Our Thanksgiving Day in Rotherhithe


    It was a very overcast day weather-wise, but Randal and I had a lovely Thanksgiving Day here in London, or Rotherhithe to be exact.    I think it’s the first time that I’ve actually thought about Pilgrims rather than food and football, which is slightly embarrassing,  as I grew up in Massachusetts on Plymouth Street.  Our 6th grade school trip was to Plimoth Plantation but who cared then.  Now it’s pretty interesting.  I hope you all enjoyed your day and I do hope if your team was playing, it won. 

     Randal and I did manage to visit all of the places I’d mapped out on our way to Thanksgiving Lunch at the Mayflower Pub:

-St. Mary Church-Rotherhithe to see the burial place of Mayflower Captain Christopher Jones.

-The Pilgrim and Lad statue

-The Brunel Museum.

But what we found at those places wasn’t always what we’d expected.  It was better!

BBC Police Drama  “New Tricks” at St Mary’s

“Drama featuring an eccentric group of ex-police officers brought out of retirement to investigate unsolved crime.”  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006t0qx   I watched an older episode online and  I  recognized Inspector Dalgliesh from the PD Janes series in a guest role and the  wonderful older solicitor from the Garrow’s Law series as one of the main characters. 


With all the activity at the Church, I thought there was a “yard sale” happening.  But when I got closer I saw there were no tables of “for sale” items.  It was only a bit later that we found out it was the BBC taping a show.


Shooting Take 1,  I think I heard.    It involved a car needing to drive by several times for the scene… or waiting for a car to pass that wasn’t in the scene.  I’m not sure which.  And no one seemed to be wanting to chat it up with me about what was happening.   


Actor Dennis Waterman  center, one of the show ‘s stars. 


Two  former marines having a chat.

I asked  this gentleman if he knew where Christopher Jones was buried.  But he was part of the BBC crew so couldn’t help with that but did tell us all about the show which was fun.  He and Randal had a lovely chat while I watched some of the filming.  It sort of distracted me from looking inside the church…so that will be another visit.

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I did find this commemorative plaque but not the one specific to Christopher Jones.

The tablet below was a thank you to the family who rebuilt the crumbling tower.

“Captain Christopher Jones was not a local man, although he was resident in Rotherhithe at the time of Mayflower’s departure for Southampton.  He was born in Harwich at around 1570 and only moved to Rotherhithe in 1611. It was a popular place for sea captains to live in the 17th Century, and it is probable that Jones knew ship owner Edward Maister.   Captain Jones died on the 5th March in 1622, in his early 50s, and was buried in the churchyard of St Mary’s in Rotherhithe.  The church of St Mary’s was rebuilt in 1715, by public subscription, due to damage inflicted by repeated flooding.  Many of the old churchyard monuments and memorials were lost during this process, and the exact location of the burial of Christopher Jones is no longer known.  Apparently there is a stone tablet in memory of him saved from the old church and set into the new tower’s wall. (We only found the plaque.) There is modern monument to him in the churchyard of St Mary’s, depicting St Christopher, the patron saint of travellers, holding a small child.  It was unveiled in 1995, to mark the 375th anniversary of the voyage.  http://russiadock.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Public%20art This is a great website for Rotherhithe history.


The St. Christopher Statue in honor of Christopher Jones


“Rotherhithe’s most ancient “blue coat school”

    “Rotherhithe has throughout its history been a strongly maritime area, home to docks, ship builders and breakers.   This building (across the lane from St Mary Church) was the home to Rotherhithe’s most ancient school, which was founded in 1613 by Peter Hills and Robert Bell. Peter Hills was an eminent mariner and the school was for "eight sons of mariners from the parish". The school grew, accepting both girls and boys. At one point in the early 18th century it had 65 girls and 77 boys.  In 1836 a girls’ school opened nearby and the school no longer took girls. By the end of the 19th century about 150 boys were educated at the school.

     The original building was on the north side of St Marychurch Street. The school moved to this building in 1795. The school provided an education for Rotherhithe children until 1939.

     The figures are of Portland stone and the children are wearing the traditional blue coats of charity schoolchildren, which gave the name "Bluecoats" to such schools. Beneath the statues is an inscription:


Free School founded by Peter Hill and Robert Bell Esqrs 1613

Charity school instituted 1742

Removed here 1797

Supported by voluntary contributions

Sources of Information:

• The Story of Rotherhithe by Stephen Humphrey. London Borough of Southwark. ISBN 0 905849 21 3

• Secret London Bluecoats. Pictures of these and other bluecoats statues in London.

www.stmaryrotherhithe.org St Mary’s Rotherhithe Parish Website. More information on Peter Hills and the school.



St. Mary the Virgin-Rotherhithe 


“……At this time the heart of the village of Rotherhithe was the parish church of St Mary the Virgin. There had possibly been a church on this site since Saxon times; the building standing in 1620 dated from at least the early 12th Century. The list of rectors goes back to 1282. The Church’s position on the river bank, made its tower a welcome landmark to homecoming sailors. The lovely building which stands on the same site today dates mainly from 1714, but a number of memorials preserved from the earlier church provide evidence that this was a parish of seafarers. A finely sculptured stone relief of a ship in full sail, nearly contemporary with the Mayflower, commemorates Captain Anthony Wood who died in 1625. The epitaph of Captain Roger Tweedy who died in 1655, leaving ‘Two Shillings every Lord’s day forever to be distributed among twelve poor seamen or seamen’s widows in bread’, is obviously that of a Rotherhithe Sailor:

‘His soul a ship with graces fully laded

Through surges deep did plough and safely waded.

At Rotherhithe he did at length arrive

And to their poor his tribute fully gives

And in this port he doth at anchor stay,

Hopefully expecting Resurrection’s day’.

Rotherhithe men who were not sailors were shipbuilders and their wooden sailing ships looked a fine sight at anchor in the Thames.  In 1612 Rotherhithe received recognition as an official centre of the shipwright’s craft when a charter was granted to ‘The Master, Wardens and Commonality of the Art or Mystery of Shipwrights of Redrith in the County of Surrey’.  Even in the 17th Century there was a dry dock at Rotherhithe. In 1700, the first of the great wet docks was constructed, known originally as the Howland Great Wet Dock after the Howland family who were the landowners at that time. Its purpose was to provide safe harbourage for ships, which had earlier been forced to anchor in mid river and suffer buffeting by storms. It came to be known by its present name, the Greenland dock, after 1725 when the South Sea Company leased it for the Greenland whaling trade. The other docks, which made up the 365 acres of the Surrey Commercial Docks, were constructed in the 19th Century.


We continued down Rotherhithe Street to its intersection with Swan Lane to find  “the most amazing statue of a time travelling pilgrim.”


You can just see the tall pilgrim hat at the end of the path….he looks like the Tin Man from a distance.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylBltWIX3Vg  is a very “home done” video but fun to watch.


Sunbeam Weakly and the Pilgrim’s Pocket by Peter McLean.

(The sculpture reads "Sunbeam Weakly" but the marker says "Sunshine Weekly." )

Judy, Helen, Warren and Randal

This photo was taken after lunch; some of our friends wanted to see the statue.

“The statue, “Sunbeam Weekly and the Pilgrim’s Pocket” stands on the walkway at Cumberland Wharf. The work is by Peter McClean, depicting a newsboy in 1930’s attire, reading a copy of the newspaper depicting the story of “The Mayflower” and all that has happened in the USA since those early days. The pilgrim is reading the paper over the boy’s shoulder, looking astonished at how the world has developed since he landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. The boy’s dog also appears to be trying to read the newspaper, standing on its hind legs.”  http://www.thamespathway.com/chapter13/rotherhithe.aspx


The young boy is reading a graphic novel! Sunbeam Weakly

“Created by local artist Peter McLean it was erected in 1991 and shows the ghost or spirit of a representative Pilgrim Father looking over the shoulder of a small boy in 1930s clothing, who is reading a magazine called the Sunbeam Weekly.  A dog stands on its hind legs, its front paws resting on the boy’s legs, looking as though it wants to be involved. It is a Staffordshire bull terrier which is particularly appropriate for this area, where every other dog seems to be a staffie.  All three stand between a gas lamp.”  http://russiadock.blogspot.co.uk/


Past and future…. The Mayflower on the Left and a good deal of New York City on the Right though maybe Boston would have been a more acurate location to se the future for the Mayflower pilgrims.


