British Museum and Le Louvre are for me the best European museums of Antiquities.
My preferred museums of Antiquities in Europe are the following:
Under Antiquities I mean here Roman, Greek, Egyptian and Near Eastern artefacts.
Le Louvre, Paris.
British Museum, London.
Museumsinsel Berlin (Museum Island) with various museums like the Altes Museum, the Pergamon Museum and the Egyptian Museum
Greek and Roman antiquities:
Capitoline Museum and the two Museo Nazionale Romano (Palazzo Altemps and Palazzo Massimo), Rome.
National Archaeological Museum and Acropolis Museum, Athens.
Vatican Museum, Rome.
Museo Egizio (Egyptian museum), Turin.
And Egyptian departments of Le Louvre, British Museum and Berlin Island museum (one of the best in Europe).
Of course there are others like Vienna's KHM, Olympia, Leiden, Brussels, etc., etc. but if you have time to visit my favoured ones you will already feel a happy cultured traveller.
St. Bartholomew the Great is London´s oldest surviving parish church. I don´t like paying for visiting churches, but since I was visiting all the City churches I paid the small fee of GBP 4 to visit St. Bartholomew the Great. It was so worth it, it is a beautiful church with a long history.
St. Bartholomew the Great or the Priory Church was established in 1123 by Prior Rahere as an Augustinian priory. He was the founder of the Priory and the St. Bartholomew Hospital, opposite the street from the church. His tomb is by the High altar of the church with an effigy dressed as an Augustinian canon. Prior Rahere was also a courtier to King Henry I. St. Bartholomew the Great is known for its curative powers - dating back to when Prior Rahere went on a pilgrimage to Rome and caught a fever. He made a vow that he would build a hospital for the poor if he got better. He recovered and on his way back St. Bartholomew (one of the apostles) appeared to him with a message that he should build a church on this exact spot. People visit the church to get healed and on St. Bartholomew day - the 24th of August - sick people flock to the church.
In 1539 under the law of Henry VIII the church was dissolved and half of it was demolished.
St. Bartholomew the Great escaped, as it were, the Great Fire of London in 1666 and both WW1 and WW2 - amazing really as so many of the City churches got hit hard by the Fire and the World Wars.
The known William Hogarth was baptised in the church in 1697 in one of two pre-Reformation fonts, which still exist, dating back to 1405.
There are several tombs and memorials in the church, the tomb of Sir Walter and Lady Mary Mildmay, the monument of Percival and Agnes Smallpace, the monument to John and Margaret Whiting and the monument to Sir Robert Chamberlayne dating back to 1615.
The woodwork in the west side of the church is so beautiful - above it is the organ. In front is the the Great Lectern, which is made out of ancient timber from the old Lady Chapel.
Fondest memory: There is a chapel in the church called the Lady Chapel, dedicated to Mary. It has an interesting history as for centuries it was used for other purposes than a chapel - from 1539-1880 it was used as a house - a printery in which Benjamin Franklin worked - and finally as a lace factory. From 1896 it has been used exclusively as a chapel. There is a lovely painting of Madonna and Child from 1998 in the chapel. I just couldn´t tear myself away from it :)
St. Bartholomew the Great has been a film location for various popular films, such as Four Weddings and a Funeral (the 4th wedding was filmed here), Sherlock Holmes, Shakespeare in Love, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Amazing Grace, The Other Boleyn Girl, Jude, Elizabeth: The Golden Age - and The End of Affair.
St. Bartholomew the Great is located in West-Smithfield in the City of London next to the St. Bartholomew Hospital and St. Bartholomew the Less church. Opposite the street is Smithfields Meat Market. If you look up the street "Little Britain" then it is next to the church. It is kind of hidden away, as the entrance to the church was changed and it looks like a fairytale house, or something out of a Dicken´s tale. This house is what attracted me to have a further look - I had no idea that there was such a remarkable church here.
A highly recommended visit.
In 1210 a nunnery was built beside the priory church of St. Helen of the Benedictine Order. A new church was built for the nuns next to St. Helen´s church. The two churches have been linked together since 1543 making up what today is St. Helen´s Bishopsgate in the City of London. Due to its rich history this church has been called the Westminster Abbey of the City.
There is nothing left of the convent though since 1799. In 1538 the nunnery was given to Sir Thomas Wyllyams (Cromwell) and the nuns were given money to leave. 5 years later the nunnery became the property of the Leathersellers´ Company.
