Walking the City of London

Category: Stained Glass

A wander around Leadenhall Market – Christopher Wren, Harry Potter and a famous goose.

Situated in the centre of the City of London’s financial district, the current Grade II listed Market building, designed by Horace Jones, dates back to 1881. Its airy and light wrought iron and glass structure replaced the stone market previously created by Lord Mayor of London, Dick Whittington in the 15th Century. The ‘old’ market before demolition …

It now offers a spectacular Victorian setting with the roof, cobbles and buildings preserved. Crowning the many entrances are elaborate stone pediments carved with dragons, swags, shields and other devices, with a particular emphasis on City heraldry …

I have written about the City dragon emblem before in Dragons and Maidens.

It’s a very convivial place at lunchtime, especially popular with workers from nearby Lloyd’s …

The underwriters are right next door …

New buildings are still springing up despite the reported trend for more hot-desking and part-time commuting …

This exhibit, from the Sculpture in the City programme, is entitled symbols by Guillaume Vandame

A tasteful celebration of the Jubilee …

What is this bar’s name all about?

It commemorates the famous goose Old Tom. During the early 19th Century one of the most celebrated characters in the Market was Old Tom, a gander from Ostend who came to England by chance, due to his fascination with one of the lady members of his flock. It is recorded that over two consecutive days 34,000 geese were slaughtered in the Market – but Old Tom managed to escape execution. He became a great favourite in the Market and was a regular customer at the local inns where he was fed titbits. So famous was he that his obituary appeared in The Times on 19th March 1835, giving his age as 37 years, 9 months and 6 days.

The market in 1890 …

And in the 1960s. It looks like people are shopping for their traditional Christmas turkey or goose …

The hooks that produce was hung from are still there …

And now for some items of interest that not everyone is aware of.

Check out the Lamb Tavern and these these splendid tiles depicting Sir Christopher Wren. He is standing in front of The Monument (which still has scaffolding around it) holding up a drawing of how it will look when finished …

Just look at the characters gathered around him …

A lady holding a fan leans out of her carriage window to chat to the architect. A child (possibly her servant) stands nearby holding what looks like a pet King Charles spaniel. Some nearby gentlemen are also intrigued, but the chap with the red hat who looks like Errol Flynn might be more interested in the lady. Observe the elegant shoes of the man holding an eyeglass. Not really appropriate for the City’s muddy streets, so maybe he is her carriage companion. The carriage driver looks over his shoulder at the scene. The panel is by W.B. Simpson & Sons and is faintly dated 12th March 1882.

The pub also boasts some nice traditional glass …

Part of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (the first film in the blockbuster series) was filmed in Leadenhall in 2000/2001. The Market was used to represent the area of London leading to the popular wizarding pub The Leaky Cauldron and was the inspiration for the magical shopping street Diagon Alley. Here, in a later film, Hadrig leads Harry through the pub door …

And here it is at 42 Bull’s Head Passage (EC3V 1LU) …

Finally, very often when I have visited the market I have noticed the shoe-shine men …

Read more about them here in the Spitalfields Life blog.

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St Mary Abchurch – Wren’s hidden masterpiece.

St Mary’s is tucked away halfway down the narrow Abchurch Lane that links Cannon Street and King William Street (EC4N 7BA). As Stephen Millar has written in his wonderful little book London’s City Churches, to stand in the old churchyard and look at the Dutch influenced red brick exterior it is not hard to imagine yourself back in the 17th century …

Built between 1681 and 1686, this is one of Wren’s greatest parish churches. The interior is almost square, its rich dark woodwork contributing to the intimate atmosphere …

The dome was built during Wren’s experimental period, later perfected on a much larger scale at St Paul’s Cathedral. The dome was painted in 1708 by parishioner William Snow and contains a heavenly choir around the name of God in Hebrew …

It’s very difficult to photograph but I found this image on Pinterest, copyright Rex Harris …

The beautiful reredos features limewood carvings by Grinling Gibbons, the pre-eminent carver of his generation …

The pelican in the centre represents the Eucharist and is also the crest of Corpus Christi College …

Also of note are the original box pews on three sides of the church …

The pulpit (circa 1685) is by William Grey and is one of the finest examples in any City church …

Near the entrance is an original alms box dating from 1694 (three keys were needed to open it!) …

On the front pews are two ceremonial wrought iron sword-rests used to support the civic sword when the Lord Mayor of London attends a service at the church. The arms on the sword-rests are those of two former parishioners who were also Lord Mayors of London, George Scholey (1812) and Samuel Birch (1814). The first …

And the second …

Images courtesy of A London Inheritance.

William Emmett made the wooden Royal Arms …

Along with the font cover …

The font itself is by William Kempster.

The church’s connection with the Fruiterers Company is commemorated by this charming stained glass window …

Outside you’ll find an old hydrant cover from 1841 which incorporates a parish marker. The pipe and outlet are clearly seen in the hole in the centre and only the cover that was originally across this hole is missing …

There’s an old ghost sign too …

It’s a lovely church to visit. There are regular organ recitals and you can grab a coffee and a snack from one of the stalls in the churchyard. Find out more here.

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Where Maggie wed Denis – a visit to Wesley’s Chapel.

Wesley’s Chapel on City Road was first opened in 1778 by John Wesley (1703-1791) as a home base for his fast growing network of churches and societies which eventually became the Methodist Church (EC1Y 1AU).

The house where he lived during his later years is next door. Here’s the view of the house from Bunhill Burial Ground where Wesley’s mother is buried. He could see her grave from his bedroom window on the second floor …

Here he is depicted visiting the grave in 1779 …

The original marker has now been replaced by one with a much shorter inscription …

This part of Bunhill is not open to the public.

There are dozens of memorials within the Chapel, along with 18 magnificent stained glass windows depicting Biblical scenes. Although it’s an active house of worship, it is open to the public during the week and many visitors come to see the place where Wesley preached and lived and last week I became one of them.

This window shows Sir Galahad overcoming the seven deadly sins and, through his victory, building the City of God. Sir Galahad is the patron saint of the Wesley Guild, which, when founded, was seen as a modern youth movement …

Here is a small selection of other glass you can admire …

This window gives thanks for the fact that the chapel escaped damage during the Second World War …

At either end of the vestibule there are two windows by Mark Cazalet. One shows God as fire …

And the other God as water …

The view from the balcony …

Margaret Thatcher (then Margaret Roberts) married Denis Thatcher here on 13 December 1951 and both their children were christened here. She donated the communion rail in 1993 …

The War memorial …

Old Boys’ Brigade flag …

The Brigade is still going strong and now welcomes girls as members. Have a look at their very lively website here.

A seat in the Foundery Chapel. ‘Primitive’ meant ‘simple’ or ‘relating to an original stage’; the Primitive Methodists saw themselves as practising a purer form of Christianity, closer to the earliest Methodists …

I strongly recommend a visit to the museum …

And the shop, where you can pick up a tasteful memento of your visit …

Wesley’s tomb is behind the Chapel …

In the basement of the Chapel there is a beautifully preserved Victorian lavatory dating from 1899. It’s a shrine to Thomas Crapper – the champion of the flushing toilet and inventor of the ballcock …

Unfortunately it was closed when I visited but you can, however, read about it and see more images in the Gentle Author’s blog At God’s Convenience.

The Chapel and the Museum are wonderful places to visit and this blog really doesn’t do them justice so do call in if you get the chance.

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Fun on the Tube – from a piece of Roman Wall to a beloved cat.

Every now and then I like to explore our fascinating Underground network to see what new discoveries I can make.

If you go to the east end of the westbound platform at Tower Hill you will see this sign …

And here is the piece of wall …

If you get off the train at Aldgate East you can admire these intriguing tiles …

There are many to choose from and you can read all about them in my visit to Aldgate East blog.

