Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday afternoon: From the Tower to Tesco

We left the Tower of London, filled up with history and left Wagamama's full of noodles. We walked up the hill toward All Hallows by the Tower, the oldest church in London. It is an ancient Anglican church -- it was, of course, originally a Catholic church. I gave the history of the church on my last post a year ago, so I won't rehash all of it here. Suffice it to say that this church has portions that date back to the British Romans. The Saxon Abbey of Barking founded the church of All Hallows by the Tower in 675 A.D. An arch from the original Saxon church remains. Beneath the arch is a Roman pavement, discovered in 1926, evidence of city life on this site for the best part of two thousand years.

Following execution on Tower Hill, numerous beheaded bodies were brought into the church, including those of Thomas More, Bishop John Fisher and Archbishop Laud. In 1666 the Great Fire of London started in Pudding Lane, a few hundred yards from the church. All Hallows survived through the efforts of Admiral Penn, William Penn's father.

In 1940 Hitler's bombs succeeded where the Great Fire had failed. Only the tower and the walls remained but the late Queen Mother laid a new foundation stone in 1948, and she attended the re-dedication service some nine years later.

So we walked up the hill toward the steeple. It was cold and clear as we walked through the little garden outside of the church. Its outer walls are 15th century, with a 7th century Saxon doorway surviving from the original church

This is a working church and there are services almost daily. There are banners outside of the church, telling about when services will be. I like the idea that it is still a working church, but there is a bit of an air of having to coax people in. I found it a bit poignant.

This is the view from the back of the church, just as you come in. In back there is a small room where some women are doing brass rubbings. You apparently lay a piece of paper across a memorial brass plaque and rub it with a charcoal pencil until the image is transferred onto the paper.

A closer shot at the front of the church.

The light is ... just ... well. See for yourself.

"Standing in the North Lady Chapel is the altar tomb of Alderman John Croke 1477) was destroyed by the air-raid of 1940. It has since been completely restored from over 150 fragments. The fine brass memorials at the back of the tomb record the effigies of the Alderman and his eight sons, Margaret his wife and his five daughters."

This is the pulpit.

It is not the original, but is lovely none the less.

This is the view of the back of the church. Behind those blue doors are two nice women, busily brass rubbing. I go in and look over their shoulders and they politely ignore me.
I pause, uncertain. I would like a brass rubbing, but I did not see any images that really grabbed me. I turned and left, thinking "Maybe the next time."

"Among the greatest treasured possessions of the church are its memorial brasses. There are 17, mainly in the floor of the sanctuary and the Lady Chapel. One of the most interesting brasses is the Resurrection Brass on the North side of the sanctuary. It shows Christ stepping from the tomb with the resurrection banner. The soldiers armour and swords, shown as scimitars, indicate that the brass could show Middle Eastern influence. The brass is all that remains of a set of 5 thought to be dated 1500."

Are you listening carefully? Hear it? That sound is me gnashing my teeth. This is yet another instance when my ignorance makes me slam my head on my desk. Had I know about the Resurrection Brass, I would have loved to have made a rubbing. My own ignorance is enough to make me weep. Even now.

Beneath the present nave level is the undercroft of the Saxon church containing three chapels; the Undercroft Chapel, the Chapel of St Francis of Assisi and the Chapel of St Clare.

I had not been down here the last time, so I was very excited to go underground. It is here that the Roman pavement can be found. I did not explore very much, which I regret. There is supposedly a model of British London, that looks very interesting, as well as an actual fragment of the original pavement.

The Undercroft Chapel is constructed out of the 'Vicars' Vault; part of this chapel is 14th Century. This site was formerly outside the main building and part of the burial ground adjacent to the apse of the Saxon church. Here lie at least three Saxon coffins, buried in the pre-Norman period.

"The barrel vaulted St Francis Chapel is a crypt c.1280, lost for 300 years and rediscovered in 1925. The original entrance was from the chancel above the steps now in the west wall. Evidence suggests that in 1452 it was a Lady Chapel."

