Affects Me

A walk round Hawksmoor's Churches

This page gives a route round the 5 Hawksmoor Churches North of the River. It starts and ends at Holborn Station, is about 9.5 miles, and took a bit over 6 hours. You can end the walk at Bank (8 miles), which would take 5.5 hours. This time includes occasional breaks and time for looking around and picture taking (about a half hour per church), and is based on a walking speed of 3 miles per hour. The terrain is flat with only the gentlest slopes.

The sixth Hawksmoor church in Greenwich could be visited in the same day, by taking a train detour (details included). You should probably allow an extra 2 hours for the sixth church.

 

Start at Holborn Underground station.

Turn North up Southhampton Row, crossing it where you can.

Turn Left onto Vernon Place (you can cut off the corner by going through Sicilian Avenue) and continue up Bloomsbury Way.

St George's Bloomsbury is on the North Side of Bloomsbury Way.

 

St George's Bloomsbury, composite front view   St George's Bloomsbury, composite photo of the side tower

St George's, Bloomsbury is on the north side of Bloomsbury Way. There is limited space for taking pictures, so I've made a couple of rough composites. The church was only open for services at the time of writing, although the web site indicates that opening hours will be increased as renovations are completed.

St George's, Bloomsbury have their own web site here.

There are a number of strikingly unusual things about this church. It has a portico, the tower is on the side of the building, and there is a statue on the 'tower'. The columns of the portico are inspired by ruins of a Roman temple to Baal, at Baalbek in the Lebanon, and the statue is the only one of George I. The tower itself was inspired by Pliny's description of the Mausoleum at Helicarnassus.

  Tower of St George's Bloomsbury  

 

Retrace your steps towards Holborn Station.

Turn left from SouthHampton Row onto High Holborn (going east).

Continue on High Holborn (going past Chancery Lane Tube) to Holborn Circus.

Take the second exit (counting clockwise) from Holborn Circus, going East by North East up Charterhouse Street. Smithfield Market is on your right.

Turn Right on Lindsey Street or Hayne Street, then Left onto Long Lane.

Cross Aldersgate Street, and enter the City of London Barbican complex on Beech Street.

Brutalism  

Yes, Beech Street is the brutalist tunnel beneath the City of London shield.

I suppose we are intended to use the walkways to pass through the Barbican, but I've never managed to do so without getting lost.

 

Continue going straight on down Chiswell Street, and Sun Street.

Type on Chiswell Street  

Watch out for this delightful lettering on Chiswell Street.

Follow the road round to the left onto Appold Street, then turn right onto Primrose Street.

Continue going straight on down Chiswell Street, and Sun Street.

Works on Primrose Street  

There are surprising and intimidating buildings on Primrose Street, and constant building work.

 

[It should have been quicker to go from Sun Street through the Broadgate complex (all the pink buildings) and Liverpool St Station, but I couldn't find the way. The maps in the place were upside down, and the signs for Bishopsgate directed me back to Sun Street.

However, I did see a dragonfly in Broadgate, so I guess one of the banks must have a pond on its roof. ]

At the end of Primrose Street, turn Right onto Bishopsgate (going South).

Cross Bishopsgate and take the first right onto Brushfield Street.

Christ Church Spitalfields  

As you progress East up Brushfield Street, you will see Christ Church Spitalfields in front of you. Christ Church is actually on Commercial Street.

Brushfield Street is one of the oddest places. It's full of street-side cafes, it even boasts a shop selling hand-made English delicacies. It feels very continental, and not like London at all.

Christ Church was open to the public on the day I visited. They have been restoring the church interior to the way Hawksmoor intended, and have a display explaining the history and work in progress. The Friends of Christ Church have an interesting website where you can read more.

For Jack the Ripper ghouls, the Ten Bells is next door to Christ Church. This is the pub where the victims drank (or one of them, depending on which theory you favour).

 

Note that the walk is about to leave the rich city with its coffee shops and eateries. If you want to eat or have a coffee, do it here, or fairly soon.

 

From Brushfield Street, turn Right onto Commercial Street (going South).

At the end, turn left onto Whitechapel High Street, continue past Aldgate East Station.

Cross when it becomes a normal 2-way road, and Turn Right at the Bell Factory down Fieldgate Street, then right again onto Plumbers Row.

Bell Factory  Whitechapel   A better class of Graffiti  

I suppose it's being near to an art shop, but there is definitely a better class of graffiti here.

 

The Bell Foundry was established in 1570, far left, and has an exhibition and a website. Tours are available twice a day on Saturday.

 

 

 

 

The detour down Plumbers Row allows a visit to Atlantis Art, a warehouse full of artists supplies.

Continue south down Plumbers Row, turn left on Coke Street, Right on Greenfield Road, then Left onto Commercial Road.

Continue on Commercial Road going east for a bit over 1.5 miles.

Limehouse Cut  

On Commercial Road, go past Limehouse DLR station (you'll notice the over-head railway bridge).

The route returns past Limehouse DLR (which is where you would catch a train to Cutty Sark station in Greenwich if you want to cover all six Hawksmoor churches in the one day).

Commercial Road becomes Limehouse Road at the station.

