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City of London 28th August 2012

August 29, 2012

The Church Tourism Study sallies forth again – this time to the City of London. There are some very interesting churches to visit here.

 

Holy Redeemer, Clerkenwell

 

Holy Redeemer exterior

Situated on the bustling Exmouth Market, I got there just as all the stalls were being set up. This is a very distinctive church with it’s Italianate design, apparently based on Santo Spirito in Florence.

The church was locked but with a sign to ring the bell to gain entry. The signs outside give the usual details. Inside, I found an ornate interior and there is much to see. There are some prayer cards to purchase and a guide to the church, a simple yet informative one. There didn’t seem to be a visitors book but there is a prayer book to enter intercessions into as well as a couple of votive stands to use. There are a couple of boxes of children’s books and toys as well to keep younger visitors amused. The website is on http://www.rainbowinformation.com/hr/ . This in itself gives quite a bit more information and some links that are worth exploring. The Ship of Fools Mystery Worshipper has been here too – read the report on

http://www.ship-of-fools.com/mystery/2002/590Mystery.html

This really a wonderful church to visit and I rate it as good from the point of this study.

 

Clerkenwell interior

St. Vedast, Foster Lane.

 

 

St. Vedast

Another of my favourite London churches. St. Vedast lies in the shadow of St. Paul’s Cathedral. It suffered badly in the blitz but was fortunately rebuilt. It is open every day and the sign outside says so too. There was a friendly steward inside and another lady was cleaning the floor. This church is spotless. There was a church guide and some leaflets on The Friends of the City of London Churches’ (www.london-city-churches.org.uk ). Rather surprisingly, only 5 people had signed the visitors book in the last month – it is on a small table to the left of the main church door. This church has a wonderful interior and there is a small chapel to use for prayer as well as a votive stand. Also, there is a small courtyard to sit in next to the church. A little haven of peace in the city but the smell of cooking from the restaurant next door made me hungry! The church website can be found on http://www.vedast.org.uk/

 

St. Vedast

I rate St. Vedast as good.

 

St. Lawrence Jewry, next Guildhall

 

St. Lawrence Jewry

I hadn’t got this on my list to visit but when in as I was going past. I’m glad I did. A lot of effort has gone into welcoming visitors and in providing items of interest for them when they get there. The church is open Mon – Friday and the signs outside make this clear and that visitors are welcome. There are guides to buy as well as a selection of the excellent Gospel imprint leaflets (http://www.gospelimprint.com/) . Also, CD’s of music performed in the church and a book about the windows. Very unusually there is a leaflet which explains the church logo and it’s symbolism. Just inside the church is a small chapel which has been set up as a prayer room. This is based around some bible passages and is thought provoking. A candle can be lit there as well and there are leaflets which explain how this chapel can be used. A lot of thought has gone into this. There are also leaflets available on Spiritual Direction and some prayers upon lighting a candle. In the main part of the church, there is an open Bible and some displays on the eleven livery companies which have associations with St. Lawrence Jewry. Prayer requests can also be left. There are some cards to buy as well and coffee is on offer in return for a £1 donation. The churches website is on http://www.stlawrencejewry.org.uk/ and gives much more information.

 

St. Lawrence Jewry

All in all, I rate this church as very good.

 

St. Mary Le Bow, Cheapside

 

St. Mary Le Bow

The tower of this church is an imposing presence on Cheapside. It is open every day with a cafe in the crypt. The signs make all this very clear. In the entrance hall is a modern Madonna, in front of which candles can be lit without entering the church proper. There was a display of Gospel Imprint leaflets which explain many facets of the Christian faith. There is a guide, ‘One Thousand Years of History’, in English, French, Italian and Spanish. There is also a guide to the famous bells and a larger guide book is available too. The interior is striking with modern windows being a reminder that here is another church all but destroyed in the war. It wasn’t rebuilt until 1964. There are some displays about the churches history. There is another place to light votive candles, this time a pot. The church website is http://www.stmarylebow.co.uk/ This features a short film about the church and the life of the congregation here – recommended.

