The London Correspondent Travels

The London Correspondent, #3

Let’s continue to wander through London with the Correspondent, aka as my sister, Judy. 

1.  St Lawrence Jewry, next to the Guildhall

St Lawrence Jewry
St Lawrence Jewry

This church lies in the heart of the City of London. It has been important in the affairs of the City because of its close proximity to the adjacent Guildhall, and many civic events have been held here, particularly by the once very powerful Livery Companies of the City. There has been a church on the site since 1180. After being destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 it was rebuilt by Christopher Wren, then it was restored again following extensive damage during WWII. The church is full of light and space and splendour, and its white and gold design is said to remind us of the glory and beauty of heaven.

The light, space and splendour of the inside
The light, space and splendour of the inside

The patron saint, St Lawrence was Archdeacon of Rome, and martyred in the second century, on a gridiron, which has become his symbol and is found on the crest of the church.

Thomas More (1478-1535) was born in nearby Milk Street, and he became Chancellor of England during the time of Henry VIII. Around 1501 he delivered a series of lectures in the church about the relationship between Christianity and government, which he further explored this theme in his book Utopia. He was executed in 1535.

The side chapel is the Commonwealth Chapel, with windows at the side representing the Commonwealth as it was in 1957.

2.  St Olave, Hart Street

St. Olave Church
St. Olave Church

Olav, patron saint of Norway, is credited with saving London from the Danes in 1013. The original church on the site was built some time in the 11th century, probably in wood, and replaced in stone in the late 12th or early 13th century. The church today is essentially the third one, built about 1450 and lovingly restored in the 1950s, after the bombing in WWII.

Samuel Pepys is the most famous parishioner of the church (1633-1703), and Pepys is buried with his wife and one of his brothers at the east end of the church.

John Betjman described the church “A country church in the world of Seething Lane”.

A country church in London
A country church in London

3.  The Mediaeval Chapel of St. Etheldreda

The Mediaeval Chapel of St. Etheldreda
The Mediaeval Chapel of St. Etheldreda

This lovely chapel can be found in Ely Place, in Holborn.  The origins of the chapel date from 1260. It was part of the property owned by the Bishop of Ely, and was one of the largest and most elegant because the Diocese of Ely was the heart of sheep-rearing country and very wealthy.

The land on which the Bishop built was outside the City of London, and today all that is left of the Palace of the Bishops of Ely is the mediaeval chapel with its undercroft or crypt.


St Etheldreda’s is, except for Westminster Abbey, the only surviving work from the reign of Edward I (1239-1307) in London, and it was also the first pre-reformation shrine to be restored to Catholic hands, but it was not until 1879 that a Catholic Mass was said for the first time in the upper church. In the intervening centuries the building luckily survived the Fire of London, and being converted into a brewery, and during World War II all the glass in the windows was destroyed. The memory of St Etheldreda, who lived and died in great holiness in 678, is maintained in this lovely building.

St. Etheldreda
St. Etheldreda

I have recently discovered City Mapper, a free App which can be downloaded for iPads and iPods. You can put in your starting place and your destination, and the app works out the route and the best means of transport to get there, as well as how long it will take, on the bus, train or walking. It’s brilliant.

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