St. Mary le Bow Church is in Cheapside, London EC2V. It is one of the historic churches in this area and one of the churches of the noted architect Sir Christopher Wren. It is said that to be a Cockney a Londoner must be born within the sounds of the bells of St. Mary le Bow Church. St. Mary le Bow Church was considered to be the most important church in the City second only to St. Paul´s Cathedral.
There has been a church here since 1080 when it was built as a headquarters of the Archbishops of Canterbury. Sadly the church was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666, like so many of the churches in this area, only the crypt survived the fire - it was rebuilt in 1673, only to be destroyed in the Blitz in 1941 - again like too many churches in London. The bells fell to the ground in the bombings. The number 666 and Hitler destroyed too many of the churches of Christ. But most of them were rebuilt, St. Mary le Bow church was rebuilt and consecrated in 1964.
One cannot see from the outside that this is such an important church - as I have said so many times in my tips, then I visit every church I encounter on my walks - and read up on it. This church came as a surprise to me as it doesn´t look at all conspicious, and one can easily walk by it, not knowing that it is second in importance to St. Paul´s Cathedral.
Fondest memory: What I found to be the most beautiful "thing" about this church is the big cross hanging from the ceiling - the crucifixion of Jesus.
I always pop in for a short visit when I am in this area.
The church is a Grade I listed building.
The Guild Church of St. Margaret Pattens is a lovely church on Rood Lane, Eastcheap in the City of London. There are quite a few churches in this area and I enjoyed going from church to church, each one of them being characteristic with such interesting history. This church belongs to the Church of England and is under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of London.
There has been a church on this spot since 1067. Unfortunately a little after a later church had been repaired along came the Great Fire of London in 1666 and destroyed that church. The church now standing on this spot, is one of the work of the noted architect Sir Christopher Wren, who designed many churches in London. It was consecrated in 1687.
The word patten actually means clogs - or over-shoes with wooden soles. This name derives from the association the Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers had with the church since the 15th century. The Worshipful Company of Basketmakers also has association with this church (I love London history, where ever I go there is something new to discover). The church has been a guild church since 1954, meaning that it is not a parish church anymore. Thus the main service of the church is not on Sundays, but on Thursdays. This is interesting, under a legislation since 1952, churches which were in danger of being closed, as they were thought to be redundant, were allowed to carry on a weekday ministry.
There are two canopied pews as one enters the church - for the churchwardens - the only canopied pews in Wren´s churches. The 200 feet spire on the church is the only one left of this kind of lead-covered timber spires by Sir Christopher Wren. It is the third highest spire in the City.
There is a beautiful 18th century organ beneath which is the Royal Stuart Coat of Arms, probably the one of King James II.
There is a copper cross on one wall, a copy of the cross on St. Paul´s Cathedral. This cross used to be on top of the spire of the church. See my second photo. Beneath the cross is a memorial to King Charles I. On it is written "Touch not mine anointed". I do love that sentence, it has got very strong meaning for me.
The church is a Grade I listed building.
The church is bright and lovely with big windows, which is one of Wren´s trademarks. It was a delight visiting it.
Fondest memory: When I was in the church taking photos the vicar and a church staff member were organizing a Christmas concert, and there I was "skulking" about reading up on everything and taking photos - they asked me if I wanted them to pose for me! Maybe I should stop taking so many photos in churches, eh? It is just a passion of mine and I do the same in Iceland and post on a special website of all the churches in Iceland.
I visited the church once again as I wanted more photos of interesting "things" in the church. Then the church was being cleaned and the cleaning ladies were talking loudly between themselves even if there was one person praying in the church. I felt sorry for that man, here they were talking and I was sneaking around taking photos :(
St. Mary Aldermary Church is south of Cheapside in the City, in Bow Lane and Watling Street, next to Cannon Street, and belongs to the Church of England. It is one of the 88-89 churches in the City which were destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and rebuilt by the noted architect Sir Christopher Wren in 1679-1682. Sir Christopher Wren rebuilt 51 parish churches and St. Paul´s Cathedral. Part of the walls and the foundation of the church were fortunately not distroyed in the fire and the new church was built on the remains.
