Category Archives: History of Architecture

Temple Church

Another in an occasional series on London churches outside the City walls that survived the Great Fire of 1666 …

Temple cropped Effigies of knightsTemple Church, in a precinct off Fleet Street, was originally built by the Knights Templar in phases in around 1160-85 and 1220-40.  It was undamaged in the Great Fire of 1666, although still required to be restored several times subsequently.  It was then badly damaged by bombing in 1941, and restored again by Carden & Godfrey between 1947-57.  The round tower is modelled on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.  The corresponding circular nave in the interior is original, twelfth-century, and “transitional” in terms of architectural style between Norman, or Romanesque, and Early Gothic.  The chancel is thirteenth-century, and decidedly  Gothic.  The famous Purbeck Marble effigies of Knights Templar and of a bishop are also thirteenth-century.  The alabaster altar-tomb to Edmund Plowden, the Treasurer of Middle Temple, dates to 1584; the  monument to Richard Martin, the Recorder of London, to 1615.

 

The Lost City of London Year in Pictures

cropped medieval

Some of my sketches from the last year …

(For further details on the featured buildings in each set, please see below)

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Medieval

Top Row.  Left, Tower of London (Norman/Romanesque and later).  Right, Interior, St Bartholomew the Great (Norman).

Middle Row.  Left, Temple Church (Norman to Early Gothic).  Right, St Etheldreda  (Decorated Gothic).

Bottom Row.  Left, St Giles Cripplegate (Perpendicular Gothic).  Right, Lady Chapel, Westminster Abbey (Perpendicular Gothic).

Medieval

Medieval

Post-Medieval – Tudor and Stuart

Top Row.  Left, Gate-House, St Bartholomew the Great (Medieval and Tudor).  Centre, Charterhouse (Medieval, Tudor and Stuart).  Right, 41 Cloth Fair (Late Tudor to Early Stuart).

Bottom Row.  Left, Banqueting House (Mid Stuart/Palladian).  Right, St Paul’s Cathedral (Late Stuart and later/Baroque).

Post Medieval - Tudor and Stuart

Post Medieval – Tudor and Stuart

Baroque – Wren

Left, Christ Church Greyfriars.  Centre, St Bride.  Right, St Dunstan in the East.

Baroque - Wren

Baroque – Wren

Baroque – Hawksmoor

Left, Christ Church Spitalfields.  Centre, St Anne Limehouse.  Right, St Mary Woolnoth.

Baroque - Hawksmoor

Baroque – Hawksmoor

Poplar – and an unusual survival

Poplar  was first recorded, as Popler, in 1327.  It takes its name from the poplar tree, in  reference to such once having abounded in the marshy ground hereabouts. It was probably first settled in the Medieval period, although still only sparsely populated in the post-Medieval, leastwise before the Great Fire of 1666.

In Tudor times, Sir Thomas Spert and 54 mariners lodged here while sails were made for Henry VIII’s  great ship “Henri Grace a Dieu”  (which later saw action against the French at the Battle of the Solent, in which the “Mary Rose” sank; and later still transported the king to the peace summit with the French at the Field of the Cloth of Gold).

UNIQUE IN LONDON (AND RARE COUNTRY-WIDE)

3 - Seventeenth-century ceiling boss bearing the coat of arms of the East India CompanyIn  succeeding Stuart times, the (Honourable) East India Company built a chapel here for its workers in nearby Blackwall.   Actually, although building work on the chapel commenced in 1642, during the Civil War, it was not completed until 1654, during the inter-regnum between the execution of Charles I in 1649 and the restoration of Charles II in 1660.  (It is the only place of worship in London to date to this turbulent time, and indeed one of only a very few in the entire  country).  Its design was originally “severely rectangular”, and as such ideally suited to the form of worship practised by the Puritans, which emphasised the importance of the word over that  of the ceremony.  The chapel became a parish church, dedicated to St Matthias, when the East India Company dissolved in the 1870s, and the church in turn became a community centre in the 1990s – see link to website below.

The exterior of the building was rebuilt, by William Milford Teulon, younger brother of the more famous Samuel Sanders Teulon, in the late nineteenth century, although, remarkably, the interior remains to this day essentially as it was in the mid-seventeenth.

Exterior (dates from late 19th century)

General view of the late nineteenth-century exterior

Interior - 17th century (and later)

General view of the seventeenth-century and later interior. Note the Tuscan columns and elliptically-vaulted ceiling.

Seventeenth-century ceiling boss bearing the coat of arms of the East India Company

Seventeenth-century ceiling boss bearing the coat of arms of the East India Company

17th century gravestone of Hall Hall & family

Seventeenth-century gravestone of Henry Hall and family

18th century memorial

Eighteenth-century memorial to Captain Philip Worth of the East India Company

Early 19th century memorial

Early nineteenth-century memorial to Captain John Barfoot of the East India Company

Late 19th century stained glass

A rather fine late nineteenth-century stained-glass window

Link to St Matthias Community Centre website here

The Queen’s House, Greenwich

 Distant view of the Queen's House, Greenwich

Distant view of the Queen’s House

The Queen’s House was built by Inigo Jones, principally between 1629-40.   It  now houses the National Gallery of Naval Art, previously housed in the Painted Hall in the Royal Naval College, and admission is free.