It is very atmospheric and the quarters are close. Backing out, I bump my head on the ceiling (and that doesn't happen very much at 5'2"), fall backward, hit my elbow on the stairs and ... drop my camera.

My lovely camera! My birthday camera! Visions of being camera-less flash before my eyes and I get a little woozy.

Thankfully, it has survived with only a small ding.

The interior of the church has a pronounced nautical flavor. In fact, it is said that the interior looks like an upside down ship. I can see that.

I discovered the audio tour. I did not listen, but at least I could read about some of what I am seeing.

This is the Tate Panel. Lovely, isn't it?

I light a candle and think of my children, my nieces and nephews, and Rowan's children. May God bless and protect them all.

Wry has been wandering around and taking notes. Now he is just sitting quietly.

I really like the kneeling pillows (I am sure that there is another name for them.) I like them because I think of people lovingly stitching them and people using them to pray. It is a good reminder of what it means to be a working church. The stained glass colors the floor.

We leave and I am struck by this old picture of the Thames near the doorway. There is a man, talking loudly on his cell phone, standing in my way. I wonder why he is there? Is he getting away from the traffic noise? Waiting for a brass-rubber? Isn't there somewhere else he can talk on his cell phone? He finally moves out of my way.

We leave the church and cross the street. We are going to get on the Underground and head back to the hotel. Phil has something planned for us, and we have to get back in time, as we apparently have an appointment.

I stand on a wall, hanging from the railing to get this last picture. Wry patiently props me up.

As we walk to the Tube station, we see this wall, tucked into a small garden setting. I remember this from last year, as I took a picture, knowing how much Wry would enjoy such a thing. It is part of the original Roman wall. You can see the striations of bricks and stones.

Does anyone know what TOC H means? Rowan?

Spring is no respecter of walls.

And into the Underground Station.

Wry took this picture just for Rowan. Cheers!

We get off at King's Cross station. I know that there is a

near here, and we need to stock up for the week. Phil gets some Coke and I get Earl Grey tea
and biscuits. Rowan laughed at me, because I actually like the cheapest of the cheap in my cookies -- Malted Milk Biscuits. I think they were about 39 pence (on sale!!). There is quite a fan club for these biscuit and I found the following information. "They are also referred to as "Cow Biscuits" or "Moo Cow Biscuits" after the distinctive cow picture imprinted on the biscuit. There are three main variations of the design which varies from company to company. These are:
Two milk churns and a cow
A cow and a gate
A cow and a smaller cow
And another reviewer said, "The Cow biscuit. Fantastic. Best biscuit graphics ever. Look at it, its a got a big standing up cow and a little sitting down one. The skilled cow biscuit eater will be able to nibble off the outer bits of the biscuit to leave just the cows, which surely are the most delicious bits. If I was some kind of sultan bloke I would no doubt have a harem of girlys nibbling the cows out of malted milk biscuits for me."

I rest my case.

I did not look to see what kind of cows my biscuits had, but they were just the ticket with a hot cup of tea after a long day's walking. Refreshed, we got ready to leave for our atmospheric Monday evening in London.


rowan said...

OOh, what an interesting post!

Aww, sorry you didn't get to do a brass rubbing. Something to do next time! It is absorbing.

Funny, about the malted Milk biscuits. I didn't laugh at you, or if I did, it was a sort of pleased laugh, because I really like them too. Am not surprised they have a cultish following. they are just soooo moreish! I used to nibble around the cows too, in my yoof.

The Undercroft Chapel looked amazing. Wish I had seen it!

Thanks for the Beano pic, you guys! Nostalgia-mungous. I would worry they might serve Cow Pie, but Desperate Dan was in The Dandy comic. Phew!

A mom in the 'burbs said...

Wonderful, wonderful pics. Your descrpitions are amazing. I feel as if I were walking right beside you.

Teary at your pic of the candle and happy to know certain redheaded girls were thought of fondly by their Aunt.

I must have moo cow biscuits! :)
Rowan, how do they compare to Crunchies? (of which I had one yesterday...yummy...thank you!).

Dr. Bob said...

Moo cows biscuits are the boogie -- you must have them!

(candle flames for our brilliant sparks!)