1620 London A to Z atlas, fish, cross, US button, Lobstah claw and under the letter A what might be a daggar?


Paintbrush, pliers, scissors, hammer head and knife  and the word WHY.


Converted wharehouse buildings line the Thames on both banks

“The sculpture is accompanied by an explanatory information board which has, understandably, deteriorated since the LDDC put it up some 20 years ago.  It needs replacing, because much of it is illegible, particularly in the section that covers the background details about sculptor Peter McLean.  The bits that can be deciphered are basically a CV of McLean’s college past and the galleries in which he exhibited, and doesn’t say anything about other items he produced.  However it also describes the brief to which McLean worked, which was to create something that reflected local heritage, to be figurative rather than abstract, and to aim for something light-hearted.”

http://russiadock.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/sunbeam-weekly-and-pilgrims-pocket.html   has more detailed photos than I am showing.


Plaque reads… Sunshine Weekly

Next email will be our visit to the Brunel Museum and Lunch at the Mayflower Pub

Happy Hanukkah too

Somehow I decided Hanukkah and Thanksgiving started on the same day….glad I just noticed this reminder from my sister.

So Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate!


Thanksgiving preview


   Well, it’s official!   Randal and I now own 100 acres of land on Little Brushy Mountain in Roanoke County, VA.  Something we can say Thanks for tomorrow.  That and good health and good families and good friends.   Of course, as we’re walking the 1 and ½ miles to and then back from the Mayflower Pub, we’d be thankful for a day of no rain.  The forecast is for clouds.

   This is what our day will be like.  Hope yours will be filled with family, friends and “only a little too much food!” 


Thanksgiving  in Rotherhithe – preview   (I’ll take photos tomorrow.)

Lunch at the Mayflower Pub and possible side trips to the Brunel Museum, the grave of Captain Christopher Jones and the “not what you expect”  Pilgrim statue. 

The Mayflower and the Pilgrim Fathers

One of Rotherhithe’s better known bits of history is its connection with the Pilgrim Fathers of the early 17th Century.  There are several visible memorials to this achievement:  The Mayflower pub, named after the ship that carried the Pilgrim Fathers to the New World, a blue plaque, an engraved tablet and a modern memorial to Mayflower’s master at St Mary’s Church, and a modern sculpture commemorating the event on the Thames path.


Sunbeam Weekly and the Pilgrim’s Pocket

The story of the connection between Rotherhithe and the Pilgrim Fathers was the subject of a post a few days ago.  The bronze statue group commemorating that link, called Sunbeam Weekly and the Pilgrim’s Pocket, sits on Rotherhithe Street at the end of Swan Lane and overlooking the Cumberland Wharf garden.   …….  http://russiadock.blogspot.co.uk/

The Brunel Museum in historic Rotherhithe is directly above the Thames Tunnel which opened 170 years ago in March this year. This is where Isambard Kingdom Brunel began his extraordinary career, aged nineteen years. Working with his father Sir Marc Brunel, he helped build the first tunnel under a river anywhere in the world.


Mayflower Pub Thanksgiving Menu  

117 Rotherhithe Street ♦ Rotherhithe ♦ London ♦ SE16 4NF ♦ 0207 237 4088


Sweet Potato and Corn Chowder

Main Dishes

Roast Turkey Served With Sweet Potato Mash and Seasonal Vegetables. (you had to let them know in advance; we opted for the Turkey.)


Roasted Vegetable Nut Roast Served With Sweet Potato Mash and Seasonal Vegetables V


Pumpkin Pie Served With Cream


Rumour has it, to avoid paying mooring taxes Christopher Jones tied up alongside the Mayflower pub and the passengers boarded the ship, which then sailed to Plymouth to pick up the remaining passengers before their voyage to America. 

Two Mice and a Piece of Cheese Philpot Lane London


    While reading about The Monument to the Great Fire I’d read about the tiny mice sculpture not far from The Monument.  Monday afternoon I went to find the “insect hotel” at St. Dunstan that I’d missed the first 2 visits and then to look for the two mice.  I finally had the location; Philpot Lane off Cheapside,  just near the Nero coffee shop.  Lucky for me the construction just a bit further along on Philpot Lane was a bit further along Philpot Lane and not obscuring the tiny mice.  However I’d never have found them had not a very kind bright green-jacketed city worker pointed them out to me.  I could tell it was a treat for him to show me exactly where to look; they really are quite small.  Luckily I didn’t say, “Good grief, they’ve made such a stir for being so tiny,” which was what I was thinking.  But when he asked if I knew the story about the mice, I said yes.  Later I could have kicked myself because, though I did know the story, it would have been such fun to hear him tell it.  Fun for both of us.  Next time I’ll pretend I don’t know the story and just enjoy the retelling.  I actually had been in a hurry to get to the 3 Store to buy more internet time for Randal’s dongle, but I really am sorry I rushed off.   After I’d taken my mice photos I went to find my “guide” to take his photo, but he had gone on to other tasks.     So here’s the story of the mice.


  “Not far from the northern end of London Bridge, in the capital’s historic centre, you’ll find a short street called ‘Philpot Lane.’

     Named after Sir John Philpot (Lord Mayor of London (between 1378-1379), Philpot Lane links Eastcheap and Fenchurch Street.

     It is also home to London’s tiniest public statue; ‘The Two Mice Eating Cheese.’

These two small fellows can be found half-way up a building which sits on the south-eastern corner of Philpot Lane, just by the junction with Eastcheap.

Details of who created these critters, and when they were placed here are pretty much non-existent. However, one thing is certain- these two wee mice are a memorial to two builders who died nearby…

     The builders in question were working on ‘The Monument’; a towering column which stands on the junction of Fish Street Hill and Monument Street, about 400 ft. away from Philpot Lane. (The Great Fire Monument that I climbed.)

     At some point during the Monument’s construction, the two builders mentioned earlier sat down to enjoy their packed-lunch of bread and cheese.

     Clearly having a head for heights, the two men- who were sound friends by all accounts- were content to sit at their workplace; perched on a high scaffold (in those days of course, health and safety was unheard of. Workers on the Monument weren’t even required to wear hard-hats and hi-vis jackets!)

    However, something was amiss… one of the men’s sarnies had been nibbled away to almost nothing!

What’s a Sarnie?

Sorry love, a sarnie is a British term for sandwich! Come on in and try our delicious sandwiches, soups and salads try our chips (crisps) and stay for a cookie (biscuit). http://www.jbsarnieshoppe.com/

For some reason, the victim of this food theft immediately blamed his mate sitting beside him and a fight broke out- not wise when you’re poised so high up.

     Trading punches, the unfortunate pair lost their footing and plunged to the ground, both being killed instantly.

It was only later, after similar disappearances of bread and cheese, that the real culprits were discovered:

    An infestation of tiny mice.



23 Cheapside : Intersection of Philpot Lane (Left) and Cheapside (Right)

“Up to the 12th century, for those living and working in the City of London, Cheapside (‘cheap’ meaning market) was the major of two markets and the names of the streets that lead off it reflect the trades that flourished there – Wood Street, Milk Street, Bread Street, Honey Lane, Poultry and Friday Street (for fish).” http://www.onenewchange.com/

One Poultry Place was part of our walking tour so more about that another time.  It is also where the Boots optemetric shop is located and where I finally got my glasses put back together. 


Just past the Nero sign on Philpot Lane



Very tiny indeed!   And a very terrible recent paint job!

Compare my photo I took today with the one below, you can see the lower mouse’s tail and the upper mouse’s leg and foot have been covered with white paint.  The photo below was from a blog entry in 2011. 


