Blackfriars Bridge – God’s Banker

God’s Banker

Blackfriars Bridge was the third bridge to be built across the river Thames and opened to the public in 1769. It was called Blackfriars Bridge because it lies within a precinct in the City named after the Blackfriars Monastery which for many years occupied a nearby area.

Although it was made of Portland Stone it kept requiring repairs until it was decided to rebuild it completely in 1869. Joseph Cubitt designed the new bridge and you can still see where he also had intended the railway to run alongside but that part of the bridge got taken down.

If you walk along the bridge you will notice little alcoves all along it and these were based on the design of pulpits in reference to the monastery which once stood nearby.

In June 1982 Blackfriars Bridge achieved notoriety when Roberto Calvi, the chairman of Italy’s largest private bank, Banco Ambrosiano, was found hanging with £10 000 in his pockets and bricks tied around his ankles. He was known as God’s banker because Banco Ambrosiano happened to be the bank that the Vatican used.

It was treated as suicide by the police initially but after a while roomers started that he was on the run from the mafia and owed them substantial amounts of money after embezzlement charges in Italy. When police went to question his secretary they found that she had also jumped out of a window and supposedly left a suicide note but it all seemed a bit sketchy.

Five people were tried for his murder in 2005 but they got away because there wasn’t enough evidence.

Get directions with Citymapper

Rather Splendid London Walks Book

In this book of 20 walks, I will show you some of the fun, interesting, weird and ridiculous things I’ve noticed on my travels around London