as redeveloped warehouses, leaving history and culture not only intact, but adjacent.
Within five hundred metres you will find three pubs, eight restaurants, the ancient Bishops’ Palace of Winchester and Sir Francis Drake’s ship, the Golden Hind.
On the north bank, in stark contrast, you will find offices and a roadway. The contrast couldn’t be more stark, and yet the City, proper, lies on the north bank, with its vast wealth and influence.
There is no point railing against this, London has its own complex systems of government. What is useful is to hold us the rejuvenation of the South Bank as an example of how wonderful an inner city area can be when effort is made to keep things on a human scale…