Yes, Rowan, that is indeed St. Paul's Cathedral in the distance.
So, we are walking up Fleet Street up Ludgate Hill. We get the first glimpse of St. Paul’s Cathedral, with its ornate dome. As Rowan and I missed it on the last trip, I am excited to see inside of the cathedral. I have been completely floored by the smaller churches, and cannot imagine what St. Paul’s will be like. I spy a familiar spire, and we stop at St. Martin-within-Ludgate.
That is St. Paul's at the end of the street. A sign on the front of the church reads "Cadwallo king of the Britons is said to have been buried here in 677". Cadwallo's image was allegedly placed on Lud Gate, to frighten away the Saxons.
It is half-way down Ludgate Hill. From the lower part of Fleet Street the steeple stands between the viewer and the dome of St Paul's. Wren probably planned to make a contrast between the spiky steeple of St Martin's and the circular dome of St Paul's.
It is "a curious combination of a lead-clad dome, topped by a lantern and on top of that a sharp obelisk steeple, somewhat like an exclamation mark." (The photo is not mine ... sadly I did not think to take one.)
The plaster work is just lovely. The chandelier dates back to the 17th century.
There is a pianist, practicing. The church is world-famous for its musical programs, and it is a privilege to sit in the pews and wander around, surrounded by such visual and auditory beauty.
Inside, there are coffered arches with elegant plaster work, and music comes from the original 1684 organ. It is thought that a church stood on this site some 13 centuries ago, but reliable records date only from the 12th-century.
The church was rebuilt in 1437, destroyed in the Great Fire, and subsequently rebuilt by Wren in 1684. He incorporated the remains of the old tower into the fabric of the new church.
The interior is magnificently decorated, and contains much carved woodwork by Grinling Gibbons, and a double 17th-century church warden's chair, believed to be the only one of its kind in existence.
Wry recording his thoughts.
A video of the interior of the church. You can hear the pianist ... the music just fills the entire church.
I really like the sense of space in such a small area. The white plaster is a wonderful contrast to the dark wood and captures the winter afternoon light.
Under the organ gallery I spy the font. It is inscribed in Greek: NIYON ANEMHMA MH MONAN OYIN: "Cleanse my sin not only my face". It is a palindrome!! Fantastic! Such palindromes are found in several other English and European churches. The carved oak cover hangs on a counterweight. The pedestal is wood painted to simulate stone.
Wry is very fond of palindromes. He tried to have each of the children's names be a palindrome, but I put my foot down. As the person giving actual birth, I got the final say so -- the kids should be grateful to me.
We walk up Ludgate Hill to St. Paul's.
This is the view, standing on the steps of the great cathedral. I am standing on the steps of the great cathedral. I am not going in. Because they are closing in a half an hour. What are the odds that I will come to London exactly twice in my life and both times miss seeing St. Paul's?
However, we are told that if we want to come back, we can attend services at five. For a moment, I think that Wry and I just goggled. Attend services? Well, yeah! Of course!
We walk slowly down the street, taking turns with the camera.
Such lovely contrasts of shape and detail.
I found this other photo that shows the bridge from a different view -- across the Thames.
St. Paul's churchyard.
A call box and daffodils.
The detail is wonderful. Wry is amazed to see that there is a walkway at the top of the Dome of St. Paul's. I don't think it is open to the public. He says yes ... the website says no. It is impressive, though.
Wry enjoying getting a closer look at the top of the smaller chapel.
And closer yet ... The zoom is pretty good, is it not? If you click on the image, you can really see the detail.
We wander across the street and into a small paved area with a garden. We are sort of following a group of school boys ... they find a corner of the garden to smoke in. We are just looking over the city, with the Thames just beyond us and we notice that there is a church with an interesting weather vane.
On the northwestern corner of the church is a square tower surmounted by a lead spire in the shape of an upside down octagonal trumpet. On each corner of the tower is a small flaming urn. The spire has two rows of lunettes and a small balcony near the top, resembling a crow’s nest. At the very top is a vane in the shape of a three-masted barque in the round.
I don't know why I really liked the idea of a flying ship, but there you are. (Both Wry and I took movies of this ... you can tell we have been married for a long time.
We have about a half an hour to go, and we are cold and hungry. We settle at a small cafe across the street from the Cathedral to rest and refresh. I read on on-line review that said that the food was expensive (it was) and basic (I guess), but the view just couldn't be beat. And the chance to finally sit down for the first time practically all day was not to be missed -- we had been on our feet for a while. I don't think we even sat down for lunch!
We enjoy people watching -- we are right in front of the bus station.
I had pain au chocolate with pear and Wry had what was advertised as a banana tart, but turned out to be apple. The water pitcher was filled with fresh mint and limes and oranges. It is really nice. The coffee was good. We relaxed and watched the clock. Just before five, we went out to the Cathedral, across the street.