There has been a church on this site since ca 1100 and it is believed to be the oldest church in the City dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It doesn´t show now, seeing that the church is cramped between other buildings, that it was once said to be one of the finest and largest churches in the City. It is so cramped there that I had difficulties taking photos of it.
St. Mary Aldermary Church survived the air raids in WW2 relatively intact. The windows were shattered, but new beautiful stained glass windows were fitted in after the war.
Fondest memory: The church ceilings are extremely beautiful, I couldn´t stop looking at them. It looks like it is made of laces :) Every time I am in this area I pop in just to admire it. The church is the only remaining Gothic style church in the City - built by Wren. It is extremely beautiful, but then I am a big fan of the Gothic style.
A Friend of the City Churches told me about the wooden Sword rest in the church. I had visited it several times, but never noticed the wooden Sword rest mounted on one wall. It is very old, from 1682 - and it fits so well in this church. I wonder where it came from originally.
It is very ornate, I highly recommend visiting it.
Opening hours: Monday-Friday from 11:00-15:00.
Mass is on Mondays and Thursdays as it is a Guild church, and their masses are not on Sundays. As I have written in another tip, then under a legislation since 1952, churches which were in danger of being closed, as they were thought to be redundant, were allowed to carry on a weekday ministry.
There is a café in the church, so there is not much privacy for praying there. But lovely that this beautiful church is used in this way, so that there are always people in it.
St. Andrew by the Wardrobe is another of the noted architect Sir Christopher Wren´s churches in the City. It belongs to the Church of England. The church is located in Queen Victoria Street (EC), and St. Andrew´s Hill. This is the last of Wren´s churches with the simplest design, built in Baroque style, and is by no means extravagant on the inside, but contains some beautiful woodwork - and a lovely quiet place of worship.
Some of the churches in London carry some strange names - St. Andrew by the Wardrobe... The name derives from its early days. The church dates back to the 13th century and was linked to a long gone royal residence, the Baynard´s Castle. Back then King Edward III used a building close by as a store room for his State robes and other belongings, which he moved from the Tower of London - thus the name Wardrobe or Great Wardrobe ;).
The church burnt down in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and was rebuilt by Wren in 1669. Then it was bombed in the Blitz in 1941, the walls remaining. It was reconstructed in 1961.
The church is kind of cramped, like so many of London´s churches, especially in this area of the City. It is easily accessible from St. Andrew´s Hill, but if one is coming from above it can barely be seen (see my photo).
Opening hours: Monday-Friday from 08:30-18:00.
Fondest memory: William Shakespeare worked in Blackfriars´ Theatre close to the church for ca 15 years, and St. Andrew by the Wardrobe was his parish church. There is a Shakespeare memorial at the church, carved in oak.
The church is a Grade I listed building.
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.
St. Vedast-alias-Foster is a Sir Christopher Wren church diagonally behind St. Paul´s Cathedral in the City of London.
I needed to go to church and was looking for one and came across this church behind St. Paul´s Cathedral. As I entered I saw that the minister was preparing the altar and she asked me if I wanted to stay for mass and Holy Communion. I accepted, one cannot say no to a Holy Communion. And I had never been to mass in an Anglican church. The mass started at 12:15 and there were only 4 other people there. We got handed a leaflet with the text, but I couldn´t follow it as it was very fast. So I just watched. And got Holy Communion. It only lasted for about 25 minutes, but I was elated and so happy to have been a part of an Anglican mass, by chance, as it were. Two days later I went again and could follow it better. Then I went again...
There has been a church here since 1107. And the kind of strange name St. Vedast-alias-Foster, comes from St. Vedast being a French saint, the Latin name being Vedast and Foster is the English name for him. Kind of difficult to say, I refer to it as St. Vedast only. It got partly destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and was reconstructed by Sir Christopher Wren. The spire is in baroque style and was added in 1712. It got badly damaged in the Blitz in 1940 in WW2 and had to be reconstructed once more.