You’ll also find at the station a fine example of a 1930s roundel …

There’s another heritage example just outside Temple Station. It’s a London Passenger Transport Board Underground map from 1932 (to avoid potential confusion the attached notice points out that there is ‘An up-to-date Journey Planner located inside the station’!) …

Here is the part of the 1932 Map covering the stations I visit in this blog. ‘Post Office’ became ‘St Paul’s’ five years later …

Whilst you wait there for your train, look up and you will see the tops of the ornate columns that once supported the canopy covering the tracks and platforms …

When Temple Station was first opened locomotive drivers were forbidden to sound their whistles at the station lest they disturb the barristers working (or dozing) in the Inns of Court nearby.

Also on the platform are some images of historical interest. This, for example, is Blackfriars Station in 1876 …

And today (image courtesy of Network Rail) …

Nowadays, if you want to travel by rail to Continental Europe, you head for St Pancras International and Eurostar. Once upon a time though, your gateway to the Continent was Blackfriars.

The station was badly damaged during the Second World War but the wall displaying a selection of the locations you could catch a train to survived and you can see it today in the ticket hall. It was part of the original façade of the 1886  station (originally known as St Paul’s) and features the names of 54 destinations – each painstakingly carved into separate sandstone blocks and illuminated with gold leaf …

You can read more about the wall and the interesting area around the station in my Terminus Tales blog.

I noticed this instruction at the top of the escalator …

I believe that, on his first visit to London, Paddington Bear interpreted this as meaning you couldn’t use the escalator unless you were carrying a dog.

Onward now to the refurbished Farringdon Station. On climbing the stairs from the platform you can admire the original 19th century roof supports …

Just before exiting through the barriers I spotted some nice stained glass windows which date from 1923 …

Farringdon Station moved to its current location on 23 December 1865 when the Metropolitan Railway opened an extension to Moorgate. It was renamed Farringdon & High Holborn on 26 January 1922 when the new building by the architect Charles Walter Clark facing Cowcross Street was opened, and its present name was adopted on 21 April 1936 …

From mid-1914, the Metropolitan Railway introduced its own version of the Underground roundel. This originally appeared as a blue station name plate across a red diamond and the diamond is still there, above the entrance …

It has also been reproduced on Moorgate Station as a nod to the railway’s past history …

Trivia quiz question. Only two station names contain all the vowels …

This is one of them – what is the other? The answer is at the end of this week’s blog – no peeping!

And finally to Barbican. The station was originally known as Aldersgate Street when it opened in 1865, changing its name to Aldersgate in 1910, Aldersgate & Barbican in 1923 and finally settling for Barbican in 1968.

Just inside the barriers is a nice photo montage illustrating some of the station’s history …

The station platforms used to be covered by a glazed arch but after suffering serious bomb damage during the Second World War, it was eventually removed in 1955 …

Those were the days, with carriages pulled by steam locomotives …

You can still see the support brackets for the now demolished roof …

Do pause in the entrance hall and pay your respects to the memory of Pebbles the Blackfriars Station cat.

For many years Pebbles was a favourite of staff and passengers, often sleeping soundly on top of the exit barriers despite the rush hour pandemonium going on around him. This is a picture from the wonderfully named purr’n’furr website, a great source for moggie-related stories …

Clearly he was greatly missed when he died, as the plaque faithfully records, on 26th May 1997.

This was doubly sad because he was due to be given a Lifetime Achievement Award. This was sponsored by Spillers Pet Foods and named after Arthur, a cat they used in their advertising who ate with his paws. The Certificate that came with the award is also displayed (the co-winner, the aptly named Barbie, was Pebbles’ companion) …

Incidentally, here is Arthur in action …

The TV ads ran between 1966 and 1975 with a succession of Arthurs playing the role. At one time a terrible rumour circulated that the advertising agency had taken the original cat to the vet and had all his teeth removed in order to encourage his rather eccentric eating behaviour. This story was subsequently demonstrated to be untrue. Obviously there is a detailed entry about Arthur on the purr’n’furr website and there’s lots more about him if you just Google Arthur the cat that ate with his paws. There is some great footage of the ads themselves with hilarious voice-overs by eminent actors such as Peter Bull, Leo McKern and Joss Ackland.

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The other station with all the vowels is, of course …

St Olave’s memorials – from Samuel Pepys to the great sacrifices made by the employees of Wm Cory in both World Wars.

I love visiting St Olave Hart Street. It’s tiny and wonderfully atmospheric, being one of the few surviving Medieval buildings in London. It was badly damaged during the War but many of its treasures had been removed to safety and others have been beautifully restored.

I first visited with my camera some years ago when I was writing about Samuel Pepys and I was immediately captivated by this sculpture of his wife Elizabeth. She died of typhoid fever at the age of 29 and, despite his dalliances with other women, Pepys was devastated by her death at such a young age. He commissioned this bust in white marble from the sculptor John Bushnell …

She is shown with her gaze directed towards the location of the Navy Office Pew where her husband would have sat, her mouth open as if in conversation.

His pew was in the gallery he had had built on the south wall of the church with an added outside stairway from the Royal Navy Offices so that he could go to church without getting soaked by the rain. The gallery is now gone but a memorial to Pepys marks the location of the stairway’s door …

Pepys never married again and arranged to be buried in St Olave’s next to Christine. Now they face one another across the aisle for eternity.

Although small, the church is packed with other items of interest and I shall write about a few of them this week.

Sir James Deane has an impressive tripartite monument showing him and his three wives kneeling in prayer …

Two of the women carry skulls indicating that they died before their time. Three of his children died in infancy and their swaddled bodies are included in the monument with their little heads resting on skulls, again indicating mortality (images copyright Carole Tyrrell) …

Deane was knighted on 8 July 1604 and was a very wealthy man. He made his fortune as a merchant adventurer to India, China and the Spice Islands and was very generous to the poor in every parish in which he lived or owned property. He also built almshouses in Basingstoke that survive to this day …

There is a picturesque monument to two brothers, Andrew and Paul Bayning. They are shown in the red robes of Aldermen and were both closely involved with the Levant Company …

There are memorials with touching inscriptions. ‘Her noble soul and lovely body joined, were once the wonder and the joy of mankind’ …

Sir William Ogborne was ‘A most tender husband, loving parent and a sincere and kind friend’ …

In his will he left all his property (which included several houses) to his wife, Lady Joyce, along with his ‘coach, his chariot horses, plate, hay and corn’.

The pulpit came to St Olave’s from St Benet Gracechurch when it was demolished in 1868 …

Once thought to be the work of Grinling Gibbons, it is certainly a fine example of 17th century wood carving …

The monument of Dr Peter Turner. It was looted from the bombed out church in 1941 but was finally returned in 2011 having spent some time in the Netherlands! A curator at the Museum of London found out about an upcoming auction listing the statue in 2010, the Art Loss Register investigated, and the bust was removed from the sale …

He was an eminent physician and botanist.

All prewar windows were lost in the bombing and the new windows which replaced them were specially designed to take into account the tall buildings that were springing up in the rebuilding of the City.

Two other churches have parishes which have been joined with that of St Olave to form a united benefice and the Lady Chapel Window on the north side of the church has three lights representing them.

St Olave’s is in the centre and depicts the Virgin and Child. On the left, All Hallows Staining is represented by Queen Elizabeth I with the bells of the church at her feet …

Painstaking work was needed in order to create the gradient of colour from left to right across her dress.

On the right St Katharine of Alexandria represents the former parish of St Catherine Coleman …

Above, in the four tracery lights are depicted more modern types of Christian womanhood : Elizabeth Fry, Florence Nightingale, Josephine Butler and Edith Cavell

As I left by the north door this memorial reminded me of the tremendous sacrifices made during both World Wars by the employees of Wm Cory & Son …

At the outbreak of WW1 in 1914, Cory had a large workforce, many of them skilled as engineers, mechanics, bargees and physically fit labourers. Before conscription was introduced, Cory encouraged its workers to enlist in Kitchener’s Army – an all-volunteer force of the British Army – and guaranteed to keep their jobs open for them. The company also undertook to look after the family of anyone who joined up, setting aside a sum of £25,000 (equivalent to £3 million today) to care for the men and their dependents.

