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Peta Bridle’s City Of London Sketchbook

September 22, 2020
by the gentle author

Peta Bridle sent me this latest series of drawings from her City of London sketchbook.

‘Inspired by ‘Offbeat in the City of London’ by Geoffrey Fletcher, I visited some of the places he drew in the sixties and made my own sketches,’ Peta explained to me, ‘It was interesting to stand where he stood fifty years ago and often see many buildings unchanged, while others places were unrecognisable.’

‘I like drawing outside and, even when the lockdown was lifted, the City was empty and quiet so I rarely saw another person. Drawing was the thing that kept me going and brightened my week.’

Mermaid Court

‘I sat on the pavement to make this sketch which gives it a low viewpoint. I like the composition of the three bollards, leaning drunkenly against the paving stones. The shadows were constantly shifting due to the strong sunlight. A man from a cafe under the archway kindly bought me a cup of tea.’

Old Shop in Eastcheap

‘I sat on the steps of St Margaret Pattens to draw this. The doors are decorated with seashell motifs and framed by columns on either side. Seagulls kept squawking in the background which was common to all my drawings in the City, competing with the racket of construction works.’

Hodge & Dr Johnson’s House, Gough Sq

‘I sat behind the statue of the cat with oysters at his paws, looking towards Dr Johnson’s House. Hodge, ‘A very fine cat indeed,’ belonged to Samuel Johnson who sometimes bought his pet oysters to eat as a treat.’

Playhouse Yard, Blackfriars

‘I chose a Sunday morning to visit Playhouse Yard. The Blackfriars Theatre once stood here but all that remains of the Elizabethan playhouse is a piece of brick wall.’

Postmans Park

‘In the churchyard of St. Botolph’s, there are tablets describing act of bravery. The memorial was built by Victorian painter and philanthropist, GF Watts. On the front of the structure it reads ‘In commemoration of Heroic Self Sacrifice.’ It became rather cold in the park whilst I was drawing so please forgive the shaky lines!’

Shakespeare Memorial, Garden of St Mary Aldermanbury

‘I drew this sketch on a mild day in January. In the distance a marching band was making its way to the Guildhall and there were skateboarders practising in the garden. The bust of Shakespeare commemorates Henry Condell and John Heminges who published the First Folio. They lived in the parish and are buried in the churchyard. The church was damaged in the Blitz and rebuilt in Fulton, Missouri in 1966.’

Simpsons Chop House, Ball Court

‘Ball Court was empty during the lockdown. Behind me the occasional bus sailed up Cornhill and there was the gentle background hush of air conditioning units. Simpsons Tavern was founded in 1757 by Thomas Simpson. A jumble of books sit in the bow window and the alley to the side leads on to Castle Court.’

St Johns Garden, Clerkenwell 

‘This is a lovely garden with a fountain and silvery olive tree set in the centre, referencing the Holy Land, since the Knights of St John are buried here.’

Doorway at St Magnus the Martyr

‘I have attended services with my children at St Magnus for the blessing of the river, held jointly with Southwark Cathedral in January. I made a study of one of its doorways, crowned with a cherub’s head. Outside is a piece of Roman piling from the Roman river wall. The church is on the original alignment of London Bridge where people crossing would enter the City.’

St Peter Upon Cornhill

It was very quiet in St Peter’s Alley next to the churchyard while I was drawing this. A couple said ‘hello’ as they walked past and a man hurried by clutching his sandwich bag.’

St Dunstan in the East

‘St Dunstan’s attracts many visitors to sit and enjoy the garden. I found a shady spot to draw as it was a very hot day. Palm trees flourish here and the walls are draped with greenery. The church was destroyed in the blitz and the yard turned into a public garden.’

Double page of St Dunstan in the East

Drawings copyright © Peta Bridle

You may also like to take a look at

Peta Bridle’s Gravesend Sketchbook

Peta Bridle’s New Etchings

Peta Bridle’s Latest Drypoint Etchings

Peta Bridle River Etchings

14 Responses leave one →
  1. September 22, 2020

    Lovely work Peta!

  2. Ian Silverton permalink
    September 22, 2020

    Loved the drawings of Postmans Park memories of my school days walking to and from through there, Simpsons Chop House, was when as a City money maker we used to lunch, all on expenses then. Thanks GA. And Peta Bridle.

  3. Kay permalink
    September 22, 2020

    so happy to see st dunstans in this collection! lovely work as always 🙂

  4. Jean Wilson permalink
    September 22, 2020

    Thanks Peta for the delightful drawings & comments.

    As a summer visitor to London – (sadly not this year) – my jaunts into the city are often instigated by the description of places I’ve come across on my daily perusal of Spitalfielda Life which, along with a mug of builders tea, is a non-negotiable part of my morning routine. Thank you Gentle Author for all the informative and intriguing pleasure you give me.

  5. Sally permalink
    September 22, 2020

    I love these sketches. Thank you for posting Gentle Author!
    Would there be any way to purchase some of them? Prints, perhaps?
    I have looked up Petra B but have has no luck finding out if this is possible.
    Many thanks

  6. September 22, 2020

    Wonderful secluded and hidden Places with splendid Descriptions as well!

    Love & Peace
    ACHIM

  7. paul loften permalink
    September 22, 2020

    Thank you for showing us these wonderful drawings of the City . Petra’s work is remarkable . I knew the city as a pre- school child in the early 50’s when I would take a trip to St Pauls with my mother to meet my father during his lunch break . He would give her his weekly pay packet. I recall he would stand outside the the King Edward building in his brown overall waiting for us. The King Edward Building was a massive grey Victorian structure that stood there as the Post Office HQ for years . I think at the time it may have been owned by Cable & Wireless as he then was employed as a telegraphist by them. It was later that thatthe telegraphic branch of C&W was incorporated in the Post office who also took over the building . We would then go to Postmans Park sit on a bench, eat our sandwiches and feed the pigeons .Thats probably how it got the name from all the postal workers at King Edwards Building who would go there . King Edward building opposite St Pauls was demolished in the 60’s I think. I recall seeing the huge site and the excavations with the deep drop . I recall the lucnchime city workers standing there and watching the diggers and men at work . Its unrecognisable now from what it once was.

  8. September 22, 2020

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, thanks for sharing Peta Bridle’s City of London Sketch Book. I particularly like the drawing of Hodge the cat at Dr. Johnson’s house on Gough Square, a delightful respite in the busy city.

    Peta’s greenery and foliage sets off these various sites so well.

  9. William Martin permalink
    September 22, 2020

    Peta Bridle as some kind of instinct for old London, seeing beneath the layers. We bought a print of hers last winter and it looks lovely here in New York City.

  10. Christy Scofield permalink
    September 22, 2020

    Wonderful to ‘see’ things through another’s eyes

  11. Daisy permalink
    September 22, 2020

    Lovely work as always, particularly like the blue ink drawing

  12. September 22, 2020

    I love Peta’s romantic drawings of all these places so immediately recognisable and familiar to me.

  13. Bill Cahill permalink
    September 23, 2020

    Thank you for these lovely documents! They should be published in a deluxe edition, handbound, with luxurious covers. Very specific to the moment! And to past times, as well.

  14. Jacob permalink
    September 23, 2020

    Lovely work, Peta has a fascinating way of showing Londons character.

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