15 Polyramblers started from Blackfriars station on a warm, sunny evening, more like summer than April. There are 110 livery companies of the City of London and 39 of them maintain their sometimes elaborate and historic halls.  Many were destroyed in the Great London Fire of 1666 and during the Blitz and have been rebuilt 2 or 3 times.  We took in some of the halls starting with the Apothecaries, the Stationers and Newspaper Makers (Grade 1 listed building), Cutlers – with a frieze depicting the work of a cutler – and Haberdashers. We walked along streets with interesting names such as Ave Maria Lane and Amen Corner or full of history such as Giltspur Street with the Golden Boy of Pye Corner and West Smithfield with its memorial to Sir William Wallace. We also made a small detour via St Bartholomew the Great, London’s oldest surviving church. We continued along the maze of old City streets and passed Founders Hall, the Farmers and Fletchers, the Information Technologists who have the first new livery hall to open in the City for over 50 years. Then came the Pewterers, the Wax Chandlers, the Goldsmiths who still operate the Assay Office and test the coinage of the realm annually through the Trial of the Pyx.  We went by the Saddlers, the Insurers, the Brewers (1), the Girdlers, the Armourers and Brasiers, the Carpenters, the Furniture Makers and finally the Drapers. The full title of the Drapers’ Company is “The Master and Wardens and Brethren and Sisters of the Guild or Fraternity of the Blessed Mary the Virgin of the Mystery of Drapers of the City of London”. The livery companies have fascinating histories and many of the halls are interesting and beautiful buildings worth exploring on Open House London in September.

  1. The Memorandum Book of William Porlond, the Brewers Company’s clerk from 1418 to 1440 records the affairs of the Company during his time and is of great significance since it is a very early example of official written English – most other records up to that time were in Latin or Norman French. The Memorandum Book contains references to the protracted rows between the Brewers and Richard Whittington, Lord Mayor of the City of London.  The book also contains one of the earliest recorded instances of the game of football – recording that in 1422-23 the Brewers received 20 pence from ‘ye Footballpleyers’ for the hire of our Hall.




Having to abandon my Shiplake ramble, where I was told by a local that the river path was under 6 inches of water, and seeing a whole school playing field submerged, I found an old favourite walk in the area which I could take “off the peg”.  As I set out on the day it was quite cool and overcast, but after a first mile of travel a hazy sun gradually appeared. At Paddington station I was greeted in dribs and drabs by 11 other Polyramblers, and we all boarded the 0942 train for Twyford. This is one of the wizzy new electric stopping services to Reading, which accelerated very swiftly and quietly out of the station. What a revelation at long last, I thought!!  Continue reading HENLEY ON THAMES CIRCULAR:14 April

Saturday 7th April. East Grinstead circular

I’ve led this walk in the past and did a walkover in February expecting it to be straightforward. Unfortunately a combination of a wet winter and construction traffic for a new water main meant that large sections of the afternoon walk were verging on the impassable. I devised some slightly less glutinous deviations and hoped for  drier weather in the intervening weeks. No such luck. A respectable 15 of us got off the train at East Grinstead on a dry morning with promise of occasional sunshine later. Passing through the town centre with its interesting mix of historic buildings, we headed east, through mostly woodland. Continue reading Saturday 7th April. East Grinstead circular

Easter Saturday: Black Park and Langley Park (Berkshire)

Danny kept up his usual standard for Easter Saturday, attracting a crowd of 24 walkers to Langley in spite of very uninviting weather.  After a short walk along the canal we headed into the vast Langley Park Estate, once home to the Duke of Marlborough, with a lake designed by Capability Brown, an arboretum and rhododendron gardens. Admittedly it wasn’t the best type of day to appreciate these features but the weather gradually improved and the walking was easy with only muddy paths to contend with.  After five miles we left the park and headed for lunch at the Crooked Billet at Iver Heath which provided good, reasonably priced food and friendly welcoming staff.  By the time we left the pub the sun was out.  Nine walkers left to get the bus back to Langley, fortified by chocolate eggs (thanks Danny) and the rest carried on for the last two or three miles through the Park Estate, passing some exotic waterfowl and an impressive display of daffodils.    On the last stretch our path was impeded by a fallen tree which took a bit of team work to negotiate without crawling on the muddy trunk.  A very pleasant day.


Saturday 24 March 2018: Berkhamsted (Circular)

Our first Spring walk was foggy and felt quite autumnal but at least it stayed dry.  The walk was in the Chilterns, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and in Hertfordshire,  the county of opportunity.  After leaving the station, 9 Polyramblers were soon in the countryside, walking in a valley before crossing Frithsden Beeches and reaching the Golden Valley in the Ashridge Estate, well named Continue reading Saturday 24 March 2018: Berkhamsted (Circular)