There is a big window in the Nuns´ Qiure, which was completely destroyed by the IRA bomb in 1992. A new window was given to the church in 1996.
There are many tombs and monuments in this part of the church. One of them is the Tomb of Sir William Pickering 1574, who was the ambassador of Spain when Elizabeth I was queen. It came as a surprise to me how many effigies there are in the church.
In the Nuns´ Quire is also the Tomb of Sir Thomas Gresham 1579, the founder of the Royal Exchange and the Gresham Institution - it is without an effigy.
Fondest memory: There is a beautiful wooden oak chancel screen which seperates the South Transept from the body of the church. It adds so much character to the church - it is so ornate.
Other tombs here are the Tomb of Sir John and Lady Crosby. John Crosby built Crosby Place and donated money to the church and it is thought that the 4 big arches in the church were paid for out of his donation. And the tomb of John de Oteswich and his wife, dating back to the late 14th century, from the St. Martin Outwich church, like so many other monuments in St. Helen´s Bishopsgate.
A highly recommended visit when in the City of London.
St. Helen´s Bishopsgate church in the City of London has been called the Westminster Abbey of the City of London. It is a beautiful church with such rich history. It was one of the last churches I visited in the City as it is kind of difficult to get into it - or so I thought. I had walked past this church for a decade without knowing anything about it. It is located west of the Gherkin, just across the street, and looking at this old church and the very modern Gherkin behind it always make me contemplate on how vast a difference there is in architecture now and way back when the church was built. I could not find out where the entrance was and thought it might be used for offices only and thus closed to the public, but found out that it was open for the City Workers on Sundays and on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a lunch-time service. Then I found out that the church was open to visitors on Mondays-Fridays from 09:30-12:30. The entrance is on the east side of the church and I had to ring a bell to get in. The main entrance to the church is on the west side of the church - dating back to ca 1300. Coming from Iceland, where we don´t have old buildings, it amazes me how old this church is here in the middle of the City.
I got there a little early to check out the church and to my surprise the church got almost filled with people - the workers in the City of London. I must say that this was the "friendliest" church I visited in the City and I did not sit alone there. After the lunch-time talk people had lunch in the church and I got to know some people there. Very lovely and if the opportunity arises I will go there again for a lunch-time talk.
The address of the church is: Great St Helen's, London EC3A 6AT. Tube: Liverpool Street and Bank.
Fondest memory: The priory church of St. Helen of the Benedictine Order was here on this site when in 1210 a nunnery was built beside the church. That church dates back at least to 1140-1160. A new church was built for the nuns next to St. Helen´s church. The two churches have been linked together since 1543 making up what today is St. Helen´s Bishopsgate.
I will add a special tip on the Nuns´ Quire as there are so many interesting monuments there.
St. Helen´s is one of the few churches in the City which survived the Great Fire of London in 1666 and the Bishopsgate Fire only a century later in 1765. Neither did it get damaged in WW1 and WW2. But the IRA bombs in 1992 and 1993 in the City severely damaged St. Helen´s and some other churches in this area, and the church had to be completely restored in 1994-1995 :( The floor was lifted to it´s medieval level, so that under floor heating could be added. One can see the former floor-level by the monument of Sir John Spencer (1609), who was Lord Mayor of London from 1594-1595.
There are big arches in the church, which date back to 1480, which didn´t get destroyed by the bombs.
I am interested in the sword-rests in the City churches and found a rare wooden sword-rest in St. Helen´s Bishopsgate with the date 1665 - the year of the Plague. It was the sword rest of Sir John Lawrence, who was Lord Mayor of the City of London in 1664-1665.
There is also a very beautiful pulpit in the church, it is very decorative, made of wood in ca 1615 - a masterpiece. The noted John Wesley and George Whitefield preached from this pulpit on their visits to the church. I wish I could add more photos here, I just couldn´t stop taking photos in this remarkable church.
There is a lovely garden by St. James´s Piccadilly Church. It is a former graveyard, referred to until 1945 as the "green graveyard", but has not been in use as as a graveyard since 1853.
On a stone by the entrance to the garden is written: "The garden on this bomb damaged site was given by Viscount Southwood to commemorate the courage and fortitude of the people of London in the second World War 1939-1945". During the war there were air-rade shelters in the garden for civilians.