“The mice are still fighting over a piece of cheese on the Philpot Lane side of 23 Eastcheap. They apparently date from 1862 when  the building was constructed for the spice merchants Messrs Hunt & Crombie by John Young & Son.  I can’t think of another piece of Victorian street art in London, so if the Bourchier Street  Pig now claims the crown of smallest sculpture, perhaps the mice can go for the “Oldest Street Art” title instead.”


http://www.peterberthoud.co.uk/2011/04/pig-on-a-tile-in-bourchier-street-2/   shows the small plastic pink pig that eventually disappeared so I really I don’t think it counts and the mice still win.

And the mouse sculpture I haven’t yet seen……..

Further south, on a quiet stretch of the Thames Path near Rotherhithe, another rodent is easily overlooked. A menagerie of bronze animals ambles towards Surrey Docks Farm: there’s a family of pigs snuffling the ground, a fox prowling behind some waddling geese, and a couple of goats gazing blankly ahead, as goats always do. But, over on the Thames wall, there’s an odd little raised bump. On closer inspection, it becomes apparent that it’s not even big enough for a bump; it’s more of a blip. It’s a perfectly modelled bronze mouse.


Public Art

   Among the hidden delights of the area along the riverside or by the ponds in the Surrey Docks is a charming series of sculptures by established artists, commissioned by the LDDC and each specifically linked with the history or attractions of the area.   At Cumberland Wharf, near the Mayflower pub, "The Bermondsey Lad and The Sunbeam Weekly", a series of three bronze figures – a Pilgrim Father, a small boy and a bull terrier – by Peter McLean refers to the Pilgrim Fathers who set sail for the New World from here in 1620.  Philip Bews’ Deal Porters at Canada Water recalls the agile men who unloaded deal (timber) from the ships in the local docks while on the top of Stave Hill a Bas Relief by Michael Rizzello depicts the Surrey Commercial Docks as they were in 1896 – after a shower of rain the "docks" fill with water.   At Barnards Wharf a cavalcade of farmyard animals by a variety of artists including pigs, a donkey, goats, geese, an owl and a mouse parades along the riverside towards Surrey Docks Urban Farm.


St Dunstan in the East, 3rd stop on The Square Mile Tour


  So, how ‘bout them Pats?   I don’t faithfully follow Patriots football and I’m not a Tom Brady fan, but my friend Bruce has season tickets so I’m very happy for him. 

The third stop on our Square Mile tour was St. Dunstan-in-the-East.  Most of the “already ailing” church was damaged so heavily in the blitz that it was not rebuilt.  However, the “Wren” tower still remains and the open space has been designed into a city garden with an “insect hotel.”  The Wren alternative medicines clinic is now located in the small building in the garden just next to the tower.    I’ve put “Wren” in quotes as no one is absolutely sure how much input Christopher Wren had with all of these towers as he was very busy with the rebuilding of St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Kathy, the church watcher I met at St Mary-at-Hill says they now use the phrase “the Christopher Wren influenced church.”  I still have a few unanswered questions about St. Dunstan tower and garden, but for now, I’m done.  It’s not the best time for garden visits, and I’m no flower or tree expert, so I can’t point out the Virginia Creeper or the Drimy Winteri mentioned in the information about the garden.  But it is a lovely space for a quite sit or brown bag lunch.

    While I was reading about St. Dunstan I learned there were  British kings named  Eadred,  and  Eadwig.  Who knew?    And in case you were going to ask, there is a St. Dunstan-in-the-west.  (Like the witches in the Wizard of Oz.)   http://www.stdunstaninthewest.org/  is a place I might have to visit for one of their lunch time recitals.  Many churches offer these lunchtime treats; I attended one at St. Olave just near here.  


“You really will feel secluded in this gem of a City Garden. Those with green fingers will appreciate the range of plants wending their way around the ruins: the walls and majestic windows have been draped and decorated over time with virginia creeper and ornamental vine, vitis coignetiae, which turns crimson in the autumn. Exotic plants such as the pineapple-scented Moroccan broom, cytisus battandieri, and the new zealand flax, phormium both thrive here in the sheltered conditions.  An unusual plant in the lower garden is winter’s bark, drimy winteri.  Its leaves are high in Vitamin C and were once eaten to prevent scurvy.  Near to the fountain is a japanese snowball, viburnum plicatum, whose blossom in late spring is breath-taking.


A beautiful tucked away green space of high ecological value with climbers adorning the historic walls and wildlife including robins and great tits are among the regular visitors to the site. Look out for the winning Insect Hotel built within the garden as part of the 2010 Beyond the Hive competition.​​”

Published:10 May 2012 Last Modified:07 November 2013



Information about St. Dunstan and the church follow the photos.

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London Garden Square Competition awards over the years.



Insect hotel

“Two legs good, six legs better!”


“The Insect Hotel is a classic take on the structure of an urban hotel with multiple levels and a interesting facade based on a Voronoi pattern. The hotel is constructed from 25 layers of birch plywood with voids cut out using CNC, which will be loosely stuffed with recycled waste materials and deadfall for various bugs to make their way into. The sides of the hotel are accessible for butterflies and moths, and the top is suitable for absorbing rain water through planting. The Insect Hotel is found at St. Dunstan’s in the East “ http://www.waymarking.com/

Arup Associates http://www.arupassociates.com/en/projects/insect-hotel/  design for a hotel for insects was the competition winning entry in ‘Beyond the Hive’, Sponsored by British Land and the City of London to celebrate 2010 as the International year of Biodiversity.

     Selected from five shortlisted hotels that were built and placed in parks around London, the jury included Paul Finch; Sarah Henshall; Adrian Penfold, Head of Planning & Environment, British Land; Peter Wynne Rees, the City Planning Officer; and architect Graham Stirk.

     Insects prefer habitats that are essentially neglected. Different varieties of insect require different habitats and environmental conditions to survive, so the challenge of designing an Insect Hotel is to cater for as many of these conditions and contexts as possible. These habitats generally consist of the detritus of the natural and man-made world comprising of organic and inorganic materials most of which can be procured from waste management or garden sources.

     Most simple insect hotels may be constructed in a very straightforward way from an assemblage of materials stacked together aided by an armature structure, that contains the disparate materials. Stacked timber palettes containing a variety of deadfall and inorganic waste is an example of this approach.

    As the objective of the City of London Corporation’s Brief suggests that the hotel is also ‘visually engaging and a well-crafted object’ and ‘enhances its setting and complementing the garden’ as well as having utility and corresponding to a defined volume, a more sophisticated version suitable for the vicissitudes of a London Park and the more critical eye of the human inhabitants.


http://inhabitat.com/   for additional information.



The Wren Clinic


The Wren Clinic, EC3

Hello and welcome to the Wren.   Approaching our 21st year, we are one of the longest established complementary health clinics in the City of London. Our practitioners are all highly trained, have generally been qualified and in practice for more than three years, and many of them are involved in coaching and teaching.

Address:   Idol Lane  London, London City of EC3R 5DD



Acupuncture, Alexander Technique, Allergy Testing/Treatment, Aromatherapy, Beauty Therapy, Bowen Technique, Chinese Herbal Medicine TCM, Chiropody/Podiatry, Counselling, Cranio Sacral, Life Coaching, McTimoney Chiropractic, NLP Therapy, Nutrition, Osteopathy, Pyschotherapy, Reflexology, Reiki, Shiatsu, Sports Massage


The Clinic is located in the building adjacent to the tower. 

  “Tower, 1698, by Wren.  Large, Portland stone structure in gothic style. 3 main stages, Diagonal buttresses rising to octagonal turrets with large finials. Smaller finials between. Stone spire supported on open diagonal arches. Enriched doorways to west and south. North side now obscured by low building. East side rendered where formerly within church. Fine gates and railings to both doorways. Body of church, 1817-18, by David Laing. Destroyed except for walls in World War II. Gothic style with buttresses, traceried windows pinnacles etc. Yellow brick faced externally in Portland stone. North-east vestry. East wall reduced to sill level in centre.

Listing NGR: TQ3314980718

Selected Sources

Legacy Record – This information may be included in the List Entry Details

National Grid Reference: TQ 33149 80718

7 days a week throughout the year 8am – 7pm or dusk – whichever is earlier.”


