Wednesday, 7 August 2013


all-hallows-by-the-tower London’s skyline changes every time I come back. The City now has at least two skyscrapers that were not there last year, dwarfing other prominent 21st century additions like the Gherkin. It is an ever-changing city and it always has been. Above is one building that, while subject to many modifications and rebuildings over the centuries, has pretty much the entire span of London history within its foundations. All-Hallows-By-The-Tower, a small and often overlooked church which sits right next to the Tower of London (which is rather handy given its name), is said to be the oldest church in London, founded in 675, though its main building and spire date from the 1650s (it survived the Great Fire, though it was greatly rebuilt after it being damaged in the Blitz). In the background, one of London’s newest towers is being constructed in the background. The 'Walkie-Talkie' I think it is called. I like to think there will be a time in the future when kids are trying to figure out the reason for its name and not being able to figure out what a walkie-talkie is supposed to be, just as people do now with such places like Pall Mall and St.Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe. I popped inside for a look around, to learn a bit more about its history. There is an actual Saxon-era arch still standing, and if you go below to the crypt museum you can see some original Roman tiled paving – this church was built on the site of a building from the days of Londinium. On my open-top bus tours years ago I used to tell Americans the two things I knew about this church: Pennsylvania founder William Penn was baptised here,and John Quincy Adams was married here, you know, President number 6. It was nice to finally come and spend some time looking at it and learning about it. Oh, and here is the Tower itself, sketched immediately afterwards among a throng of passing tourists. No introduction necessary. Tower of London

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