Site Unseen: 230 Strand

Every month CabbieBlog hopes to show you a little gem of a building that you might have passed without noticing, in the past they have ranged from a modernist car park; a penguin pool; to a Hanoverian gatehouse.

There’s much talk about the 350th anniversary of The Great Fire of London which just happens to be today. Discussion about the swathes of devastation and the rebuilding of London, but what of the surviving buildings?

[N]umber 230 Strand is one of those few in number that not only survived the conflagration, but has remained more-or-less intact to the present day; it also is the only survivor in the Strand.

230-StrandBuilt in 1625 on Roman ruins, it still has the original wooden suspended staircase (not a stone cantilever that many possess), and it is believed to be the only one in the world.

Close by Temple Bar and home to its gatekeeper, who would make a living selling snacks to the crowds gathered to view the severed heads of traitors displayed on spikes at the top of the Bar.

Strangely Oliver Cromwell-whose head remained on a spike above Westminster Hall until the late 1680s, and therefore never did grace Temple Bar, has chosen to inhabit 230 Strand in the form of his ghost which haunts the building at night.

Outside the leaded stained glass window bearing the building’s original construction date still remains with the inscription:

Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy and drink thy wine with a merry heart, for God approveth thy work

From 1908 the building was home to The Wig and Pen Club, standing opposite the Law Courts where it was said gossip took place between those in the judicial system and those journalists writing about the hearings taking place.

The Wig and Pen has now gone, along with the rest of the newspapers in Fleet Street and the building is occupied now by an Asian restaurant.

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