I did it! The MoonWalk London 2014

MoonWalk  medalThis blog has been a bit neglected of late due to my training for an participation in the recent MoonWalk London 2014, organized by Walk the Walk in aid of breast cancer charities.

Apologies for the long gap in communication. However, all will be back to normal soon and in the meantime, here is a photo of me with my finisher’s medal as proof that I did walk all 26.2 miles. The team of ten women (including me)  I walked with managed in it just over 7 hours.

The event was spectacular; apparently there were a few logistical glitches but I was one of the fortunate ones unaffected by that, so from where I stood (strode) it all appeared extremely well organized. Clapham Common was pretty cold between 9pm and midnight, with a brisk wind howling through and keeping us pretty chilly, especially those of us, like me, who didn’t want to end up carrying layers as we warmed up, so were wearing just our decorated bras and a thin jacket.

Thank you to all the supporters who cheered us on along the way, especially the man with the rucksack who appeared at a number of different spots including the finish line, and was our most enthusiastic galvaniser.

Incidentally, Clapham Common (taking its name from the Clapham family) was home to many notable people, including the novelist Graham Greene, and Elizabeth Cook, widow of the explorer Captain James Cook; she lived there for many years following the death of her husband.

And one of the first cool London names our route took us past was Lavender Hill. Yes, that is named because Lavender was once grown there. It is probably best known as the setting for the Ealing comedy The Lavender Hill Mob.

So more on London street names soon, possibly continuing the MoonWalk theme, or maybe just random names that I like. I’m currently reading and enjoying Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch so maybe I’ll look at covering some of the street names that crop up in the book.

Knights, a royal doctor, and doing nothing

EAS_4029Two weeks to go till I take part in the London Moonwalk 2014 and today we can look at another street that is near, if not actually on, the route of the 26.2 mile walk, and that is Knightrider Street near St Paul’s Cathedral.

Knightrider Street, surprisingly for a London street name, actually has a very simple derivation: the street was part of the route for knights riding from the Tower Royal to jousting tournaments at Smithfield.

But of course it’s not that easy and some wet-blanket scholars, however, dispute the theory on the grounds that there is no recorded instance of the word ‘knightrider’. It could be, their argument goes, that the street was really called ‘Riderstrete’ – rider being a Middle English synonym for knight – and that ‘knight’ was added to the street name in general use.

Linacre plaqueThere is a blue plaque in the street to commemorate the fact that Thomas Linacre lived there. Linacre was a distinguished physician whose patients included Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey. Sir Thomas More was also a patient and a friend.

Thomas Linacre (probably)
A portrait of (probably) Thomas Linacre

Linacre established the Royal College of Physicians in 1518 and was its first president; early meetings were held at his house in Knightrider Street. In 1520 he took up holy orders and gave up practising medicine.

The Horn tavern in Knightrider street was mentioned in Dickens’ Pickwick Papers and, before it was damaged by fire in 1866 and demolished, the church of St Mary Magdalen stood at the corner of the street. RH Barham, the author of The Ingoldsby Legends, a work that includes a story about Bleeding Heart Yard, was rector there from 1824 to 1842 and was buried in the church.

EAS_4032There is also a Knightrider Court, once called Dolittle Lane. This was not, originally, named for a person, famous or otherwise: even more logically it appears that, as John Stow theorized and most people accept, it was so called because it served no actual purpose.

As Stow put it, “a place not inhabited by artificers or open shopkeepers, but serving for a near passage from Knightriders’ street to Carter lane”.

In other words, it was good only for getting from one place to another – what some people would have us believe is the reason behind the name of Passing Alley – but that is altogether another, more scatological, story.

If you want to support Walk the Walk and its efforts on behalf of breast cancer charities, you can sponsor me by visiting my fundraising page here.