The church is so beautiful, there are seats by each side of the church, not facing the altar. Not many people can fit in the church, but I love this arrangement - and there are lamps by each seat, with red shades. I have only seen this in one other church in London, but I have yet to visit many other churches. Having a wedding in this church must be ever so lovely. It is so welcoming and beautiful. And the ceiling is so decorative, I couldn´t resist taking a photo of it.
The livery companies connected to St. Vedast are Goldsmiths, Pewterers, Wax Chandlers and Saddlers.
Fondest memory: St. Vedast´s Day is on February 6th.
From Monday-Friday there is a Weekday Mass and Holy Communion at 12:15 in the church. It lasts for about 25 minutes.
St. Vedast-alias-Foster belongs to The Church of England. They say on their website that they are an Anglican church in the Catholic tradition.
St. Vedast-alias-Foster is in Foster Lane, London EC2V 6HH
St. Mary of the Nativity a.k.a. St. Mary Woolnoth was another one of Sir Christopher Wren´s churches in the City of London. I have been searching for them systematically and am always happy when I come across one of his churches. There are 51 all in all, I wonder if I will be able to find them all...
I have passed by this church so many times, and never thought I could just drop in. When I visited nobody was there so I could get the feel of the church and sit down and pray and read up on the church and take photos.
St. Mary Woolnoth is in the very City center, it is said that it occupies one of the most prominent sites of any of the churches in the City. It is located at the junction of Lombard Street and King William Street.
The site of the church has been used for worship for 2.000 years, as there was a Roman temple here once on the site of the church. The first mention of a Christian church here was in 1191, then it was called Wilnotmaricherche, thus the name today Woolnoth. The church was referred to as St. Mary Woolnoth of the Nativity, thus the two names "St. Mary of the Nativity a.k.a. St. Mary Woolnoth".
That church was replaced in 1438, but that church was damaged in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and restored by Sir Christopher Wren in 1674. That church had to be replaced as it turned out to be unsafe and was demolished in 1716. The new church was consecrated in 1727. Nicholas Hawksmoor was the architect and he built it in English baroque style. This church is considered to be Hawksmoor´s masterpiece, the interior looks a bit like an Egyptian Hall. It was one of Queen Anne´s 50 new churches. I wonder if anything is left in the church of Wren´s design? The church was again altered in 1876. And again it was partially restored in 1990s. So I guess not much is left of Wren´s design, probably nothing.
Associated with the church was John Newton (1779-1807). He was against slave trade and preached against it. Thus inspiring William Wilberforce, who by his efforts won the battle for the abolition of slavery. There is a memorial tablet in the church dedicated to John Newton and his fight against slavery. John Newton was the co-author of Amazing grace together with the poet Cowper.
Fondest memory: There is a Lady Chapel in the north side of the church, where one can write down prayer requests and light a candle.
St. Mary Woolnoth belongs to the Church of England. It became a guild church in 1952, meaning that is has no service on Sundays, but has service in the middle of the week.
I found a sentence in their leaflet so heartwarming: "Before you leave, please stop and pray that God will bless our continuing work of making Jesus Christ known and loved". These City churches looked so cold to me, as it were, before I started visiting them, I have totally changed my mind about them.
St. Mary Woolnoth´s address is: King William Street, London EC3V 9AN.
Tube: Bank. Interestingly enough the Bank tube station was built directly beneath the church in 1897-1900.
St. Marylebone church is the parish church in Marylebone. I had walked past it one day and thought to myself what this magnificent building was, if it was a museum of some sort, but found out that it was a church. It was late so the church was closed, but I came back another day early to visit the church.
It truly is magnificient looked at from the outside, with massive pillars and a beautiful ornate church tower, with golden statue. And so lovely on the inside, white, bright and spacious.
This current church is the 4th parish church. The first one dates back to ca 1200 and was located at Tybourn Road, where Oxford Circus is now. It was demolished 200 years later and another church was built further north - by Marylebone High Street. In 1740 a new church was built and in 1817 the 4th church was built, the St. Marylebone church.