One of the paintings on exhibit is of the Somerset House Conference, which brought about the end of the Anglo-Spanish War of 1585-1604.

Painting of Beard-off at Somerset House

Beard-off at Somerset House

Facade of the Queen's House

Facade of the Queen’s House

Interior of the Queen's House, looking up

Interior of the Queen’s House, looking up from downstairs

The Tulip Stairs

The so-called Tulip Stairs

Interior of the Queen's House, looking down

Interior of the Queen’s House, looking down from upstairs

Greenwich Palace and the Royal Naval College, Greenwich

Royal Naval College Grennwich

The Royal Naval College with the Queen’s House in the background

Greenwich was first recorded as Grenewic in 964, as Grenawic in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of 1013, and as Grenviz in the Domesday Book of 1086.  It takes its name from the Old English grene, meaning green, in context grassy or vegetated; and wic, meaning trading settlement or harbour.

Greenwich Palace was built here by Henry V’s brother, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, in 1426, and rebuilt by Henry VII between circa 1500-06.  The palace is notable as the birthplace of Henry VIII and of his daughters Mary and Elizabeth I.  It was substantially demolished at the end of the seventeenth century to make way for  the Royal Naval College, although some surviving fragments can still be seen in an exhibit in the “Discover Greenwich” Visitor Centre attached to the College.

Plaque marking site of Greenwich Palace

The plaque in the courtyard of the Royal Naval College marking the site of Greenwich Palace

The College was built by Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor between 1692-1728.  It had to be built in two widely separated halves to allow the “Queen’s House” to the rear,  built by Inigo Jones, principally between 1629-40, to remain in the view from the river (leading Samuel Johnson to describe it  as “too much detached to make one great whole”).  The east wing, including the Chapel, was damaged by fire in 1779, and rebuilt by James “Athenian” Stuart, while the west wing, including the Painted Hall, was undamaged.

Royal Naval College Grennwich

The Royal Naval College with the Queen’s House in the background

Chiaroscuro, Lower Hall

Chiaroscuro, Lower Hall

The Painted Hall, “the finest dining hall in Europe”, was sumptuously decorated by the English artist James Thornhill, who also did the dome of St Paul’s, between 1708-1727.  It features a range of allegorical and symbolic scenes, with various members of the Royal Family, consorting with gods and goddesses, very much to the fore, as well as the Royal Navy.  Thornhill’s painterly  skill is most evident in his rendering of subjects as if in three dimensions through the use of forced perspective (trompe l’oeil).  And evidently he was only paid £3 per square yard for the ceilings, and £1 per square yard for the walls!

Painted fireplace surround, Lower Hall

Painted fireplace surround, Lower Hall

Painted symbols of Britain's military might, Lower Hall

Painted symbols of Britain’s military might, Lower Hall

The Hall was originally intended as a dining hall for the so-called “Greenwich Pensioners”, who lived at the nearby Royal Hospital for  Seamen, but  was soon deemed to be too good  for them (it appears that they once had a food fight, and got gravy on the paintwork).   Instead, it became something of an up-market tourist attraction, and between 1824-1936 also housed the National Gallery of Naval Art (now housed in the Queen’s House).   It remains open to the public, and is, remarkably, free of charge!

The ceiling of the Upper Hall, featuring Queen Anne (reigned 1702-1714) and her husband George of Denmark

The ceiling of the Upper Hall, featuring Queen Anne and her husband George of Denmark

The Lower Hall

The Lower Hall

The entrance to the Upper Hall

The entrance to the Upper Hall

The west wall of the Upper Hall,  featuring George I and his children and grandchildren

The west wall of the Upper Hall, featuring George I (reigned 1714-1727) and his children and grandchildren

Detail of the entrance to the Upper Hall, showing the royal and zodiacal motifs on the arch

Detail of the entrance to the Upper Hall, showing the royal and zodiacal motifs on the arch

Far-Flung Lost London VII – Fulham

Fulham Palace was originally built in the eleventh century, as an official residence for the Bishop of London.  The oldest part of the present palace, surrounding the Fitzjames Quadrangle,  was built by Bishop Kemp in the late fifteenth century (circa 1495) and Bishop Fitzjames in  the early sixteenth (1506-22).  The  rest of the palace is  eighteenth to  nineteenth century.  The palace is currently in the care of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, and parts of it are open to the public, as also are the extensive grounds, with their notable botanical collections.

Entrance to Fulham Palace

Entrance to Fulham Palace

Fitzjames Quadrangle

Fitzjames Quadrangle

Victorian Gothic Lodge

The Victorian Gothic Lodge