Sunday, November 6, 2016

Great St Barts Church-West Smithfield, London



"When at first you don't succeed...just give it a rest and maybe it will come to you!"
That might not be good advice but I find it works for me!

Sorry about my last post, the ancient church of St. Barts deserves better.




Ancient? The very thick columns that you will see in the photos below are from Norman times, which means the 12th century!
It was once a Roman Catholic Priory which of course, was dissolved during the time of Henry the VIII.  It has been an Anglican church since that time. It survived the Great Fire of London in 1666 but fell into disrepair and was occupied by squatters during the late 18th century, it was restored in the late 19th century.








Richard wanted us to have a cup of tea in the Cloister Café and I am happy to say that we were able to do so! Funny thing, there was a special service for the Butchers Guild while we were there and this quiet space was soon filled to the brim with chatting, laughing people just after we made these photos! (Butchers? The church is in Smithfield, and you might remember the name...Smithfield Market. ) No worries, they had their tea and then, left us in that lovely quiet spot.

By the way, if you watch a British TV show and a character says, "Have a butcher's"...it is Cockney rhyming slang and it means, "Have a look".   (Butcher's hook = look).





I asked Richard to take a photo of the sign that greets you as you enter...




Who is St. Bartholomew? One of the 12 Apostles, he is identified with Nathaniel.   Along with Jude Thaddeus, Bartholomew  is believed to have brought Christianity to Armenia in the FIRST century. So, both Bartholomew and Jude are the patron saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church.  (Our son's girlfriend is from Armenia, so this has a special meaning for us.) 
You may read more about St. Bart, just here.   
.

There was another meeting in the room above...and we had to wait a bit so we could take a photo.  It might not look that impressive to you, but for a time, this part of the church was used for secular purposes and it was used as a printer's press during the 18th century...and Benjamin Franklin worked here! (Yes, THAT Ben Franklin, the very same!)

Also, St. Bart's has been a film location for quite a few movies. Now that you have seen a few photos, you might recognize the church in some of the movies below...


I hope you have seen at least three of these ..."Robin Hood:Prince of Thieves", "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and "Amazing Grace".  I loved all of these.
(Yes, I know Kevin Costner didn't even attempt an English accent, but hey, he is Kevin Costner, so he can get away it!)

The entrance to the church is through this ancient gate...as an American, I found it hard to believe that there was a big church behind this! I should have known, it is similar to Canterbury Cathedral where the entrance has shops built right alongside it!
(And St. Bart's is a church, a cathedral is a seat of a Bishop. In London, the cathedral is St. Paul's...a most magnificent building which is a MUST SEE if you ever visit London...promise me!)
Keeping in mind, of course, that these are real churches and not just tourist stops and lovely buildings but places of worship for centuries.   If you go back and read the sign posted upon entry, the last sentence is this:

We ask of you respect for us, our building, our worship and our beliefs.




As we left, I managed to get us lost, I carefully turned into this lovely area which was behind St. Barts Hospital.  Adullamite, you left me a comment on my last post and said you once worked near here.  Did you ever see this?  Those little buildings, not sure what you would call them, but I can imagine it would be nice to sit there beside the fountain in all kinds of weather. Lovely!

30 comments:

  1. It is absolutely gorgeous. I cannot say enough about the architecture and the artwork.

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    1. Very glad to be able to see it, it was amazing.

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  2. Wonderful post, Kay! You look so radiant and happy in the photos, both of you!
    I love it when churches are full of life, as this one certainly is, with meetings and services going on and a café with chatty locals.
    Had to laugh out loud at the start of your last paragraph :-)

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    1. We were so happy to be there! It is a truly special church, full of joy and life.
      Yes, I was very good at turning a corner and getting us lost! :-)

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  3. I'm thankful you tried again and I got to enjoy the pictures and your shared bits of history too. How wonderful to see a place like that from the comfort of my chair.

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    1. Yes, I just went away from it for a bit and then, when I came back, I was able to get photos on here! :-)

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  4. It's all so lovely, i wish i could get back to London again! You are right about St. Paul's, but i also want to see many other churches that i missed before. There's never enough time to see everything.

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    1. Do you remember my post about Southwark Cathedral? That is another very special church! Wish I could see every church and museum in London!

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  5. You do find the most interesting churches. I've seen a few of those movies including Sherlock.

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    1. When you see those movies, look for the very thick columns of the church!

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  6. Kay, I loved seeing the church. There's so much history and beauty there. Blessings, xoxo, Susie

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    1. Thanks, Susie. Glad to be able to show you a few photos. Blessings to you, my friend.
      x

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  7. That cathedral is absolutely beautiful. It's great they restored it rather than just let it stay in squalor. I love really old buildings, as well as cathedrals, so I should really take a trip there one day.

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    1. I am sure you must hop to London all the time, right?

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  8. Oh, that lovely stonework! What a glorious place. Doesn't America seem so raw and new by comparison? We knock everything down before its time, only to slap something newer in its place. I love the thought of the centuries-old churches and other buildings still being used today in England and Europe. Thank you for the post!

    P.S. Wasn't Smithfield where some of the Protestant martyrs were burned under Mary Tudor?

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    1. Yes, that is correct. The Elms at Smithfield, just outside the church was the spot where those in lower classes were executed, while the higher classes were taken to the Tower of London.

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  9. Such a beautiful place! I love the pic of you pouring tea..so cute! Wow, so much history and when you realize how old everything is it makes our country seem so young! Nothing built today will ever last as long as that!

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    1. I loved that teapot! We don't seem to value our old buildings very well. We are lucky if we still have buildings from the 1920's!!

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  10. I never went into the hospital area but in summer that and the wee park area outside St Barts are filled with office workers munching sandwiches and pigeons living off them.
    Fabulous pictures as it is hard to photograph such a building. The cafe did not exist then in days of yore but is a good idea.
    A must visit place!

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    1. Yes! Richard and I both sat on those benches just outside St. Barts, and a squirrel came right up to us expecting food!

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  11. When I was reading for the Bar I spent many weekends in London wandering round exploring and I recall this area well. However I just couldn't stand the idea of spending time permanently in such a metropolis and I haven't even visited since our elder son died there in 2006.

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    1. Oh Graham, I can certainly understand you not wanting to go back there, I am sorry for the loss of your son.

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  12. Lovely place (Cloister Café) to have some tea. Wonderful, architecturally stimulating photos! ;-)

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  13. Lovely place (Cloister Café) to have some tea. Wonderful, architecturally stimulating photos! ;-)

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  14. Yay! I have been there and had a coffee (hate tea) in the Cloister Cafe.Love your blog. It's a real memory jogger. My knee has recovered well so looking forward to our next (virtual)walk up Stone Mountain!

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    1. Hey Pat! You might have even sat in the very same chair as I did! So happy that your knee is better, and you can walk again with us!! :-) Stone Mountain, here we come!

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  15. Never been there. A great find and interesting history.

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    1. Hey Bob! Glad we were able to see it and in such great weather too!!

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  16. What a beautiful and interesting church Kay, and a lovely photo of you sitting there. I have seen quite a few of the films you list, but now I want to see them again, and find the details! Isn't the entrance quaint, and I also remember seeing the entry to Canterbury. It rather takes you back to the Middle Ages, I think.

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