Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee, Whether summer clothe the general earth With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall Heard only in the trances of the blast, Or if the secret ministry of frost Shall hang them up in silent icicles, Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
The Pepys Connection
On my final morning in London I walked to the City again but this time I had two definite objectives in mind. The photo above shows Lovat Lane which runs from Eastcheap down to Lower Thames St and gives a real feel of the historic City. It is still cobbled and down the centre where there are two lines of cobblestones would once have run an open sewer. All the photos will enlarge if you click on them.
My first objective was the church of St Olave, Hart St. My reason for visiting it was that the sister of one of my husband's ancestors was baptized here in 1794. Once inside I discovered that it had much more important connections than 4xGt Aunt Matilda!
St Olave's was the church that Samuel Pepys attended when he lived and worked at the Navy Office on Seething Lane which runs along the back of St Olave's. The photograph shows the Pepys Memorial which marks the site of the Navy Office pew, this was in a gallery above the main church. At the end of May each year there is a Commemoration service (Pepys died on May 26th 1703) and a laurel wreath is placed on the Memorial.
This is the memorial that Pepys commissioned after the death of his wife Elizabeth in 1669 at the age of 29. She is looking directly across to the Navy Office pew where her husband would have sat each Sunday. Samuel and Elizabeth are buried together at the East end of the church 'under the Communion table' according to the burial register.
This lovely monument is to Dame Anne Radcliffe who died in 1585.
A rather splendid memorial to Sir James Deane with his three wives. He was a merchant adventurer who made a fortune in India,China and the Spice Islands. He was a very generous benefactor to the poor of all the parishes he had lived in. He died in 1608 and was survived by his third wife .
A detail of the pulpit which is believed to have been carved by the renowned sculptor and wood carver Grinling Gibbons
The rear of the church is a pleasant little refuge from the City streets. Look at the photo closely and notice that there are steps leading down to the South door - this is because the level of the churchyard has risen due to the thousands of burials that have taken place here! There is a plague pit here too, during the Great Plague of London (1665-1666) people were dying at such a rate that there was no time for individual burials and bodies were simply thrown into a pit. A nicer story though is an entry in the burial register in 1586 for a lady known as 'Mother Goose'. She used to knit little boots for her geese so that their feet wouldn't get sore as they were herded to market. Isn't that a lovely story?
The somewhat forbidding entrance into the churchyard from Seething Lane. Built in 1658 these became the gates of 'St Ghastly Grim' in Charles Dickens' book The Uncommercial Traveller. It was fine on a hot, sunny day but I don't think I'd fancy going through there on a dark, wet winter's night!
Directly across the road from the skull ornamented gate is the little garden that marks the site of the Navy Office where Samuel Pepys worked and lived. The stone with the blue plaque on is virtually hidden by the shrubs so I thought I'd better do a close up of it.
St Botolph Bishopsgate was the second of my objectives, my husbands ancestors were being baptized and buried here for over 100 years, the earliest baptism is in 1715 and the latest burial in 1846. The burial ground was turned into a garden in 1863 so there are no graves to find unfortunately.
This is the interior which survived both the Great Fire and the Blitz but was badly damaged by an IRA bomb in 1993 which opened up the roof and destroyed all the doors and windows.
This lovely window was commissioned by the Worshipful Company of Bowyers to mark the restoration of the church.
The eighteenth century font where so many of my husband's ancestors were baptized. The poet John Keats was baptized here as well in 1795.
St Stephen Walbrook is tucked away on a little side street and though it was closed when I passed by on Sunday I was able to go inside on Monday morning. This is another of Wren's churches and he actually lived next door to this one.
The interior is spacious and full of light, the altar in the centre of the church is by Henry Moore and is a rather controversial addition. I really like it which is rather odd as I'm not usually an admirer of modern art. It's utter simplicity seems to fit beautifully into this particular interior though. The marble for the altar came from the quarry near Rome that was used by Michelangelo.
The lovely dome was the first of its kind in any English church and was a sort of trial run for Wren's masterpiece - the dome of St Paul's Cathedral.
Just around the corner from St Stephen's Walbrook is the Temple of Mithras. It was only discovered in 1954 and was actually on Walbrook originally but it was moved to Queen Victoria St as the original site was destined to become office blocks.
By this time I needed to be heading back to my hotel to pick up my suitcase ready for the journey home. On the way though I wanted to try and find Ely Place which is technically still part of Cambridgeshire as it was originally the site of the London Palace of the Bishops of Ely. The entrance to Ely Place is gated and a beadle oversees the comings and goings of people and traffic. As you walk down there is a tiny alley on the left and if you go down the alley you will find this tiny pub. The Mitre was originally built for the servants from the Bishop's Palace but the present building dates from the 1700s in spite of the date on the lantern.
Tucked away at the end of Ely Place is the 13th century church of St Etheldreda once the private chapel of the Bishop's Palace. It is the oldest Roman Catholic church in England.
Around the walls of the church are the statues of eight martyrs who died for their faith during the Reformation. This is St Anne Line, a seamstress executed at Tyburn in 1601 for sheltering a priest.
Here we have John Roche, a Thames waterman executed at Tyburn in 1588 for helping a priest to escape.
The Crypt is thought to date back to the 6th century, there are massive wooden beams and the walls are eight feet thick. It is still in use as a chapel and the font is down here.I think that the two statues in the window embrasures are St Francis and Our Lady. It was very dark down there so the other photos I took are too murky to post.
You'll be glad to know that this is the final London post:) It's rather long but as I said in my previous post I use my blog as a record of the places I've visited.
This will be my last post for 3 weeks or so as on Saturday I'm off to visit my elder son and his family in South Africa. If you look for White River on the map that's where my daughter and I will be staying. DH gets to stay home with B Baggins:)
We're hoping to see plenty of these....
.....and lots of spectacular places like this - Mac Mac Falls near Sabie. I'll be back towards the end of March and hopefully will have some interesting photos to share with you.