Friday, March 29, 2013

The Churches of London

It seems appropriate, on this Easter weekend, to discuss churches. Well, not really to discuss them, so much as illustrate them.

I've been researching with a great many Regency books and magazines, and have found many, many marvelous pictures of London in the early 1800's. Churches, in particular, are beautifully represented in these publications, the engravings detailed and quite stunning.

Here are a few of my favourites:

 Above is St. Martin's in the Fields on Trafalgar Square in the City of Westminster. It was completed in 1724.
 Bow Church above in Cheapside, is more properly known as St. Mary le Bow, and is home of the famous Bow Bells.

 Shoreditch Church is actually St. Leonard's, on Hackney Road, and dates from about 1740. (My apologies for the uncorrected crookedness!)

St. Bride's in Fleet Street designed by Christopher Wren in 1672 is probably the seventh church built on this ancient site.

St. Clements Danes is another Wren church, with a steeple added to the tower in the early 1700s. St. Clement is the patron saint of mariners, and the Danes of the name were a sea-faring people many of whom settled in London in the 9th century.

The above engraving of St. Dunstan's in the East, halfway between London Bridge and the Tower of London, must have been made just before the church was discovered in 1817 to be unsound and was demolished. It no longer exists but for the tower and steeple. (Yes, there is a St. Dunstan's in the West.)
In 1133 the first St. Michael's Church was built in this location; it was destroyed by the Great Fire of London. The building in the above engraving was begun in 1672. It underwent many alterations in the Victorian era.

The Dutch Church in this engraving was a medieval building, built originally as part of an Augustinian Priory. At the dissolution this church was turned over to the immigrant Dutch/Walloon community, and remains the oldest Dutch language Protestant church in the world. The church still exists but this building was destroyed during the blitz of WWII.

The interiors of the London churches are not neglected either in the Regency publications I've been reading:
The Priory Church of St. Batholomew the Great above possesses the most significant Norman interior in London. Situated in West Smithfield, it survived both the Great Fire and the Blitz.
This handsome interior from St. Stephen's Walbrook is by Sir Christopher Wren.
St. George's in a handsome engraving of 1787

St. George's Church, Hanover Square, in Mayfair, is the church Regency readers hear about the most. And it remains a popular sight for society weddings. But the Londoners of the Regency would have known all the churches shown above, and many, many more.

Happy Easter!

'Til next time,

These illustrations (except for St. George's) are taken from:
Repository of Arts February 1815
Walks Through London 1817
London and Middlsex: An historical, commercial, and descriptive history...1815
All are available for download from Google Books


Susanne Dietze said...

Thanks for sharing these. I've seen many pictures of St. George's, but not the others.

Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

I'm glad you enjoyed them! Hopefully I'll be able to add to the list as I go through these books and journals. Thanks for dropping by...