Wren’s Plan For Rebuilding The City Of London After The Great Fire of London 1666..
This original is a truly great plan that has been so well preserved and is now electronically digitised for posterity. There is not much hope for many of the buildings that lay in its path but what a different London this would have been with piazzas and long roads or boulevards and wide open spaces which Wren thought to necessary to reduce the risk of future conflagration. The cheaper option, which the City Corporation inevitably chose, banned thatch roofs which, along with a strong wind blowing from the east, helped the fire to spread. What a different London we would have had but at what cost to our culture?
Walking Around The City of London
Before I begin I feel the need to publish a disclaimer:I am not a person of faith. I endured a religious schooling but it is now behind me and no spirit can claim to occupy my heart.I do, however, have an enduring love of the spiritual and beauty in all its forms and I am able to empathise enough with the mystic pull of spirituality. Paintings, music, sculptures, buildings and other forms of artistic endeavour have won me over but religion will never do; organised religion even less so. For people of faith I respect your right to a personal belief but I do not believe you have the right to encroach upon my world nor the world I seek to shape.
What I aim to do is publish a selection of my favourite churches or buildings and connect them on this blog as the basis of a good walk for those people that want to remain within reach of a bus stop, a tube station, a coffee shop or cafe.
The City of London is a small geographical area which is rich in architecture and old church buildings. Some of these churches are built on foundations dating back to the Saxon ninth century . It is because they are churches and remain at the centre of worship for generations of Christians, that these buildings have survived the vandalism of the ‘modernisers’, though some have not been so fortunate. The churches that have survived the constant re-making and demolition that is the way of the City afford us a peek into our past at a London that has long vanished. It is for this reason that they ought to be amongst our most treasured and protected buildings.
These churches are on my doorstep, some quite literally no more than fifteen minutes walk from our front door. So, with a copy of Stephen Millar’s excellent pocket guide, London City Churches , I set out on an extended walk, criss-crossing the City, to discover these architectural jewels for myself, a great number of which were built by that imposing architectural giant of Restoration London, Sir Christopher Wren.
What I didn’t expect to discover is how well connected Londoners are to a rich and sumptuous past that survives in its churches. A past of commerce, invention, prosperity and faith that lay before me and one which is in need of a wider audience if only to preserve it from the glass fronted vandalism of ‘modernisation’ and the ever present threat of the pile-driving villain.With the price of land in the City reaching astronomical sums in 2013 it is perhaps even more necessary that Londoners and visitors to the great metropolis keep a watchful eye on these and other great buildings that are linked to our past.
The wreckers of the Victorian period tried their hardest to demolish so many of these churches as did the City of London Corporation but due to the dogged diligence of organisations such as the Friends of the City Churches and the City of London Churches they continue to prosper. Do visit them. They sit in a part of London you may never have visited before but the reward you will gain will justify the effort and the walk is wonderful.