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Another Favourite Blog

February 10, 2023
by the gentle author

I am delighted to publish this extract of a favourite post from A London Inheritance, written by a graduate of my blog writing course. The author inherited a series of old photographs of London from his father and by tracing them, he discovers the changes in the city over a generation. Follow A LONDON INHERITANCE, A Private History of a Public City

We are now taking bookings for this spring’s course, HOW TO WRITE A BLOG THAT PEOPLE WILL WANT TO READ on 25th & 26th March.  Come to Spitalfields and spend a weekend with me in an eighteenth century weaver’s house in Fournier St, enjoy delicious lunches and cakes baked to historic recipes by Townhouse and learn how to write your own blog. Click here for details

If you are graduate of my course and you would like me to feature your blog, please drop me a line.

St Botolph without Aldgate

My father’s photograph of St Botolph Without Aldgate in the fifties

St Botolph without Aldgate

The same view today

When I found the location where my father took his photograph only a single building remained in an entirely changed street scene. In his picture, the distinctive tower of St Botolph Without Aldgate is easily recognisable, although the top of the spire is missing through bomb damage. But there were no other obvious clues to identify where my father took his photo, although there is a bomb site between the church and the road.

I walked around the surrounding streets trying to find the location. My search was not helped by the new buildings obscuring the view of the church. However, when I walked down Dukes Place towards the junction with Creechurch Lane and Bevis Marks, I saw one building that looked familiar.

If you look to the left of the top photo, there is a tall building. If you look at the left of the photo below, the same building is still there – a lone survivor from the pre-war buildings in these streets.

Although the ground floor is different now, the upper floors have the same architectural features in both photographs. The building today is National Microfinance Bank House but, in my father’s time, it was Creechurch House. Walking down towards St Botolph’s without Aldgate, the church becomes visible and at the rear of the church are trees, much as in my father’s original photo.

The first written records mention St Botolph Without Aldgate in the twelfth century, although a Saxon church was probably built on the site, evidenced by tenth century burials in the crypt. Originally attached to the Priory of the Holy Trinity, it was rebuilt just before the dissolution during Henry VIII’s reign and restored in 1621. St Botolph without Aldgate was declared unsafe and demolished in 1739, making way for construction of the church we see today. This church by George Dance the Elder was built between 1741 and 1744 and aligned so the entrance and the tower faced the Minories.

“Without Aldgate” references the location of the church outside the walls of the City of London. There are several other St Botolph churches at the edge of the City, St Botolph Without Bishopsgate, St Botolph Without Aldersgate, and there was a St Botolph Billingsgate, destroyed in the Great Fire.

St Botolph established a monastery in East Anglia in the seventh century and died around the 680. In the tenth century, King Edgar had the remains of saint divided and sent to locations through London. They passed through the City gates and the churches alongside the gates through which the remains passed were named after St Botolph.He is the patron saint of wayfarers, who used the City gates as they travelled to and fro. It fascinates me that the names of these churches at the edge of the City of London today refer both to the Roman wall and to events from in tenth century.

St Botolph without Aldgate

St Botolph Without Aldgate viewed from the Minories

St Botolph without Aldgate

Elevation by George Dance the Elder of St. Botolph, c.1740s © Sir John Soane’s Museum

St Botolph without Aldgate

Section by George Dance the Elder of  St. Botolph, Aldgate, c.1740s © Sir John Soane’s Museum

St Botolph without Aldgate

The interior of St Botolph without Aldgate retains the original galleries and Tuscan columns

St Botolph without Aldgate

The elaborate plasterwork was added between 1888 and 1895 by J.F. Bentley

St Botolph without Aldgate

Plasterwork by J.F. Bentley

St Botolph without Aldgate

Window commemorating the Stationers’s Company

St Botolph without Aldgate

Window commemorating the Paviour’s Company

St Botolph without Aldgate

Window commemorating the Spectacle Makers’ Company

St Botolph without Aldgate

An eighteenth century ceremonial sword rest

Photographs copyright © A London Inheritance


Spend a weekend in an eighteenth century weaver’s house in Spitalfields and learn how to write a blog with The Gentle Author.

This course will examine the essential questions which need to be addressed if you wish to write a blog that people will want to read.

“Like those writers in fourteenth century Florence who discovered the sonnet but did not quite know what to do with it, we are presented with the new literary medium of the blog – which has quickly become omnipresent, with many millions writing online. For my own part, I respect this nascent literary form by seeking to explore its own unique qualities and potential.” – The Gentle Author


1. How to find a voice – When you write, who are you writing to and what is your relationship with the reader?
2. How to find a subject – Why is it necessary to write and what do you have to tell?
3. How to find the form – What is the ideal manifestation of your material and how can a good structure give you momentum?
4. The relationship of pictures and words – Which comes first, the pictures or the words? Creating a dynamic relationship between your text and images.
5. How to write a pen portrait – Drawing on The Gentle Author’s experience, different strategies in transforming a conversation into an effective written evocation of a personality.
6. What a blog can do – A consideration of how telling stories on the internet can affect the temporal world.


The course will be held at 5 Fournier St, Spitalfields on 25th-26th March. The course runs from 10am-5pm on Saturday and 11am-5pm on Sunday.

Lunches, tea, coffee & cakes by the Townhouse are included within the course fee of £300.

Email to book a place on the course.

2 Responses leave one →
  1. John Campbell permalink
    February 10, 2023

    Enjoy checking out new worlds.

  2. Pauline Taylor permalink
    February 16, 2023

    Thank you GA, my great grandfather was born at an address in Bermondsey Street and his mother, Elizabeth Russell who was a widow, had a greengrocery stall in the market in the street. Great grandfather was illegitimate as his mother,as a widow, had a fling with a shipwright, Samuel Denton, who was much younger than her but, luckily for me, he did go with her to register the birth of the baby so I know who he was. My great grandfather became known by both of his parent’s names, Samuel Denton Russell and the name of the shipwright was also part of my father’s name so, although I always thought my family name was Russell I have discovered that it never was which is a very strange feeling. Genealogy can be very complicated at times and what our ancestors told us about themselves can be extremely misleading !!

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