Additional Information about the Church, the affiliated school that once had been here, and  Saint Dunstan.

According to the plaque on the site, a church has been here from ancient times, with a large churchyard by 1193/4. In 1366 the church required rebuilding but the Archbishop had to compel parishioners to contribute to the costs. In 1417 it closed temporarily after a fatal brawl, and in the 1450s a school was set up in the church. The building suffered damage in the Great Fire of 1666, after which the shell of the church was repaired through a private benefactor by Christopher Wren in 1695-1701. Wren re-built the tower and steeple, possibly assisted by Nicholas Hawksmoor. The church was in a bad state by the early C19th and was later rebuilt in 1817-21 by David Laing, but it was destroyed by enemy action in 1941 and little survived although the spire was reconstructed in 1953 and the tower restored in 1970-72 by Seely and Paget Partnership for use as offices.

The Corporation of London had acquired the church ruins in 1967 and these and the former churchyard were incorporated into a well-designed garden on several levels, which includes a circular cobbled area with a central fountain. Unusual trees, shrubs, flowers and climbers grow among the ruined arches and tracery. It was the largest garden to be created by the Corporation of London in the City in the C20th and was opened by the Rt. Hon the Lord Mayor Sir Peter Studd on 21 June 1971. The walls, gates and railings to the churchyard are of the Wren period. The tower and adjoining All Hallows House are now used as a complementary medicine centre and form part of the parish of All Hallows by the Tower (q.v.).

In 2010 the City of London and British Land collaborated in ‘Beyond the Hive’, an architectural competition to celebrate the International Year of Biodiversity. The design brief called for proposals for ‘Insect Hotels’: ecologically sustainable and creative insect habitats, and resulted in five finalists. The winning entries were built during June 2010 in 5 public gardens in the City: Bunhill Fields, Cleary Garden, Postman’s Park, West Smithfield Garden (q.q.v.) and here in St Dunstan-in-the-East.


The Church

This medieval church was devastated with bombs in World War II, leaving the interior just an empty shell.

But the ruins and the Wren Tower have become dramatic frames for the imaginative planting of wall shrubs and climbers.

This is an extraordinary example of a small space in the City, which makes the maximum use of scarce resources.

The City of London Architects and Parks Departments won a Landscape Heritage Award in 1976 for their imaginative work off Roehampton Lane.

This green oasis is busy on weekday lunchtimes with office workers eating their lunches, but becomes eerily quiet at weekends.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/england/sevenwonders/london/city_gardens/

Related church history from St. Dunstan College

The Foundation has its origins in the parish of St Dunstan-in-the-East, established on St Dunstan’s Hill in the City of London.

     A Christian church has probably stood on this site since the Roman occupation. The oldest remaining written record dates from 1272, the vestry "Grete Book", having been lost in the Fire of London.

     In 1446 a writ of Privy Seal addressed to the Chancellor, stated that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London,

    ‘considering the great abusions that have been of long time within our citee of London that many and diverse person not sufficiently instruct in gramer presumynge to hold comune grammer scholes, in great deceipte as well unto theire scholers as unto the frendes that fynde them to schole’, had ‘of their great wisdome set and ordeigned five scholes of gramer and no moo, one within the church yard of St Pauls, a second at St Martin Le Grande, another at Bow Church in Cheapside, another at St Dunstan-in-the-East and the fifth at the Hospital of St Anthony’.

The Chancellor was ordered to "Command all lige subjects not to trouble or impeche the maisters of the said scols, but rather helpe and assiste inasmoch as in them is."

By 1865 it was agreed to use the majority of the endowments of the parish to provide a new school on parish land elsewhere. "Owing to the enormous prices of London ground suitable and the very signifcant tendancy of large London schools to move out from the centre, the school should be placed at such a convenient distance from London as to be accessible by railway and that it should therefore be built on the Charity Estate at Catford Bridge in the Parish of Lewisham contiguous to a station on the Mid-Kent-Line of the Southeastern Railway Company, whereby proper play grounds would be secured for recreation and the remaining portion of the estate very greatly improved for building purposes…to engage first class talent in Masters and to supply First-Class education to the pupils adapted to the circumstances and the wants of the present day".  http://www.stdunstans.org.uk/history

Saint Dunstan


At A Glance

•Bishop of Worcester

•Archbishop of Canterbury

•Patron saint of: Armourers and gunsmiths

•Born 909; Died May 19, 988

•Feast Day: May 19

•Symbol: smith’s tongs, and a dove

Saint Dunstan is fairly unusual among Anglo-Saxon saints in that we know where, if not precisely when, he was born. Dunstan was born in the village of Baltonsborough, Somerset, just a few miles south of Glastonbury, probably about the year 909 or 910. [Note: the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle gives the birth date as 925]. His father Heorstan was a Wessex nobleman of royal blood, and his family connections were to be of great benefit to him in his later career in the church. Glastonbury was at that time a popular place for Christian pilgrimage; folk traditions told that it was the first place of Christian settlement in Britain, and associated it with Joseph of Arimathea and Jesus himself.

Glastonbury Abbey

     The Abbey at Glastonbury was a centre of learning, and housed scholars from as far away as Ireland. The young Dunstan was educated at Glastonbury and then joined his uncle Athelm, Archbishop of Canterbury, at the royal court of King Athelstan.

     Dunstan took to the monastic life much later than most; taking holy orders in 943, when he may already have reached 34 years. Apparently he was at first disinclined to a life in the church, but a skin disease which he feared might be leprosy made him change his mind.

     After taking orders Dunstan returned to Glastonbury and built himself a small cell (i.e. a hut) beside the Abbey church. There he lived a simple life of manual labour and devotion. He soon showed great skill in the arts of metalworking, and he used his skills to craft bells and vessels for the church.

     But his life was not to stay simple for long; Athelstan died, and his successor Edmund called Dunstan to his court to act as a priest. After a short period at court, Edmund named Dunstan Abbot of Glastonbury.

     So once more Dunstan returned to the place of his birth, this time on a mission to reinvigorate the abbey. He instituted the strict Benedictine Rule, rebuilt and enlarged the church buildings, and established Glastonbury as a leading centre of learning and scholasticism. The effect of Dunstan’s reforms, and in particular his efforts to produce a class of educated clerics, did much to encourage the growth of monastic settlements throughout Britain.

     Dunstan acted as a royal advisor and negotiator for Edmund and his successor Eadred, and helped establish a period of peace from Danish attack. Unfortunately in 955 Dunstan’s zeal got him into trouble when he reproved young King Eadwig for moral laxity. Eadwig promptly confiscated Dunstan’s property and exiled the monk.

Dunstan found shelter at the monastery of Ghent, in modern Belgium, but he was quickly called back to Britain by Edgar, king of Northumbria and Mercia.

Edgar shared Dunstan’s monastic zeal, and together they put considerable energy into monastic reform and expansion. Under Edgar’s influence Dunstan became Bishop of Worcester, and when Eadwig considerately died in 960, Dunstan was named Archbishop of Canterbury.

     In this post Dunstan carried on his work of encouraging scholarship and monastic settlements. He also oversaw every detail of Edgar’s coronation as king.

     It is said that he designed the coronation crown himself, and more importantly, that he altered the ceremony to put emphasis on the bond between church and monarch; making the coronation a sacred act, emulating the ceremony of consecration for priests. Dunstan’s coronation ceremony still forms the basis of royal coronations today.

     When Edgar died, Dunstan carried on as advisor to his son Edward, but when Edward was murdered in 978 to make way for his brother Ethelred, Dunstan retired from court life. He lived on at Canterbury, delighting in teaching the young and only rarely troubling to involve himself in the politics of the realm.

     When he died in 988 Dunstan was buried in his cathedral, where his tomb was a popular place of pilgrimage throughout the Middle Ages. Until Thomas a Becket later eclipsed Dunstan’s fame he was the most popular English saint.   http://www.britainexpress.com/History/saxon/dunstan.htm

“Our historic home”  from the Wren Clinic website  with some interesting tidbits about St. Dunstan

By admin, on December 13th, 2012

Is attributed to Sir Christopher Wren, the King’s Architect, but was possibly designed by Robert Hooke, Surveyor to the City of London – the first person to demonstrate an artificial lung, blood transfusion and the modern model of memory.