It is funny how names can change during the course of time. F.ex. the name "Marylebone". The second church was called St. Mary the Virgin by the Bourne - referring to a stream running down to Thames, called Ty bourne. The name changed to St. Mary le burn, which later became St. Marylebone :) I have to say that I have often thought about the origin of the name Marylebone, as it is cumbersome. Now I know.
Francis Bacon was most likely married in St. Mary by the Bourne, the 2nd church.
Lord Byron was baptized in the 3rd church.
Charles Dickens lived very close to the church and had a view of the current church from his home.
Fondest memory: What I liked especially is that they had a leaflet for visitors "A Self-Guided Spiritual Tour" it was called. It educated me about the history of the church, but it was also very informative about church rituals and the Word of God.
I followed the Spiritual Guide and it led me to the lovely Side Chapel where I lit a candle and made a prayer wish, which is very close to my heart. Time will tell.
There is a Physic Herb and Wild Flower Garden beside the church.
There is Holy Eucharist at St. Marylebone church on Wednesdays at 13:10 and Fridays at 09:30. And Healing Services on Wednesdays with the Holy Eucharist.
The first Sunday of the month there is a Healing Service at 18:30.
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.
St. Dunstan-in-the-West is an extraordinary church in Fleet Street. It is a majestic church, both seen from the outside - with the statues, the famous clock from 1671 and the bells - and on the inside. I had wanted to visit this church for ages and wasn´t disappointed when I got there. But despite all the beautiful interior and artefacts in the church, for the life of me I couldn´t get a decent photo inside the church. The colours are all wrong and don´t show how majestic it is. This has not happened to me in any other church. So I went there again to take better photos, but they came out similar to the first ones. But I got to chat with the Friends of the City Churches and came out a LOT wiser and gave them my VT-card if they were interested in seeing what an Icelandic woman was writing about the City churches ;)
St. Dunstan-in-the-West is a guild church so it is only open on certain days. I looked up when the Friends of the City Churches kept it open - on Tuesdays - and went for a visit. I got such a warm welcome. When they heard that I was from Iceland and so interested in the City churches, both of the FCC told me that they had been to Iceland, one of them had just returned back to London from his visit. I was taken on a quick tour of the church, as there was a mass just starting, with a Holy Communion. I stayed and took part in the mass. St. Dunstan-in-the-West is part of the Church of England.
There was first a church here in ca year 1000. That church escaped the Great Fire of London in 1666, in which almost all the City churches burnt down. The Dean of Westminster saved the church, as in the middle of the night he woke up 40 students from Westminster School and together they battled the fire with water - and won! What a good job they did! The church needed rebuilding in 1831 and again in 1950 after having been damaged in 1944 in WW2 by bombs.
Fondest memory: The church is octagonal, very different from other churches I have visited. One cannot tell from the Neo-Gothic outside appearance of the church what to expect on the inside.
Coming back to the clock on the church - it is the first clock in London to have a minute hand. Thus making St. Dunstan-in-the-West a landmark church in its time. There are two giants, who strike the hours and quarters. I had seen this clock so many times through the years and it was the reason why I wanted to visit the church. It must be unique. Before I never thought that one can just visit a church and have a look around.
The church has had strong ties since 1690 to the bank opposite the street - the Hoare Bank. The FCC told me that the bank kept a key to the church, so one just had to pop over to the bank if a spare key was needed.
The livery company connected with the church since the 15th century is the Worshipful Company of Cordweiners (shoe makers).
There are some old artefacts in the church, including a very old sword stand from 1745.
The church plays a dual part - being a guild church it has an Anglican service on Tuesdays. But it is also a Romanian Orthodox church - as can be seen from many of the artefacts inside - and their mass is on Sundays. The first thing one sees really, when entering the church, is a big altar screen, coming from a Bucharest monastery in 1966. It is majestic and my photo does not do it any justice.
St. Dunstan-in-the-West is also a center for Christian Unity, so there are several side chapels with altars and artefacts belonging to other congregations, f.ex. Oriental churches and the Lutheran church. Anyhow, it doesn´t matter to which congregations one belongs, it is all the same God, Jesus and Holy Spirit that we worship and believe in, so I like this idea of unity in St. Dunstan-in-the-West.
