The early gospels were written nearly one hundred years after the death of Jesus, no wonder then, that they are riddled with inconsistencies. Some do not mention Christ's divinity, some do not mention his siblings (the Catholic Church didn't like the idea that Jesus was not Mary's only child), so it's not surprising that down through the ages the Christian religion has had more to do with the church and the authority of its members than with Christ.
Squabbles about what Christ really meant and what he might have approved or not approved of eventually led to conflict and the desire of Christians of every persuasion to burn each other to death.
One of the funniest of these age old arguments took place in Westminster Abbey in the late twelfth century. Priests had been allowed to marry up until this time but a decision was made to forbid this practice, a practice that had been perfectly acceptable for over a thousand years. Other disputes focused on he differences between the ancient rites of the church handed down through the Irish tradition and the increasing authority of Rome, whose traditions were very different in many ways.
The Archbishop of York (Irish tradition) believed that he was the senior English cleric, but this angered the Archbishop of Canterbury (Rome), who would not accept that anyone should take precedence over him. The dispute between the two Archbishops came to a head in 1176 when a papal legate visited England. The legate resolved to sort out the problem between these two once and for all by convening a synod at Westminster Abbey.
It took the Archbishop of York considerably longer to arrive in London than the Archbishop of Canterbury. When he finally entered Westminster Abbey he found the Archbishop of Canterbury already sitting in the position of precedence to the right of the papal legate. He was so enraged by this sight that he marched up to the papal legate and sat on his lap, much to the amazement of the other bishops!
According to the records of the day, a fight broke out, with the supporters of the Archbishop of Canterbury attacking the supporters of the Archbishop of York. The papal legate tried to stop the riot and failed miserably. But the legate was a very clever man and he quickly thought of a solution to the problem. Following the debate at the synod (after the fighting had ceased and everyone had calmed down) he announced that the Archbishop of York should be Primate of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury should be Primate of All England. This brilliant solution has lasted to the present day.
London's underground railway network is the oldest in the world, with many of its tunnels being unchanged since they were built in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The Piccadilly line was opened in 1906 and, covering a distance of over ten miles, it was the longest underground line at that time and, for passengers not used to traveling underground, proved to be a terrifying prospect indeed.
But just as the general public had got used to the idea of this long-distance underground railway the train company introduced something even more frightening.
London's first escalator was installed in 1910 on the Piccadilly line at Earl's Court Station and passengers were so fearful of this new invention that they refused to use it. The train company were beside themselves because they had a paid a huge amount to have the new equipment fitted and the money would be wasted if no one was brave enough to use it. Then someone in the company came up with a bright idea, why not employ someone to ride the escalator during the day to give the public confidence? The company deemed the idea acceptable and employed Bumper Harris, who had a wooden leg, to go up and down the escalator all day long. The public soon began to realise that if a man with one leg could use this remarkable moving staircase safely there was no reason why they shouldn't use it to.
Nothing more is know about Mr. Harris except that he did his job extremely well, to the extent that the public soon thought nothing of using the new escalator and Bumper Harris was out of a job!
St Bride's Church in Fleet Street has, since its completion in 1672, had many odd tales associated with it.
Its steeple, designed by Christopher Wren, inspired Mr Rich, a local baker, to create the tiered wedding cake design we know today. This new cake was so popular that, as a result, Mr Rich became a very wealthy man indeed,
Its lightening conductor was designed and installed by American republican and inventor Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), who later went on to become President of the United States, but only after a huge argument erupted over whether the American style blunt-ended conductor or the pointed-end British style conductor should be used.
Excavations at St Brides have revealed that there were seven previous churches on the site and among the more recent monuments inside the church are two that are particularly unique. On a wall near the font is a memorial to Virginia Dare, who was the first English child born in America. There is also a humorous memorial, penned by an anonymous author, to Christopher Wren, who built the church.
'Clever men like Christopher Wren
Only occur just now and then.
No one expects
Architects of his ingenuity
No - never a cleverer dipped his pen
Than clever Sir Christopher, Christopher Wren'.
In Hyde Park at the East side of the Serpentine lake the Queen Caroline monument is located.
The text on the monument reads:
To the memory of
wife of George II
the Long Water
1727 - 1731
The Church of St. Anne & St. Agnes is the first Lutheran church I have visited in London, to my knowledge. It is located in the City of London and is one of Sir Christopher Wren´s churches.
