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London Churches

Churches are everywhere in London. Look down any random street and you're likely to be treated to a view of a magnificent steeple, a well-proportioned nave, or even the tops of awe-inspiring domes. Some have interesting histories, and I was able to learn something about some of them, and some are active houses of worship, but many just exist and are beautiful, as far as I was concerned, hosting the occasional free lunch-time concert and/or evensong performance. Or just providing a special architectural photo-op.

St. Paul's, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral, are London's most famous churches, and since we took so many photos of them, I've given them their own separate pages of photos.

You can see larger versions of the pictures on this page, and more, in this Flickr set. You can read a review of most of the churches I saw in this blog post—Favorite Fotos: London Churches. Of course, churches were major sights in many of the other locations I visited during the semester, especially OxfordEdinburghBathAveburyItalyGermany.

And if you'd like to situate the churches in this section of the website, geographically, here's a map:


View a larger verion of this London Churches map here.


St. Stephen's (on the left) and St. Luke's (on the right) were more or less neighborhood churches for me. St. Luke's was a block away from my flat and St. Stephen's was a couple of blocks from my office:

St. Stephen's on Gloucester Road [spacer] St. Luke's on Redcliffe Sq.

 

This handsome church was also in my Kensington neighborhood; I remember taking pictures of it there. But I don't have a positive identification for it. I think it's St. Jude's, on Collingham Road:

St. Jude's (?)

While walking on two successive days in December, I ran across a whole bevy of wonderful churches. To read about these walkabouts as they happened, or just after, see the blog entries covering these dates: Dec. 6 Dec. 7

First came the mysterious Temple Church, although I was more impressed by its handsome structure than by any associations it might have with secret societies:

Temple Church

Then, right in the same neighborhood, on Fleet Street, which becomes The Strand as it moves west, were these impressive structures. St. Dunstan-in-the-West comes first as you head that direction, and it features one of those wonderful figure clocks:

St. Dunstan-in-the-West St. Dunstan clock

Then come two much more delicate buildings, among my favorites of the London churches I saw. First is St. Clement Danes (the RAF's church, as you can see) then the aptly-named St. Mary le Strand:

St. Clement Danes [spacer]
RAF sign
[spacer] St. Mary le Strand

The next day, not too far north of The Strand, I found All Saints (on Margaret Street), on the left below, and then All Souls, which I learned was a Wren church that survived the Blitz. (And I recently (2016) learned that the imposing structure behind it on the left is Broadcasting House, home of the BBC; wish I'd known that when I was in London!) Very different styles, only a few blocks apart, they're perfect examples of the variety and beauty of London's churches.

All Saints on Margaret St. All Souls

A few days later, while on some errands, not especially looking for interesting churches at all, I found another couple of gems. First I came upon another St. Mary, this one le Bow, on Cheapside (on the left). Nearby, on Newgate, near St. Paul's, was the very interesting church/memorial: Christ Church Greyfriars. Its picture is on the right, including the remainder of one of its walls, and the sign telling its story is in the middle:

St. Mary le Bow [spacer] Christ Church Greyfriars sign [spacer] Christ Church Greyfriars

One of the wonderful things about London churches is the way their fabulous acoustics are utilized, making them often the sites of musical events, from full-fledged chamber music concerts, to oratorios, to a wide variety of evensong, to charming and accomplished duets and solo performances. I was fortunate enough to hear some of each of these musical treats at the following churches:

St. Mary Abbott

St. Mary Abbots, famous for being Princess Di's church, is near her home, Kensington Palace. I attended two concerts here. One was a incredible lunchtime duet featuring students from the Royal College of Music (read about it here) and the other was a performance of Handel's Messiah, just two days before we left for home.

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St. James

This is St. James Piccadilly, a Wren church not far from the eponymous Circus. I attended another [free] lunchtime concert here, this one featuring a viola soloist with piano accompaniment. You can read about this and my other outings that day here.

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St. Martin's in the Fields

When I first heard of this church, many years ago, I pictured a rural sanctuary surrounded by rolling fields—logical if the church is called St. Martin in the Fields, right? Quite the contrary, it's right on Trafalgar Square, next door to the National Gallery, one of the most famous urban spaces in the world. It was the site of perhaps my best musical experience in London: a choral concert you can read about here.

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Southwark Cathedral at night

I took this picture of the venerable Southwark Cathedral, located just on the south end of London Bridge, when I was there to hear evensong during the last week of my London stay. Evensong performances are a great way to hear music in some of London's most spectacular churches. I caught one at St. Paul's, also, earlier in December. You can read about that performance here.

These last two churches are famous enough, and interesting enough, to warrant display of more of their photos.

Here are some daytime views of Southwark Cathedral, along with the informational sign that tells more about why it's so special—in addition to its gorgeousness, that is.

Southwark Cathedral tower [spacer]
Southwark Cathedral information sign
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Southwark Cathedral doorway
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Southwark Cathedral [spacer]
Southwark Cathedral panorama
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closeup of Southwark Cathedral inlay

And here are some more views of St. Martin in the Fields—minus the fields, of course:

National Gallery & St. Martin in the Fields

St. Martin next to its famous neighbor, the National Gallery of Art.

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St. Martin in the Fields Crypt restaurant

In the basement of the church, there's a restaurant appropriately named the Crypt. I'd read that it sheltered Londoners during the Blitz. We didn't actually eat there (it's a little pricey) but saw it when we went to the nearby box office to get tickets for our concert.

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St. Martin in the Fields seen thu Natl. Gallery columns

Henry loves to take framed photos, and he always finds interesting scenes to frame. Here's St. Martin as seen through some of the Gallery's columns.


Many other less famous, one's tempted to say "miscellaneous" churches, dot the London landscape. Here are some that I photographed and was able to identify:

All Saints in Bishop's Park (read more about the park here)

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St. Botolph's Aldgate

St. Botolph's Aldgate

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Holy Trinity

Holy Trinity Church near Imperial College

 

St. Marylebone

St. Marylebone near Regent's Park

St. Pancras

St. Pancras, near the famous station

Most of the churches shown on this page are C of E (Church of England) in their denomination (although there are a couple of RC (Roman Catholic) structures). But of course London is diversity personified, and there are houses of worship of various flavors to go along with the different kinds of cuisine on offer throughout the city:

an East End mosque

A mosque in London's East End, near Brick Lane

Methodist Central Hall

Methodist Central Hall, near the Houses of Parliament

London Central Mosque

London Central Mosque, near Regent's Park

Finally, I have pictures of three churches I originally couldn't identify. Wikipedia came to the rescue on the first: it's St. Alfege's in Greenwich. But the last two are still mysteries to me:

Greenwich church

St. Alfege's, Greenwich

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mystery church

Building that I assume is a church somewhere on a Thames embankment

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church near the Millennium Bridge

Church sandwiched by two of the large office buildings between St. Paul's and the Thames


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