The address is: 186A, Fleet Street, EC4A 2HR
St. Martin within Ludgate is situated just west of St. Paul´s Cathedral and is almost invisible there - unless one is looking for churches as I was.
There has been a church here since 1174 - a medieval church. This old church had to be rebuilt in 1437. A lightning struck the tower in 1561 and the Great Fire of London destroyed it in 1666. It was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren in 1677-1703. The balcony of the roof of St. Martin was Wren´s favourite place to admire the building of his St. Paul´s Cathedral. St. Martin was hit by an incendiary bomb in 1942 in WW2, but only the roof was damaged - St. Martin within Ludgate was the church, which suffered the least damage in WW2 of all he City churches, but only just because of a favourable wind.
There are 3 beautiful paintings by the altar - they represent the unity of 3 parishes in 1890. St. Mary Magdelene Old Fish Street and St. Gregory by St. Paul´s, which both burnt down, St. Mary in 1888 and St. Gregory in 1666 - were not rebuilt, but united with St. Martin within Ludgate.
Since 1962 the church has been the Chapel of the Honourable Society of the Knights of the Round Table...
There is a palindrome in Greek on the font - NIYON ANOMHMA MH MONAN OYIN. It means "cleanse my sin not only my face".
Ludgate Hill, where the church is situated, once market the west boundary or outer limit of the City - together with Corn Hill in the east. The City of London was founded on those two hills. The Roman wall was located here, and the church was part of that wall. Lud Gate stood next to the wall - the entrance into the City.
The Indian Princess Pocahontas stayed in 1616 in Ludgate Hill and St. Martin within Ludgate was the church closest to where she was staying.
Fondest memory: St. Martin within Ludgate is a guild church since 1954, with no parish, so there is a service at lunchtime at 13:15 with Holy Communion on Thursdays and not on Sundays. The church stays open during the day for visitors.
The address is: 40 Ludgate Hill, London EC4M 7DE
St. Stephen Walbrook church is a City church next to the Mansion house, where the Honourable Lord Mayor of the City of London resides and entertains. It is a smallish looking church, but so beautiful on the inside. There is excavation work opposite the church. where the Temple of Mitrah stands, making it hard to take a good photo from the outside. There is a dome though, with a green roof, which can barely be seen on the photo. In that dome is the most beautiful ceiling, it just took my breath away.
There has been a church on this site since between ca 700-980 AD. It is not certain as there is no mention of when it was built, but given that the Temple of Mitrah stood here, then there must have been a church to counteract it, as it were - seeing that the Temple of Mitrah was heathen from the Roman times. That church became too small for the parish and another one was built in 1428. The older church stood by a river, Walbrook, but many centuries later the environment had changed drastically and the site of the church was 6 meters higher than that of the first church!
The Great Plague of 1665 started in the street east of the church - Bearbidder Lane. And then came the Great Fire of London in 1666 - Poor Londoners living back then :(
St. Stephen Walbrook burnt to ashes in 24 hours. It was then rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren - by order of King Charles II. The rebuilding started in 1672 and it was the only church on which rebuilding was started that year. It wasn´t completely finished until 1717.
Wren made the church perfectly rectangular. There is space in the middle of the church - in which there is now a white, round stone altar - this I have not seen in any other church.
St. Stephen Walbrook is Wren´s church in more than one way - it was his parish church as well, as he lived on Walbrook number 15.
In WW2 the stained glass windows were destroyed., but were restored, and there are talks of adding white windows to make it even brighter.
Fondest memory: St. Stephen Walbrook has by some been listed as one of the 10 most important buildings in England! And it was praised in Italy for its beauty. Sir John Sommerson said that St. Stephen Walbrook was: "The pride of English architecture, and one of the few City churches in which the genius of Wren shines in full splendour". It sure is a diamond in the rough - as on the outside one cannot see the extraordinary beauty of the church. I can only say that it has the "wow" factor.
This is why I recommend that people visit the churches in London, the beauty of some of them is amazing and the history of all of them is unique and such an interesting part of the history of London.