 

Madonna and candles, St. Mary Le Bow

 

 

St. Mary Le Bow interior

I rate St. Mary le Bow as very good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Sepulchre, Newgate

 

St. Sepulchre, Newgate

The largest parish church in the City. I was looking forward to having a look around this church but it is only open on the Wednesday this week and no other times. Thsi was only shown by a small sign which I at first missed on my attempt to work out how to get inside. The website http://www.st-sepulchre.org.uk tells me that the church is open every day 10am – 2pm which it plainly isn’t. There are currently no regular services either until a new priest is appointed. Let’s hope that this happens soon. There were several people who were disappointed at not being able to get visit. This is a shame so I have to rate this as very poor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Bride’s, Fleet Street

 

St. Bride’s, Fleet Street

Happily, this church was open and is another one well worth a visit. It is known as the journalist’s church as befits its position it what was once the home of the print industry. Visitors are encouraged. In part this is by welcoming signs. Inside there is a bookstall with guidebooks, pencils, pens, mugs, CD’s, post cards, Prayer Books etc. There is a selection of children’s books and bibles too. Also the ‘New Daylight’ bible reading notes. Guided tours are arranged sometimes. The blessed sacrament is reserved here and there is a prayer board to leave intercessions on, as well as a votive stand. Two things especially caught my eye. The first is the modern stations of the cross which are some photographs. These really bring out the meaning of Good Friday. Then there is an altar with memorials to journalists, and other media employees, who have lost their lives in pursuit of their work. This is very moving and it was very noticeable what effect this was having on the visitors who stood and looked at it. It engendered a sense of prayerfulness. We are not always aware of the cost of our 24 hour news coverage.

St. Bride’s

 

In the crypt is well worth a visit as it gives quite a bit of history on this part of London.

A simple prayer card has been produced, giving a prayer at the top and a tear off slip on which to write the names of people or causes for which prayer is requested. This can be left on the prayer board for the church to pray, whilst the top prayer can be taken away. A very good idea. There was also a leaflet, ‘What do Christians believe?’ which sets out a brief description of our faith. This is also very good. In fact, overall I rate this church as very good for the visitor.

 

Media memorial

The church website is at http://www.stbrides.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Andrew’s by the Wardrobe, Blackfriars

 

St. Andrew by the Wardrobe

From a very good church to a very poor one. According to the website

( http://www.standrewbythewardrobe.net/) the church should be open every day. But it was firmly locked on my visit. There appeared to be no signs telling me when I would be able to get in. I have to rate this as very poor. It is a wasted opportunity as there were a lot of people around when I was there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christchurch, Blackfriars

 

Christchurch

At first sight Christchurch doesn’t seem to offer much. A 1950’s brick built utilitarian building on Blackfriars Road. An earlier building was destroyed during the war. The area around the church is now large building site. This is an area which is changing fast.

Christchurch is open every day and the signs do given a good welcome to visitors. There are some leaflets about the Christian faith available, ‘You are my child whom I love with you I am well pleased’ is simply a selection of affirming Bible verses. ‘To help you pray’ gives some prayers and ideas for prayer. There was also a copy of the famous ‘Footprints’ poem and some gospels, as well as a welcome and guide leaflet. There is more here to see than you might think, although there were only 4 visitors in the book over the last month. There is a votive stand to use and a laminated guide to Christchurch’s principle treasure, which is it’s stained glass windows. These depict facets of Southwark working life, old and new.

Christchurch window

They are quite stunning and it is worth spending some time studying them. They also feature on the church’s website http://www.christchurchsouthwark.org.uk . This is an unusual church but worthy of inclusion in Leigh Hatts book ‘London’s 100 Best Churches’

 

Christchurch interior

I rate it as good for this study.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. James’s, Garlickhythe

 

St. Jame’s , Garlickhythe

This is a wonderful building with the figure of St, James and his pilgrim staff on top of the clock face. Unfortunately it was locked and the sign outside tells me that it is only open on Thursdays from 11 – 2.30pm. It would be nice if that was put on the website to avoid a wasted visit http://stjamesgarlickhythe.org/

I haven’t rated St. James.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Stephen’s, Walbrook

 

St. Stephen, Walbrook

Nearby is another great church surrounded by yet more building. It is open on weekdays from 10am – 4pm. The doors were open to invite the visitor inside, and it is well worth going in. The interior has been re ordered with some notable fittings and furniture. The altar is particularly striking, being an eight ton block of stone carved by Henry Moore. The lovely modern pews curve around it. Inside there is a leaflet on Henry Moore and the church and some from The Friends of City Churches. They also sell key fobs for 50p each. I also picked up a postcard about the London Internet Church – www.londoninternetchurch.org.ukwhich is an initiative by the Diocese of London. St. Stephen’s is the home of this. Worth a look at. But to return to St. Stephen’s proper, their website,

St. Stephen, Walbrook

http://www.ststephenwalbrook.net/ also features a video, giving a potted history and downloads of a history guide as well as many other things. The chanting over it gets bit irritating though after a while. It is also here that Chad Varah founded the Samaritans.

I like this church very much and rate it as good from a church tourism point of view.

34 people had signed the visitors book in the last month.

