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Frank Merton Atkins’ City Churches

September 30, 2022
by the gentle author

Tickets are available for my Spitalfields tour tomorrow and through October



Christ Church, Spitalfields, 1 October 1957

A collection of photographs by Frank Merton Atkins – including these splendid pictures of City churches were donated to the Bishopsgate Institute by his daughter Enid Ghent who had kept them in her loft since he died in 1964.

‘My father worked as a cartographer for a company of civil engineers in Westminster and he drew maps of tram lines,’ Enid recalled, ‘Both his parents were artists and he carried a camera everywhere. He loved to photograph old pubs, especially those that were about to be demolished. Sometimes he got up early in the morning to take photographs before work and at other times he went out on photography excursions in his lunch break. He was always looking around for photographs.’

Captions by Frank Merton Atkins

All Hallows Staining Tower, 25 June 1957, 1.22pm

Cannon Street, looking west from corner of Bush Lane, 7 June 1957, 8.21am

St Botolph Aldgate, from Minories, 31 May 1960, 1.48pm

St Bride from Carter Lane, 31 May 1956, 8.20am

St Clement Danes Church, Strand, from Aldwych, 14 October 1958, 1.22pm

St Dunstan in the East (seen from pavement in front of Custom House), 13 June 1956, 1.14pm

St George Southwark, from Borough High Street, 14 August 1956, 8.15am

St James Garlickhithe, from Queenhithe, 20 May 1957, 8.23am

St Katherine Creechurch, 27 May 1957, 8.32am

St Magnus the Martyr, from the North, 26 June 1956, 8.17am

St Magnus the Martyr, Lower Thames Street, 26 June 1956, 8.23am

St Margaret Lothbury, 2 August 1957, 1.12pm

St Margaret Pattens, from St Mary At Hill, 13 June 1956, 1pm

St Mary Woolnoth, 8 August 1956, 5.49pm

St Pauls Church, Dock Street, Whitechapel, 3 September 1957, 1.09pm

St Pauls and St Augustine from Watling Street, 7 May 1957, 8.25am

St Vedast, from Wood Street, 30 July 1956, 8.17am

Photographs courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

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10 Responses leave one →
  1. September 30, 2022

    Beautiful photographs presumably taken with a rising front camera to correct verticals.

  2. Annie S permalink
    September 30, 2022

    Very interesting photographs, still quite a lot of bomb damage visible I notice.

  3. Bernie permalink
    September 30, 2022

    Rising front camera? I think not. Seems to me that I see converging verticals as expected from a standard lens. Other opinions please!

    What these images bring back — and let us not forget — is the brutal bombing that London suffered at the hands of Germany.

  4. Pauline Taylor permalink
    September 30, 2022

    This is the London that I remember, the vehicles, people’s clothes and the horse and cart !! My friends in Hendon, where I used to stay, had a milkman who came round with a horse and cart in the 1950s and into the 60s.

  5. Peter Holford permalink
    September 30, 2022

    This is straight out of my childhood memories especially with the photo of the trolley bus (my journey to school in Hammersmith) and the old Esso sign. But I always imagined that the churches stood aloft and clear of the newer buildings as they had done for centuries. These photos correct that false memory and show that the process of newer buildings submerging the ancient churches was already well underway.

  6. Linda Granfield permalink
    September 30, 2022

    The construction sites, the vehicles, the woman all in dresses. There’s so much to investigate in these photographs. I’m impressed by the detailed documentation Mr. Atkins made for each snap.

  7. Paul Loften permalink
    September 30, 2022

    Thank you for these photos . They capture not only the feel of this era in the City but something of the post war man . The City office worker who once was a officer or perhaps just a private during the war , in the ranks , but nevertheless had seen ands been through unspeakable moments . The straight back, confident stride and upright stance was a giveaway . You could spot my father a mile coming a mile away

  8. September 30, 2022

    The top photo is the perfect intro to this amazing series. We see the “tower” of market crates,
    right up against the “tower” of the church structure. Beauty and the beast. The “everyday” next to
    the ecumenical.

    Note the “Leave Your Headache Here” neon sign. Thanks, I think I will.

    The Bishopsgate Institute must surely be one of the world’s great treasure troves.
    Thank you, GA, for shining a light.

  9. Cherub permalink
    September 30, 2022

    I’m intrigued by the quirky sign on Cannon Street that says “Leave your headache here” and wonder if it was outside a chemists. Lovely photos of the churches, it’s a shame many of Wren’s churches no longer exist as they were very beautiful inside.

  10. Saba permalink
    September 30, 2022

    Could the church on the top of the steeple be the same that inspired Brian Selznick to write The Marvels, based on the Dennis Severs house? Three Selznick books, with extensive illustration, take place in the Dennis Severs House, the Museum of Natural History in New York, and a train station in Paris, maybe the Gare du Nord. Martin Scorsese’s fantastic Hugo is based on the Paris book. A not-so-good movie was also made about the Museum of Natural History book. The books are all fabulous for adults or children.

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