Within a few days of the appeal there were enough men to form the entire D Company of the 6th Battalion of the Buffs – also known as Cory’s Unit. Most of these men came from places like Greenwich, Erith and Plumstead.

There is a photograph of Cory’s Unit which was taken at Aldershot shortly before their departure for France on the 1st of June 1915. Within six months, so many of these young men would be a name on a memorial or buried in a battlefield grave in Belgium or France …

Cory also mobilised its boats in support of the war eff­­ort in both World Wars, losing 17 boats in WWI and 13 in WWII (usually due to German mines, submarine attacks or aerial bombardment).

There is a plaque on the Tower Hill Maritime Memorial relating to one of the boats lost in WW1 – the Sir Francis …

She was torpedoed 4 miles off Ravenscar, North Yorkshire, on a ballast run to the Tyne to pick up coal on 7 June 1917. You may be interested in the diversity of nationalities among the crew :

Wanless, A, master, whose place of birth, residence, and family is not recorded;

de Boer, J, seaman, born in Holland;

Jonsson, John, born in Iceland, resident in South Shields and married to an Englishwoman;

Kato, T, fireman, born in Japan;

Nishioka, B, fireman, also born in Japan;

Poulouch, N, fireman, born in Greece;

Sharp, Joseph, steward, of South Shields;

Talbot, Alfred, engineer’s steward, of Penarth;

Tippett, Albert, engineer, a Yorkshireman resident in Tyneside;

van der Pluym, Johannes Cornelis, seaman, a resident of Amsterdam.

A further 12 crew members survived.

Not all their names appear on the St Olave Memorial, presumably because not all of them were directly employed by the company.

You can read more about the Cory company’s involvement on both World Wars here and here. There is a great blog dealing with colliers and multi-national crews here – it’s also the source of my information about the crew of the Sir Francis.

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‘True Hearts and Warm Hands’ at St Margaret Lothbury.

After the Great Fire of London of 1666 St Margaret’s was rebuilt by Christopher Wren between 1683 and 1692. As some churches around St Margaret’s were demolished under the 1860 Union of Benefices Act, St Margaret’s benefited from acquiring some of the interior furnishings of these buildings. The church now houses an outstanding collection of seventeenth century fittings, many by the sculptor and wood carver Grinling Gibbons. It is one of the few Wren churches that sustained only minor damage during the Second World War.

In 1698–9 the top stage of the tower with large belfry openings and all of the spire were added and this work was probably designed by Robert Hooke. Hooke was Surveyor to the City of London and chief assistant to Christopher Wren, in which capacity he helped Wren rebuild London after the Great Fire.

The church and tower (EC2R 7HH).

The baptismal font, believed to be by Grinling Gibbons (1648–1721), came from St Olave, Old Jewry, after that church was partially demolished in 1887. The font is a carved bowl with cherub heads at each corner and the sides are decorated with Adam and Eve, the dove returning to the ark, the baptism of Jesus and the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch by Philip.

Of the subsequent additions to the church the most splendid is the choir screen, one of only two in a Wren church, erected originally in the Church of All Hallows the Great, Thames St. in 1683-84 …

The screen, along with the tester above the pulpit, was moved to St Margaret’s in 1894 when the Church of All Hallows the Great was demolished, to allow widening of Thames Street and building of the City of London Brewery on the site.

The tester above the pulpit.

The Stuart royal arms are part of the screen which was originally donated by the German merchant Theodore Jacobson in c.1685. The eagle is supposed to refer to Herr Jacobson’s nationality …

The lovely stained glass windows celebrate St Margaret’s links with a number of City Livery Companies and Institutions. The windows were donated by either the Livery Companies or their Masters.

The Worshipful Company of Glovers of London – True hearts and warm hands

The Worshipful Company of Tin Plate Workers alias Wire Workers’ motto is Amore Sitis Uniti, Latin for Be United in Love (rather sweet!) …

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. The phrase Recte Numerare means to reckon or number rightly in Latin …

The Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers : In God is all our trust, let us never be confounded.

The Worshipful Company of Scientific Instrument Makers. The motto Sine Nobis Scientia Languet Knowledge cannot flourish without us – reflects the fundamental role the craft has played in the achievement of science over the past centuries …

The Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers. The Company’s present Coat of Arms was granted in 1709 and incorporates the former arms of the Armourers granted in 1556 with a new coat for the Brasiers. The two mottos are Make All Sure for the Armourers, and We are one for the joint Company. ‘Put on the whole armour of God’ …

There’s much more to see at St Margaret’s so I shall return.

Incidentally, if you are passing near the Royal Exchange check out Paparazzi Dogs

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An exhumed poet, a proud Mayor and a very modest attorney. Stories from St Giles.

From where I live I have a nice view of my local church, St Giles Without Cripplegate. This image gives a good impression of where this wonderful old church is located within the strikingly modern Barbican Estate …

I am always pleased to come across old images of the area, particularly those taken in the three decades after the Second World War. I am indebted to the author of the splendid London Inheritance blog for this view from 1947 showing the devastated landscape …

The building on the left is the Red Cross Street Fire Station.

Another image showing nearby destruction …

The following photo taken in the days following the raid on the 29th December 1940 shows the damage to the interior of the church …

St Giles Cripplegate

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: m0017971cl

Since the walls and tower survived a service was possible with the parishioners able to look straight up to the sky …

The inside of the church today. I was fortunate enough to visit when a lady (on the left in the picture) was practising beautifully on the organ …

Here’s an aerial view from the 1960s and the church now has a roof. The more modern looking building on the right is Roman House which has recently been converted into apartments …

In this 21st century aerial image you can just make out the church’s green roof …

Some monuments remain from the old pre-Blitz building.

There is this touching memorial to a favourite character of mine, Sir William Staines …

And here is the man himself …

Staines had extremely humble beginnings working as a bricklayer’s labourer, but eventually accumulated a large fortune which he generously used for philanthropic purposes. He seemed to recall his own earlier penury when he ensured that the houses he built for ‘aged and indigent’ folk would have ‘nothing to distinguish them from the other dwelling-houses … to denote the poverty of the inhabitant’.

British History Online records an encounter he had with the notorious John Wilkes who referred rather rudely to Staines’ original occupation …

The alderman was an illiterate man, and was a sort of butt amongst his brethren. At one of the Old Bailey dinners, after a sumptuous repast of turtle and venison, Sir William was eating a great quantity of butter with his cheese. “Why, brother,” said Wilkes, “you lay it on with a trowel!”

Incidentally, Wilkes is also commemorated in the the City in Fetter Lane where a striking statue of him honestly portrays his famous squint …

John Milton (1608-1674), the poet and republican, is perhaps the most famous former parishioner of St Giles and his statue stands by the south wall of the church …

It’s made of metal, which means it is one of the few memorials in the church that survived the bombing in the Second World War. It is the work of the sculptor Horace Montford (c1840-1919) and is based on a bust made in about 1654.

He used to be outside and was blasted off his plinth during the bombing …

There is also this commemorative plaque …

And a bust which clearly indicates his later-life blindness …

Milton was buried in the church next to his father, however he was not allowed to rest in peace.

British History Online reports the shocking event as follows …

‘A sacrilegious desecration of his remains, we regret to record, took place in 1790 … The disinterment had been agreed upon after a merry meeting at the house of Mr. Fountain, overseer, in Beech Lane, the night before, Mr. Cole, another overseer, and the journeyman of Mr. Ascough, the parish clerk, who was a coffin-maker, assisting’.

