I’ve been taking a lot of photos lately to support my ongoing City of London Steeplechase post series. I’ve been exploring ways of playing with the images to bring out some of the finer architectural details, and thought I’d share some of the results as a separate post.
The images below cover pretty much the entire historical range of the City churches, from the Norman round nave of Temple Church and the Medieval towers of St Sepulchre-without-Newgate and St Olave Hart Street, through a number of some of Wren’s finest works, their embellishment by Hawksmoor and on to the post-Blitz redesigned steeple of All Hallows Barking.
I’ll start with one of my favourites: Wren’s beautiful steeple at St Mary-le-Bow, with its magnificent dragon weathervane neatly silhouetted against the skyline. You can find out more about the dragon, and its relationship with the nearby grasshopper vane on the Royal Exchange, by clicking here.
The next image brings to life the remarkable detail of Hawksmoor’s pinnacles on Wren’s St Michael Cornhill:
Another of my favourites: the dome and tower of Wren’s gorgeous St Stephen Walbrook; a joy to see both inside and out.
The round nave at Temple Church; one of the City’s few remaining Norman buildings:
The tower of St Sepulchre-without-Newgate. Note the four weathervanes which always seem to point in different directions, giving rise to an old saying about unreasonable people: ‘as hard to reconcile as the vanes on St Sepulchre’s tower’:
Next, another Wren masterpiece: St Mary Abchurch. Quaint on the outside, the interior with its floodlit dome is stunning, but I’ll save that for another Steeplechase.
St Vedast-alias-Foster: one of the strangest among many strangely named City churches, and in my view quite a physically strange building too, with its bulky steeple that seems to me a bit disproportionate to the tower beneath:
Now to St Olave, Hart Street, resting place of Samuel Pepys and the church that Dickens christened St Ghastly Grim because of the gruesome skulls decorating its churchyard wall. You can read more about this lovely old church and its remarkable history by clicking here.
Near to St Olave’s is the City’s oldest church, All Hallows Barking, or All Hallows-by-the-Tower as it is also known. While the elegant steeple looks old, it is in fact a post-war creation after the previous, much smaller, one was destroyed in the Blitz. For more detail, including pictures of the fascinating museum in the crypt, click here.
I’ll finish with another of Wren’s glories, that of St Mary Aldermary, which could perhaps be described as ‘Christopher Wren goes Gothic’ with its fan-vaulted ceiling.
I hope you liked these. Do let me know what you think (see comment form below), and I’ll see if I can cook up some more in due course…