In addition to being one of the few surviving remnants of the old London Bridge, Saint Magnus the Martyr’s Church is a historical treasure for another reason. Tacked to the wall of the bell tower’s archway is a 2,000-year-old piece of wood that hints at London’s Roman past.
A small plaque attached to the timber declares it’s a segment of an old Roman wharf that dates from 75 AD. The old beam was found on Fish Street Hill in 1931 and later brought to the churchyard, where it still stands today, safely secluded in a corner.
The wood is more than an artifact from Roman times. It also illustrates how the banks of the River Thames changed over time, and gives evidence that this area of the city has long been an important hub for transportation.
As the archway the timber now resides in was once a pedestrian entrance onto the old London Bridge, it’s likely that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people walked right by this small piece of the past. The courtyard holds other pieces of lost infrastructure in addition to this pedestrian archway and the old beam. You can also spot stones from the arch of a medieval bridge that once stretched across the Thames.
Know Before You Go
The piece of wood is located inside the archway of the tower of St Magnus the Marytr’s Church on Lower Thames Street. The church is open to visitors Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It's a three-minute walk from the Monument underground station on King William Street.
Alternatively, you can check the website, as there are occasional masses offered on Sunday.