10 Underground Sites in London

1 -West Norwood Cemetery & Catacombs The catacombs of West Norwood Cemetery (South Metropolitan Cemetery) reside underneath the former site of the Episcopal Chapel (demolished in 1955 due to bomb damage). The catacombs and cemetery was opened by the South Metropolitan Cemetery Company in West Norwood to alleviate the overcrowded church yards in the area. […]

1 -West Norwood Cemetery & Catacombs

The catacombs of West Norwood Cemetery (South Metropolitan Cemetery) reside underneath the former site of the Episcopal Chapel (demolished in 1955 due to bomb damage).

The catacombs and cemetery was opened by the South Metropolitan Cemetery Company in West Norwood to alleviate the overcrowded church yards in the area.

2 – Paddock (War Rooms)

Paddock is the codename for a back-up secret cabinet war room bunker built during WW2 should Whitehall be no longer viable.

The bunker complex was constructed in total secrecy in 1939 in Dollis Hill, underneath part of the Post Office Research Station site.

3 – Billingsgate Roman Bath House

The remains of the Billingsgate Roman bath house date from the 2nd-3rd century AD and were first discovered in 1848 during construction of the London Coal Exchange.

Pottery has shown that the house was erected in the late 2nd century, comprising of a north wing and east wing (with a hypocaust system – underfloor heating) around a central courtyard. At this time, the building was situated on the waterfront of the River Thames.

4 – Crystal Grotto in Painshill Park

Located South West of London, the grotto is one of several follies in Painshill Park and a grade listed monument.

It was designed and created between 1738 and 1773 by the Hon. Charles Hamilton (MP). His creation was among the earliest to reflect the changing fashion in garden design prompted by the Landscape Movement, which started in England in about 1730.

5 – St Brides Crypts

St Bride’s Church was designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1672 in Fleet Street in the City of London. Activity at the site dates from the Roman period, evident by a Roman mosaic located within the church Crypts.

Excavations in the 1950’s of St Brides Church revealed the a large number of skeletal remains from a medieval charnel house and individuals interred in a previously unknown ossuary crypt.

6 – All Hallows-by-the-Tower Crypts

The church was founded in AD 675 by the Saxon Abbey at Barking and still contains a 7th century Saxon arch built from recycled Roman tiles.

Although the church was expanded and rebuilt several times between the 11th and 15th centuries, in addition to gutted during the blitz, a 2nd century tessellated Roman pavement survices from a domestic roman building in the church crypts.

7 – Roman Amphitheatre

The Roman amphitheatre of Londinium is situated in a vaulted chamber beneath the Guildhall gallery complex.

Discovered in 1998 during a planned expansion of the Guildhall, the remains are displayed in situ and are now a protected monument. London’s first Roman amphitheatre was built in AD70, constructed of wood, but was later renovated during the 2nd century with rag-stone walls and a tiled entrance.

8 – The Post Office Railway

The Post Office Railway, also known as Mail Rail, is a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge, driverless underground railway in London that was built by the Post Office with assistance from the Underground Electric Railways Company of London, to move mail between sorting offices.

Closed in 2003, the line ran from Paddington Head District Sorting Office in the west to the Eastern Head District Sorting Office at Whitechapel in the east, a distance of 6.5 miles (10.5 km). It had eight stations, the largest of which was underneath Mount Pleasant.

9 – Whitehall Palace Undercroft Cellar

The Palace of Whitehall (or Palace of White Hall) was the main residence of the English monarchs in London from 1530 until 1698 when all except Inigo Jones’s 1622 Banqueting House was destroyed by fire. Before the fire, it had grown to be the largest palace in Europe with over 1,500 rooms, overtaking the Vatican and Versailles.

An undercroft from Wolsey’s Great Chamber, now known as Henry VIII’s Wine Cellar survives underneath the Ministry of Defence building. The cellar is a fine example of a Tudor brick-vaulted roof some 70 feet (21.3 m) long and 30 feet (9.1 m) wide.

10 – London Wall – Car Park

The wall was built between 190 and 225 AD, it continued to be developed by the Romans until at least the end of the 4th century. Along with Hadrian’s Wall and the road network, the London Wall was one of the largest construction projects carried out in Roman Britain. Once built, the wall was 2 miles long and about 6 m high, encircling the entire Roman city.

This particular section of ruins are beneath street level, in an underground car park adjacent to the Museum of London on the A1211.

 

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