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STRAND LEY, London


An unmodified Alfred Watkins alignment, running for a little over 2 1/2 miles SW-NE linking the line of parts of Pall Mall and the Strand. Because the ley falls 'approximately on part' of these famous roads, Watkins felt the alignment was verified as a track.

Starting the SW, the S pavement of Pall Mall approximates the course of the ley as Trafalgar Square and the first ley point, St. Martin-in-the-Fields (30128053), is approached. Trafalgar Square has been a meeting point for roads from the earliest times, and was the site for the actual Charing Cross. The first mention of St. Martin's was in a document of 1222 which referred to 'the church and burial place of St. Martin'. Nothing is known of that church, but a rebuilding took place in 1544, and Gibbs rebuilt that one early in the 18th century. During this later work, it was found that an underground stream ran beneath the foundations, and the remains of a Roman brick arch were uncovered. The bones of prehistoric animals also seem to have been discovered, and the skeleton of an 8-foot giant. The ley goes through the NW corner of the present building.

The ley then joins the course of the Strand and passes through St. Mary-le-Strand (30798091), situated on an island in the middle of the road. This was first mentioned in the 12th century, but the present structure was built by Gibbs in the 18th century on a slightly different site. Watkins remarks that an 'ancient maypole' stood on the site. This was in fact erected in front of the earlier church to celebrate the Restoration of Charles II, and ley hunters assume that old maypoles invariably mark traditional places, being the remnants of pagan festivity. The Strand maypole must have been an impressive sight, rising 134 feet above the ground, for its loss from the London scene in the 18th century was recorded in a couplet by Bramston:

Continuing down the middle of the Strand, the ley passes through St. Clement Danes, discussed in SE1. In its course along the Strand, the alignment passes by the Wig and Pen Club (a private club for members of the legal profession and the Press), where ghostly footsteps have been regularly heard in a corridor on the ground floor.

The fourth ley point is St. Dunstan's (31228115), Fleet St. The present building is 19th century, replacing an earlier church on the same site which Pevsner says was first mentioned in 1237. Bu Mee considers was 'probably consecrated as early as the 11th century.' It was probably built, in fact, between 1000 and 1065. On the outside of the church is a clock which has two figures striking the hours against a bell. These probably represent the giants Gog and Magog, complex mythological figures who will be met again in a different from on the Cambridge E1 Ley.

The ley continues some distance to the fifth and final ley point, which used to be at what is now the traffic island and meeting of ways called Arnold Circus (33668252). This is approximately the site of an ancient mount, mentioned by Borrow in Romano Lavo-Lil as 'a locality called Friars' Mount, but generally for shortness called the Mount. It derives its name from a friary built upon a small hillock in the time of Popery,'

Archives

The Wig & Pen Club, 230 The Strand, is located at (30598080). St. Sepulchre, aka the Musicians Church, established in 1137, is aligned (31778146). The line also crosses the apex of St. Bride Street Corner, close to the Bridewell spring off Shoe Street. Three more ancient sites align:

St. Bart’s Hospital, 1123 AD (31208155), The Barbican Centre - site of the Roman Barbecana Tower (32418183), and Bunhill Fields aka Bonehill (32728201) a burial site from at least Saxon times.

                                                                                                             4.1km 62°/242°.

StrandLine