A few months ago I saw a picture of a dilapidated church covered in vines and trees. This kind of picture isn't too unusual in the countryside, where tiny Parish churches have been abandoned as the community has moved on (on occasion the community has literally moved on, to another location, so the church spire will be the only thing left), but I was surprised to find out that this church was in London!
St Dunstan's in the East was originally built in Anglo-Saxon times, so a church has been on that spot for a very, very long time. Unfortunately it hasn't been a lucky church. Along with many others it was a victim of the Great Fire of London in 1666 and became one of the projects of Sir Christopher Wren, who is famous for rebuilding St Paul's Cathedral but who actually dealt with the rebuilding just over 50 churches in London. St Dunstan's wasn't rebuilt from scratch, it was simply patched up and given a Wren-designed spire, and then rebuilt properly in the 1800's.
However it only stood for a few hundred years before the Blitz of the second world war led to it being damaged again. Post-war it was decided that the church would not be rebuilt, and in 1967 it was turned into a public garden!
When I realised this church was in London I decided I had to go and see it, and so last weekend I packed up my camera and a book and headed from Kew Gardens out to Monument station (you gotta love the District Line). Monument is one of the stations in "The City", the financial district of London. Normally it's insanely busy and you have to dodge stockbrokers as well as tourists, but on Sunday it was blissfully quiet apart from a few people stopping to gawp at Monument itself (it's a big tower that commemorates the Great Fire).
Remember when I said my camera meant I would start putting up my own pictures? Well that's what'll be in this post! That's the entrance to the church, it's a bit difficult to find as you go down a tiny side-street and practically stumble on it. But it's very peaceful and very green!
On my way to St Dunstan's I came across another church, I didn't go in but I did get a snapshot.
I wish those bollards weren't in the way, but if I moved closer to get them out then I ended up losing the sense of the narrow street. Personally this is my favourite photo of the whole day, the Italian flags outside the restaurant and the fact that there's actual sunlight suggests you're in Italy rather than London.
I was getting a headache by this point, mostly caused by the underground journey, so I went to a nearby Caffe Nero for a drink and a tasty snack!
With caffeine and sugar in me I felt much better, and since the rain was still holding off and it was warm without being hot I decided to see how far I could walk. I set off down Eastcheap and simply walked until my legs wore out. I kept finding churches for some reason, I don't know if God was expecting me to pop in for a visit but I always feel weird wandering into a church on my own, so I popped my head round a few doors and then left. There was one very big door I didn't pop in to though, mostly because I want to go back one day and have a proper look!
Yes it's St Paul's Cathedral! Excuse the road sign but it's difficult to get a decent photo of the blasted thing as it's surrounded by busy roads, and frankly I was simply relieved that I hadn't over-exposed the sky, which is my biggest problem with these kinds of shots.
I have no idea what Bracken House is but I had to take a photo of the "clock" over the doorway simply for the zodiac signs! It looks even more beautiful when you're right in front of it.
For a year of my life I walked past this station once a week as I headed to Kings for a lecture as part of my MA. Strand Station is an abandoned underground station that is now regularly used for films. During the second world war it was used during the Blitz to store art from museums and art galleries that were at risk of being bombed.
And at this point I was started to get a bit tired, so I walked on a bit further and then cut down a road to the river and walked along until I found Embankment station and decided it was time to call it a day.
If you're ever in London and full of energy then walking from Monument down to the Strand is ridiculously easy and takes in a lot of well-known areas, along with St Paul's you also end up going down Fleet Street, where the newspapers used to be, and go past The Old Bailey, and if you carry on further than I did you'll end up at Charing Cross near Trafalgar Square. Plus there's lots of places along the way where you can stop for a drink and a sandwich.
Have a good week everyone!