St Benet's Paul Wharf

St Benet’s Paul Wharf


I stumbled upon St Benet’s Church Paul’s Wharf on my way from Cannon Street Station to Two Temple Place. As one of only four Wren churches in the City of London that was undamaged by bombing in the last war you would think that it would be cherished. With broken windows it looks distinctly in need of care and attention. A close neighbour and former church to the far more opulent College of Arms across the road makes it look even more forlorn. There is a tiny notice in one of the windows informing visitors that the church is open on Thursdays between 11am and 3pm. I will return to do the tour as subsequently I found out that the altar, pulpit and reredos were carved by Grinling Gibbons.

College of Arms more illustrious neighbour

College of Arms more illustrious neighbour

St Benet's opening time notice

St Benet’s opening time notice

As I made my way to Victoria Embankment I passed the traditionally appealing Black Friar Pub. This is a Grade 11 Listed Art Nouveau building which is wedged into a small area across the road from Blackfriars tube station. It took its name from the Dominican Friary that existed in that area between the C13 and C16.

The Black Friar

The Black Friar


Two Temple Place is located just behind Temple Gardens. The small garden is home to some interesting memorials. There are statues of John Stuart Mill, Lady Henry Somerset President of the Women’s Temperance League 1896 and William Edward Forster 1818-1896 noted for The Education Act 1870 which developed national system of elementary education. He was also known as “Buckshot Forster” a nickname he earned when he was Chief Secretary of Ireland. I was slightly disappointed in myself for not knowing who he was.

Two Temple Place

Two Temple Place


The exhibition at Two Temple Place – Amongst Heroes: the artist in working Cornwall which is open until 14th April 2013. The actual building is as interesting as the exhibition. It is a late Victorian Mansion renovated to a very high specification by William Waldorf Astor in 1895. Astor moved from the US to Britain in 1891. He opened the Waldorf Hotel in 1908 and an interesting fact is that in 1892 he faked his own death. The staircase with a glazed ceiling and wooden carvings of characters from The Three Musketeers is impressive.

The exhibition portrays working life in the late 19th century by members of the Newlyn School of painters. It makes use of artifacts for example there is a real Oyster Dredger close to The Oyster Dredger 1878 by Charles Napier Henry. Hand made tools used in the repair of fishing nets are on display. The exhibition and building itself are a reminder of Victorian attitudes towards work, craft and skill. From Under the Sea 1864 James Clarke Hook shows the mine at Botallack and demonstrates the dignity of labour. I left, turning back into the City, thinking that perhaps we need some Victorian attitude.

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