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Blog Category: Christianity (3 posts)


fairbankguy | 01st June 2018 | Guy the London Guide
High in the triforium, some 16m above the nave of Westminster Abbey, are The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries. It’s accessed by the Weston Tower, designed by Surveyor to the Fabric Ptolemy Dean and the first structural addition to the 1,000 year-old Abbey since the 1700s.  As you ascend the 108 steps look for the 17 bands of stone used in its construction, which includes Purbeck marble, Reigate stone, Kentish ragstone and Caen stone - different building material used throughout the Abbey’s history.  When you finally reach the top you’re in for a treat, for here the Abbey has on display some of its finest treasures. The galleries are divided into 4 sections: the Abbey and National Memory, Building Westminster Abbey, Worship and Daily Life, and Westminster Abbey and the Monarchy. Mind your head as you study the objects: the gallery is reinforced with oak beams installed by Sir Christopher Wren. Highlights include the funeral effigy of Viscount Nelson (St Paul’s Cathedral, where he’s buried, wasn’t too happy); the mortuary roll of Abbot Islip, which gives us a glimpse of what the Abbey looked like before the Reformation, the medieval Westminster Retable altarpiece and corbel heads from the 1200s. There’s even the marriage certificate of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. On the north side are the royals: funeral effigies of previous kings and queens, dating back to Edward III. His wooden effigy shows evidence of the stroke he had just before he died, aged 64.  Mary I displays a prominent belly, perhaps the effect of the ovarian cancer that killed her. More chillingly is the head of Henry VII, an unpopular king whose death in 1509 was cheered by the people.  Further on are wax effigies of the Stuart kings: a tall Charles II, wearing the oldest example of the Order of the Garter, and a diminutive William III beside his more stately wife Mary II.  But it’s not the wonderful exhibits that steal the show, it’s the...

fairbankguy | 21st April 2018 | Guy the London Guide
Within a stone’s throw of St Paul’s Cathedral stands the impressive church of St Vedast-alias-Foster. St Vedast was an obscure 6th century Flemish saint and Foster is the English corruption of that name, and on Foster Lane you’ll find this Wren church. The church itself is well worth a look inside, as it contains many 17th century furnishings which have been taken from other City churches. The steeple is very fine too. It’s been attributed to Nicholas Hawksmoor but there’s no actual evidence. What marks the church out is what is found to the north of the entrance. Fountain Court is a charming little garden, hidden away from the hustle and bustle of Cheapside. You’d hardly know you were in the City. Around the paved courtyard are several interesting artworks to discover. In the north-east corner is a Vintners’ Company plate dated 1711. What it’s doing there is a slight mystery but the Company did own property in Foster Lane (Nos. 3 & 4) in 1548 and sold it in 1945 to provide a new rectory for St Vedast's. Since the church was bombed during World War Two it may simply have been moved. In another corner is an elegant stone relief of Canon Mortlock, who was  rector of the church after the war and oversaw its reconstruction by Stephen Dykes Bower. It is by the distinguished sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein, who carved it in 1936. Mortlock was a friend of Epstein’s and gave the eulogy at Epstein’s funeral in 1959. While Mortlock was rector the distinguished archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan worshipped at the church. He was the second husband of the crime writer Agatha Christie and spent many years digging in Iraq. A souvenir of his excavations can also be seen in the courtyard. It’s a baked brick from ancient Kalhu in northern Iraq, inscribed with cuneiform writing from the 9th century BC Assyrian king Shalmaneser. Pop in during the week and you’ll find more little gems within this shady courtyard.     ...

fairbankguy | 15th October 2015 | Guy the London Guide
   Every October for the past 366 years an unusual service has taken place in the church of St. Katharine Cree, in Leadenhall Street. It is the Lion Sermon. On the 16th October 1643, while travelling to Arabia on a trading mission, Alderman Sir John Gayer became separated from his companions and, as night fell, became aware that a lion was lurking. But it did not attack him. In the morning he was found sleeping peacefully, with the lion’s footprints all around him. Like Daniel in the lion’s den, he had survived. In gratitude for his survival, Sir John made various gifts to good causes and in his will established an annual commemorative service, the ‘Lion Sermon’, to be held on the 16th October every year at St Katherine Cree. The bequest included a proviso that the sermon should contain a lion theme and that there should be a donation to the poor of the parish. He became Lord Mayor in 1646 and died 3 years later. The year I attended it was held a day early (presumably Friday was inconvenient) and the service was suitably leonine, with a lesson from the Book of Daniel, read by a descendant of Gayer, and the hymn ‘He who would valiant be’ (albeit a modern version). We were also joined by the Lloyd’s Choir. The guest speaker was the Revd. Nadia Nassar, who is the only Syrian priest in the Church of England. A native of Lattakia, he is a frequent lecturer and adviser on the Middle East. The words ‘charismatic’ and ‘passionate’ are often overused but in Nassar’s case they were most appropriate. He delivered a dramatic and poignant address, focusing on the troubles in his native land and lambasting the extremists and fanatics. He spoke a lot of sense and left us in no doubt that we must not forget the people of Syria, and not just the struggling Christians. When he finished Revd. Nadia received a huge round of applause and was presented with a bottle of malmsey wine - another tradition. St Katharine Cree...