The Location and Significance of Ludgate Hill
Ludgate Hill is an important location nestled in the heart of the City of London, the historic and financial district of the UK’s bustling capital. It holds a special place in the city’s landscape due to its rich historical background and key landmarks.
It’s located in the western part of the City of London. It’s in close proximity to some of London’s most renowned districts, including Fleet Street to the south and St. Paul’s Churchyard to the east. The River Thames flows not too far to the south, making it an easily accessible location.
Ludgate Hill is one of the three ancient hills within the city, alongside Cornhill and Tower Hill. It’s named after the Lud Gate, one of the old gates in London’s city wall. The street rises from Fleet Street towards St. Paul’s Cathedral, a remarkable piece of architecture with an iconic dome, making Ludgate Hill one of the city’s most recognized places.
St. Paul’s Cathedral – The Crown of Ludgate Hill
Dominating the Ludgate Hill landscape is St. Paul’s Cathedral, one of London’s most visited sites. This Anglican cathedral, with its magnificent dome, is one of the most famous and recognizable sights of London. The cathedral’s position at the highest point of Ludgate Hill makes it a significant landmark that’s visible from many parts of the city.
Despite its deep roots in history, Ludgate Hill has kept pace with modern developments. The area is bustling with commercial activity, featuring office buildings, shops, and restaurants. With a mixture of historical charm and modern amenities, Ludgate Hill continues to be a vibrant and integral part of London’s landscape.
Ludgate Hill’s Rhino Exhibit of 1684
In the autumn of 1684, John Evelyn, a well-known diarist, visited a unique attraction in London – a rhinoceros. The first of its kind to appear in England, East India merchants brought this exotic animal to London and auctioned her. The high novelty value of the rhino fetched a bid of a whopping £2,320, marking it a noteworthy event that Evelyn recorded as ‘a very wonderful creature’. However, the bidder failed to deliver on this payment.
The Bell Savage Inn
The rhino found a new home at the Bell Savage, a significant coaching inn on the north side of Ludgate Hill in the late 17th century. Reconstructed after the Great Fire, the Bell Savage had ample space. Its extensive courtyard with stables made it a perfect shelter for the rhino. The innkeepers soon capitalized on the unique appeal of their new inhabitant by advertising her as a ‘Rhynoceros, lately brought from the East Indies’. They charged an admission fee of 12d, and the rhino became a star attraction for about two years.
The Transformation of Ludgate Hill
Sadly, the iconic Bell Savage Inn didn’t survive the tide of urban development. In 1873, it was demolished to pave the way for the construction of the Ludgate Hill railway viaduct. The viaduct itself became a part of history when it was taken down in 1990. The rhino and the Bell Savage Inn may be long gone, but they remain an integral part of Ludgate Hill’s vibrant history.
Ian McDiarmid is a qualified City of London Tour Guide who delivers guided walks and private tours in London. View all of Ian’s walking tours.