Having identified where they thought Milton’s grave was, they dug down almost six feet, found a coffin, and removed the lid. The report goes on …

‘Upon first view of the body, it appeared perfect, and completely enveloped in the shroud, which was of many folds, the ribs standing up regularly. When they disturbed the shroud the ribs fell. Mr. Fountain confessed that he pulled hard at the teeth, which resisted, until some one hit them a knock with a stone, when they easily came out. There were but five in the upper jaw, which were all perfectly sound and white, and all taken by Mr. Fountain. He gave one of them to Mr. Laming. Mr. Laming also took one from the lower jaw; and Mr. Taylor took two from it. Mr. Laming said that he had at one time a mind to bring away the whole under-jaw with the teeth in it; he had it in his hand, but tossed it back again’.

As if that wasn’t undignified enough,’Elizabeth Grant, the gravedigger … now took possession of the coffin; and, as its situation under the common councilmen’s pew would not admit of its being seen without the help of a candle, she kept a tinder-box in the excavation, and, when any persons came, struck a light, and conducted them under the pew; where, by reversing the part of the lid which had been cut, she exhibited the body, at first for sixpence and afterwards for threepence and twopence each person’.

The body was reburied but rumours spread that it wasn’t Milton in the coffin, but a woman. So Milton was dug up a second time and the surgeon in attendance examined the bones — what were left of them — and pronounced them to be masculine. Only then was Milton, at last, allowed to rest only to be permanently obliterated in the bombing.

Notwithstanding the generous memorials to the great and the good, I was captivated by this modest plaque on the south wall …

An attorney at law who obviously believed in brevity. No Latin exhortation of his virtues, no figures of a grieving widow and children, only the important facts and the bald, concluding statement ‘That is all’.

There is a lot more to see at St Giles such as modern stained glass …

And intriguing inscriptions, both inside …

And outside …

But for the moment ‘that is all!’

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Roman elephants and Suffragette bread – more fun at the Museum of London.

As regular readers of this blog will know, I love the Museum of London and it’s one of my go-to places if I feel I need a bit of cheering up (and, almost inevitably, I learn something new).

For example, it had completely escaped my notice that the Roman Emperor Claudius used elephants during his invasion of Britain in AD 43. Not far inside the entrance to the Museum is this totally bonkers mural illustrating their use in battle. The beasts look suitably angry at being dragged half way around the world just to stamp on a few ancient Britons …

There’s Claudius on the right on a white horse, possibly declaring ‘missio peracta’ (which Google assures me is ‘mission accomplished’ in Latin). Around the same time a young woman of the Iceni tribe called Boudica was aged about 30.

As Queen Boudica, she is now famous for her 60/61 AD uprising against the Romans. For resisting the appropriation of her property and that of her tribe, the local Roman procurator had her flogged and her daughters raped. Building on the fury of other tribes, she raised an army which went on to capture present day Colchester (Camulodunum) routing the Roman division there in the process. She then headed for Londinium.

Early London was a sprawling settlement, unwalled and defenceless since the Governor, Gaius Seutonius Paulinus, believing his troops to be disastrously outnumbered, made a tactical retreat (i.e. fled). On arriving, Boudica’s army burnt the place to the ground and slaughtered everyone they could find. These skulls on display in the Museum may be evidence of that massacre …

Primarily belonging to young adult men, a large number were found in the ancient Walbrook stream (although it must be said that there are alternative theories as to their origin).

The settlement of Verulamium – today’s St Albans – was next to feel the wrath of Boudica’s revenge as her, seemingly unstoppable, army sacked and burnt it en route to their inevitable confrontation with the now significantly strengthened Governor’s army.

The battle went badly and, rather than face the inevitable humiliation of capture, she is said to have poisoned herself and was buried by her people at a secret location. Some claim she’s buried beneath platform 10 of King’s Cross Station – maybe that’s why there’s a Boadicea Street nearby (N1 0UA)!

‘How’s my driving?’ Here she is with her daughters, driving her chariot, remarkably without the use of reins …

Boudica at Westminster : picture by Paul Walter/Wikipedia

Evidence of Boudica’s destruction of London lives on in a layer of burnt earth and debris known as the Red Layer that is occasionally uncovered during modern developments.

Not an elephant but the skull of a long extinct animal called an Auroch …

Up until the early 17th century you could still have encountered a live one (living in Poland). The one in the museum lived in Essex and was found in Ilford where it would have been part of a large herd. Incidentally, Aurochs live on today in the coats of arms of Romania and Moldova.

There’s a great temporary exhibition at the Museum illustrating the work of contemporary London makers.

I really like this stained glass work entitled Gorilla (2017) by Piotr Frac

And what about this piece by James Shaw entitled Plastic Baroque

And I love this witty Venus (2015) by Claire Partington

Pregnant and casually dressed, she poses with a ciggie in one hand and the dogs’ leash in another.

Now some brave women from a different era, the Suffragettes. This is the banner of the West Ham branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union 1909-1910 …

Suffragette prisoners often removed loaves of bread from Holloway Prison as a souvenir of their incarceration. Now well over 100 years old, this loaf was carefully preserved and gifted to the Museum in 1950 …

Read more about the campaign for Votes for Women and those who fought it here.

What a great poster …

If you’d like to cast you mind back to the heady, optimistic days of the 2012 London Olympics, the Olympic cauldron is on display again …

When you are appropriately Sanitised, the Victorian Walk is always a nice way to complete a visit …

By the way, if you are passing through Temple Station and have a bit of time to spare, get off and make your way to the station roof where you will find this fabulous installation by London-based artist Lakwena Maciver. It’s entitled ‘Back in the Air: A Meditation on Higher Ground’. This is only a small part of it …

I shall have more images for you next week.

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Shakespeare, a quack doctor and a cadaver – my visit to Southwark Cathedral.

Last Saturday I popped in to the wonderful Southwark Cathedral, paid £2 for a photography licence, and walked around entranced.

A few feet from the door is the magnificent Shakespeare Memorial Window, Designed by Christopher Webb, it was created in 1954 to replace another destroyed in enemy action. It shows characters from the Bard’s plays …

The design uses the concept of the Jesse Tree. Prospero in the central light forms the trunk, with Ariel above and Caliban at his feet …

I’m sure you can spot Falstaff …

In the right hand window we find Lady Macbeth ,,,

Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee …

and Hamlet …

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy …

At the base, the last two of the Seven Ages of Man … …

The sixth age slips into the lean and slippered pantaloon, with spectacles on nose … and his big manly voice turning again toward childish treble … Last scene of all, is second childishness … sans teeth, sans eyes sans everything.

All the characters portrayed in the window are identified in this short article.

Below the window is an alabaster sculpture. Made by Henry McCarthy in 1912, it shows the world’s most famous playwright resting outside the Globe Theatre. He usually has a sprig of rosemary in his hand. The aromatic herb rosemary, as Ophelia says to her brother Laertes in Hamlet, is for remembrance; ‘pray, love remember’ …

I was very taken with this remarkably lifelike bust …

This is Lancelot Andrewes (1555 – 25 September 1626), the English bishop and scholar who oversaw the translation of the King James Version of the Bible …

Most importantly, I live in a block of flats named after him.

This effigy of an unknown knight is one of the earliest monumental wooden effigies in England, his mail coat and coif dating him to around 1280. He is believed to be a member of the de Warenne family who were benefactors of the priory …

Thomas Cure was a very important person in Southwark and London. He was the MP locally, and in East Grinstead, as well as the Master Saddler to King Edward VI, Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth I. He founded almshouses for the poor and these stood for nearly 300 years in Park Street, until the new railways forced their move to West Norwood. Eventually they were relocated, in the form of modern sheltered flats, to Purley, Surrey in 2006. Cure died in 1588 and this is a ‘cadaver tomb’, reminding us all of our mortality …

Is there anywhere in the world a more impressive monument to a quack ‘doctor’? Lionel Lockyer never qualified as a doctor (he was originally a tailor and a butcher) but became famous for his miracle pills that he claimed included sunbeams as an ingredient …

His tomb has an amusing inscription which includes the words …

His virtues & his PILLS are soe well known…
That envy can’t confine them vnder stone.
But they’ll surviue his dust and not expire
Till all things else at th’universall fire.

