I had a late afternoon meeting at Dean Rees House in Charterhouse Square today.
I was late (traffic) so rushed out of the cab and into the building without looking around. On my way out an hour later, I noticed the cobbled street and the very old buildings and just knew that this place had been important historically. I was very near Smithfield, between Charterhouse Street and Clerkenwell Road, just north of the City. It turns out that a Carthusian monastery was founded here in 1371. It was also plague pit in 1348 and was the largest mass grave in London during the Black Death – tens of thousands of bodies were buried there. Pleasant. The monastery was then dissolved and became a mansion house which became a school (which eventually moved to Godalming, Surrey) and it now belongs to Queen Mary, University of London. Thank you, Google.
I decided to walk towards Farringdon rather than heading home on the Tube (I hate the Tube). I walked down Charterhouse Street, crossed Farringdon Road and found a bus stop for the route 46 which would take me straight home! I looked at the route – the bus would take me all the way up to Hampstead before coming back down to St John's Wood and would take 52 minutes to do this journey (I was doubtful). My other option would be to take a bus back to Oxford Street and then change for a bus heading home. Both journeys would take the same amount of time (bloody long – but 'have iPod, will travel') so I hopped on the 46. It was 6.31pm (yes, I timed the journey).
The bus goes all the way down Gray's Inn Road – Eastman Dental Institute, Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital (I thought it was E-N-T?). The bus skirted around St Pancras and up Pancras Road. Everything seemed grey and miserable (even though the sun was shining) and all of a sudden, on Pancras Road, I saw one of the most beautiful churches I've ever seen – St Pancras Old Church:
It looked like it belonged in Camelot. Obviously I googled it – it's thought to have existed since 314 AD and is believed to be one of the oldest sites of Christian worship in England. It's open to visitors daily and I think I need to go back and visit properly. The route 46 was starting to look like a good idea.
Then it was up to Camden, Kentish Town and Malden Road (everything was grey again). Even the NHS Clinic had a closed metal shutter.
I then passed something that made me laugh: Sniffles Dog Grooming Spa. I realised we must be close to Hampstead and sure enough the bus drove past the Royal Free Hospital and towards Hampstead Station. It then turned left onto Fitzjohn's Avenue and I was back in familiar territory.
I got off at my bus stop at 19.23. I couldn't believe it. Exactly 52 minutes. And I got to see parts of London I normally wouldn't have (and some areas I wouldn't want to see again).
If you want to see the diversity between London's neighbourhoods and have a couple of hours to kill, I think the route 46 is an interesting way to do it!