The London Grill: Jack Chesher

We challenge our contributors to reply to ten devilishly probing questions about their London and we don’t take “Sorry Gov” for an answer. Everyone sitting in the hot seat they will face the same questions ranging from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out what Londoners think about their city. The questions are the same but the answers vary wildly.

Jack is a London history lover. He is the founder of Living London History (www.livinglondonhistory.com); a blog with a focus on the quirky hidden history in the city. He has also recently launched guided tours to share his love of the city with others. When he is not guiding or walking around the city, Jack loves going to the theatre and a good pub quiz/pint!

What’s your secret London tip?

If open, always pop your head inside London’s churches. They often have amazing free little museums, such as the crypts of St Bride’s and All Hallows by the Tower. These are great places to see the layers of London’s history before your very eyes!

What’s your secret London place?

The City of London is full of little tranquil pocket parks and secret spots. My favourite would have to be the courtyard of St Vedast alias Foster off Foster Lane, but shush don’t tell too many people!

What’s your biggest gripe about London?

My biggest gripe would probably be the number of cars in London and the air pollution that comes along with them. If there were fewer cars, a greener public transport system and better provisions made for walking and cycling; then I think we would have a healthier, happier and more attractive city.

What’s your favourite building?

I think my favourite building is probably St Paul’s Cathedral but another, quirkier one is Two Temple Place off the Victoria Embankment. It was built in 1895 for the richest man in the world at the time, was built to the highest possible standards of the time and looks like an Elizabethan stronghold inside and out! Look out for its magnificent gold weathervane in the form of the Santa Maria; Columbus’s ship to America. They hold art exhibitions and are open for open house weekends.

What’s your most hated building?

I am not a fan of the newest member of the City of London’s skyscraper family: 22 Bishopsgate. I can see it from the window of my flat and I think it is a bit of a bland behemoth that just dominates the landscape too much.

What’s the best view in London?

For inner-city views, I would have to say the Sky Garden in the Walkie-Talkie. For seeing the city from afar I would say the majestic view you get from Greenwich Park with the Queen’s House in the foreground: it never gets old.

What’s your personal London landmark?

My personal landmark would be the Tower of London. I grew up in Essex, so when getting the train up to London, it is the first landmark you see after leaving the train. It, therefore, represents all those day trips up to the city and gives me that buzz of excitement of being in London.

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?

My collection of research and local interest books for London is ever-growing. My favourite in terms of enjoyment would probably be Matthew Green’s London: A Travel Guide Through Time. It is very well written, immersive, fascinating and really sparks inspiration for London’s history.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Currently top of the list is Dishoom. Both their breakfasts and dinners are amazing.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?

Well, it would naturally be a day walking around London. If at the weekend I would walk around the City of London, as it is quiet and there is always something new to discover. I love being by the river so I would also walk along the South Bank and grab a drink at one of London’s historic pubs: the George in Southwark perhaps. I would finish the day off by seeing a show at the Globe; an experience that never disappoints.

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