     St Dunstan’s in the East was built following the Great Fire of London. A church was first built on this site in Saxon times, and was restored by St Dunstan in 950. The mediaeval church was destroyed during the Great Fire of London in 1666, which started only four streets away in Pudding Lane.  St Dunstans was rebuilt between 1697 and 1702. Only the tower remains of the ‘Wren’ church.

    The body of the church was demolished and rebuilt by David Laing in 1817 in the gothic revival style.

St Dunstan’s was badly damaged in 1941 during the Blitz of World War II. The restored tower also retains a consecrated chapel in which services can be held. The walls of the nave were left standing, within which the City Corporation have created a beautiful garden with seating and a fountain for visitors.

    St Dunstan

St Dunstan was born near Glastonbury early in the tenth century and lived during a period of monastic revival after the defeat of the Danes. While a Benedictine monk at Glastonbury, he became skilled in the crafts, particularly metalwork, which may explain why the Goldsmiths’ Company chose him as its patron saint. Besides being an accomplished musician and illuminator, Dunstan was also reputed to have been interested in science, concocting brews liable to explode! This possibly gave rise to the legend of his meeting with the devil, whose nose he is said to have seized with a pair of tongs.

Hence the tongs borne by sculptured angels over the altar of the Chapel of Ease on Idol Lane.

St Dunstan was made Abbot of Glastonbury in 940 and from 960 when he became Archbishop of Canterbury, he exercised great influence over King Edgar and his court. He was canonised shortly after his death in Canterbury in 988. http://www.wrenclinic.co.uk/2012/our-historic-home/

( I didn’t know about the sculptured angels or the Chapel of Ease, so one day I’ll go back and see if I can find them.)

A quirky story about St. Dunstan from a person named Sarah Boulton

On 19th March 2013 I attended an appointment under the name Isabelle Boulton at the Wren Clinic, a health and nutritional centre based in the bell tower of 11th Century church, St Dunstan in the East.

In 1970, the bells were removed from this bell tower. The former bells are said by many to have rung out the most beautiful sound of all the churches in London. After months of attempting to find a ‘live’ partner church – whose bells I might record to make into a sonic gift for St Dunstan – as well as gaining permission to then play this gift inside the bell tower (or at least even just the into the gardens!), i was met with a resounding ‘no’.

Eventually I found a sound recording made in 1970: on the very last day that the bells were installed in their tower. So I set this as my phone’s ringtone, entered into the Wren Clinic with my phone in my coat pocket, climbed to the top of the stairs and hoped that my phone might ring  http://www.sarah-boulton.co.uk/

St Mary At Hill


   First I want to thank those of you who have posted in response to my Facebook posting.  I normally don’t post on Facebook, but as no good deed goes unpunished….   One of my former co-workers has in the past had technology projects that need participants.    When she sent me that Facebook plea, I thought it was part of a project she needed to do.  Wrong!  I emailed her to ask about it once I started getting email notices about Facebook postings….  This is her response. 

That’s too funny about the Facebook request!  I only did it because ……had posted it to her wall, and I know she’s kind of new to FB, so I answered it because it sounded so sad ("Nobody ever reads this…").  Then I saw that you’re supposed to re-post on your own wall.  I usually ignore these kinds of things!  HA! 

So that’s what happened.  I have no clue how to use Facebook and now it’s especially evident that I should just stick to our website and email and that’s about it.  To quote my “not to be named pal, HA !!”

Now for this email about St. Mary at Hill which I’ve been calling St. Mary on Hill.  I’ve had a lovely time revisiting the church and learning lots about it.  I’d planned to include St Dunstan in the East with this email, but it’s already so long and overloaded that I’ll stop now.  I can’t wait to start in on St Dunstan; who knows what I’ll learn about that.


St Dunstan in the Eanst and  St. Mary-At- Hill and Lovat Lane

     We visited St Mary’s on Hill St. and St. Dunstan in the East  during our Square Mile walk with www.walks.com .  They were actually the 2nd and 3rd stops on the walk after our visit to The Monument to the Great Fire.   Simon, our guide, would talk about the church history;  its relation to The Great Fire, rebuilding by Christopher Wren and its survival through or destruction from bombings during WW 2.  As usual I half-listened while taking lots of photos.  This week I revisited both St. Mary’s on Hill and St Dunstan to “get the rest of the story.” 


Our stop at St. Mary’s on Hill

Our guide Simon was very theatrical in his storytelling.  I read that many of the www.walks.com guides are actors in their other lives.

  The  reason for my returning to St. Mary’s on Hill was to learn more about the skull and crossbones over the alley entrance attached to the church.   Once St. Mary’s had included a grave yard.  (More about that later.)  But I thought Simon had said the skull and crossbones represented cemeteries where plague victims had been buried.    I still don’t know the whole answer.



St Mary at Hill on the street of the same name

The clock is the church clock and the alley way is closed off and filled with bags of construction materials.

“All that we have to remind us of this last of a series of plagues is the old burial grounds, over the entrance to which may be seen the sculptured representation of skull and cross-bones distinguishing the sites of the plague cemeteries . http://www.sacred-texts.com/etc/fcod/fcod13.htm (But this is the only reference I found to plague cemeteries and skull and crossbones.)


St Mary at Hill tower

Lovat Lane



A millennium of ministry

St Mary-at-Hill has served in the Parish of Billingsgate for nearly a thousand years.  An ‘ancient church’ on this site is mentioned in a legal document dated 1177, so we can conjecture with some certainty that a church dedicated to St Mary the Virgin has stood here since at least the end of the 11th Century. Billingsgate Quay was an important harbour in the 10th and 11th centuries. The route north into the old city would have led past the church. The steep rise of the way up from the river gave it the name of St Mary at or on the Hill. The original church was no doubt smaller than the present building which has been extended, altered and renovated throughout its history. The Churchwardens’ accounts from the C15th inform us that by then it had side chapels dedicated to St Stephen, St Katherine, St Ann and St Christopher.

     Ancient Graves

Burials within the Church and in the Chapels were for the wealthy, as they were charged at 16s 8d, while internment in the Great Churchyard to the North cost just 8d. This is now a pretty courtyard garden. It was closed for burials in May 1846 and all human remains were carefully removed to West Norwood cemetery. The church crypt and vaults were similarly emptied of human remains (some 3,000 in all) between 1892-94.  Some slabs and memorials remain, but there are no skeletons below. Museum of London excavations have found traces of much earlier graves on the site, confirming that the area was part of the Roman city as well as the later Anglo-Saxon settlement.

     16th & 17th Centuries

The Church Bells of the tower and steeple (replaced in 1787-9 by Gwilt’s square brick tower) were rung for the crowning of Henry VIII in 1509. During the later years of Henry’s reign, the English Church renounced the primacy of Rome. The Civil War raged between 1642-51 and six years after the Restoration of the Monarchy, with the City still reeling from losing 1 in 5 of its inhabitants to the Plague, the Great Fire of London (1666) started in Pudding Lane, a stone’s throw away from St Mary-at-Hill.

     Renovation after the Great Fire

The overall plans for restoring the City churches were famously orchestrated by Dr (later Sir) Christopher Wren, but it may have been the somewhat overlooked genius, Robert Hooke, who supervised the rebuilding of St Mary’s while Wren was concentrating on St Paul’s.  It is a matter of record that Hooke was responsible for building the internal wall under the tower, at the west end.  The Fire had consumed the interior of the church leaving only parts of the walls and the brick work of the tower. Utilizing the previous fabric as far as possible, the original north and south walls were reconstructed, but the building was extended a little to the east.  An ornate main frontage of exposed stone was built on St Mary at Hill. There were three windows – mullioned and transomed.  (The central window was blocked in 1767). The North and South windows were restored in Gothic style and doors retained in both walls. St Mary-at-Hill was one of the first churches rebuilt after the Fire, and was completed in 1677 at a cost of £3,980.



