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Walk around London for a day or two and churches become a familiar sight. We know them for their history, beauty and religious significance but we bet you’ll be stunned to find out these strange secrets of London churches…
St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street
The spire that inspired the traditional wedding cake design
The church of St Bride’s is located on Fleet Street in the City of London. Take a look at its pretty spire – does it look familiar to you? In the early 19th century, a local baker had a brainwave as he stared at the Christopher Wren-designed spire. The baker copied the look of the building for a wedding cake and the tiered design has been popular ever since!
St Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield
The church with a weeping statue
St Bartholomew Church in the City of London used to be home to a very sad statue. St Bartholomew is London’s oldest church features a monument to philosopher Edward Cooke, who died in 1652. The type of marble used would condense water, causing the statue to ‘weep’ tears. Following the installation of a Victorian heating system, the tears dried up and the weeping memorial is no more.
Westminster Abbey, Westminster
The poet buried upright in a church graveyard
The 17th century poet Ben Jonson is buried in an unusual position in the grounds of Westminster Abbey. Jonson had told the church Dean prior to his death “two feet by two is all I want” and that’s exactly the grave he got! The poet is buried in an upright position in Poet’s Corner, which is where Geoffrey Chaucer and Rudyard Kipling were also laid to rest.
St Mary le Strand, Westminster
The church on a London traffic island
Wander down the eastern end of the Strand and you might be surprised to come across a beautiful Baroque-style church sitting bang in the middle of the road. When the early 18th century church was first built, only a few horses and carts would pass it in both directions. Today, the roads either side are very busy with cars heading towards Westminster to the west and the City of London to the East.
All Hallows, Twickenham
The travelling church
All Hallows Church in the London borough of Richmond has a seen a great deal of London. In the 1920’s, the Bishop of London decided to demolish a number of churches in the City of London. Many were destroyed to be seen no more, however one church was carefully taken down stone by stone and rebuilt in Twickenham. The original All Hallows Church was located on Lombard Street before being moved to its current location in the late 1930’s. The church’s stone tower, bells, cloister and interior fittings and furnishings were all moved to the new site in Twickenham.
If you’d like to visit any of these London churches, check out this handy map and start planning your visit today. Who knows – you may even stumble on some yet-undiscovered secrets!