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City Of London Churches

March 10, 2016
by the gentle author

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

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 winter 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

St Lawrence Jewry, Gresham St

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 James, Garlickhythe

St Michael Paternoster Royal, College Hill

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

A View of Christ Church Spitalfields

In City Churchyards

16 Responses leave one →
  1. Alyson permalink
    March 10, 2016

    Terrific photographs. Thank you G.A.

  2. March 10, 2016

    Wonderful, atmospheric photos. Valerie

  3. March 10, 2016

    I’d love to have some of your lovely pics GA – would you put on an exhibition some time and sell prints?

  4. Kate Fearnley permalink
    March 10, 2016

    Some wonderful camera angles and lots of churches (and Saints!) I’d never heard of. Thank you so muh

  5. March 10, 2016

    Smashing photos!

  6. Richard permalink
    March 10, 2016

    I came across the squat tower of All Hallows Staining last year. It made me think of what the scale of city buildings must have been before the Fire.
    Lovely quirky photos. Thanks

  7. Helen Breen permalink
    March 10, 2016

    GA, yet another great piece. Thanks!

    Glad you showed St. Bride’s, scene of media mogol Rupert Murdock’s latest nuptials to Gerry Hall.

    In a recent trip to London I enjoyed perusing St. Martin’s in Ludgate, not far from St. Paul’s – with their “breadshelves” for the poor and their “swords rest.”

    Next time I will have to check out some of the other Wren churches in the City. Black ‘n white photos very effective for this subject…

  8. March 10, 2016

    I love the City churches. I was married at St James GarlickHythe by the then vicar of St Lawrence Jewry, a wonderful man called Basil Watson.

  9. Robert G. Redford permalink
    March 10, 2016

    Fabulous photos, especially in black and white. I’d love to see some of the interiors as well.Great that they have all survived despite terrorism, blitz and worst of all London Property Developers. How are they funded as I guess congregations are getting smaller and not so many residents. Thank you for such a wonderful site which I enjoy every day.

  10. Liz L permalink
    March 10, 2016

    Stunning photographs. The light, the angles, the weather and your keen eye have produced works of art. Thank you GA for sharing these pictures.

  11. March 10, 2016

    Yours has become one of my favorite blogs in the past several months since first seeing it come across a links roundup from either “Strange Company” or “Two Nerdy History Girls”…I enjoy getting to see and learn about sights in the UK that I may never get to see – esp. churches and cemeteries…this post was absolutely one of my favorites so far – I’d like to return the favor: I recently posted about a Christopher Wren church (St Mary Aldermanbury) that was moved brick by brick from London to central Missouri in the US (just thirty minutes from me) – enjoy the link below – and thank you so much for your work and writing

  12. Annie G permalink
    March 10, 2016

    It is all about context for Wren churches, I think. But there are so many streets destroyed by bombs and redevelopment that some churches seem to just float – St James Garlickhythe and St Benet Pauls Wharf to name just two – and seem to have no meaning. They are like little jewel boxes, every one of them. Have you read Wren’s London by Colin Amery? It is a gorgeous book of black and white photos from late 1980s/early 90s. A pure joy – I recommend it for fireside perusal.

  13. March 10, 2016

    Yeah. Uplifting scenes and photography. Thanks

  14. pauline taylor permalink
    March 10, 2016

    Great black and white photography again, and that lovely ‘wedding cake’ spire of St Brides. I love the light, and the atmosphere, and the reflections of St Augustine, Watling Street, truly a photograph to be proud of!

  15. Sue permalink
    March 12, 2016

    Beautiful set of church photographs. Thank you.

  16. Matthew aka Gnome permalink
    March 21, 2016

    The master at work, again & this time in my home town. Marvelous stuff, many thanks

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