Church entrance and small garden


Notice of the closing of the cemetery in 1846. 

All human remains were removed from the cemetery and the vaults and crypts and were reinterred  in the West Norwood Cemetery.


“A carved bas-relief in stone of the Resurrection, formerly over the gateway in Love Lane, is now in the N.W. vestibule.” http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=120246

Fittings—All of late 17th-century date unless otherwise described, but much of the wood-work was altered and added to in 1848–9 by the woodcarver W. Gibbs Rogers, whose work is so like its original as to render the age of many of the fittings, in whole or in part, doubtful. Chairs:  two, partly repaired, with carved and pierced backs, enriched arms, carved legs, shaped stretchers, and twisted front posts. Clock-case: projecting from S.E. angle of church, square case with carved spandrels, moulded cornice and pediment, carved supporting beam with carved truss below. Communion Table: with five legs carved and twisted at the top, curved stretchers and moulded and enriched top. Communion Rails: with carved and twisted balusters and flat carved standards, quadrant-shaped angles and carved top rail. Doors: In centre of vestibule under gallery, panelled door to screen. In vestry—two panelled doors.  A carved bas-relief in stone of the Resurrection, formerly over the gateway in Love Lane, is now in the N.W. vestibule. Font: octagonal white marble bowl with reeded enrichment, baluster-stem with acanthus-enrichment, black marble base. Carved oak cover with cherub-heads and swags, ogee-shaped upper part with enriched angles and terminal. Gallery: Organgallery at W. end approached by a staircase from the N. vestibule, with turned and twisted balusters. The panels of the front have modern carving. It is brought forward in the centre for organist’s seat. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: On N. wall, (1) to John Woods, 1658, Anne (Burnet) his first wife, 1645, and John his son, 1670, marble tablet with Corinthian side columns, entablature, broken segmental pediment with cherubs supporting cartouche-of-arms. On S. wall, (2) to John Harvey, 1700, marble cartouche (Plate 26) with drapery, shield-of-arms and cherub head; (3) to Thomas Dovall and Anna (Potts) his wife, 1700, marble wall-monument (Plate 25) with Composite side-pilasters, draped segmental pediment, achievement-of-arms, etc.; (4) to Charles Vickars 1712–3, marble draped cartouche with cherub-heads and shield-of-arms. In N. vestibule —on N. wall, (5) to Isaac Milner, 1713, marble tablet with Composite side-columns, entablature, segmental pediment with urn and achievement-of-arms. In S. vestibule—on S. wall, formerly in St. George Botolph Lane, (6) to Daniel Wigfall, 1698–9, marble cartouche with drapery, cherub-head and shield-of-arms. Floor-slabs: In middle aisle— (1) to John Knapp, 1708, and Mary (Brownrigg) his wife, 1711, with shield-of-arms. In vestibule— (2) to Samuel Leadbeater, 1710. Panelling: panelled wainscot all round church, three panels high, with some modern work. The vestry has panelling two panels high and a moulded architrave and cornice to the fireplace. Plate: includes two cups and cover-patens, one of 1576 and inscribed Thomas Lorimar, the other of 1587, two tankards of 1637, a paten and dish both of 1684, and a sealhead spoon of the same date. Reredos: of three bays, middle bay flanked by Corinthian columns supporting an enriched cornice and round arch and enclosing two enriched round-headed panels, painted cherubs above heads of panels, and below panels a third panel carved with foliage, fruit, flowers and a crown; above arch, a segmental pediment with cherub-heads and a book in the tympanum; side bays each with enriched panels, the lower one carved with swag and crown, frieze carved with swags and wreath. Royal Arms: Stuart (Plate 16), in centre of gallery front, a second of same date at W. end, from St. George Botolph Lane. Screens: Under gallery, in middle of vestibule—with Corinthian pilasters flanking doorway and supporting an enriched entablature with cherub-heads on the frieze; E. side panelled and finished with a coved and enriched cornice. Under gallery, at N. and S. ends—panelled, that on N. with names of churchwardens, Thomas Beckford and Henry Loades and date 1672. Seating: Under gallery—churchwardens’ pews have four posts, with old carving in front, supporting the gallery.



I found this a very interesting corner…..

The large plaque to the left…..

John Crane died in 1823 at the age of 86.  His wife Elizabeth died in 1819 at the age of 91

John was interred in the south aisle of the church.  At his death the bulk of his estate went to his poor relations.  Elizabeth and their infant son who died in infancy were buried with John.

The plaque says that his executors erected this monument. 

(If I’ve read my photo correctly, John died at 86 and Elizabeth at 91.  So why is it we say we’re living longer?    It also, if I’ve done my math correctly tells us she was 19 years older than he when they married.)

Reference:   PROB 11/1668/305

Description:  Will of John Crane, Merchant of Croydon , Surrey

Date: 04 April 1823

Held by:  The National Archives, Kew

Legal status: Public Record

I might just have to go find this…..

The curved top plaque is in Latin so I give up..

Plaque beneath is in memory of a 16 year old boy

In memory of James Hogarth, son of George and Jane Hogarth, Aberdeen who died May 26th, 1816; aged 16 years.  This tablet is inscribed by his disconsolate parents.    This is sadly very similar to the Roman stone memorial commissioned by the mother at the death of her 15 year old son that is in the All Hallows Undercroft.


Burial slabs indicating who had once been buried here.


Lunchtime Recitals  each week at 1.05pm : The piano is in the left hand corner where those people are seated.  But you can’t see the piano behind the pole.

     There was some type of production about to use the church so the altar was moved and that blue screen set up for filming. 

November 21  was Masachi Nishiyama  at the Piano  but I didn’t stay as I’d other places to visit and didn’t want to walk out mid performance.

November 28


Flute & Organ Duo

Ruth Stockdale & Robert Smith

     “Our lunchtime recitals are informal affairs. It is acceptable to come and go during the playing, and you are welcome to bring your sandwiches into the Church – a precedent set under Prebendary Wilson Carlile, founder of the Church Army* and Rector of St Mary’s at the turn of the 19th-20th century  (for working people who had brought food from home to eat and had no place else to go I was told by Kathy, the Church watcher.)

     Musicians from all over the world perform at St Mary-at-Hill. There is no charge for these events, but we suggest and appreciate a donation of perhaps £5.00

     Performances now include Monday and Friday recitals arranged by St Anne’s Lutheran Church and Music Society who brew and serve coffee, to enjoy with the music.“ 


•Is a part of the ministry of the Anglican Church and is NOT affiliated with the Salvation Army or Jesus Army.  http://www.churcharmy.org.uk/pub/aboutus/FactsAndFigures.aspx

    “An amazing musical event took place at St. Anne and St. Agnes, the Lutheran church in the City of London, on July 28, 2004, the 254th anniversary of the death of Johann Sebastian Bach. “

http://www.nextreads.com/display2.aspx?recid=6943877&FC=1   fascinating reading for Bach lovers. 


“After a fire in 1848, the ceiling was renewed and the interior remodeled under James Savage, architect.

http://www.stmary-at-hill.org/gallery.php  gallery shows the church interior as it normally appears.


“Saint Mary-at-Hill boasts what has been described as one of the ten most important organs in the history of British organ building.”  Church leaflet

“On 10 May 1988, a disastrous fire in the church of St Mary at Hill in the City of London destroyed most of the roof of the building as well as much of the interior and parts of the organ. The picture below gives a good impression of the damage to both the building and the organ.”

http://www.mander-organs.com/portfolio/st-maryhill.html  tells the story the organ and its reconstruction which is really quite interesting. 


Church watchers Maryanne (L) and Kathy (R)

I had a lovely chat with Kathy who told me about the church but discovering we both grew up in New England was the most fun.  She was from Connecticut but had gone to college at Tufts in Boston.  I was duly impressed that she had graduated from Tufts and she was duly impressed that I lived at St Katharine Docks. 


Church sharing : Lutheran services in English and Swahilli

St Mary at Hill is and Anglican Church. 

Toilet Twinning

While reading the St Mary at Hill website I came across this note…………of all places for me to have missed when I usually know everyplace possible to use the loo while out and about.  I’ll have to go back, listen to a lunchtime concert and use the loo.

