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Wednesday, 10 August 2016

To new heights.

We had a few jobs to do on the boat first thing but as out appointment at 20 Fenchurch Street was at 1245. We decided to walk and on the way we passed an open church so as we were ahead of time we popped in. The Friends of the City Churches have a rota of keeping open churches that wouldn't normally be open to the public. This one was St Sepulchre's without Newgate.

This is one of the oddities that you find in churches. A London merchant John Dowe gave £50 to buy a handbell in 1605 provided it was rung when ever a condemned man was to be hung at the near by Newgate Prison. It was to be rung at midnight, 12 double rings, and then a short sermon preached about repenting sins. A nosegay was then given him. This ritual went on until the early 1800's.

The original church was lost during the Great Fire of 1666 but the rebuilt church is the largest parish church in the City. It has been known as the Musician's Church for some time. Sir Henry Wood, of Proms fame, learned to play the organ here as a 14 year old and later became the organist. His ashes are interned here. It is also the Chapel for the Royal Fusliers and many of their standards are here. 

We finally got to our destination 20 Fenchurch Street, better known now as the 'Walkie Talkie' after it;s distinctive shape. The ride up to the top floor Sky Garden is quick and when you come out of the lift the space and view are quite breath taking.

Helen has a real 'thing' about the Shard building and comments when ever she glimpses it down a street or on the sky line. She wont get a better view of it than from the viewing deck here. The Shard  was opened in 2012.

The 'Walkie Talkie' nearly didn't get built as it was felt by many to be too distracting of St Paul's close by. The built height is less than originally planned. The Monument to the Great Fire of London is really dwarfed by it.

It is great to see all of the Tower of London rather than just a wall or tower. 20 Fenchurch Street was opened in the spring of 2014 and the Sky Garden was opened in January 2015. We managed to eat our pack up in the sky again, with a cup of coffee to wash it down too.

After coming down again we walked to the Monument and instead of a lift there are 311 steps to take us to the viewing gallery. It was great to look back up to see where we had been earlier.

This was looking down but we were only about a third of the height up. It is 350 years since the Great Fire of Londo so we decided to follow some of a walk taking in spots related to the Fire.

We were once again distracted by another open church that we were going to find later. This was St. Magnus the Martyr. The interior was lovely with some high church specialties. It is also the church for the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers and that of the Plumbers.

The original stone London Bridge that was built in 1209 and was aligned with the road coming through the arch of the tower of St Magnus. There is a piece of the original Roman wooden bridge by the arch. The clock was paid for by a Lord Mayor of London Sir Charles Duncombe after he made a pledge as an apprentice when he was on a cart on the narrow bridge and was very late for an appointment as there was no clock to be seen. He didn't want it to happen to others.

I love this sort of thing that you find on buildings. I have a stiff neck after a stay in London as I am always looking up otherwise you miss so much. I can't emember what building this was on.

This is the top of the Monument to the Great Fire and obviously represents the flames. It's height is 202 ft which is the distance from it's position to the site of the start of the Fire on Pudding Lane. Sir Christopher Wren and Dr. Robert Hook designed the column.

Whilst on the walk we came across another church that we had passed in the past and again we decided to go in. It has connections with the Maritime Industry, America and the Toc H movement. The church was established in 675 and managed to survive the Great Fire as Admiral William Penn ordered some buildings nearby to be pulled down. Samuel Pepys climbed the tower of the church to watch the fire's progress. Admiral Penn was the father of William Penn who was baptised in the church and went on to found Pennsylvania. John Quincy Adams married Louisa Catherine Johnson at the church and went on to become the 6th President of the USA. His wife is the only none American to be the First Lady. Toc H was a movement founded by Tubby Clayton who became the vicar of the church. It was a christian movement that started during WWI when Tubby was a Chaplin in Belgium. It was Tubby Clayton that obtained this crows nest from Sir Ernest Shakleton's last Antarctic expedition on the 'Quest'. There are some old ships models suspended from the ceiling to and don't forget to visit the undercroft museum to see the best bit of Roman pavement in London.

Who would have known that there was a Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers? In fact they are one of the oldest companies started in 1330. Wax Chandlers were different to tallow chandlers as they traded in beeswax that was a much more expensive product. These days there are about 120 members and they do 'good deeds' rather than a trade association. This is the 6th Hall on the site and was badly damaged during WWII.

At the back of where we started at St. Sepulchre's is Pie Corner and this statue of a boy marks the furthest limit that the Great Fire Reached. It was originally blamed on Papists and then on the fact that gluttony caused the fire. This gilded boy is to represent the gluttonous boy.

We then wended our way back. stopping half way for a rest and a pint. It was nice to get back with a cup of tea and a sit down.


  1. Goodness knows why the London planning department give these developers planning permission for these buildings! They are spoiling the
    London skyline! Such a shame.

  2. How far back would you like them to go back Ann? Would you get rid of 'Big Ben' and other Victorian buildings too? Always a difficult thing but if you get people to name the buildings on the sky line now they will know the Shard, Gherkin, Walkie Talkie etc and maybe able to recognise St Paul's and the Houses of Parliament but very little else. Nothing stays the same, and nobody really wants to live in a museum.

  3. People recognise buildings like the shard, gherkin etc because of how they stick out like a sore thumb! You say yourself in today's blog about beautiful buildings being knocked down in the 60's and 70's probably beautiful buildings were knocked down for these to go up! You do not have to live in a museum to appreciate and keep beautiful architecture.