The organ is amazing, so ornate, I add a photo, but it is a little out of focus as I had to zoom in to take it without flash. But it gives the general idea of how ornate and beautiful it is.
Opening hours: Weekdays: 10:00-16:00. I always pop in for a visit when in this area. Just to take in the beauty of this church. St. Stephen Walbrook is a guild church, so there are no services on Sundays. There are organ recitals on Fridays at 12:30. And a service on Thursdays at 12:45.
I have added the website of the church, but take care that there are monks singing when one opens the website, not that I dislike singing, but sometimes I am adding tips in the middle of the night... ;)
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.
Fergy "Planxty" took me and Jonathan to visit St. George-in-the-East. When we approached the church he asked us if we saw something out of the ordinary - or missing - at the church. I mentioned that it was lacking a crucifix, but it was lacking something else - part of the roof! In 1941 during the Blitz a bomb hit St. George-in-the-East, destroying everything but the shell and the tower of the church. For 17 years after the bomb hit the church, services and worship were held in a prefab within the remaining walls of the church, referred to as St. George-in-the-Ruins. I find this very touching.
A new church was erected within the shell of the old church in 1964, and where the nave of the old church used to be is now an open courtyard - this is where the roof is lacking. It is lovely and beautifully restored.
The history of St. George-in-the-East: the church is one of the 50 churches built und the New Churches in London & Westminster Act of 1711. It was consecrated in 1729. The architect was the idiosyncratic Nicholas Hawksmoor. He was falsely believed to have built his 6 churches with coded satanism. It caused a lot of controversy and drama. In 1859-1860 there were ritualism riots at the church.
The parish of St. George-in-the-East, being in the East-End of London, has been home to non-Christian immigrants, once mainly Jewish, now primarily Bangladeshi and Somali Muslims.
Opening hours of the church: 08:00-18:00.
Behind the church is the cemetary, St. George´s Gardens. It is London´s first churchyard which became a public garden in 1887.
Behind the church is a big mural depicting the Battle of Cable Street. Fergy showed it to us and I will be adding a tip on that later on.
St. George-in-the-East is located in Wapping on 14 Cannon Street Road, London E1 0BH, east of Tower Bridge
Fondest memory: There were Christmas play preparations at the church when the 3 of us visited it and when they found out that Fergy was a musician he was asked to come play the drums (I believe) in a Christmas play performed the next weekend. They must have found somebody else as they did not phone him back though.
The Church of St. Edmund King & Martyr is an unusual church. As inside the church is a bookstore, that covers half of the church - it looks just like a normal bookstore, where one can sit down and have coffee. This is the London Centre of Spirituality. But walking further in is the altar and that part looks like being in a normal church. Quite unusual.
If it weren´t for the London Centre of Spirituality having its base here in the church, recommended by the Bishop of London, then the church would probably be closed.
There has been a church here since ca 900-1100. That church was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. It is probably one of Sir Christopher Wren´s churches, at least part of it. The interior is most likely by Dr. Robert Hooke, a friend of Wren´s. This church has been said by some to be Wren´s "worst church" :( And in 1864 it was partially restored. In 1917 in WW1 a bomb was dropped right on top of the church and it is the church in the City which got damaged the most. What was left of the bomb, interestingly, can be seen by the altar, as it has been encased there. Most unusual, this church is most unusual.
What is also unusual about The Church of St. Edmund King & Martyr is that it faces north-south instead of the usual east-west. It stands by Lombard street, which was once the heart of the banking world. So logically the entrance to the church should be to the south, facing Lombard street. Another theory is that it was built on the remains of the old Roman church, but I think the former explanation is more believable.
Fondest memory: The name of the church - the Church of St. Edmund King & Martyr, comes from St. Edmund, who was a King of East Anglia and was martyred in 870 by the Danes (Vikings probably) when he refused to renounce his Christian faith :(
There is a Sword rest in the church as one of the parishioners of the Church of St. Edmund King & Martyr was made Lord Mayor in 1753. This old Sword rest is still in the church.
The Church of St. Edmund King & Martyr belongs to the Church of England.