London Stone review
This thing is akin to the Arkenstone. It's the heart of the country, the dried-up centre of the city, the fossilised pip of whatever tree stood here first. Nobody knows for sure where it came from. Some people believe the London Stone is Roman, some people think it's medieval, whilst others insist it was the stone from which Arthur pulled Excalibur. Maybe it was the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs. All they really know for sure is that it is incredibly old, and it's this this age that gave it a mythical status in the City. People used to come and touch it to seal a deal (a bit like swearing an oath on the Bible). Jack Cade was supposed to have hit it with his sword when he rebelled against Henry VI. By the time of Elizabeth I it had become so famous that Shakespeare even mentioned it in one of his plays.
The experts' best guess is that it was originally part of a gateway into the governer's palace when London was still ruled by Rome. It was probably a big block of rock that stood about head height and it has been slowly eroding over the centuries as the wind's whipped it, the carts have clipped it, and the people chipped it.
In 1578 a visiting dignitary measured it at three feet. Ninety years later the Great Fire of London swept along Candlewick Street (modern day Cannon Street) and cracked the stubborn stump in half. What remained was placed outside Christopher Wren's long-gone St. Swithin's church.
More ferocious fire and flames followed in 1940 when the Luftwaffe dropped a bomb on the church roof, levelling everything except the stone's home in the western wall. It was then carried across the other side of the street and imprisoned inside a grill outside WH Smith's. When that building was itself torn down the stone found temporary respite at the Museum of London, before a new tomb was built for it opposite Cannon Street station.
And that's where you'll find it today, still sitting in the same street it's been for two thousand years, where it's witnessed the Blitz, the Great Fire of London, the Peasants' Revolt, and even the fall of the Rome.
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