The Doors Of Old London
The door to Parliament
Look at all the doors where the dead people walked in and out. These are the doors of old London. Some are inviting you in and some are shutting you out. Doors that lead to power and doors that lead to prison. Doors that lead to the parlour, doors that lead to the palace, and doors that lead to prayer. These are the doors that I found among hundreds of glass slides once used for magic lantern shows by the London & Middlesex Archaeological Society, many more than a century old, and housed today at the Bishopsgate Institute.
Looking at life through a doorway, we are all either on the way in or on the way out. Like the door to your childhood home that got sold long ago, each one pictured here is evidence of the transient nature of existence, reminding you that you cannot go back through the portal of time.
Yet there is a powerful enigma conjured by these murky pictures of old doors, most of which will never open again. Like the pauper or the lost soul condemned to wander the streets, we cannot enter to learn what lies behind these doors of old London. But a closed door is an invitation to the imagination and we can wonder and dream, entering those hidden spaces in our fancy.
London has always been a city of doors, inviting both the curiosity and the suspicion of the passerby. In each street, there is a constant anticipation of people popping out, regurgitated onto the street by the building, and the glimpse to be snatched of the interior before the door closes again.
I cannot resist the notion that every door contains a mystery and all I need is a skeleton key. Then we can set out to explore as we please, going in one door and out another, until we have passed through all the doors of old London.
The entrance to the Carpenters’ Hall
The doors of Lambeth Palace
Door in the cloisters in Westminster Abbey
The door to the chamber of Little Ease at the Tower of London.
In St Benet’s Church, Paul’s Wharf.
Back door of 33 Mark Lane
Back door to Lancaster House.
In Crutched Friars.
14 Cavendish Sq.
The door to 10 Downing St
39a Devonshire St.
The door to the House of Lords
Wren doorway, Kensington Palace.
The door to Westminster Abbey
St Dunstan’s in the West
The entrance to Christ Church, Greyfriars.
The door to St Bartholomew’s, Smithfield
The Watchhouse, St Sepulcre’s, Smithfield.
Door by Inigo Jones at St Helen’s Bishopsgate.
Prior Bolton’s Door at St Bartholomew the Great.
At the Tower of London
Glass slides © Bishopsgate Institute
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