Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Very Busy Tuesday: The second leg -- a church crawl

Yeah -- I know that we should do a pub crawl as part of the London experience, but that would take about 15 seconds.

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.

The church is set sideways to the street and we entered to the sound of music, leaving the bustle of Fleet Street behind us.

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.

The floors are covered with memorials, and it is touching, thinking of those who have died with the hope of the resurrection.

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.

There are bread shelves that date from the 17th century and came from St. Mary Magdelene Old Fish Street (a nearby church). After morning service bread given by more wealthy parishioners would be placed on the shelves for the poor of the parish to collect. The current bread displayed was fake. I checked.

As we get ready to leave, I spy a vase of daffodils. It is a lovely touch, the humble and reverent at the same time.

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?

Pretty good.

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 have about an hour and a half to occupy, so we take a walk up the street.

I liked this picture of St. Paul's reflected in the windows of the more modern building across the street.

Let's just say that, for someone who finds architectural details lovely, the exterior of St. Paul's is impossible to resist.

We walk slowly down the street, taking turns with the camera.

Such lovely contrasts of shape and detail.

Each surface has marvelous detail.

I imagine that there is a symbology of the flowers that I don't know.

To the right is the walkway across the Thames. The footbridge is crowded.

I found this other photo that shows the bridge from a different view -- across the Thames.

To our right, we see a pack of school boys fleeing school -- robes flapping like Harry Potter. I later found out that the members of the choir are educated in the school nearby.

St. Paul's churchyard.

A call box and daffodils.

A trash can! An actual trash can!

We don't have streets that date back to 1293 at home. There is no sense of enormous alligators lurking in the sewers here.

Looking back at the dome and spire of St. Paul's.

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.

A closer look at the phone box and daffodils. Spring is surprisingly evident, despite the cold. You can't tell by looking at this picture, but it is cold.

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.


Wry Mouth said...

Never wanted palindromes; nor "joke" names for the kids. Uncle R. thought "C. William" a good name for Wry Jr., because of the nickname possibilities, but that's as goofy as it got. I don't mind being gigged for actual indiscretions I have committed, but please -- let's not gild the lilies! ;o/

The Bridge we saw, in compressed perspective, is the Millenium Bridge, built the same time as the Millenium Eye (see later post). The "zoomed" lens enhances the foreshortening.

The apple tart was absolutely delish. The floating/flying ship was shot my Yours Truly.

rowan said...

Great post! I got caught up reading and am now sooo late! Will comment in detail when I gets back home.

rowan said...

So good to see St Martin's within Ludgate! the piona music is fabulous. It is so good to be nifty and swifty with a camera. A lovely moment, such as the pianist in church, is captured and shared. Isn't technology cool!

I like the weather vane. Y'all can have yer pub lunch when you come back over. Took a photie in Broughty ferry today for yiz, as yer post made me think o pub denners. Sigh..only toast and Weight-watcher's tuna for yours truly.

The palindrome name thing made me laugh out loud. Youse wans rock. What a cool idea, even as a lighthearted jest never to be actually instigated. I was trying to think of some this morning, but drew a blank. The only ones which came to mind had a sort of Bradburyesque quality to them...odd names from the Martian Chronicles which stuck in my mind. A small boy whose family has settled on Mars, feels compelled to change his name to "Lnnl." It is a great story...he gazes into a pool, bemoaning the fact that the Martians had been and gone. His father tells him he is looking at one, reflected in the water's surface. Goosebumps, goosebumps!

My ex-husband had a penchant for the names of celtic saints, which we agreed on, until our daughter was on the way. he wanted to continue the tradition, but I couldn't think of any female Celtic saints. he could - there was seemingly one called Saint Triduana. The story goes that she was very pretty, but didn't dwell on it or consider it an issue, being very spiritually inclined. She aquired the admiration of nechtan, king of the Picts, however, despite her lack of interest in the minutiae of grooming techniques - such as they might have been in the seventh century, or whenever. Anyways, she reacted to news of his smitteness by plucking out her eyes, and sending them to him in a box.

I have to admit I asked at this point what his reaction was, when he opened the lid. "Aye aye?"

Hee hee.

I am sure it must be an apocryphal tale, or mayhap a very early and misguided feminist gesture. Anyway, her name is not a palindrome, but it ought to be, somehow.

Dr. Bob said...

aye aye, indeed...

And yes, wry, you shot the flying ship -- I wondered why we had two movies of the same thing. I probably used yours.

In regard to palindromes -- two words: selective memory. You also went through the "calculate the best date of birth" stage, pondering the merits different number combinations. And the "funniest nickname and middle name combination" stage -- long before Grandpa ever did.

(it was a great day, was it not?)

rowan said...

I am wondering what Cadwallo might have looked like. He clearly had little success in scaring off the Saxons, but I like the sentiment. A sort of "beware of the Ancient Briton."

I might get that on a t-shirt. With a portrait of Boudica. That would rock.

A mom in the 'burbs said...

I totally have camera envy. I admit to being a small, small person, but I just drool over your pictures (slurp).

I wonder if God likes dwelling in those fantastic cathedrals a *tad* better then the old tin roofed Assemblies of God churches? I know it is the people inside that make the difference, but I would maybe linger a bit in the lovely old churches...sigh.

Dr. Bob said...

Burbmom -- yeah, going to those churches makes me look at our American churches with a different eye. I wonder how they will look on two hundred years : ).

There is a different vibe to them, for sure.

And I love my camera! It gives me an excuse to take lots of pictures with no shame.