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Spires of City Churches

February 1, 2013
by the gentle author

Spire of St Margaret Pattens designed by Christopher Wren in the medieval style

Yesterday, I took my camera and crossed over Middlesex St from Spitalfields to the City of London. I had been waiting for a suitable day to photograph spires of City churches and my patience was rewarded by the dramatic contrast of strong, low-angled January light and deep shadow, with the bonus of showers casting glistening reflections upon the pavements.

Christopher Wren’s churches are the glory of the City and, even though their spires no longer dominate the skyline as they once did, these charismatic edifices are blessed with an enduring presence which sets them apart from the impermanence of the cheap-jack buildings surrounding them. Yet they are invisible, for the most part, to the teeming City workers who come and go in anxious preoccupation, barely raising their eyes to the wonders of Wren’s spires piercing the sky.

My heart leaps when the tightly woven maze of the City streets gives way unexpectedly to reveal one of these architectural marvels. It is an effect magnified when walking in the unrelieved shade of a narrow thoroughfare bounded on either side by high buildings and you lift your gaze to discover a tall spire ascending into the light, and tipped by a gilt weathervane gleaming in sunshine.

While these ancient structures might appear redundant to some, in fact they serve a purpose that was never more vital in this location, as abiding reminders of the existence of human aspiration beyond the material.

In the porch of St James Garlickhythe where I sheltered from the rain

St Margaret Pattens viewed from St Mary at Hill

The Monument with St Magnus the Martyr

St Edmund, King & Martyr, Lombard St

St Michael Paternoster Royal, College Hill

Wren’s gothic spire for St Mary Aldermary

St Augustine, Watling Street

St Brides, Fleet St

In St Brides churchyard

St Martin, Ludgate

St Sepulchre’s, Snow Hill

St Michael, Cornhill

St Mary Le Bow, Cheapside

St Alban, Wood St

St Mary at Hill, Lovat Lane

St Peter Upon Cornhill

At St James Garlickhythe

You may also like to take a look at

In City Churchyards

A View of Christ Church Spitalfields

11 Responses leave one →
  1. February 1, 2013

    st. bridey’s day/candlemas/imbolc/the awakening of the ground is coming up soon.

    dress your bridey’s cross and hang it, garland it with white anemones, and wait for spring!!!!!

    beautiful to see them all in the shadow/wet, thank you.

  2. February 1, 2013

    very enjoyable, thanks

  3. Mark permalink
    February 1, 2013

    Lovely photos, especially of Cornhill.

  4. Marco permalink
    February 1, 2013

    Wow, your phots are just beutiful, I didn’t know you were also a great photographer!

  5. Tina permalink
    February 1, 2013

    As always an uplifting article even when about rain and January! Great photographs especially like the Dragon weathervane of St Mary Lane Bow!

  6. February 1, 2013


  7. Peter Twist permalink
    February 1, 2013

    A superb record of City Church spires.

  8. February 2, 2013

    I like “in St Bride’s churchyard” best. Great to have noticed the puddle as a perfect frame.

  9. Peter Holford permalink
    February 2, 2013

    I enjoyed these photos. I spent an afternoon last summer walking around my forefathers’ churches and really enjoyed seeing the places I had only heard about before. These great photos brought back some good memories of that day even though most of the churches are not the ones I went to!

  10. Cherub permalink
    February 2, 2013

    I worked in Monument St for about 6 years and am ashamed to admit I never went up the Monument as I get a bit scared on narrow enclosed staircases (I’ve never made it right to the very top of the Scott Monument in Edinburgh either). I’m visiting London again shortly, maybe this time I’ll bit the bullet and do it!

    Thank you for the photo, it brings back happy memories.

  11. Carolyn Badcock - nee Hooper permalink
    May 7, 2013

    Simply adore the photo of St Peter Upon Cornhill! So complicated and fascinating – Gentle Author. Splendid use of your given talents.


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