I had tried to visit it once, but it was closed, most of the churches in the City are open though during the day. Seeing that it is a Lutheran church, the same congregation to which I belong in Iceland, I was eager to visit it. I saw an ad that there would be a concert at lunch time next Friday at 13:15, so on that day I went down to the City and popped in. I arrived early, but the church was already filled with people, coffee was being handed out, free donations, and we could sit on the church benches with the coffee mug and it was also allowed to bring one´s own lunch pack into the church. It was ever so informal and laid back and there was such a lovely atmosphere in the church and I felt right at home there. I guess I was also feeling that this was "my" church, as utterly strange as that sounds. I have visited so many churches in London and I am not familiar with the church form, but eager to learn, as we all believe in the same Saviour.
The concert was so nice, "Wind Music" by Handel, Sonata a 4 in G Major by J. Pfeiffer, Sonata a 4 in D Minor by J. F. Fasch and "Les Paysans" by G. P. Telemann. They offer free lunch concerts on Mondays and Fridays and I am for sure going to visit again. All in all they offer ca 100 concerts every year.
Fondest memory: The first mention of a church here on this site is from 1137.
The Church of St. Anne & St. Agnes is one of more than 50 churches which were built by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London in 1666. This church he built in 1680. The tower was the only part of the church that survived from the fire. It was constructed in the form of a Greek cross in Baroque style. It got badly destroyed by the bombings in the Blitz in 1940.
It wasn´t until 1966 that it was reconsecrated, having been rebuilt by donations from the Lutheran church worldwide. And since 1966 it has been a Lutheran church. It was meant to be a church for the Latvian and Estonian communities in London, which were in exile, but now it is a congregation with more than 30 nationalities, with services in English, Latvian and Swahili.
It is the only church in the City which has got two names, St. Anna & St. Agnes.
The church is north of St. Paul´s Cathedral in Gresham Street, London EC2V 7BX. When I visited London last October I was chatting to one Friends of the City Churches member and she told me that this congregation had moved to another church.
The Church of St. Anne & St. Agnes is a Grade I listed building.
Today, public lavatories in London are few and far between, but up until the 1950's, when successive governments began to close them, the London loo was world famous.
London's magnificent Victorian public toilets were first built because the governments of the time saw them as being necessary to the well being of Londoners. It seems that the parliamentarians of the Victorian age knew their history much better than today's M.P.'s because they remembered that as far back as the Middle Ages and up until the middle of the seventeenth century one of London's greatest problems was the lack of public lavatories.
At home Londoner's used a bucket or pot and then disposed of its contents by throwing it into the street or the River Thames. Evidence suggests that many householders, especially those of the aristocracy, just relieved themselves in the corner of whatever room they happened to be in. On the streets people relieved themselves wherever they liked, but for women and those of a more delicate frame of mind this was unacceptable. The solution to this problem was provided by the human lavatory.
The human lavatories were men and women who walked the streets of London wearing overlarge black capes and carrying buckets. When you found yourself in need of the loo, you found the nearest man or woman with a cape and bucked and paid them a farthing. Then you sat on the bucket while they stood over you and surrounded you with their cape and so protected your modesty.
The name of only one human lavatory has been found on record. A 1190 court roll states that one Thomas Butcher of Cheapside was admonished and fined for overcharging his customers.
The plaques of Park Street are located around the estate. They’re very significant to the history of the area and what it happened there hundreds of years ago.
First and fourth photo it’s a plaque regarding the recovery of an a Roman Villa nearby.
Second and third photo it’s the plaque telling the story of an Austrian Butcher. The real name of the Austrian the butcher was Julius Jacob Von Haynau and he was a general in the Austrian Army and who was prominent in suppressing insurrectionary movements in Italy and Hungary in 1848 and later. His soldiers were calling him “The Hyena of Brescia” and the “The hangman of Arad” as he was a very brutal and a violent person.
In Hungary as in Italy was accused of brutality and he was said to have ordered women whipped who were suspected of sympathizing with the insurgents. He also ordered the execution by hanging of the 13 Hungarian rebel generals at Arad on 6th of October 1849.
He had resigned from the army in 1850 and travelled abroad to Western Europe and England but his bad reputation has spread around Europe. In Brussels he narrowly escaped mob violence but in London he was attacked and beaten by two draymen during a visit to what were then the Barclay and Perkins Brewery.
The fifth photo it’s a list of all the Brewers from 1616 to 1986.
As you leave Southwark Cathedral and going past Winchester Palace and Clink prison you will come upon the Anchor pub which forms the Jubilee walkway. Instead of carry on towards Southbank and OXO Tower turn on your left and 10 to 15 metres up you will come face to face with the Park estate.
It may come as somewhat as a shock to find out that for hundreds of years the Christian church made a very comfortable living from prostitution and was also one of the most important and cruel slave owners in the world.
