It’s quite easy to get lost in the maze of highwalks in London’s Barbican Estate, and to some it may be disorientating to discover a medieval church in the middle of the Barbican’s brutalist sprawl. St Giles without Cripplegate is a rare survivor of the Great Fire – even if it didn’t fare too well during the Blitz – and its name is one of the last remaining references to this ancient corner of the Square Mile.
Brompton Cemetery is particularly rich in grand memorials. In the centre of the cemetery, amongst the dark Victorian crosses and angels, stands a paler, more modern memorial. The face of a young man stares out from an impressive, well cared for headstone. Beneath the inscription is a dramatic image of a Zeppelin – one of the monstrous German airships of the First World War – falling to the ground in flames while a comparatively tiny aircraft flies to safety. The headstone, which occupies a prominent spot in the cemetery, commemorates the bravery of one of the British Armed Forces’ first heroes of aviation – Flight Sub-Lieutenant Reginald Alexander John Warneford. Read More
Nunhead is arguably the least well known of London’s “Magnificent Seven” Victorian cemeteries. Like many of South East London’s interesting old sites, it often gets overlooked due to its lack of a nearby Tube station, although it’s actually a short walk from Nunhead Rail station, which is three stops from London Victoria.
One of the best things about living in London is the great potential for discovering wonderful places completely by accident. In this instance, I was required to go to Mortlake to pick up a parcel from the sorting office that had been too big to fit through my letterbox. Whilst walking up Mortlake High Street my eye was caught by some worn old gravestones peeping out through bushes and shrubs.
In the shadows of the international terminal at St Pancras Station, close enough for platform announcements to be heard, is a tiny old church which has a history that supposedly stretches back almost as far as St Pancras himself. St Pancras was a Roman martyr who was beheaded in about 304AD for his Christian beliefs, and the church claims that the site has been a place of Christian worship since the 4th Century. Until the 19th Century, Old St Pancras was a rural church, close to the River Fleet, but today it is nestled in amongst the railway infrastructure of St Pancras and the houses and flats of Somers Town. When approaching the church, the first thing that struck me was how high the ground level of the churchyard is compared to its surroundings.
Hammersmith, with its riverside factories and wharves, was badly bombed during the Second World War – but that’s a story for another blog post. Amongst the postwar concrete of the immediate area around Hammersmith tube station, a few older buildings and facades remain: a Georgian building that now houses a Chinese restaurant, rows of 19th Century villas leading down towards the river, and the splendid Gothic church of St Paul, built from a distinctive pinkish stone.