London’s Roman City Wall – The Obscured – Part 4


By some twist of fate, the far eastern section of the Roman city wall, running in a straight line all most due north from the Tower of London to Aldgate, contains some of the best preserved, and importantly visible sections of the wall.|

The large sections by Tower Hill and Cooper’s Row are the most easily viewed, (see Green push-pins on map) being accessible above ground and in public spaces.  However, always up for a challenge, I have been trying to discover and get access to visit all the remains of the Roman wall that are now preserved with private buildings along this eastern section (see Red push-pins on map), of which there are a good few.  All you need is the time, patience and a bit of courtesy to winkle your way into these buildings, and enter a world of hidden cellars and forgotten basements hosting these magnificent monuments.

Map of Roman City Wall of London

I have posted earlier articles on my visits to these hidden sections of the wall. Please refer to Part 1Part 2 and Part 3 of this series using these links or the navigation panel at the side.

The Three Tuns / Hennessy’s

This post features Hennessey’s Bar, formally The Three Tuns public house, which is located at the northern end, and eastern side, of Jewry Street, close to the location of the Roman gateway of Aldgate.

Frontage  of Hennessy's Bar, Jewry Street, London, EC3
Hennessy’s Bar, 36 Jewry Street, London, EC3 in 2013

There has been a pub on this site since the early 18th century, with map records showing a pub on here in 1747.  The present building though is 20th century, having been rebuilt to it’s present form in 1939.

Since 2014, Hennessy’s has since been renamed back to its original name of The Three Tuns, and is well worth a visit, for good ales, a roof terrace which is a rare thing in the City, and an interesting set of photos and old prints of the local area around the bar areas.

The Three Tuns pub
The Three Tuns pub, 36 Jewry Street, London, EC3 in 2019

There are several connections with the notorious Jack the Ripper and this pub, with the possibility that the “Ripper” may have hidden in the pub’s cellar to escape police on several occasions by using the cellar flap and chute at the rear of the building, accessed from the dead-end of Vine Street.

The line of the Roman wall here is right under the front walls of the properties on the eastern side of Jewry street, which include the Sir John Cass foundation, Hennessey’s Bar and the appropriately named Centurion House at 37 Jewry Street. 

View of Centurion House, looking towards Aldgate Circus and St Botolph without Aldgate.
Centurion House, next door to the Three Tuns pub, Jewry Street, Aldgate, London, EC3

In fact the Roman wall for this site is acting as part of the front cellar wall and foundations of the building, but has been exposed and preserved for viewing behind a large perspex panel.

Roman wall in cellar of The Three Tuns pub
Roman Wall in cellar of Hennessy’s Bar, 36 Jewry Street, London, EC3

The hole section of wall is about 5m (17ft) in length.  The sandstone plinth, marking the original Roman ground level, is visible just above the cellar floor at 2.69m (8ft 10in) below modern street level.  Above the plinth are the usual four courses or ragstone, a tiled bonding course, with a further six courses of ragstone towards to top of the visible wall. The wall is 2.39m (7ft 10in) thick above the plinth and 2.67m (8ft 9in) just above the cellar floor.

This post is probably the last of my posts dealing with the eastern section of the Roman wall, as I have now to my knowledge visited all but one of the preserved sites.  The last one being a small section of wall within the Sir John Cass Collage, 31 Jewry Street.  I have attempted to get access to view this section, as they proudly mention it’s existence on their web-site, but I have been told that it is just a view of a small cross section of the wall, behind a small glass panel about  1m (3ft) by 1.5m (4.5ft).  This is located in a secure financial vault within the basement and is not available for public access. Yet!

For more general background information on the city wall and Roman London please refer to the Museum of London’s web site on this topic.  Better still, go make a personal visit to this often overlooked but truly excellent (and free) museum.

Update of post for late 2019

I have migrated this article from Blogger to WordPress. In the process I have fixed some typos, enhanced and re-hosted the photos, and have updated the post a little.

Other than the renaming of the pub, the information here still stands in 2019, although I have now found more information on the evidence of the wall at Centurion House, inspired by a old print of 1865 I saw when recently partaking of liquid refreshment at the pub. This will feature in a new post shortly.

I also note the due to the reorganisation of the Museum of London, and the separation of their Archaeological Services (MoLAS) to the separate commercial entity of MOLA, all of their old links are now broken. I have provided a list of alternative references below which are working as of 2019.

London Wall: remains of Roman wall, bastions and city gate of Aldgate from 17 Bevis Marks to India Street
Detailed record of this Scheduled Monument.

3 thoughts on “London’s Roman City Wall – The Obscured – Part 4”

  1. Only just found your web pages today Simon. I have indeed seen the section of Wall to which you refer in the Sir John Cass College. My wife and I were aware such a piece existed but visited on spec, on 15 Feb 2011. At that time, it was part of the London Met University (now the David Game College) and one of the doormen kindly took us there and then to the basement where the end-on piece of Wall was behind an openable ‘window’ in a sort of cupboard and labelled with a loose paper card saying “Portion of Roman Wall of London (in situ)”. It wasn’t a financial vault by any stretch of the imagination.
    I have some photos of it but can’t see how to download them to your website.

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