The City of London constituted most of London from its settlement by the Romans in the 1st century AD to the Middle Ages, but the conurbation has since grown far beyond its borders.
St Brides Avenue is a narrow alley which leaves Fleet Street
almost opposite Shoe Lane
It turns east to pass between St Bride’s Church
and the rear of the Old Bell Inn, with an additional branch leading by way of a wide covered path into Salisbury Court
. It was once a significant passageway, arched over at the Fleet Street
entrance, but is now open to the elements and serves merely as a short cut, for those in the know, between New Bridge Street
, Fleet Street
and the Bishop of Salisbury’s Court.
The rear entrance to the Old Bell, by which most of the regulars arrive, is really quite unobtrusive; a plain door devoid of any accompanying signs leaping out to declare the facilities on offer. The Bell is a solid pub and exists for the solid City drinker as it was originally intended. It stands on the site of the Swan tavern, where Wynkin de Worde, assistant to William Caxton, is supposed to have used a room as his workshop.
When Sir Christopher Wren drew up his plans for rebuilding St Bride’s church in 1671 he constructed the Bell as accommodation for his men working on the site. The Bell has stood the test of the ages and has emerged with first class honours. Its clientele used to come mainly from the newspaper trade; journalists, printers, and men of advertising jostled for a place at the antique counter. Now that the newspapers have moved to other parts and brought to an end the centuries old street of print, the clientele is more varied.
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As the City's boundaries have remained almost unchanged since the Middle Ages, it is now only a tiny part of the metropolis of Greater London, though it remains a notable part of central London. It holds city status in its own right and is also a separate ceremonial county.
It is widely referred to as 'The City' (often written on maps as City
and differentiated from the phrase 'the city of London') or 'the Square Mile' as it is 1.12 square miles in area. These terms are also often used as metonyms for the United Kingdom's financial services industry, which continues a notable history of being largely based in the City.
The local authority for the City, the City of London Corporation, is unique in the UK and has some unusual responsibilities for a local council, such as being the police authority. It also has responsibilities and ownerships beyond the City's boundaries. The Corporation is headed by the Lord Mayor of the City of London, an office separate from (and much older than) the Mayor of London.
The City is a major business and financial centre, ranking as the world's leading centre of global finance. Throughout the 19th century, the City was the world's primary business centre, and continues to be a major meeting point for businesses.
The City had a resident population of about 7000 in 2011 but over 300,000 people commute to it and work there, mainly in the financial services sector. The legal profession forms a major component of the northern and western sides of the City - especially in the Temple and Chancery Lane areas where the Inns of Court are located, of which two—Inner Temple and Middle Temple - fall within the City of London boundary.