The man himself …

Lionel Lockyer. Line engraving by J. Sturt. Wellcome Library collections.

Following Lockyer’s death in 1672, his pills continued to be sold by his nephew, John Watts, in partnership with Thomas Fyge, an apothecary. The pills were sold wholesale in tins of 50 or 100 at a price of 4 shillings for 100. That equates to about two weeks’ wages for a skilled tradesman.

This is the tomb of John Gower. He was the Poet Laureate to Richard II and Henry IV and his head rests on his three best known books, Vox Clamantis in Latin, Speculum Meditantis in French, and Confessio Amantis in English. He died in 1408 …

I finished my short visit looking at a collection of medieval roof bosses. In 1469 the roof of the priory church collapsed and the stone vaulting was replaced by a carved wooden ceiling. This is one from that ceiling and shows the Devil swallowing Judas Iscariot …

There was, of course, lots more to see at Southwark, so I shall return. I went on to have a wander around the area and will report back on that next week.

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More pics from my Instagram collection

I set up my Instagram account because I found I was taking more pictures outside the City and also because some City images didn’t fit into any neat category. You will find details of how to follow me at the end of the blog. Some of the other pictures here I just took for fun.

I hope you enjoy them – I’ll start with evidence as to how the local animals are practicing social distancing …

I love ducks. These two were fast asleep on the Barbican Highwalk in the early morning …

Still there later on (I didn’t wake them up). They are completely relaxed about having their picture taken and obviously like to strike a pose …

Now that people have deserted the City so have the seagulls. This is good news for the little ducklings who often provided the gulls (and the visiting heron) with a tasty snack. There are quite a few families now growing up quickly …

Mum keeps a watchful eye.

Another bird, a moody parrot near Whitecross Street …

I managed to snatch this picture of the Red Arrows flypast accompanied by their French equivalent the Patrouille de France (PAF). They took to the skies on June 18th to mark the 80th anniversary of a famous wartime speech by General Charles de Gaulle …

Still on an aviation theme, every now and then a Chinook helicopter practices landing in the Honourable Artillery Company’s field just off Moorgate. The noise sounds like you are in a Vietnam War movie …

What about this enigmatic message on an optician’s window on London Wall …

On the other hand, I thought these models in an Eastcheap shop looked really creepy …

Like creatures out of a Doctor Who episode.

I suppose these bony teaching aids glimpsed through a Bart’s Hospital window are also a bit disturbing …

High spot of the easing of lockdown – getting a haircut …

Second high spot …

I do like to tuck into a Penguin …

Oh how the simple pleasures of life take on a new importance when you are deprived of them!

The hotel I stayed at in Eastbourne last week had some very interesting items displayed on the walls. I liked these pictures of The Beatles in their early days but they made me feel a bit sad and nostalgic too …

To my delight the hotel also had a reproduction of a very early map of London …

Note particularly Smooth Field and the three dimensional representations of St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London.

This was fascinating …

The picture is entitled …

Ice Carnival held at Grosvenor House, Park Lane, 31st October 1930 in the presence of the Prince of Wales with Mrs Wallis Simpson who was always seated three places from him in public.

There was some nice stained glass too …

The hotel is the Langham and I highly recommend it.

Our Car Park attendant and concierge has green fingers and has improved the environment immeasurably …

I like these golden lions outside the Law Society …

Royal Wedding teabags are still available at this shop on Ludgate Hill …

Hurry hurry hurry while stocks last!

Pharmacy humour …

Another pop group caught my eye – a picture in a music shop window of the Rolling Stones in May 1965. Who would have thought they would still be touring 55 years later (apart from poor Brian Jones, of course) …

And finally you will be relieved to hear …

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The only Catholic church in the City

I have been researching the history of St Mary Moorfields in Eldon Street (EC2M 7LS) and Catholic worship in the City generally.

For over two hundred years, after the 1559 Act of Uniformity, Catholics were forbidden to worship in public until the Catholic Relief Act of 1791. A chapel was opened in 1686, but had to be suspended in 1689. From 1736 there was a chapel in Ropemaker’s Alley but its altar, fittings and crucifixes were ripped out and destroyed in the Gordon Riots of 1780. This was succeeded by a chapel in White Street. Its replacement in 1820 by a large Classical church in Finsbury Circus sponsored by laypeople marked a turning point in the size and stylistic aspirations of Catholic churches. The final church of the first wave of building that succeeded the Relief Act, it was probably the finest in structure and decoration and also the largest Catholic church in London. It was called St Mary Moorfields after its location …

‘Celebration of High Mass on Christmas Day’ – Picture: Wikimedia Commons

In 1884 the Church acquired a huge site off of Victoria Street in west London. The construction of what would be Westminster Cathedral commenced in 1895 and in 1899, when parts of the new building became usable for worship, the Moorfields church was sold and demolished. It was replaced by the present building in Eldon Street which was designed by George Sherrin and opened on 25th March 1903. The name remained the same even though it was no longer in Moorfields.

The entrance is squeezed in between two shops and if you are walking along the north side of Eldon Street it is easy to miss it completely unless you look up and see the Papal tiara over the doors …

View from the South side of Eldon Street.

The facade is of Portland stone with some intricate decoration either side of the entrance. Note the hammer, pliers and three nails representing the crucifixion. Further up there is a scourge and a crown of thorns …

Alongside are scenes from the life of the Virgin by J Daymond …

These two represent the Annunciation and the Nativity.

Above them is a statue of the Virgin and child being crowned by cherubs …

I think the interior is magnificent. The classical como marble columns around the altar come from the old church …

As does the High Altar itself …

It is modelled in the form of a sarcophagus to recall the ancient practice of celebrating Mass on the tombs of martyr-saints in the catacombs of Rome.

The wide becherubed font also made the journey from Moorfields but the cover is from around 1900 …

The church enjoys very little natural light. In fact when the building was erected the floor had to be lowered three feet to protect adjoining buildings’ ‘ancient lights’. As a result the stained glass window is artificially illuminated …

It depicts the Assumption.

One of the side chapels …

The oak wood carving in the church is very attractive and is also by Daymond …

The tympanum above the shrine to St Thomas More at the south end of the aisle portrays his execution in 1920s mosaic style …

It is a lovely little church to visit and when I have popped in occasionally pre-Covid there was a very atmospheric whiff of incense.

You can find details such as mass times on the website.

Incidentally, there were other survivors from the 1899 demolition, four stained glass windows which found their way to St Joseph’s Lambs Passage (EC1Y 8LE), a small chapel in the basement of a former school of 1901. Despite what the sign on the building says, it is not actually a church but a ‘chapel of ease’ to St Mary’s. Such chapels were built within the bounds of a parish for the attendance of those who could not reach the parish church conveniently …

As a result of wartime damage only two windows survive and this is one of them (The Agony in the Garden). I wasn’t able to access the building to take pictures so the image comes from the internet …

Details of the chapel, its history, services and place in the community can be found here.

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Moorgate and the Goddess of Electricity

Firstly, I hope you are all keeping well and safe in these troubled times, and that maybe my little blog occasionally offers a welcome distraction.

The diminished traffic flow in the City, combined with the recent really sunny days, meant that I could more easily incorporate some photography with the walks I take for exercise. I was able to pause for some time to take detailed images of this spectacular building on Moorgate …

I think it’s crowning glory is its stained glass window, back-lit from within so its detail can be seen clearly from outside the building. Unfortunately the building was closed and in darkness when I visited so I have copied an image from the splendid London Inheritance website and blog.

Originally the London headquarters of the Eastern Telegraph Company, the current neo-classical building was built by Belcher & Joass between 1900 and 1903. At first it was called Electra House (named after the goddess of electricity) and the centre section shows her perched on top of the world. A glowing orb behind her head sends out rays across the seas, presumably representing the information the company’s cables help spread around the world. To the bottom left of the centre section is a sailing ship under full sail and bottom right is a lighthouse. Between the ship and lighthouse is a rough looking sea. The side panels show clouds and more rough sea and stars are scattered over the three parts …

The architect John Belcher was a prominent member the Catholic Apostolic Church and it is thought that this influenced the ornamentation of buildings he designed. The Moorgate stained glass window embodies the theme of communications but also symbolism from the Book of Revelations. You can read more about Belcher here.

