I am taking the opportunity, whilst migrating my older posts to this new site hosted on WordPress, to provide an update on my original post from 2013 on the subject of the Roman city wall at Trinity Place. Despite a lack of blog based output, I have continued to visit the area of Tower Hill over the last 6 years to monitor the progress of the construction of the Citizen M hotel and other adjacent sites of interest related to the Roman wall and other nearby sites that I had also previously written about on this blog site.
Tower House – citizenM hotel
The new hotel known as citizenM Tower of London, is a 9 storey building with a single basement providing 370 rooms, and was constructed between 2013 to 2016. It is located on a site known as Tower House or 38-40 Trinity Place, EC3. The plot literally sits on top of the Tower Hill underground railway station, with the main exit of the station incorporated in the ground floor of the hotel, and with the platforms crossing diagonally under the site, and hence restricting the basement footprint.
Prior to Construction
When I first visited this area for my blog in 2013, the previous 1970s building had already been demolished, and the site had been vacant for about 5 years, with the new construction just about to start. The site was completely hoarded, and some site offices were present, which can be seen as the green coloured temporary buildings in the background of the photo below.
The photo below shows the view along the wall from Cooper’s Row towards Tower Hill. You can see that the base of the Roman wall had been exposed in parts of the site after the demolition of the previous building, with the rest of the site in an undeveloped state. The opposite side of the same green site offices can seen in the background here as with the photo above. The large rectangular concrete building in the centre left of the photo below is the Tower Hill electricity substation’s north and west elevations. The west wall of which sits directly on the line of Roman wall as can clearly be seen.
The main construction of hotel completed in mid-2016 with minor landscaping work around the exit of Tower Hill station continuing for a few months afterwards.
The photo below, taken in June 2016 shows the hotel nearly complete, but with the black coloured site hoardings still in place,
Once the hoardings had been finally removed, a new public space was made available at the rear (east) side of the hotel. This area featured a suspended decked terrace with seating for the hotel bar, but can be accessed directly from Trinity Place as well as via the hotel bar.
New views of Roman City Wall
Of significance to me, was the new access this area provided to view previously inaccessible sections of the Roman City Wall situated between Cooper’s Row and Trinity Place.
The walls here present their west (interior) elevations, and have well preserved Roman stonework to height of two metres or so from the original base level. The Roman construction method of uniform Kentish rag-stone inter-spaced with red tiled bonding courses at regular intervals can clearly be seen here surviving to various heights up to 2m. The lowest portion of the wall seen here with 3 squared stones with a triple bonding layer above, would have been directly above the original ground level of the Roman Wall. So the level where the black pest control box can be seen would match exactly the original ground level. Below that are several more courses of stonework and the actual foundations of the wall.
These sections were known to be present here and would have formed part of the rear of the plots of The Crescent and the western footings of the 1930 electricity substation to the point where the Roman wall had been truncated for the underground railway. The newly accessible eastern faces seen here were previously either buried or were previously featured in the basement of private buildings at this location as shown below at 42 Trinity Place in 1948. 42 Trinity Place survives still today, but as been restored and internally redeveloped, with the section of wall in the photo now visible from the hotel’s terrace.
Section of Roman Wall in the basement of 42 Trinity Square taken in 1948.
Earlier Memorial Stones Revealed
The terrace also provides access to an earlier replica of the Dis Manibus memorial stones to Gaius Julius Alpinus Classicianus from 65 AD., which had been incorporated into the west wall of the Tower Hill electricity substation at the time of its construction. An accompanying information plaque of cast metal dating from 1936 is also present.
The small cast metal information plaque on the right of the stones gives a brief explanation of their discovery.
The cast metal plaque reads:
REPRODUCTION OF INSCRIPTION FORMING PART OF A MONUMENT ERECTED ABOUT 65 AD. THE TWO STONES WERE FOUND NEAR THIS SPOT – THE UPPER IN 1852 AND THE LOWER IN 1935. THE UPPER PORTION OF THE LOWER STONE IS MISSING. THE STONES WERE BUILT INTO A BASTION OF THE ROMAN WALL BUT ORIGINALLY FORMED PART OF AN IMPOSING MONUMENT IN A NEIGHBOURING CEMETERY. THE ORIGINAL STONES ARE IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM.From informational plaque on the west wall of Tower Hill electricity substation.
London Passenger Transport Board 1936″
My earlier post on Trinity Place gives more information on the significance of this memorial. The fact there is another replica of the same stones just a few metres away, would suggest that the one incorporated into wall of the electricity substation has not been publicly accessible for a long time.
The blog site A London Inheritance, has some fascinating photos of the city wall at Trinity Place and of the earlier replica memorial stones taken in 1947, in which a second cast metal information plaque can be seen to the left of the stones, but which is not present today.