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Review : London’s Roman Amphitheatre at the Guildhall

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One of the most unusual and little known attractions in the City of London is the remains of a Roman amphitheatre beneath the Guildhall Art Gallery. Although the remains are quite limited, their discovery during the redevelopment of the Guildhall Art Gallery in the 1980’s offer some fascinating insights into Roman London.

For well over a century, archaeologists had searched for London’s Roman Amphitheatre and it was considered a surprise that it was built within the old Roman city walls when the majority of ancient amphitheatres were generally built outside the city walls.

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Compared with the large amphitheatres in the Rome and other parts of the Roman world, the history of the London amphitheatre suggests a more modest wooden structure built around AD70, although it was rebuilt in the early 2nd century it is doubtful the capacity was never more than 6,000 to 7,000 people. Throughout the history of the London amphitheatre it is likely that was used for ceremonial public events, religious activities, animal fights, public executions and gladiatorial combat.

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When the Romans left Britain in the fourth century, the amphitheatre was deserted and a ruin for hundreds of years before in the 11th century the area was reoccupied probably by a Viking settlement , by the 12th century the first Guildhall was built next to it.

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The discovery of the Roman amphitheatre provided evidence that this particularly small Guildhall site has been at the centre of London life for almost two thousand years. The attraction has a highly original digital projection and with the sounds of the crowds you can get a taste of what it might have like in a barbaric and bloody Roman Britain.

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As an antidote to the brutal sport of the Roman amphitheatre, visitors can walk upstairs and explore the fine collection of paintings in the Guildhall Art Gallery. Walking out of the Gallery into the courtyard if you look on the ground there is black inlaid stone in the paving which marks the outline of the arena below.

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London’s Roman Amphitheatre forms part of Guildhall Galleries which includes the City’s Art and Heritage Galleries, Guildhall Library, Guildhall Great Hall and St Lawrence Jewry all are located in the same area and are free to enter.

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If you would like to visit the ruins of London’s Roman Amphitheatre, walk into the Guildhall Art Gallery.and follow the signs. The admission is Free.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

Opening hours

Monday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm

Sunday, 12pm – 4pm

If you would like further information, visit the City of London website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

 

Unseen City : Photos by Martin Parr at the Guildhall Art Gallery – 4th March to 31st July 2016

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Lord Mayor’s Show, Guildhall, City of London, 2013. © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos

Speaking to a packed audience at The Hepworth Wakefield last week at the ‘in conversation with Anne McNeill, Director of Impressions Gallery at his major exhibition of 400 works, “The Rhubarb Triangle and other Stories : Photographs by Martin Parr”, Parr, in jest remarked that being from Surrey partly explained his critique on taking photographs.

Parr also said that he felt guilty about the fact that he had done so well during the government of 80’s Britain for  much of his work he is known but added that the intent of his social documentary photography was and is equally as “questionable” and polemical in intent and subject matter as that of photojournalists who photograph hard-hitting humanitarian subjects.

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Lord Mayor’s Show, Guildhall, City of London, 2014. © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos

The connoisseurship of Parr’s critical acclaim and photographic credentials as a world-leading photographer and President of Magnum can be seen at three major venues. “Unseen City : Photos by Martin Parr” at the Guildhall Art Gallery (London), which is one of three major exhibitions of Parr’s work in the UK this year is a culmination of Parr’s two-year photographer-in-residence at the City of London Corporation (COLC), where he was commissioned to photograph a ‘behind-the-scenes’ view of the City of London across three mayoralties.

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Cart Making, Guildhall, City of London, 2015. © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos

Featuring 120 photographs, (20 of which have been acquired by the Guildhall Art Gallery for the contemporary permanent collection), it represents Parr’s atypical witty and questionable take on British institutional life. Showing a ‘behind the scenes’ view of  livery companies, ritual, tradition and high-profile occasions and open democracy where guests have included Her Majesty the Queen, Lord Mayors and city dignitaries the works portray the character, traditions, and people who make up the City to which Parr delivers a contemporary perspective of British institutional life in idiosyncratic style, posing questions on institutional life, open democracy and the nature of British identity with wit, brilliance, humour and laconic surprise.

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Silent Ceremony, swearing-in of new Lord Mayor, Fiona Woolf, Guildhall, City of London, 2013. © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos

“Unseen City : Photos by Martin Parr”, Guildhall Art Gallery of London, (4 March – 31 July 2016) will run parallel with “Strange and Familiar : Britain as Revealed by International Photographers” curated by Martin Parr Barbican Art Gallery, Barbican Centre, (16 March-19 June 2016). “The Rhubarb Triangle and other Stories : Photographs by Martin Parr”, The Hepworth Wakefield, (4 February-12 June 2016).

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Lord Mayor’s Show, City of London, 2013. © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos

An Artist’s Platform : A Q&A with Martin Parr will be held on 26 April 2016 between 6-8 pm and lunchtime curator’s talks will be held one Thursday per month at 1 pm on the 10 March, 7 April, 5 May, 2 June, 7 July 2016.

Opening Times: MondaySaturday, 10 am – 5 pm and Sunday, 12 noon – 4 pm. Admission: £5.00 (concessions available).

Contributor : Pippa Jane Wielgos

For more information and book tickets, visit the City of London website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here