Posts Tagged ‘George Villiers’

I know I’m not alone when nominating this as my favourite London spot.


York Watergate is a handsome old thing. Remarkably well-preserved considering that for 250 years it was on the shore of the Thames, it is more weather-beaten than an old wreck. There would have been several such structures along this stretch of the river where the owners of the ribbon of old palaces along the Strand would catch their barges. Or meet their visitors. This is the sole survivor from those times.

It was built in 1626 by Nicholas Stone, master mason (great nominative determinism there) of George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham who had acquired it just two years previous from the Archbishop of York, hence the name. It came just a decade after the death of William Shakespeare and evokes for me the earliest days of Charles I’s tragic reign, obviously also pre-dating the seismic disasters of the Regicide, the English Civil War, the Plague and the Great Fire. A historical boundary marker it its way as it is a topographical one between the old Thames and dry land up until Joseph Bazalgette forced the water back a hundred yards or so with his Embankment.

This time of year Embankment Gardens is gorgeous, pristine. Stunning flower beds smiling in the spring sunshine. Now that I commute in from Salisbury, I love to stop here for an al fresco early lunch on a bench.

What’s your favourite evocative London spot?

Further reading.
This article by Matt Brown does the old gate far more justice than I have here.

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