The Christian church in London was especially eager to make its living from prostitution because it was an easy way to make money. The prostitutes who plied their trade in Southwark were known as the Bishop of Winchester's geese. The Bishop was able to collect the rents from the many brothels he owned in the area, but was so hypocritical that, when one of the prostitutes died in his diocese, the church refused to let her be interred in consecrated ground.
A sad reminder of this can still be seen today in a side street in Southwark. Red Cross Way is the street which runs parallel to Borough High Street and if you follow it nearly as far as the junction with Union Street you will come to a plot of land behind a rust iron gate. This is all that is left of Cross Bones Graveyard where the Bishop of Winchester's geese were laid to rest when they could no longer make money for the church. An 1833 history of the area makes reference to the unconsecrated Cross Bones Graveyard, formerly known as the Single Woman's burial ground.
In 1171 a royal ordinance allowed the Bishop to license the brothels, or stews as they were known, and collect the income from them. The Bishop's jurisdiction covered the Liberty of the Clink, which refers to the Clink Prison, the remains of which can still be seen in the Anchor Inn a short walk west along the River Thames for Southwark Cathedral.
The brothels, drinking houses, bear pits and cock pits of Southwark remained in existence until the execution of Charles I in 1649 and the arrival of Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan government. Most of the prostitutes left the area and the poor moved in in their droves until, by the mid nineteenth century, Southwark was one of the most disgusting and overcrowded parts of London. Even the police would not venture into its maze of dirty, rat infested streets and alleyways because it was so dangerous.
Cross Bones Graveyard remained in use until 1855 when the government of the day forced it to close because bodies were being buried so close to the surface that rotting hands and feet were sticking up through the soil. An excavation of the graveyard in 1990 found over 150 skeletons, mostly female, and one with the clear marks of syphillis, providing positive proof that this was indeed the final resting place of the Southwark geese.
The local authority have repeatedly tried to build on the remains of the graveyard but have been thwarted by fierce local opposition, ensuring that, at least for now, the old burial ground of the Bishop of Winchester's geese remains as a reminder of London's medieval history.
A derrick is a type of crane used in docks all over the world. Its design allows it to lift and lower cargo as well as swing them horizontally. The cranes name and its design have their origins in one of London's most feared figures from history.
From 1388 until 1783 London criminals condemned to death were taken from Newgate Prison, in a cart called a tumbril, through the streets of London, via Holburn, on to the old Oxford Road (now Oxford Street), until they reached what is today the junction of the western end of Oxford Street and Edgware Road, known then as Tyburn.
Tyburn was chosen as a place of public execution because it was open country. The authorities of the time thought that public hangings were a deterrent to the people of London, so on hanging days they wanted as many spectators as possible to attend. Tyburn was perfect for this purpose and 'Tyburn tree' became a euphemism for the gallows. Up until the seventeenth century, prisoners stood in the back of the tumbril until the hangman put the noose around their necks. Then, the cart was driven away and the condemned prisoner was left dangling in midair until death was caused by slow strangulation. Relative and friends of the hanged man would run under the gallows and pull on the his legs to hasten his demise.
There was one major problem to this method of hanging, and it tool Thomas Derrick, the hangman, to solve it.
The problem was that on hanging days, which were then public holidays, there were always to many people to be hanged one at a time. Derrick designed a gallows that could accommodate a dozen or more prisoners at a time. The gallows took the name of its inventor and, it being very similar in shape to the modern derrick crane, the name stuck.
Early records show how far the name derrick had penetrated into the language of London's population. In 1608 the following was written by an anonymous author about a condemned highwayman :- 'He rides his circuit with the Devil, and Derrick must be his host, and Tiburne the inne at which he will lighte. At the gallows, where I leave them, as to the haven at which they must all cast anchor, if Derrick's cables do but hold'.
The building that today houses the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth was once the Bethlehem Hospital, from which comes the word 'bedlam' meaning a state of complete chaos.
The first Bethlehem Hospital was built in just outside Bishopsgate in 1250. Constructed outside the city walls, it was part of the priory of St Mary of Bethlehem, which had a duty to help the poor and needy like all religious institutions in Catholic England. By the middle of the fourteenth century, new buildings were added to the priory to house those who were 'weak of mind', many of whom would have been thrown out of their homes and left to wander the streets and fend for themselves.
The treatment of the mentally ill in those days was appalling. They were shackled and kept chain to walls, they were never washed, very rarely fed and were treated like animals. Some were even killed for being possessed by the devil, and so-called 'cures' consisted of whipping and being ducked in freezing cold water.
