I didn't have a full day to dedicate to exploring a certain area of London this time round but decided to settle on the theme of: central churches. When I'm away one of the most common things I'll do is visit the city's cathedral. I have never thought to do this in London, a hotspot for religious hubs. It can be quite easy to forget about places of worship when you're walking through the City, surrounded by offices, banks and big red buses. But you'll be surprised about just how many of these places of worship there are hidden in back streets, overlooking parks and nestled between high street shops. On this day I visited St Dunstan in the East, St Margaret Pattens and Southwark Cathedral. I suppose you could call this 'church hopping'! It was interesting to see how the churches differed from one another. I'm quite a fan of sitting in churches and just being quiet for a time, it's quite a nice way to clear my head and for some reason the atmosphere allows me to feel peaceful. St Dunstan in the East is not far from Bank so I headed there first and was immediately greeted by the famous Monument...which I have never actually seen before! I've heard Monument referenced so many times and yet I never knew what it was actually referring to. Turns out it's a memorial for the people that died during the Great Fire of London in 1666. You can climb up it and apparently get a real panoramic view of London.
St Dunstan in the East is deemed a pretty church for a reason. I couldn't believe how quiet the area was despite having just come from bustling Bank. A workman sat eating a sandwich and there were a couple of tourist girls taking pictures but apart from that, the churchyard was quiet and serene. It's a very old church - was constructed in 1100 initially - and was severely damaged in the fire. However, instead of being completely reconstructed, Sir Christopher Wren added a steeple and tower some time in the late seventeenth century. It was also severely damaged during World War II and after that, a decision was made that St Dunstan shouldn't be rebuilt again. Hence it is mostly nature. Honestly such a beautiful place.
St Margaret was equally as interesting. For at least 900 years some version of this church has stood on its site - as you can see, it is now surrounded by sprawling high rises. Inside the church is fairly small and boasts several notable objects and paintings, but the reason why it is called St Margaret Pattens is down to the history of the patten itself - a type of wooden undershoe worn by people back in the day so that they weren't affected by the muddy streets of London. The patten trade died out in the 19th century but there is a sign in the church that still reads "requests women to remove their Pattens before entering."
On my way to London Bridge I also came across this church (which was closed) but caught my eye nonetheless. It is St Magnus the Martyr Church.
Southwark Cathedral was absolutely stunning! Unfortunately I couldn't take pictures inside as I needed to pay (just found out all you have to actually do is buy a map and then you're allowed, LOL) but it really was quite an interesting church. Southwark Cathedral is the oldest cathedral church building in London and is positioned at a very significant point in central London. It's got some real gems inside - beautiful stain glass windows, realistic effigies and an amazing ceiling. I was lucky enough to be wandering around whilst the choir were practicing. It's a great place to visit if you are visiting London as you will no doubt be in the area and there are lots of nice places to eat nearby as well.
I then headed to Borough market for a quick snack. It was quite late in the afternoon by this point so a lot of the stalls were being packed up but hey, come late and you get discounts! I picked up fresh apple and rhubarb juice which had been reduced to a mere pound.
Happy that I've still got a lot of the summer to do more exploring! Stay tuned...