To the left of the arch is a seated girl accompanied by a young winged genius …

Sculptor: George Frampton

She is transmitting a message.

The figure on the right is receiving a message (could be an iPad!) …

And above the arch …

… a winged Mercury, the god of Commerce, carries a caduceus.

Higher up is a beautiful frieze of four female figures …

Sculptor: William Goscombe John

They represent from left to right Egypt, Japan, India and China. Egypt carries a water jar on her shoulder, Japan is in a kimono and carries a fan, India lifts the veil from her face, and China carries a samisen (a three stringed lute).

At the very top of the building four naked boys support an armillary sphere which is itself encircled by a broad band displaying zodiacal signs …

Here it is in close up …

Some small figures decorate the tops of the pillars. Here are a few of them.

The horned god Pan playing his flute …

A blindfolded Lady Justice holding scales and sword …

I have no idea as to what this one represents …

I hope you found this interesting. I have not covered all the building’s decorations in this blog and there are more inside which maybe I will get access to at some future date.

To end on a more lighthearted note, have you noticed that the pigeons seem to have deserted the City? No humans, no food, I suppose. However, I did spot this lonely chap self-isolating on the old Roman/Medieval City wall …

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Pebbles the cat … and other Underground surprises

High up on a tiled pillar in Barbican Underground Station is this poignant memorial …

For many years Pebbles was a favourite of staff and passengers, often sleeping soundly on top of the exit barriers despite the rush hour pandemonium going on around him. Here is a picture from the wonderfully named Purr’n’Fur website, a great source for moggie-related stories …

Clearly he was greatly missed when he died, as the plaque faithfully records, on 26th May 1997. This was doubly sad because he was due to be given a Lifetime Achievement Award. This was sponsored by Spillers Pet Foods and named after Arthur, a cat they used in their advertising who, I seem to remember, ate with his paws. The Certificate that came with the award is also displayed (the co-winner, the aptly named Barbie, was Pebbles’ companion) …

Pebbles’ posthumous award.

As I walked down the stairs to see the plaque I noticed that everything looks sadly tatty. However, just imagine these tiles when they were newly fitted before the War, with their geometric patterns leading you down to the Ticket Office …

And how wonderful, the Office window is still there, although instead of a helpful Ticket Clerk there is a poster. I reckon those lovely brass fittings and the counter date from the early 1930s. The pattern on the tiles continues down here as well – such thoughtful design …

The station, originally called Aldersgate Street, was opened on 23 December 1865 and had a large glazed roof which allowed light down to the platform. Here it is in 1936 …

The roof was removed in 1955 but you can still see the supporting brackets …

John Betjeman wrote about the roof’s dismantling, calling the work Monody on the death of Aldersgate Street Station

Snow falls in the buffet of Aldersgate station,
Soot hangs in the tunnel in clouds of steam.
City of London! before the next desecration
Let your steepled forest of churches be my theme.

Barbican station holds the unenviable distinction as the scene of the tube network’s first ever passenger disaster. On 16 December 1866 three passengers were killed and a guard was seriously injured when a girder collapsed onto a passenger train in the station. The newspapers reported that service on the line was running again only 30 minutes after the accident.

Look out for the old parish boundary marker dated 1868 on the eastbound platform …

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I have written in more detail about boundary markers in an earlier blog which you can find here. If you want to read more about the railways in the area, there is a great blog on the subject called Reconnections with useful maps and interesting pictures.

Onward now to the refurbished Farringdon Station. On climbing the stairs from the platform you can admire the original 19th century roof supports …

Just before exiting through the barriers I spotted some nice old stained glass windows. I had never noticed them before, it just shows what you can come across if you have time to dawdle …

I had as my guide a book by the brilliant Underground historian Antony Badsey-Ellis – Underground Heritage. He tells us that many Metropolitan Railway stations were modernised between 1914 and 1931 and the house style employed at what is now Farringdon Station was by Charles W Clarke …

The only decoration on the friezes was the diamond motif used by the railway …

It’s been reproduced as a heritage sign at Moorgate ..

And here it is again at Aldgate …

In the lobby is a beautifully maintained memorial to the seven people killed at Aldgate in the terrorist attacks on 7 July 2005 …

There is also a plaque commemorating the Queen’s visit in 2010 …

The tiles at Aldgate are very pretty and often include the Metropolitan Railway diamond …

And it’s nice to see some original platform signage from the 1930s (with original roof supports in the background) …

And finally, a ghost station …

You can still see the old entrance to Mark Lane tube station next to the All Bar One, just as Byward Street becomes Tower Hill. It closed on 4 February 1967 and was replaced by the nearby Tower Hill station. The entrance (through the arch on the left of the steps) now leads to a pedestrian subway …

Postman’s Park and the Watts Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice

Postman’s Park was once the churchyard to the adjacent church, St Botolph Aldersgate, but between 1858 and 1860 it was cleared of human remains and re-landscaped as a public space. A number of gravestones remain and you can see some of them now stacked neatly against the northern churchyard wall …

Nearby, in 1829, the General Post Office had moved in to a vast new building on St Martin Le Grand and, when the new park opened, it quickly became a popular leisure area for the post office workers and, as a result, the park soon became known as Postman’s Park (EC1A 7BT).

It contains now what is, in my view, one of the most interesting, poignant and rather melancholy memorials in the City – The G F Watts Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice. This plaque nearby contains a useful mini-history …

In the late 1890s the idea was mooted that the park would be an ideal location for a memorial to ‘ordinary’ and ‘humble’ folk who had lost their lives endeavouring to save the lives of others. Two of its most enthusiastic supporters were the artists George Frederic Watts (1817 – 1904) and his wife Mary (1849 – 1938). There are some nice images of both him and his wife on the National Portrait Gallery website. Here he is  and here his wife Mary.

After much debate about its positioning and design, the memorial was finally declared finished and open on 30 July 1900, the building looking very much as it does today …

The memorial consists of 54 ceramic tablets which were gradually added over the years, each describing a particular act of selfless heroism. I have chosen to write about four of them using as my source the splendid book by the historian John Price: Heroes of Postman’s Park (ISBN 9780750956437). You can also, like me, become a Friend of the Watts Memorial, and more details can be found here.

The first of my four heroes is Alice Ayres …

The picture above shows Alice Ayres as portrayed by the Illustrated London News in 1885 (Copyright the British Library Board). Her commemorative plaque reads as follows and was the first to be installed …

It was Alice’s brave act that prompted Watts to write to the Times newspaper and suggest the creation of a memorial

That would celebrate the sacrifices made by ‘likely to be forgotten heroes’ by collecting ‘…a complete record of the stories of heroism in every-day life’.

Alice threw down a mattress from a burning building and successfully used it to rescue three children …

From The Illustrated Police News 2nd May 1885 Copyright, The British Library Board.

Alice eventually jumped herself but received terrible injuries and died two days later. Incidentally, if her name rings a bell with you it could be because, in the 2004 film Closer, one of the characters, Jane Jones, sees Alice’s memorial and decides to adopt her name.

John Clinton was only 10 when he dived into the Thames to save another little boy’s life. Unfortunately, after the rescue, John himself slipped back into the water and drowned. According to his father this wasn’t his first brave act, having saved a baby from a fire and tearing down burning curtains that were threatening the house. Both acts were commemorated in this illustration …

From The Illustrated Police News, 28th July 1894. Copyright, The British Library Board.