Do note the pictures in our toilets which are twinned with loos in the Congo. 

See website to read about sanitation.

If the loos are shut, just ask for them to be opened 


http://www.toilettwinning.org/what-is-toilet-twinning/   explains Toilet Twinning which brings sanitation to third world countries. 


Lovat Lane

   “Plague and fire did for medieval London, but the city that rose in its place was built on the old street patterns. The names, even the cobbles, remain – Lovat Lane, for example, where the old surface is barely the width of a plague cart’s wheelbase and the gutter still runs down the middle. “


Lovat Lane, EC3

An endearingly curving and cobbled lane between Monument Street and Great Tower Street, Lovat Lane contains the church of St Mary-At-Hill, known for its ornate gold and blue clock and which was feted by Sir John Betjeman, ‘This is the least spoiled and the most gorgeous interior in the City, all the more exciting by being hidden away among cobbled alleys, paved passages, brick walls, overhung by plane trees.’ Lovat Lane has that slightly Mediterranean feel to it and there are a couple of café restaurants with outside tables to capitalise on this, though we thought we’d wait for slightly more clement weather. Just across the road on the side of the Philpot Lane Café Nero building is the tiny carving of two mice eating a piece of cheese so grab the chance to go and have a look. (My next assignment is to see the twinned loo and find the mice eating cheese now I know where they are.)


“…… Dickens saw the City of London change from being a place where people lived to one where people only worked, as it was gradually taken over by the banks, law firms and financial institutions.  The walk began in Billingsgate at the church of St Mary at Hill which is squeezed into a small site surrounded by Victorian office buildings.    There is a tiny churchyard with some gravestones – but no dead are buried here.  Parliament outlawed new burials in the City of London in Dickens’ day, forcing the closure of its churchyards to new burials.  It’s a symbol of the way in which the City was turning into ‘a city of the dead, with the living just coming in to work’.  As a child, Dickens experienced the City as a kind of village community; by the time he died, 80% of the population were gone, replaced by office blocks and warehouses. http://gerryco23.wordpress.com/

All Hallows: The Undercroft


   Well maybe cheers isn’t the right way to start on the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Assassination.  I believe history would have been different. 

This is email is about All Hallows Undercroft.    I should have mentioned in the prior email that the official tours have ceased for the winter.  Now there are several school project in progress  many days with bits of the church blocked off or clogged with children.  Best to go after 3 pm.    You learn so much more on a tour if you’re only vaguely interested.  The guide points out bits you’d not have noticed making everything more interesting.  With only myself and camera visiting places I do it backwards.  I go on the tour and then learn about things afterwards so half the time I’m taking the tour with you through my photos. 


All Hallows by the Tower  :  The Undercroft

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This painting was in the Undercroft but I should have included it in the email about the Main Church.

Beneath the present nave is the undercroft of the Saxon church containing three chapels: the Undercroft Chapel, the Chapel of St Francis of Assisi and the Chapel of St Clare.

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Chapel of St Clare

“Clare of Assisi was born into a wealthy Italian family but soon shunned her luxurious upbringing to embrace the life of piety and poverty.  Inspired by the words of Francis of Assisi, Clare fled her home and joined Francis, establishing her own religious order. The group became known for their austere and devout lifestyle and for the power of their prayer, which is credited with saving Assisi from invaders twice. After Francis’ death, Clare continued his work and broadened her own influence. Clare died in 1253 and was canonized two years later by Pope Alexander IV. http://www.biography.com/people/st-clare-of-assisi-9249093

“The misshapen piece of lead is left as

a reminder of the destruction that

All Hallows suffered in the bombings of WW2.                                                                           clip_image008

On December 29th 1940 a bomb came right

through the east window destroying

much of the centre of the church.

Three weeks later the ruined church also

suffered from fire bombs.  The heat from

those fires was so intense that the roofing

lead melted and ran down the walls. 


St Francis Chapel  just next to the Chapel of St. Clare

( I have a soft spot in my heart for St. Francis who loved animals.)

St Francis organizations  now train wonderful services dogs!


“The Crypt Museum leads you on a fascinating journey through time, beginning with the Roman tesselated floor of a domestic house in the late 2nd Century and charting the history of the church, its people and the City of London.   The museum is in part of the original Saxon church and contains a collection of Roman and Saxon artefacts, church plate and ancient registers dating back to the 16th century. Their entries record the baptism of William Penn, the marriage of John Quincy-Adams and the burial of Archbishop William Laud amongst many other historic events on Tower Hill.” http://www.allhallowsbythetower.org.uk/visiting/crypt-museum/




The Undercroft Chapel is constructed out of the former ‘Vicars’ Vault’, and is now a columbarium for the interment of ashes of former parishioners and those closely associated with the church.

This site was formerly outside the main building and part of the burial ground adjacent to the apse of the Saxon church. Here lie at least three Saxon coffins, buried in the pre-Norman period. The rough rear wall is part of the 14th century church.

Standing below the present High Altar are altar stones brought back to All Hallows from Castle Athlit in present-day Israel. It is thought that the altar comes from the Chapel of Richard Coeur de Lion in the Templar Church of Athlit. This has great significance for All Hallows in view of the connection with the inquisition of Knights Templar in the earlier Chapel of St Mary.

It was in a vault in this chapel that Archbishop William Laud lay buried for over twenty years after his beheading on 10th January 1644, and a memorial plaque commemorates this.


Memorial to those who died for their country


I can’t imagine climbing rope ladders and then crawling into and out of this thing…in the Antarctic!


Plaque for William Penn whose father saved All Hallows from the Great Fire



A very human bit of history


Donations from various guilds and the big donation from Lord Wakefield of Hythe



All Hallows by the Tower


   My emails seem to be fewer and further between since we returned to London.  Just too much to research about everything we see.  During the walking tours we hear lots of stories, but there’s no chance to write them down.  I lag behind to take photos and then have to jog along to catch up.  Before I send out these emails I have to try to find out what’s so important about  all those photos I took during the walk.  I don’t mind because I learn lots, but also learn what I missed so have to return to learn more about that church or that lane or whatever. I had to do that to research All Hallows Church.

     Today I had to return to Lovat Lane and St Mary’s on Hill because we’d really only passed by those places.  Among other things I went looking for the statue of two mice fighting over a piece of cheese.  I didn’t find it so I’ll have to return now with a better set of directions. I was also trying to find out more about the skull and crossbones over the alleyway entry to St. Mary’s on Hill.   While at St. Mary’s on Hill I had a lovely discussion with a “church watcher.”

http://www.london-city-churches.org.uk/  “The ‘new’ Friends of the City Churches came into being in 1994, bringing together many people who cared for and valued the City’s churches, with the aim of ensuring that the churches would be preserved intact for posterity and, most importantly, be kept open to visitors on a regular basis.”  Church watcher Kathy, who introduced me to the doings at the church, is from Connecticut, went to Tufts, and now after working many years in England, lives here.  But more about her and Maryanne when I write about St. Mary on Hill.  

      As for the mice…..“On the Philpot Lane side of 23 Eastcheap is one of London’s smallest statues, of two mice eating or fighting over a piece of cheese. The statue’s exact origin is unclear but it is thought to date from 1862 and was possibly made for the spice merchants Hunt and Crombie by John Young & Son.   Another theory surrounding its existence is that it commemorates an incident where an argument broke out between two construction workers when one accused the other of eating some of his lunch, and during the ensuing altercation one of the men fell from the building to his death. It was later found that mice were the culprits.”   I am determined to find those mice!


A real tiny mouse!

On my way back to DoraMac just near one of the Tower Hill Exits I saw this adorable fellow.  I hated to watch him struggle up the stairs trying to go who knows where.  I gave him some of my snack but the tiny mouse wasn’t the least bit interested.  A Russian tourist came along and he too took photos wishing good luck to the tiny mouse.  This man reminded me of the family next to us in Ashdod, Israel who took turns with us feeding the kitten who lived between our boats. 