Fondest memory: There are several statues on display (contemporary culture) in the garden and a fountain with such lovely chubby cherubs and angry looking dolphins. The fountain is Grade II listed and is in commemoration of Viscount Southwood, who is mentioned here above. Close by the fountain is another lovely statue called "Peace".
It is lovely sitting here in the garden, I did that often when I was studying here back in 1987. It is so sheltered and peaceful.
My favourite café is by the garden "Café Nero" connected with the church, a lovely café.
St. James´s Church Piccadilly is one of Sir Christopher Wren´s churches, which he built after the Great Fire of London in 1666. It is in a strange place though, as all the other churches built by Wren are in the City of London, this church is the only one outside of the City. Hernry Jermyn, Earl of St. Albans, owned this land, where the church now stands, and chose Wren as an architect for the church. Earl Jermyn, also built St. James´s Square and the streets in that area, which is now the center of London.
True to Wren´s church design it is a beautiful, bright, spacious ornate church, consecrated in 1684. Grinling Gibbons is the master of the woodwork and the beautiful altar in the church. He also made the exquisite marble font with Adam and Eve and the tree of life. The well known poet, William Blake, was baptised in the font.
The church was badly damaged by bombs in the Blitz in 1940. The organ, the Reredos and the Font escaped damage. Restoration was finished in 1954.
Four ministers of St. James´s Church Piccadilly have become Archbishops of Canterbury.
Fondest memory: I visited this church several times, and it was more than often filled with sleeping homeless people. It is a good thing that they can have a shelter in a church, especially during the winter time. It was very cold in the church as well, though. It was difficult taking photos in the church with so many people sleeping there, so I have only a handful of usable photos.
There are free recitals in the church three times a week at lunchtime, on Mondays, Wednesday and Friday.
Outside the church is the well known Piccadilly Market. There is also a graveyard by the church, on which I am going to add another tip.
The address of the church is: 197 Piccadilly, London W1J 9LL and it is located on Piccadilly, the closest tube being Piccadilly Circus.
Friends of the City Churches - FCC is a group of over 100 wonderful people, who keep the old City of London´s 16 "threatened" churces open on certain dates. The FCC proved very helpful and knowledgeable on the City Churches and I am ever so grateful to them for keeping these old churches open to visitors - without them I would not have seen some remarkable churches in the City of London. If I were ever to live in London I would join this group.
On my stay in London in 2012-2013 my goal was to visit all or most of the City churches. But I noticed that many of them were closed. In one church I found a leaflet and discovered that the Friends of the City Churches keep many of them open on a certain date. On that day they put a sign out in front of the church - the Church Watchers are here today - open. I made many trips down to the City to visit the churches. Many of the churches are open to visitors every day, but the FCC keep the following churches open from 11:00-15:00 on these days:
Mondays - St. Martin Ludgate, St. Mary Abchurch.
Tuesdays - St. Dunstan in the West, St. Botolph Aldgate and from 13:45-16:00 St. Botolph Aldersgate. On the 2nd and 4th Tuesday the Dutch Church Austin Friars is open.
Wednesdays - St. Mary Aldermary (it is open every day as there is a café in the church, but I guess the FCC are there on Wednesdays), St. Sepulchre Newgate, St. Stephen Walbrook. From 12:00-16:00 St. Magnus the Martyr.
Thursdays - St. James Garlickhythe, St. Benet Paul´s Wharf (open from late March as it is too cold inside), St. Mary at Hill.
Fridays - All Hallows London Wall (closed until further notice in 2013), St. Ethelburga Centre, St. Andrew by the Wardrobe.
Fondest memory: I also got hold of - in a church - the leaflet "City Events", published by the FCC. In there one can find out all the services held on any certain day in the City Churches - and there are so many services, masses, bible studies, organ recitals, free concerts etc held every day in one or many of the churches. The leaflet - published every month - proved extremely helpful. I attended many of the services and concerts, of which I wouldn´t have known if it weren´t for the leaflet.
Kudos to the Friends of the City Churches - God bless!
St Giles-in-the-Fields is an Anglican church in the West End, right south of Center Point. It is a parish church for St. Giles, Seven Dials, and parts of Fitzrovia and Bloomsbury.
The first place of worship on this site was a chapel from 1101, which was a refuge for the poor, pretty much as I encountered when I visited, like in so many other churches, homeless people were sleeping on the pew. It is lovely that they can get in from the cold and warm up here in a church. It was also a colony for lepers. The church became a parish church in 1547. Church number two was rebuilt in 1630 and the third one - the present church - dates back to 1733.
