St Mary le Strand is one of London’s “island churches”, standing on a traffic island by Somerset House. It’s the second church to be called St Mary le Strand, the first having been pulled down in 1549 to make way for Somerset House. Construction of the present church began in 1714, the architect being James Gibbs (architect of St Martin-in-the-Fields among many other places).
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I’d taken photos of the exterior of St Clement Danes Church on a previous visit to London but I was finally able to spare the time to go inside in September. Right by the Royal Courts of Justice it is one of London’s two “island churches”, so-called because of the layout of the road around it. (The other is St Mary le Strand which will be the focus of a later post).
I’ve had the Temple Church on my to visit list for a while now and I finally got around to it on this most recent trip to London. The London headquarters of the Knights Templar, from where Temple Church took its name, it was consecrated in 1185. The Templar’s churches were always built to a circular design in remembrance of the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which certainly makes it a striking building.
I popped into St Philip’s Church in Kensington purely because I was passing and saw the door was open. The building dates from around 1857, being consecrated in 1858.
St Mary Magdalene Church has been on my local must list visit for a number of years and I finally managed it in September. It is most notable for being the burial place of both Lord Byron and his daughter, the mathematician Ada Lovelace.
We received a very warm welcome from two of the volunteers who throughout our visit were very accommodating and chatted to me about the church, providing some extra details about the history of the building. The church does however have a lot of information boards about Byron, Ada and other figures connected to the church, as well as QR codes making it possible to work your way around several “trails” depending on who you want to focus on.
The building itself is on the site of an old Saxon church, the porch dating from 1320 and the tower built in stages between the 12th and 14th centuries. Much of the rest of the building dates from 1872.
The church has many claims to fame. The first of course is as the burial place of Lord Byron and in the baptistery there are many objects related to him including this quite impressive plaque and statue.
One of the other claims to fame is as the burial ground of Ada Lovelace, Byron’s only legitimate daughter, a mathematician who is credited with having written the first computer programme. Byron and her mother separated shortly after her birth and so she never knew her father. She did however remain fascinated with him though her mother steered her towards more scientific subjects rather than poetical. She died of cancer aged 36 in 1852 and was the last member of the family to be buried in the vault, at her own request. What you see of the tomb isn’t actually that impressive, as the coffin is actually beneath the church, but interesting to see nonetheless.
Another claim to fame is that St Mary Magdalene has a large collection of stained glass windows by Charles Eamer Kempe a renowned Victorian designer.
Definitely worth a visit. You can see some more photos here.
On my final day in Liverpool I decided to take a walk down from my hotel towards the Albert Dock in order to visit the museums there but the first building I actually stepped inside was the Liverpool Parish Church.
Betws-y-Coed is a village in Snowdonia National Park in Wales where we stopped off for a brief wander around during our stay in Llandudno. Our first stop was the railway station which was built in 1868. Whilst still an active station it is now owned by Jacha and Gwyn Potgieter who use the businesses they own at the station to raise awareness of conservation issues. We were very taken by the artwork below highlighting the growing problem caused by plastics.
St Leonard’s Church in Wollaton, Nottingham, has been around since the 1200s and it would have fallen under the care of the Mortein and then the Willoughby families, owners of the nearby Wollaton Hall.
York Minster is the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe and more than half of Europe’s medieval stained glass is in its windows. The first church on the site dates from around 627 but the present building dates from around 1220.
On a recent holiday in Northumberland we based ourselves in the village of Ellingham, staying at the Pack Horse Inn (highly recommended – lovely staff, fantastic food). After checking in we decided to take a walk through the very small village and came across St Maurice’s Church.