Though London may be rainy and often quite gloomy, it does not mean that it is bereft of brilliant sights. Its churches, for example, are as extraordinary as they can get. If we think about Sir Christopher Wren, who was single-handedly responsible for a total of 51 churches after the Great Fire of London of 1666, we’ll realise just how deeply entrenched religion was in the local culture at some point in the past. If a single man was determined enough to create so many masterpieces, then surely there had been a high demand for the endeavour. Today, the remnants of that age remain as adamant bastions of hope and of spiritual recreation.
The abundance of churches has, of course, added something else to the roster: multiple structures dedicated to the same saint. Such is the case of St Botolph, a man that is not known by many but revered by quite a few ancient religious structures. The man himself died in the year 680 and is best known for his reported expulsion of malevolent spirits from the swamps of Suffolk. If this story is intriguing enough for you, or if you are on the lookout for interesting pieces of architecture, then you might want to pay a visit to the three churches that we are going to recommend below! So, without further ado, let us hop right into the hunt (wink)!
1. St Botolph without Aldersgate:
Hitting the touristiest sections of the City of London will offer you quite a few unforgettable eye-poppers but when you’re done with all of them, be sure to check out St Botolph’s church (also known as “St Botolph without Aldersgate” or “St Botolph’s, Aldersgate”). Sitting like a religious ziggurat of awe upon Aldersgate Street, the church is admired by many for its medieval roots. Having survived the Great Fire of London in 1666, it was only fitting that it should be listed as a Grade I building in the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. Despite that, it subsequently fell to disrepair only to be rebuilt between the years 1788 and 1791. Affiliated with the Church of England, it is currently being used by the London City Presbyterian Church. So yes, it is still active and kicking – who knows, you might even be lucky enough catch a mass (wink)!
2. St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate:
As you may have already gathered by the clues mentioned above, the Church of England possesses countless hidden jewels within the mighty capital of the United Kingdom. One such building is our second contestant: the St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate church. Sitting just outside the enclosure of the former eastern walls, it has become part of the East End of London. Designated a Grade II listed structure within the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, it is associated with the Worshipful Company of Coopers and the Worshipful Company of Bowyers. What’s most fascinating about it is that it has only narrowly escaped the Great Fire of London in 1666 and that it took a couple of appeals from the parishioners to be rebuilt. This victory by a hair’s breadth (in the case of the escape and the success of the petitions) is often considered a miracle by pious locals, so it is best to stay on the understanding side of things (wink)!
3. St Botolph’s Aldgate
Though extremely confusable with the first contestant (St Botolph’s Aldersgate), we assure you that this specific St Botolph church (St Botolph’s Aldgate) is different and familiar at the same time. Affiliated with the Church of England, it is considered by many one of the most jaw-dropping examples of a structure located outside the former eastern walls and surviving the relentless tides of time. Like the second contestant, this one has also become a part of the East End of London, and it was granted the following official name “St Botolph without Aldgate and Holy Trinity Minories”. Also listed as a Grade I structure within the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, it was designed by the master architect George Dance the Elder and presents the architectural standards of the Georgian style. Though the Great Fire of London in 1666 had not ruined it, it was still fully redesigned by Mr Dance between the years 1741 and 1744. So, exorcising a few spirits from swamps can make you famous, folks (triple wink)!
Did you enjoy our list? Which of the above-mentioned religious structures have you visited and what lasting impressions have they left you with? Hit the comment section below and tell us all about your experiences. Oh, and be sure to check back from time to time for some exciting new updates. Safe travels and see you on our next adventure!