His funeral was widely reported …

I am indebted to the editor of the London Walking Tours website for this photograph of John Clinton’s image on his tombstone in Manor Park cemetery …

His Postman’s Park plaque …

And now another brave lady,

Many of these memorials give us glimpses of the nature of society at the time these events took place, and Mary’s story is a typical example. It is most unlikely that she would ever have found herself serving at sea had it not been for the fact that her husband, Richard, was drowned when the cross channel steamer SS Honfleur sank in the English Channel on 21 October 1880.

The steamer was operated by the London & South Western Railway Company (LSWR) and so Richard was one of their employees. It was common practice at the time for railway companies to offer employment to the widows or children of deceased employees so as to avoid having to pay compensation or provide a pension. Almost immediately after the birth of her son in January 1881, Mary began work as a stewardess for LSWR. Her earnings were 15 shillings a week plus any tips received from passengers. For a woman in her circumstances, this was a decent, stable income and in modern terms, a job with prospects. It also kept her family out of the workhouse.

Mary Rogers – 1855-1899

The story of the sinking of the SS Stella is a gripping one and rather too complicated to relate in detail here. If you want all the details either get hold of a copy of John Price’s book and/or have a look at this website run by Jake Simpkin, a Blue Badge holder and south of England historian.

From The Illustrated Police News – 8th April 1899. Copyright, The British Library Board

The Times reported that Rogers …

Helped ‘her ladies’ from the cabin into the lifeboats. Next she gave up her own lifejacket, and then when urged to get into the lifeboat refused for fear of capsizing it. She was told it was her only chance, but she persisted that she could not save her own life at the cost of a fellow creature’s. She waved the lifeboat ‘farewell’ and bid the survivors to be of ‘good cheer’.

In 1908, the committee of the new Anglican Liverpool Cathedral chose 21 ‘noble women’ for commemoration in stained glass windows. Mary was included, and is depicted in her window alongside Grace Darling and Elizabeth Fry …

Walking down Central Street one day I noticed this green plaque on the other side of the road …

On crossing over to take a look this is what I saw …

I took a picture, resolving to do further research and then discovered that the brave Alfred Smith is commemorated on the Watts Memorial …

PC Smith, 37 years old, was on duty in Central Street when the noise was heard of an approaching group of fourteen German bombers. One press report reads as follows …

In the case of PC Alfred Smith, a popular member of the Metropolitan Force, who leaves a widow and three children, the deceased was on point duty near a warehouse. When the bombs began to fall the girls from the warehouse ran down into the street. Smith got them back, and stood in the porch to prevent them returning. In doing his duty he thus sacrificed his own life.

Smith had no visible injuries but had been killed by the blast from the bombs dropped nearby. He was one of 162 people killed that day in one of the deadliest raids of the war.

His widow was treated much more kindly than Mary Rogers. She received automatically a police pension (£88 1s per annum, with an additional allowance of £6 12s per annum for her son) but also had her MP, Allen Baker, working on her behalf. He approached the directors of Debenhams (whose staff PC Smith had saved) and solicited from them a donation of £100 guineas (£105). A further fund, chaired by Baker, raised almost £472 and some of this was used to pay for the Watts Memorial tablet, which was officially unveiled on the second anniversary of Alfred’s death.

Watts used newspaper reports to decide who should receive the honour of a plaque, but in one case the report was false and the ‘hero’ didn’t exist. Unfortunately, Watts didn’t see the newspaper article correcting the mistake and the plaque went up anyway. If you want to know the identity of the non-existent ‘hero’ I am not going to reveal it here, and you will have to buy John Price’s book to find out.

I wrote about some more of the heroes from the memorial in an earlier blog which you can access here.

 

 

 

 

 

Anniversary Blog! Things that made me smile.

I am really pleased to be celebrating the 52nd edition of my blog. Thank you so much for subscribing – especially those of you who have been doing so since the beginning.

As this is a special occasion, I am departing from the usual format and have been looking back at pictures from previous editions as well as other pictures that, for various reasons, I did not use. My only criteria for inclusion is that they made me smile and I hope you find them amusing too – where there is a blog you can click on the links to access it.

First up are these cherubs busy assembling a bazooka – I particularly like the ‘LOVE’ tattoo that one of them has on his arm …

And what about these two chatting on a 19th century telephone …

They all appeared in my blog Charming Cherubs

On looking through the archive I was surprised at just how many animals have found their way into my blog. For example, when I was photographing John Bunyan’s tomb in the Bunhill Burial Ground, I was photobombed by this cheeky squirrel. He decided to tuck into his lunch just as I was about to take the picture …

You can read more here

Everyone knows the story of Dick Whittington and his cat and here the animal is portrayed in stained glass. He looks like he has just seen a mouse – and I love his perky tail …

This and other stunning stained glass windows are celebrated here

Another well known cat can be found in Gough Square. His name is Hodge and he is sitting on his master’s famous dictionary …

His owner, Dr Johnson, declared him  ‘A very fine cat, a very fine cat indeed’

From famous cats to mysterious mice. Nibbling a piece of cheese, they add charm to a building in Philpot Lane off Eastcheap and have been described as London’s smallest sculpture.

No one knows their origin but there are a few theories. You can read more about the mice and other animals here

When deciding on how to decorate this imposing City building the sculptor had a bit of fun by adding this little boy struggling to hold a goose …

The street it is on is, of course, Poultry

Floppy eared dogs and smiling boars’ heads compete for your attention at the corner of Eastcheap and Philpot Lane …

Unfortunately when I looked recently they had been repainted a dull, boring cream.

They reference a Shakespeare play and you can read more here

I really liked this poster for the movie King Kong and then had to smile when, looking closely, I noticed an unusual feature. As Kong rampages through New York, he also seems to be chasing a double-decker London bus …

Edgar Wallace worked on the script for the film and I recount some of his story here

Is this the only statue in London portraying a man with a pronounced squint?

The inscription on his statue reads as follows: ‘A champion of English freedom, John Wilkes 1727-1797, Member of Parliament, Lord Mayor.’ You can read more about him here

Unveiled in November 2017, this splendid sculpture in the Christchurch Greyfriars Church Garden commemorates Christ’s Hospital School’s 350 years presence in the City of London from 1552 to 1902.

The sculpture is ‘designed to curve gently, reflecting the care and support provided to children, who flow from the youngest entering the School to confident adolescents marching boldly into their futures’.

What made me smile was the portrayal of the ragamuffins at the far right, obviously before they benefited from the school’s civilising influence …

They look like they are having great fun running wild.

The Cornhill Devils are said to resemble the rector of the church next door …

I tell the story of the devils in this blog

If you walk down Fleet Street you will notice that many of the narrow alleyways leading off to the north have plaques embedded in their entrance telling stories of Fleet Street in its heyday as the print news capital of the UK. The one at the entry to St Dunstan’s Court reminds one of the way game technology has moved on. Older readers will recognise figures from Pacman, the game used here to illustrate ‘hi tech’ developments. Younger readers will probably have no idea what we are talking about …

I don’t normally like graffiti but this seemed fair comment when you look around the City today …

‘Let’s bung up another skyscraper while they’re not looking.’

And I will end with a picture from my first blog. Happily these camels are still being led towards Tower hill …

Here’s a link to my first blog

Thank you again for subscribing!

Hidden Gems

I have written before about the history of the little greetings card shop on the corner of Wood Street and Cheapside but didn’t mention the fascinating feature tucked away inside.

The shop dates from 1687 and so was among the first buildings to be rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1666 …

Copyright Katie at ‘Look up London’.

At the back of the store is this spiral staircase …

According to at least one source the staircase was in a previous house on the site which was built by Christopher Wren for an alderman, William Turner, who subsequently became Lord Mayor in 1668.

On the corner of Mitre Street and Leadenhall Street is this rather austere office building currently undergoing renovation …

Previously the Towergate Building.

Holy Trinity Priory was the first religious house to be established within the walls of London after the Norman Conquest, being founded by Matilda, the wife of Henry I, in 1108. It was also one of the first Augustinian houses established in England as well as being the first to be dissolved in 1532, voluntarily surrendered to Henry VIII after running up large debts.