After the Dissolution of the Monastaries (1534-1541), the whole of St Mary of Bethlehem was given over to the care of those who had 'entirely lost their wits and God's great gift of reasoning, the whiche only distinguisheth us from the beast'.
During the late seventeenth century, the hospital moved Moorfields, the open fields just outside Moorgate. The new hospital building was designed by Robert Hooke (1635-1703), but despite this, the treatment of patients did not improve. The inmates were packed into insufficient space, with little or no attempt at hygiene.
Due to a shift in social attitudes at this time, the Bethlehem Royal Hospital began to be seen as a kind of circus by Londoners and, by the middle of the eighteenth century, thousands flocked to be shown around the madhouse. Warders would stir up the patients before the paying public arrived so that they would act more wildy than usual. The hospital soom became to be know was Bedlam and, as most of its income came from paying visitors, it was vital that the patients put on a 'good show'. It wasn't until the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries that visits of the nature were stopped and the daily whipping of patients was discontinued only when King George III went mad and his condition aroused public sympathy.
The hospital moved again in the early 1810s. The new hospital was built on marshland south of the River Thames in Lambeth, the land being bought cheaply and the cleaner air thought to be beneficial to the patients. The building we see today was designed by James Lewis (1750-1820) and was completed in 1815. The patients were ferried across London from Moorfields in a long procession of Hackney cabs under heavy guard.
The hospital remained in use for another hundred years until a new hospital was built in Addington, Surry, in 1930. In 1936, it was decided that the old building in Lambeth should become home to the Imperial War Museum rather than demolish it.
The Victorian age was overly prudish, worthy, and, to a great extent hypocritical, but earlier eras had a more liberal attitude to sex, perhaps even more so than today.
King Charles II (1630-1685) cared nothing for morality. During his reign (1660-1685), he permitted many plays about sexual pleasure to be written and performed. Londoners were shocked, but there was little the Puritans could do because these plays sanctioned by the king. One of the king's mistresses, Nell Gwynn (1650-1687) was much loved by the people of London who hated Charles's French wife, Catherine of Braganza, but despite this, Nell Gwynn was always known as 'the King's Whore'. In the seventeenth century the word 'whore' seems to have had a less harsh meaning than it does today.
In Medieval London, sex was also seen as far more acceptable than it is now. Maps of London produced before 1450 had many street names that were so rude by modern standards that they wouldn't be allowed today. For example, Addle Street appears on these early maps and, to a Medieval Londoner, meant 'dirty spot'. Fetter Lane, which is still in existence today, appears on a map published in 1450 and means 'the street of the dirty beggars'.
Many street names were changed after the Reformation. S***eburn Lane near Cannon Street, so called because of the cess pits that were located there, was changed to Sherbourne Lane, the name it still bears today.
The rudest street name of all to vanish after the Reformation was from a small lane that ran north from Cheapside. It was called Grope***t Lane because it was a well known haunt of prostitutes.
On my search for the old churches in the City of London, which Sir Christopher Wren rebuilt, I found out that some of them were closed as they were being refurbished. St. Clement´s Eastcheap was one of those churches, which was impossible to enter. I had written to the management of the City Churches to see if I could get permission to have a look inside this particular church, but it was not possible.
So when I visited London in October 2014 I talked to a member of the Friends of the City Churches and found out that St. Clement´s Eastcheap was now open to the public on Fridays from 11:00-15:00.
St. Clement´s Eastcheap is located in a narrow street in the City of London, Clement´s Lane, off King William´s Street. I was so eager to see this church that I arrived there at 10, but was let in by the people working in an office located in the church.
Fondest memory: St. Clement was the patron saint of sailors, a disciple of the Apostle Peter. This church was located near the piers in the olden times, now it is in the middle of the City of London. The church was first mentioned in documents from the 13th century during the reign of Henry III. The church was then repaired in 1630-1633.
St. Clement´s Eastcheap is one of the churches which got caught in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and it is one of the churches which was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren. He rebuilt this church from 1683-1687. In 1872 the church was renovated.
St. Clement´s Eastcheap got damaged during the Blitz in WW2 in 1940, like so many other churches in the City of London, but suffered only minor damages and repairs were made 10 years later. It was again redecorated in 1968.
The church is now divided into a church and administrative offices of various charities, including the Cure Parkinson's Trust. It must have been them, which opened the door for me when I arrived an hour early to the church and the Friends of the City Churches hadn´t arrived. I am grateful to them for letting me inside to see the church :)
By the way, the old world "cheap" means a market!
St. Benet´s, Paul´s Wharf church is one of the old churches in the City of London and one of Christopher Wren´s churches. It got damaged in the Great Fire of London in 1666, like most of the churches in the City of London, and was merged with St. Peter´s church. It was built in Baroque style by Wren´s master mason, Thomas Strong.