Continue past the rich yacht-filled vistas of Limehouse basin to the right.

Continue over Limehouse Cut, the canal shown to the left.

Continue past the Town Hall, and you are nearly there.

 

 

St Anne's Limehouse is situated in its own garden come public park just beyond Newel Street. The park can be entered from Limehouse Road.

St Anne's Limehouse  

St Annes Limehouse is only open for services.

St Annes has one of the oddest towers of the Hawksmoor churches. The high clock was intended to be visible to boats on the Thames.

There is a pyramid in the grounds, fortuitously close to a similar shaped tree.

Each corner of the building has a mini-tower, and there is a suggestion that Hawksmoor intended these to be topped with pyramids.

 

 

St Anne's Limehouse

 
St Anne's Limehouse, pyramid

 

After visiting St Annes, retrace your steps west up Limehouse Road, back past Limehouse DLR.

If you wish to visit St Alfege's Greenwich, take the DLR at Limehouse south to Cutty Sark. St Alfege's has a web site with a map here.

Turn Left (south) onto Butcher Row just after the station, and take the second Right onto Cable Street.

Walk west down Cable Street for about a mile.

Cable Street  

For much of Cable Street, you can see the distinctive tower of St George in the East. Unfortunately, it moves out of view the closer you get.

On Cable Street, you will pass Shadwell DLR and the Town Hall.

 

Humped zebra

 

I looked around for the humped zebra, but did not see it cross.

Turn Left (south) at Cannon Street Road. St George in the East is on the intersection of Cannon Street Road and The Highway.

St Georges in the East, front view  

St George in the East is closed except for services at the time of writing. There is a crypt, which sometimes houses exhibitions and events, but this was also closed.

 

St Georges in the East, front view, composite

 

There's no point to photograph the front with an ordinary camera. I hope this composite gives you a bit of an idea.

St Georges in the East, side view  

In many ways, the side and rear views are more imposing than the 'front'.

 

St Georges in the East, rear view

 

 

 

St Georges in the East, side view  

Here's a detail of the twiddly bits on the tower of St George in the East.

 

 

Skull and Crossbones on a 1741 gravestone at St George in the East, Wapping  

Look out for this skull and crossbone gravestone as you leave the churchyard. The text says (I can't make out all the surname, you have my best guess):

"Here Lieth interr'd the Body of Mr Alex Wislle who departed this Life the 4th day of December 1741 aged 52 years"

 

 

 

After viewing St George in the East, retrace your steps north up Cannon Street Road and turn left onto Cable Street.

Continue walking West on Cable Street.

Approaching the City   Railing art on Cable Street  

Far left, the City starts to loom.

As you approach the city, look out for these railings on Cable Street. There's a series of 19 pictures made as part of the railings.

Round about this point, you will notice another odd thing. For about 2 hours, there have been no coffee shops. The first sense of the approaching city is the smell of coffee.

 

Continue straight on (West) as Cable Street turns into Royal Mint Street.

Cross Mansell Street, continue down Shorter Street, then turn Right (north) on Minories, crossing it when you can.

Approaching the City  

Tower Gateway Station and the new Fisher Price Architecture.

 

 

Turn left on Crosswall.

Cross Crutched Friars, and go forward on Lloyds Avenue.

Turn left (west) onto Fenchurch Street.

Walk west on Fenchurch Street, cross Gracechurch Street, and continue west on Lombard Street.

St Mary Woolnoth is the second church on the right (north side) of Lombard Street at the junction with King William Street.

St Mary Woolnoth   St Mary Woolnoth  

I managed to miss St Mary Woolnoth and walked past it. The side of the building is not remarkable, and the tower is not very tall. Also it does not have the crisp white colour of most of the other churches of the period.

If you get to Bank without seeing it, turn round and look back down Lombard Street. From this position, it is obvious.

People describe the tower as 'a merged double tower' or some such, but I have to say that is not how it strikes me at all. It just looks, frankly unbalanced, and maybe unfinished.

This church is open to the public. It says it shuts at 4.30, but was still open at 5 on the day I visited. There are leaflets and a few postcards to buy.

The interior has been changed since Hawksmoor's time. The most notable thing must be that the galleries have been removed, and their front panels fixed to the walls. This also leaves some odd-looking doors high up in the walls at the back.

The most striking thing is the darkness of the wood, leading to a stark black and white interior.

 

 

Well, that's all the churches visited, and it was about 5.5 hours after the start, more if you go to Greenwich.

After Bank, I went back to Holborn to meet up with friends. You can take the tube if you like, but here's the route I took.

Continue on Lombard Street to Bank.

Walk round till you get to Poultry (the one with the ugly big pink stripey, ship-shaped building on the left) and go down that.

Walk down Poultry, continue on Cheapside (going west).

At St Pauls, continue going straight on as Cheapside turns into Newgate Street (I had a break and ate a sandwich in the garden of St Pauls).

Newgate Street turns into Holborn Viaduct, and then Holborn.

Holborn Station is where Holborn crosses Kingsway.

I take my leave of you here. Have a good evening.

 

 

 

 

Go on, Affect Me

Am I missing something? Send me your comments.

Name

   

Email

   

Comments