It is quite remarkable, therefore, that some of the old priory buildings have survived and even more remarkable that they have been encased in a 20th century office building. If you go up close and peer through the building’s windows on Leadenhall Street this is what you will see …

There is a whole section of wall and an archway.

When the refurbishment is complete I will return and see if I am allowed in to take a better photograph.

A jolly friar looks down on you as you approach the masterpiece of Art Nouveau that is the Black Friar pub on Queen Victoria Street opposite Blackfriars Station …

174 Queen Victoria St, London EC4V 4EG.

The Black Friar’s interior is so amazing that I am going to write about it in more detail in a later blog dedicated to pubs. In the meantime, here are a few pictures to give you some idea of what to expect …

Some pretty stained glass.

Some good advice …

‘Don’t advertise, tell a gossip’.

Part of the interior …

When you have enjoyed a glass of something refreshing at the Black Friar you can visit another interesting hostelry not far away – walk east along Queen Victoria Street and you will see St Andrew’s Hill on your left. Walk up the hill and on your right you will see Shaw’s Booksellers …

31-34 St Andrew’s Hill, London EC4V 5DE.

It is a gastropub rather than a booksellers and when I had a flat nearby I was told an interesting story about its history which I have been unable to verify but which sounds authentic. Apparently it was a bar for a long time but was renamed Shaw’s Booksellers for the making of a film and it was decided to keep the name. This story is backed up by the existence in the bar of this staircase …

Pictures courtesy of the Shaw’s Booksellers website.

When you look at it close up you will see that it actually goes nowhere and was allegedly installed as part of the alterations made by the filmmakers. It’s a great story and I hope it’s true.

 

Dick Whittington, Hipster! City stained glass, I hope you will be pleasantly surprised …

To me, one of the greatest pleasures in visiting any church is to look at the stained glass windows and, in some cases where the church is very old, imagine the awe they must have inspired in congregations for whom even crude plain glass was an unimaginable luxury. Sadly, the City churches suffered terrible damage in the Blitz and much glass was lost through blast as well as direct bomb damage. However, this destruction had two positive outcomes. Firstly, if plain glass replaced the coloured, the churches’ interiors were bathed in light and in some cases appeared more like Christopher Wren and his associates intended. Secondly, of course, they gave the opportunity to a whole new generation of artists and glass makers to display their skills, and this is where I hope you will be pleasantly surprised and perhaps inspired to visit their work.

I want to start with the great man himself, and here he is, portrayed in very lifelike manner in a window at St Lawrence Jewry in Guildhall Yard. This was his most expensive parish church project and it reopened for worship in 1677…

Wren enjoyed a close relationship of mutual respect with his craftsmen and it was typical of him to arrange for the foundation stones of St Paul’s Cathedral to be laid, not by himself, but by Master Mason Thomas Strong and Master Carpenter John Langland. Another Strong, Edward, pictured below, set the final stone in place at the top of the lantern on 26th October 1708, thirty three years after building commenced. Edward had succeeded his brother Thomas as Master Mason on the latter’s death in 1681.

Wren’s Master Mason, Edward Strong. What a perfect name for a man who created beauty and order out of stone.

Gibbons was the greatest of decorative woodcarvers and a favourite of Wren, who also employed him on some of his country house commissions …

Gibbons was born in Rotterdam in 1648, arriving in England in 1670 or 1671 and evolving a distinct style that was all his own. Working mostly in limewood, Gibbons’ trademark was the cascade of fruit, leaves, flowers, foliage, fish, and birds. He was obviously also a dab hand at cherubs.

The window incorporating the three men is known as ‘The Wren Window’ …

The Wren Window by Christopher Webb (1957)

Below the three major figures the window shows various craftsmen at work – bricklayers, carpenters, plasterers, stonemasons and two of his own stained glass artists.

And below them are two more modern figures …

Cecil Brown and Reverend Frank Trimingham study the church plan, with the outline of the footprint of the church in front of them. On each side are the beautifully etched towers of many of the Churches Wren built, along with two different views of St Paul’s Cathedral.

The flames remind us of two terrible years of destruction …

After the fire bomb raid of 29 December 1940 nothing but the tower and part of the walls remained. The present church was built in 1954-57 to the design of Cecil Brown who worked closely with Christopher Webb on the designs of the windows.

St Paul is represented here because the Dean and Chapter of St Paul’s were joint patrons from 1677 to 1954.

Note the angel at the base of the window …

The angel is holding the shell of the destroyed church, roof and windows gone and what is left of the building filled with rubble. St Paul’s in the background is silhouetted by fire and the buildings on the right are ablaze as searchlights pierce the sky.

St Catharine is the patron saint of Baliol College Oxford which has had a close connection with the church since the 13th century

She is pictured with the spiked wheel on which she was tortured.

But look at the angel, again at the base of the window …

The angel is holding the restored church.

Naturally, there is a window commemorating the church’s patron saint, St Lawrence, who suffered martyrdom in 258 AD …

For refusing to give up the treasures of the church, represented by the purse he is carrying, he was flayed and roasted alive on a gridiron.

The gridiron became his symbol and appears throughout the church and on the steeple weathervane

As regular readers of this blog will know, I am very fond of St Vedast-alias-Foster in Foster Lane – I love its secluded fountain courtyard and cloister. Today, however, I am commenting on the interior, which also had to be rebuilt after the same raid that destroyed St Lawrence.

Looking towards the east end of the church

Above the reredos is the ‘Vedast Window’, with stained glass depicting scenes from the life of the saint …

Look for the saint chasing a bear from its cave (er, no, I don’t know why either).

The glass below, in the east window of the chapel, was the only window saved after the 1940 bombing. It gives us some idea of the terrible losses incurred on that night …

The glass is by the firm of Clayton & Bell which was founded in 1855 and continued until as recently as 1993.

When I visited the church last Friday (February 2nd) there was a magnificent display of church silver …

The church’s collection of silver plate dating back to the 16th century.

St Vedast is unusual among City churches in that it is open seven days a week, so you can pop in between 8:00 am and 5:30 pm on weekdays. Full details are on the website.

And now some examples of the stunning widows designed by the artist and glass maker John David Hayward, the first being in St Michael Paternoster Royal on College Hill EC4, where Dick Whittington was buried in 1423.

I’m sure everyone knows the Whittington legend. He had given up on making his fortune in London but, as he headed home with his faithful cat, he heard the bells of St Mary-le-Bow ring out the words:

Turn again Whittington, thrice Lord Mayor of London

Well, the bit about him being Lord Mayor is true, and it was four times rather than three, but two of the terms were consecutive.

Here Hayward shows that critical moment on Highgate Hill …

The church bells of St Mary-le-Bow ring out behind him

I think he rather resembles a flat-capped Hoxton Hipster – maybe there is an iPad in that bag.

I love the expression on the cat’s face. Perhaps he has seen a mouse.

You can read more about the legend at the wonderful Purr ‘n’ Fur website, ‘Fabled Felines. Cats in Fables, Fairytales and Festivals’.

In another window St Michael slaughters the serpent …

… but too late, Eve has already presented Adam with the apple.

And so now to the church whose bells summoned Whittington back to the City, St Mary-le-Bow in Cheapside, Hayward’s first major commission. Look out for livery company coats of arms …

The salamanders of the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers – reputedly able to survive fire

In the window pictured below St Paul, patron of the City, is surrounded by the Wren churches that survived World War II with St Paul’s Cathedral in the top right hand corner …

Here the Virgin Mary cradles the church named after her as if it were a child, also surrounded by church spires that survived the Blitz …

She is standing on the bow-shaped arches on which are based the church’s suffix ‘le Bow’.

Christopher Webb died in 1966 and John David Hayward in 2007, both leaving a beautiful legacy. I hope you will at some point enjoy visiting their work as much as I have.

I shall end today’s blog with a quote by Marc Chagall …

For me a stained glass window is a transparent partition between my heart and the heart of the world

 

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