Above: Part of the Roman Wall standing beside the forecourt of the hotel.
The Roman Wall once extended around the settlement that the Romans called Londinium. Although they established it in AD 43, it was not until the end of the second century that the wall was constructed – estimated to have been built between AD 189 and AD 197. The wall extended around the landward side of Londinium and also along the waterfront. It was a massive undertaking and remained for centuries afterwards. It was not until 1760 that the City fathers decided that the wall and its gates were not serving any useful purpose any more. The gates were locked shut every night, preventing anyone from going into the City or coming out. The gates were removed from their hinges and within a few years, the gate-houses were demolished. This led to people whose land was crossed by the wall also removing it and probably making good use of the stone for other purposes. For this reason, only small fragments of the wall remain to be seen by the public although other fragments do exist below ground – in the basements of several City office blocks.
If you walk north from the large expanse of grass on the west side of Tower Hill Underground Station, there is a narrow street called Cooper’s Row. A short distance along the street is the Grange City Hotel, a large building with an open area at ground level. Although the open area looks like private land, the public is permitted to walk across it to look at a section of the Roman Wall that is free standing on the eastern side of the hotel’s property. Not only can you see the western side of the wall but you can also walk through an opening at the northern end of the section of the wall to examine the eastern side as well.
It seems to come as a surprise to many pedestrians who know the area that this part of the wall exists. Because it is to the east of the hotel, it is easily missed when walking along Cooper’s Row but it can easily be seen from the pavement.
As can be seen from the picture, various windows have been cut into the wall over the centuries which, of course, do not originate from Roman times when the wall would have been solid. It can also be seen that parts of the top of the wall are missing. Another interesting feature is that the wall appears to sit in a trough – due to the footings of the Roman Wall being lower than the modern-day ground level. Over the centuries, the ground level of London has risen relative to the original ground level in Roman times. A final feature to be noted is that the modern offices have been built around the section of the wall, to make maximum use of the adjacent land.
The line of the original Roman Wall around Londinium is covered in a separate article which shows its position on a modern-day map.
Related-articles – listed under – 1-Roman Wall SHOW THE LIST