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More Spires of City Churches

March 9, 2013
by the gentle author

St Lawrence Jewry, Gresham St

In January, I waited so long for a clear day to take pictures of spires in the City of London that when we were blessed with another one last week, I could not resist going back to take more photographs. Such has been my preoccupation that, in future, I shall always be inclined now to think of clear days in early spring as “ideal weather to photograph church spires in the City.”

Yet there were other obstacles beyond the meteorological that I had to contend with in my quest for spires, not just delivery vans parked in the wrong places and people standing in front of churches making long mobile phone calls, but the over-zealous guard who challenged my motives as I stood with my camera upon the public footpath, suspiciously implying I might have sinister intent in photographing church spires – which could have grave implications for national security. “You realise this is the City of London,” he informed me in explanation of his impertinence, as if I could be unaware.

Fortunately, it is in the nature of photographing church spires that I had no choice but to lift up my eyes above these trifles of life and I was rewarded for my tenacity in the pursuit with all the wonders that you see here. In Rome or any other European capital, such a close gathering of  architectural masterpieces would be venerated among the finest treasures of the city. In London, our overfamiliarity with these epic churches means they have become invisible and hardly anyone looks at them. Commonly, the ancient spires are overshadowed by the modern buildings which surround them today, yet I found – in many cases – that the act of focusing attention upon these under-appreciated edifices revealed them newly to my eyes.

St Mary Le Bow, Cheapside

St Margaret’s, Lothbury

St Vedast, Foster Lane

Christchurch Greyfriars, Newgate St

Christchurch Greyfriars, Newgate St

St Mary Le Bow, Cheapside

St Mary Le Bow, Cheapside

St Stephen, Walbrook

Whittington’s Almshouses, College Hill

St James, Garlickhythe

St Michael Paternoster Royal, College Hill

1 & 2 Lawrence Pountney Hill – Built in 1703, these are the finest surviving merchants’ houses in the City.

Churchyard of St Laurence Pountney

St Magnus the Martyr, Lower Thames St

St Dunstan in the East, Idol Lane

All Hallows Staining, Mark Lane

St Botolph’s, Aldgate

You may also like to take a look at

Spires of City Churches

Nicholas Hawksmoor’s Churches

A View of Christ Church Spitalfields

In City Churchyards

13 Responses leave one →
  1. March 9, 2013

    Thank you for that. I thought I knew about quite a lot of the city churches, but not all, evidently. St James, Garlickhythe seems worth visiting for the address alone

  2. Libby Hall permalink
    March 9, 2013

    Once again marvellous photographs.

    What an excellent thing to do on a day of spring sunshine.

    How comforting it is to be reminded of the riches that surround me.

  3. Peter Holford permalink
    March 9, 2013

    I photographed the newly re-furbished St Pancras Hotel last summer. I was approached by a security guard who informed me that it was prohibited. I asked why. He said because it was a security risk! I told him I would take about six photographs and he was welcome to watch me take them and assess the security risk being made. I think that with me being 6’3″ and 15 stone he weighed up the possible scenarios and decided to retreat. I then asked the Olympic helpers nearby whether this was how visitors to London were being greeted in general. To say they were dismayed is an understatement. London: a snap free zone? Oh, I forgot we have plenty of pictures taken – CCTV.

  4. Peter Holford permalink
    March 9, 2013

    Now I’ve looked at the photos – excellent as ever. Winter sunshine really does make for great photos (plus the talent of the photographer of course).

  5. Ros permalink
    March 9, 2013

    This is a marvellous continuation of the series and all that waiting and careful positioning definitely reaped rewards. Brilliant! Some of the photos looked as if they could have been taken 50 years ago, others so contemporary. Loved the reflections in the mirror of Christchurch Greyfriars and St Michael Paternoster Royal and the human interest in St Magnus the Martyr, St Dunstan in the East and St Botolph.

  6. Patricia Celeveland-Peck permalink
    March 9, 2013

    The photograph of Christchurch Greyfriars Newgate St with the reflection is a marvel. (The ennigmatic message relating to diabetes being an added bonus…) Well done!

  7. blakemoreln permalink
    March 9, 2013

    Well said, Libby Hall…

  8. Classof65 permalink
    March 9, 2013

    Would it still be possible to do a series of the churches in the poem? “Oranges and lemons ring the bells of Saint Clemons?” Or are the churches all gone?

  9. the gentle author permalink*
    March 9, 2013

    Nice idea! I will do it … when we get a clear day. TGA

  10. Annie permalink
    March 10, 2013

    I look forward to the Oranges and Lemons entry. I was thrilled to see this selection – I am currently engaged in a personal project to visit all the Wren churches – as I live in Yorkshire, I am slightly constrained, mostly by the fact that many are shut at the weekends. So when I come down to London I have to move smartly. But it is a brilliant way to trundle round the City, popping in to be amazed by what might be a perfectly ordinary church on the outside and which reveals itself to be a jewel box as you pass through from the street. Silent, too. I was delighted to find All Hallows Staining Lane on my last trip to London. I had no idea it was there, despite years living in or near London. Now I am a middle aged woman, I have no qualms about standing in a busy street and saying out loud, “Oh well done! You’ve managed to survive!” to buildings. Perhaps it lightens the burden of passing commuters. Who knows?

  11. sprite permalink
    March 10, 2013

    old spires
    needling forgotten skies –
    home sick


  12. Classof65 permalink
    March 10, 2013

    I’ve only been to London once in my life and since I am getting on in years I’m not likely to be able to visit the beautiful city again. I envision the churches project as a coffee table book — I’d gladly pay for a copy to be posted here to America, but I would settle for the poem and the black-and-white photos in your wonderful blog…

  13. March 12, 2013

    These are wonderful photographs. I’ve bookmarked them. Thanks.

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