It is a lovely Palladian style church, built by Hentry Fitcroft. The pulpit was given to the church in 1676 - so the pulpit is older than the church (1733).
There is a wooden model of the church in a glass case.
Fondest memory: There is a white pulpit in the church from West Street Chapel, but John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, and his brother, Charles, preached from that pulpit many times from 1743-1791. I would have loved listening to them.
Well known people baptised in the church are the children of Lord Byron. And the children of Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein.
The church is open from Monday-Friday from 08:15-16:00 and again for Evening Prayer at 17:30.
St. Botolph without Bishopsgate is one of the churches in the City and is situated by Bishopsgate street. When the current church was built the remains of a Saxion church dating back to ca 1212 were found. But it is believed that there has been a church here since Roman times. The current church is the 4th church on this site, dating back to 1729. Each church in the City is unique and St. Botolph without Bishopsgate is unique in that the tower of the church is at the east end.
It is a beautiful church, built in classic style. The name "without Bishopsgate" means that the church stood just outside the old City walls.
This is not one of Sir Christopher Wren´s churches, as it escaped the Great Fire of London in 1666. In WW2 only 1 window got broken, but the church was damaged by an IRA bomb on the 24th of April 1993. The roof opened and all the windows and doors were blown away. The bomb was in a car in front of St. Ethelburga, diagonally opposite the street, which got much more severely damaged.
When I visited there were several homeless people sleeping on the pew, well, if not in a church, then... So I just tiptoed around the church, read up on it and took photos (without flash).
Fondest memory: There is a Book of Remembrance in the church of the London Rifle Brigade.
I also found a memorial to the people who have died of hæmophilia, after having been given contaminated blood, Memorials like this just break one´s heart.
John Keats was baptised in this church in 1759. Also the actor Edward Alleyn in 1566. He was the founder of Dulwich College. The best known parishioner was Sir Paul Pindar, James Is Ambassador to Turkey.
There is a Hall in the gardens of the church, which is rented out for functions and dinners and such. This Hall used to be a Charity School.
The address of the church is St. Botolph without Bishopsgate Church, Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3TL
St. Michael´s Cornhill is one of the City churches, which I have passed on my London trips so many times and admired from afar. The entrance to this particular church is magnificient, so ornate and striking. It is a Sir Christopher Wren church.
St. Michael´s Cornhill stands directly where the Basilica, the old Roman Forum, used to be.
Close to the site of the church was the oldest Christian worship in London, from 179 AD - making these churches remarkable in London´s history. St. Peter Cornhill is the oldest church in the City - established in 179 AD - it is only a couple of meters (as it were) from St. Michael. St. Peter Cornhill is not open to public, only by appointment.
There is a record of St. Michael´s Cornhill from 1055, so it dates back before that time. It has links with the Draper´s Company.
St. Michael´s Cornhill was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 - only the tower remained. It was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren and finished in 1672. Wren started on rebuilding the tower in Gothic style, but Hawkmoor finished it.
Fortunately the church didn´t get damaged by the bombings in WW2, like so many other of the City churches. But there were some restorations in 1960 and again in 1975.
It is such a beautiful church, with a light blue ceiling and Tuscan pillars - with a golden angel above every pillar. Very majestic. And by every pew there is a different coat of arms, I haven´t seen that in other City churches.
The organ, which dates back to 1684, is said to be one of the finest organs in a London church. There are organ recitals in the church on Mondays at 13:00. The organ recitals have been going strong in the church since 1914 and have become a national institution, as it were, under Harold Darke. They were broadcasted live every week for several years on BBC national radio.
Fondest memory: I entered the church and saw that nobody was in there so I started singing to myself, praising God at the altar and taking photos. Only to realize when I was about to leave that there was a man sitting in the far end of the church, kind of hidden in the shadow there. I was mortified, poor guy sitting there in peace and here I come in praising the Lord and feeling all free and singing, hehe. But if not in a church then... I apologized and he told me that he had a very stressful job and that he sometimes came in here to clear his head, as the church was usually empty. A very polite, typical City man. He offered to accompany me to the other Cornhill church, St. Peter´s Cornhill, and then went on his way. Unfortunately that church was used for offices and closed to the public.
The church is in the street called Cornhill, which got its name from the corn-market which was once situated here. The name is old, dates back to the 12th century.
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