St. Benet´s Paul´s Wharf didn´t get damaged by the bombings in the Blitz in WW2 - it is one out of only 4 churches in the City of London, which didn´t get damaged, so it shows clearly the original work of Wren.
There has been a church at this site since 1111. It is also the church of the College of Arms and has been so since 1556. Ca 25 officers are buried here. There are several flags in the church, bearing the arms of 13 College of Arms members.
St. Benet´s Paul´s Wharf was dedicated to St. Benedict. In 1879 it was reconsecrated as the London Church of the Church in Wales and now serves the Welsh community as a Welsh Anglican church.
There are services every Sunday at 11am in Welsh - translated into English.
Fondest memory: Address: Guild Church of St Benet, Paul's Wharf, Queen Victoria St, London EC4V 4ER
Tube: London Blackfriars.
I visited St. Benet´s Paul´s Wharf one day when he Friends of the City Churches kept it open for visitors. I had to wait until late in March to be able to visit it as it was too cold that year (2013) to keep it open to visitors. It was quite chilly in the church when I visited and the FCC showed me around. It is open to visitors on Thursdays from 11:00-15:00.
The church is a Grade I listed building.
There is an old church in the City of London called the Dutch Church. It is a church and a Dutch centre.
There are services in Dutch on Sundays at 11:00.
Here used to be an old priory from ca 1253 until 1538. The monks were called the Austin Friars, which is short for the Augustinian Friars.
This church is very special as it is the oldest Dutch Protestant church in the world, dating back to 1550, making it a medieval church, hidden away in the middle of the City of London. King Henry VIII took the church from the Augustinian Friars and his son Edward VI granted it to the Dutch community in London, who was at that time the largest foreign community in London, half of them being religious refugees.
So many of the City churches were destroyed by the German bombings in 1940 during WW2, in the Blitz. The Dutch church was one of them. It was then rebuilt and consecrated in 1954. A collection of old books got saved from the church, valuable, religious Dutch books and atlases.
There are some very beautiful stained glass windows in the Dutch Church and an extraordinary painting, covering a large wall.
The Dutch church is a Grade II listed building.
Fondest memory: Address: 7 Austin Friars EC2N 2HA
Tel.: 020 7588 1684
Opening hours of the church are: Tuesdays-Fridays from 11:00-15:00.
The church is kind of hidden away in Austin Friars, off Old Broad Street, one has to look for it. Closest tube: Liverpool street.
If you walk further on in Austin Friars street in one corner of a building there is a statue of one of the Austin Friars. It is quite interesting walking here, like stepping back in time.
St. Andrew Undershaft church in the City of London is one of the few City churches which escaped both the Great Fire of London in 1666 and the German bombings of the Blitz in WW2. But as fate has it sometimes the large 17th century stained glass window in the church, one of few still left, got destroyed in the Baltic Exchange bombing in 1992 :( There are some beautiful stained glass windows left in the church though.
Both St. Andrew Undershaft and St. Peter Cornhill are managed by St. Helen´s Bishopsgate, so in order to visit these churches one has to book an appointment at the offices of St. Helen´s Bishopsgate. I wanted to visit both these churches, so an employee of St. Helen´s Bishopsgate escorted me first to St. Andrew Undershaft and then to St. Peter upon Cornhill, as these churches are close to one another. I am grateful to them for allowing me to have a look inside these wonderful old churches.
The present St. Andrew Undershaft church is the 3rd church on this site and dates back to 1532, but older churches have stood on this site since the 12th century. I adore these old churches, which stand in between the very modern buildings in this busy financial district, City of London.
There is a very special historic organ in St. Andrew Undershaft dating back to 1696, which has been awarded the Grade I historic organ certificate.
And St. Andrew Undershaft is of course a Grade I listed building. The funny name of the church stems from a custom of annually erecting a maypole opposite this church. This custom lasted until 1517.
Fondest memory: It is strange entering these old churches, which are now used for meetings, with modern tables all over the church. There are so many churches in the City of London that I understand this, but at the same time I come from Iceland, where we have very few old buildings and almost none of them are ornate like the old City churches.
Address: St Mary Axe EC3A 6AT
Tel.: 020 7283 2231
St. Andrew Undershaft is open by appointment only to the public like St. Peter upon Cornhill. One has to contact the offices of St. Helen´s Bishopsgate and their employee will escort you to the church, which is very close to St. Helen´s Bishopsgate.
As one can see on my first photo then St. Andrew Undershaft is almost next to the Gherkin and it is very interesting comparing these two architectural styles.