Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

St Michael Paternoster Royal

Since it was just across the road from where we'd parked the car I popped into St Michael's Paternoster Royal- which is one of Wren's city churches and the last to be completed.

St Michael's is Dick Whittington's church. He spent money on it and was buried there. The story goes that an 18th century rector dug him up in case he'd chosen to be buried with all his money- but he hadn't so the rector took Whittington's lead coffin in recompense for all his time and trouble. A later rector dug him up again in order to reinstate the coffin- and the last time there was an attempt to dig him up (in the interests of science don'tcha know) they couldn't find Whittington at all but only a mummified cat. I'm not sure how much truth there is in any of this but I like it.

Wren's church is basically a square box. the Victorians mucked it about but their work was undone by a German bomb. There was a move to demolish what was left but the preservationists won the day- and put it back the way Wren intended. Unfortunately, though 17th century churches are really much better off without stained glass, someone thought otherwise- and commissioned John Hayward to fill the windows with eye-assaulting imagery that makes up in melodrama for what it lacks in conviction.

The thing that really caught my eye was the lectern, with its striking pearwood (?) carving of a female virtue- probably Charity. I thought it had to be modern but when I got home I looked it up and Historic England website calls it composite and 17th century. Now I look at it properly I can see that this is what it has to be. Anyway, whatever it's age, I love it- mainly because the woman is no idealised classical paragon but clearly a real person. I suspect the carver was one of the refugee Dutchmen hanging out just across the river in Southwark. Perhaps she was a tavern wench. Perhaps she was his daughter...


  • Just Over A Week To Halloween

    Rainy, stormy night. Every so often I could hear- even feel- the house brace itself against the changes of pressure. This summer I've been…

  • Terrifying

    I felt the need for some light entertainment so I thought I'd read some Denis Wheatley. I was telling Ailz about it. "It's really…

  • Iodine And Salt

    When I was merely a vegetarian I used to allow myself to eat fish- so, although I called myself a vegetarian, I was actually a pescatarian. The…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.