The Stained Glass Museum inside Ely Cathedral is the only UK museum of its type and as someone who loves the beauty and details of stained glass I was really looking forward to visiting and was not disappointed. Since it was founded in 1972 it has collected and preserved over 1,000 different stained glass panels and windows dating from the 13th century to the present, both religious and secular. Most are from the UK but there are some examples from Europe and the US as well.
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On a recent trip to London I had some hours to kill and decided to take a look at St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Soho Square.
St James’ Church, Piccadilly is one of the churches designed and built by Christopher Wren, the foundation stone being laid on 3 April 1676. It was paid for by the Earl of St Albans who owned the land and probably selected Wren personally for the job.
After visiting St Andrew Undershaft I moved on to the nearby St Helen’s Bishopsgate. There was already a tour in progress when I arrived and as I’d already diverted from my original plan by some hours I decided to just wander around on my own taking photos.
St Andrew Undershaft was one of many churches I visited during Open House London. I only spotted it as I was heading towards Leadenhall Market (to feature in a later post) thanks to the sign they’d put out on the pavement – the church is tucked away among many of the City’s skyscrapers.
I visited the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors‘ headquarters in Great George Street as part of Open House London. It’s the only surviving Victorian building on the street and was designed by Alfred Waterhouse in 1899, who also designed one of my favourite buildings in Nottingham, the Prudential building and the Natural History Museum in London (which will feature in a later post).
I’ve written about the Supreme Court building in London before, particularly in regards to the beautiful sculptures outside, but Open House London gave me the opportunity to explore the interior. Designed by James S Gibson with Skipworth and Gordon it actually houses both The Supreme Court and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (the court of final appeal for the UK overseas territories and Crown dependencies).
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.