 

St. Mary at Hill,

 

St. Mary at Hill

Nearby is St Mary’s. This too was locked. The sign outside told me that there is a Holy Communion service at 1pm on a Wednesday, and a recital at 1.05pm on a Thursday. The website – http://www.stmary-at-hill.org/ does say that the church is usually open on Tuesday’s Wednesday’s and Thursday’s. It wasn’t on the Tuesday I visited. It is not always easy for churches to keep to their advertised opening times but it would be easy enough to put on the website that it is to be closed.

I have to rate this as poor as a consequence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Magnus the Martyr, Lower Thames Street

 

St. Magnus the Martyr

Yet another church surrounded by building work. St. Magnus is open Tuesday’s to Friday’s 10am – 4pm. The signs outside make this plain. It is certainly worth a visit. It is one of those Anglican churches where you are not sure if you have actually strayed into a Roman Catholic one. The scent of incense hangs heavy in the air and can be seen swirling in the sunlight through the high windows. There is much to see here. There are some church guides and gospels available, as well as some prayer cards. Also a leaflet on the Fraternity of Our Lady De Salve Regina which exists to promote devotion to our Lady through the singing, or saying, daily of the Salve Regina as well as prayer. The church website http://www.stmagnusmartyr.org.uk/ gives more details. I found some secondhand books for sale here. There are votive stands to use and many statues to look at. There is also a good model of the Old London Bridge. A prayer board can be used for intercessions.

 

Statue of St. Magnus

A most interesting church which I rate as very good.

 

All Hallows by the Tower

 

All Hallows by the Tower

All Hallows was very busy with visitors. Many would reckon this as being the most visited church in England. They could well be right. Visitors are invited in by plenty of signs outside. The visitors book had so many entries that I didn’t count it up. There are some very friendly stewards on hand who also give guided tours. There is currently a display entitled ‘Bonuses, Benefits & Bailouts: The Morality of the King James Bible’. A good way to display the Bible and use it to give insight into the modern world. Much better than using odd verses to beat people over the head with! I enjoyed looking at this display, some items of which are very moving. The organ was being played whilst I was there. There are displays on the history of the church, and even more of this in the Crypt. The Undercroft Chapel is now columbarium, containing many rows of boxes in which are interred the ashes of those associated with the church or parish. There are guides available in many languages, a book and gift stall and a prayer board to use. Also a guide to Tubby Clayton and the work of Toc H. The churches website gives much more on http://allhallowsbythetower.org.uk/

 

All Hallows

I rate this church as very good. Thoroughly recommended.

 

St. Helen’s, Bishopgate

 

St. Helen’s

St. Helen’s is surrounded by building work and it is easy to miss it. The churches website (http://www.st-helens.org.uk/) says this; ‘Visiting the church building
The church building is open to visitors every day from Monday to Friday between 9.30am and 12.30pm, and entry is via the church office.  The building is also usually open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons, but visitors are advised to telephone in advance to check.   There is a colour guidebook available which gives information about many of the historic features of the building.’

On my visit I found that the church was shut because of a meeting. It is probably best to check if you do want to visit here.

Not rated.

 

 

St. Botolph’s, Bishopgate

 

St Botolph’s, Bishopgate

This church is open every day and the churchyard is a popular place to sit. The signage is Okay but the website http://www.botolph.org.uk/ gives details of when open, as well as a short welcome video and some information on just who St. Botolph was. There are regular midweek services here. Inside, I found a guide and a quiet chapel with an enormous prayer board which is cleared every Monday. There is a votive stand to use as well. A moving memorial here is to those who have died as a result of contaminated blood products. A memorial book lists many names.

 

St. Botolph’s

I rate this church as okay plus for visitors.

 

Christchurch, Spitalfields

 

Christchurch, Spitalfields

Spitalfields has seen many changes in recent years. The old market is now full of new stalls and the whole area has shed it’s run down image. The same goes for Christchurch. This church was nearly demolished years ago but is now beautifully refurbished and serves as a vibrant parish church. It is open most days but is often used as a venue for various functions. The website http://www.ccspitalfields.org/ gives more details.

There was a welcome notice outside as I approached giving a good welcome for the visitor. There are some friendly stewards in attendance and I was given a laminated guide to help me understand this church. The chancel step is designated as a place to pray and a notice does say that a steward will pray with a visitor if required. On the altar is an open Bible. There is also a prayer tree and a votive stand to use. Some round tables were set up at the west end of the church and each table had a bible on it. There are some leaflets around by sgm Life words, ‘InspiringPrayer’ and ‘Jesus, an introduction’ were seen. There were also some cards to buy.

 

Christchurch

I rate this church as good for the purposes of this study.

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