   This email actually concerns the main floor of All Hallows Church  by the Tower.  All Hallows was one of the stops on our Square Mile tour that started with The Monument.  All Hallows wasn’t actually our second stop, St. Mary’s on Hill and St. Dunstan were stops before we arrived at the corner where our guide spoke about All Hallows as well as The Tower.   But All Hallows is supposedly the oldest church in London so a Big Deal.  This email concerns the street level floor, the main floor of the church as it is used today.  The lower floor includes the crypt museum which isn’t as creepy as it sounds.  I’ll write about that next.


All Hallows by the Tower 

     “Shamefully isolated on Tower Hill, between a busy road and an appalling modern shopping precinct, is THE OLDEST CHURCH IN LONDON, All Hallows by the Tower. It was founded in 675, as a chapel of the Great Abbey of Barking, and hence is sometimes known as All Hallows Barking.  Inside, a 7th-century Saxon arch containing recycled Roman tiles stands at the south-west corner, THE OLDEST SURVIVING PIECE OF CHURCH FABRIC IN LONDON.

Half-way down the stairs to the medieval Undercroft is a tiny, barrel-vaulted chapel of bare, crumbling stone, dedicated to St Clare. Though only yards away from the uproar of Tower Hill it is one of the most peaceful places in London to sit and think. On entering the Undercroft you can actually walk on a remarkably well-preserved section of tesselated Roman pavement laid down here in the 2nd century. At the east end in the Undercroft Chapel is an altar made of stones from the Templar church of Athlit, in Israel, and brought back from the Crusades.  Recesses in the walls hold boxes filled with the ashes of the dead. Charles I’s Archbishop, William Laud, was buried in a vault in this chapel for over 20 years after his beheading in 1645. At the Restoration his body was moved to St John’s College, Oxford.

In 1535 the bodies of St Thomas More and Bishop Fisher were brought into the church after their execution at the Tower for refusing to sign Henry VIII’s Act of Supremacy.

LANCELOT ANDREWES (1555 – 1626), the scholarly Bishop of Winchester, was baptised at All Hallows in 1555. He was the last occupant of Winchester Palace in Southwark and is buried in Southwark Cathedral.

In 1650 some barrels of gunpowder that were being stored in the churchyard exploded, destroying some 50 houses, badly damaging All Hallows and causing many fatalities. In 1658 the church tower was rebuilt, THE ONLY EXAMPLE OF WORK CARRIED OUT ON A CHURCH IN THE CITY DURING THE COMMONWEALTH (1649 – 60).

In 1644 WILLIAM PENN, the founder of Pennsylvania, was baptised at All Hallows. Twenty-two years later in 1666 Penn’s father, Admiral William Penn, saved All Hallows from the Great Fire of London by ordering his men from the nearby naval yards to blow up the surrounding houses as a fire break. Samuel Pepys climbed ‘up to the top of Barking steeple’ to watch the fire and there witnessed ‘the saddest sight of desolation’ before he ‘became afeard to stay there long and down again as fast as I could’.

The following year, 1667, JUDGE JEFFREYS, James II’s notorious ‘hanging judge’, was married at All Hallows. In 1797 JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, later to become 6th President of the United States, married Louisa Catherine Johnson, daughter of the US consul in London, in All Hallows.

From 1922 to 1962 the Vicar of All Hallows was the REVEREND PHILIP ‘TUBBY’ CLAYTON who, as an Army chaplain in 1915, ran a rest-house and sanctuary for soldiers of all ranks at Poperinge in Belgium. It was named Talbot House in memory of Lieutenant Gilbert Talbot, brother of Army chaplain the Revd Neville Talbot who had set up the rest-house. Talbot House became known by its signals code name of TOC H. After the war Clayton fostered the spirit and intent of Talbot House through the Toc H movement and encouraged the setting up of Toc H branches in cities across Britain.

Among the surviving treasures of All Hallows are a wonderful collection of medieval brasses, a rare 15th-century Flemish triptych and what many regard as THE FINEST WOOD CARVING IN LONDON, a font cover carved in lime-wood by Grinling Gibbons in 1682   http://www.nextreads.com/display2.aspx?recid=6943877&FC=1

http://www.allhallowsbythetower.org.uk/history/   official Church site


Looking down Tower Street towards All Hallows Church and the original White Tower of The Tower of London.





http://www.allhallowsbythetower.org.uk/visiting/virtual-tour/ is a wonderful online tour talking about things I saw but much that I missed.


The Nave I think is the correct term?


Phoenix Altar Frontal not explained on the All Hallows site but the painting is described in the virtual tour.



For Sharon and Asher

Organ concerts are given in the afternoons and one day I will go listen


Croke Altar

     Standing in the Lady Chapel is the altar tomb of Alderman John Croke (1477) which was destroyed by the air-raid of 1940. It has since been completely restored from over 150 fragments.

     The tomb is made of Purbeck marble, and fine brass memorials at the back of the tomb record the effigies of the Alderman and his eight sons, Margaret his wife and his five daughters.

     The casket containing the Toc H lamp, given to the movement in 1922 by Edward, Prince of Wales, also contains stained glass shields depicting the arms of places where branches of the Toc H were founded between 1919 and 1929.



Prayer messages


I took the photo because of the images of London, but since then learned a bit about “Tubby” Clayton


The effigy of the Rev’d Philip Thomas Byard Clayton (popularly known as ‘Tubby’) is one of the last works by Cecil Thomas, the ‘soldier sculptor’, who also made the Forster Memorial in the south aisle of the church. Tubby’s dog sits on a tasselled cushion at his feet and the effigy is supported by four lion cubs, one at each corner.

     Tubby was the founder Padre of Toc H. Assisted by fellow army chaplain Neville Talbot, he established Talbot House (‘Toc H’ in signaller’s jargon), a unique rest house in Poperinge for serving soldiers near the fierce battleground of Ypres in Flanders during the First World War.

     Tubby became Vicar of All Hallows in 1922 and remained here for forty years, until his retirement in 1962. http://www.allhallowsbythetower.org.uk/


Destruction during WW 2

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Stained glass windows show London’s connection with the Thames

Writers Festival at the Whitechapel Idea Store


  It’s bright and sunny and has been for several days now!  What a treat.  Yesterday we walked with Sue and Ed to the Angel Pub which is a stroll along the Thames from here.  After that, since it was a clear day, we walked over to “The Shard” and took the elevator to the 32nd floor for the view and a glass of house wine. 

Today several of us our going to the Idea Store/Library for the writers’ festival. 


Tickets are free and I chose the following two talks.

Jill Dawson and Louise Doughty    http://jilldawson.co.uk/ http://www.louisedoughty.com/

  Saturday, November 16 @ 3:30 pm       

  In an era of e-books, online games and social media, what is the point of the novel? Why do so many still read fiction and wish to write it; what is the role of fiction in contemporary life – is it simply to hold a mirror to the world, or can fiction reach the places that other art forms can’t? Two of Britain’s best novelists, both of whom write and teach fiction, discuss the question: Does Fiction Matter?

The Gentle Author    http://spitalfieldslife.com/

  Saturday, November 16 @ 5:00 pm       

  The Gentle Author will talk about his new book ‘The Gentle Author’s London Album’. Between the covers of this magnificent album you will discover more than 600 of the Gentle Author’s favourite pictures of London, setting the wonders of our modern metropolis against the pictorial delights of the ancient city, and celebrating the infinite variety of life in the capital.

Here are some of the photos from The Shard.


London Bridge, the Walkie Talkie and the Gherkin.


Tower Bridge and the curve of the Thames around the Isle of Dogs with the talk buildings that are Canary Wharf.



St. Paul’s Cathedral


The Tower of London


Looking down on the golden top of The Monument


Sue Ed and Randal with the Gherkin in the distance across the river


Glass half full…..actually totally full if full is defined as what you get for your £4.50.  But there was no charge for the great view.


Empty glass still full of Canary Wharf


View from the Ladies’ Loo with its floor to ceiling window. 


The west basin of SKD Marina is located in the center of the square of buildings just beyond the Tower Bridge.  If you find the clock tower that’s where DoraMac is located.