Orkney sketches

Here are some sketches of Orkney, made during a visit earlier this month.

This is Stromness:

The seascapes and light were magnificent.

St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall is awe-inspiring.

These drawings are in two sketchbooks:

  • PrintUrchin Sketchbook 3, with Arches Aquarelle paper, 10″ x 8″ (landscape)
  • A long thin sketchbook with Khadi Paper, 12″ x 5″ (landscape)

St Edmund the King EC3

Here is a sketch of the church of “St Edmund King and Martyr” which is on Lombard St, City of London.

St Edmund King and Martyr, Lombard Street, from George Yard, EC3. 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10

George Yard is at the intersection of a number of city lanes, one of which leads West to “The George and Vulture”, and another leads North to the Jamaica Wine House.

Also in George Yard is a marvellous leafy garden. In the garden, shaded by vegetation, is the tombstone of “Sir Henry Tulse”. Below the tombstone is the inscription telling you about its incumbent:

"Sir Henry Tulse was a benefactor of the Church of St Dionis Backchurch (formerly adjoining)
He was also grocer, Alderman, and Lord Mayor of this City.
In his memory, this tombstone was restored November 1937 by
"The Ancient Society of College Youths" during the 100th year of the society's foundation.
He was also Master of the Society during his Mayoralty in 1684"

St Edmund King and Martyr is an active church. The Church is, according to the notice on Lombard Street, “The Gregory Centre for Church Multiplication”. Church Multiplication has a clear mission statement on their website: “We equip and resource the Church to reach new people, in new places, in new ways with the good news of Jesus Christ.”

The Vestry Hall is the cubical building on the right of my drawing.

Just off the drawing to the left is 2 George Yard and 20 Gracechurch Street, a modern building, where a long list of companies are registered with financial sounding names: “The Close Investment 1988 Fund “A” “, “The Greater Mekong Capital Fund”. This is the City of London, with all its contrasts and juxtapositions.

Here is work in progress on the drawing, and a view of the Church from the leafy garden.

This drawing took about 1 hour and 20 mins. The colours are Mars Yellow, Perylene Maroon, and Phthalo Blue Turquoise.

Guild Church of St Benets, EC4

On a lovely sunny morning I walked to the Wren café for breakfast. The Wren is in Saint Nicholas Cole Abbey church on Queen Victoria Street. There is a terrace high above Queen Victoria Street. It commands an excellent view of St Paul’s Cathedral, but I chose to look along the busy road and sketch the Guild Church of St Benets.

Guild Church of Saint Benets, from St Nicholas Cole Abbey, Queen Victoria Street EC4. 16th June 2021, 08:30 – 10:45am, 10″ x 7″ in sketchbook 10.

The building in the background is Baynards House, a BT building. In front of the church is the City of London School for Boys. Here are maps:

The Guild Church of St Benets is an active church with services in Welsh. It is a Wren Church, listed Grade I. The listing on the Historic England site says that this is “one of the least altered of Wren’s churches”, since it was not damaged in the 1939-45 war.

Here are a few photos of work in progress on the drawing, and a portrait of a magpie who came to look at my croissant:

I’ve sketched the view of St Paul’s from the same location:

I also drew a picture of St Nicholas Cole Abbey, from the North side, in a rainstorm:

Turk’s Head Wapping E1, from the park

On Monday I cycled out East to the Turk’s Head for breakfast. With a coffee and croissant, in front of me, I sketched the view.

The Turk’s Head Wapping E1, from the park. 09:30am, 14 June 2021. 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10

The Turk’s Head is the building on the right. The church in the picture is the former St John’s Wapping, now converted into flats.

The Turk’s head describes itself on its website:

“La Tète De Turc or The Turks Head is a French – Anglais Bistro. We serve French and English Food. Et Voilà!”

It has tables indoors, and outdoors under cover, and also in the adjacent park. I was outdoors in the park.

Here is a map showing where it is:

I have sketched the Turks Head before, in January 2020:

Turks Head Café Wapping

Here is the marvellous Turks Head Café, Wapping, rescued from demolition by local residents in the 1980s. Inside, I found warmth, quiet tables, and the gentle murmur of conversations: people actually talking to each other. I felt welcome here. The food was marvellous. Next time I’m going to have the Blueberry Tart. I only noticed it after I’d already had the substantial Chicken and Avocado Sandwich. … Continue reading “Turks Head Café Wapping”

St Nicholas Cole Abbey EC4

St Nicholas Cole Abbey is at 114 Queen Victoria Street, EC4V 4BJ. 

The City of London entry for this church tells me:

The church is dedicated to the 4th century St Nicholas of Myra. The name “Cole Abbey” is derived from “coldharbour”, a medieval word for a traveller’s shelter or shelter from the cold.

It still performs this sheltering function. There is a large squarish space inside, very open and light, with stained glass, tables, gentle murmurings. And there is the wonderful Wren café, a welcoming place. St Nicholas Cole Abbey is an active church, offering “workplace ministry” according to its website.

Yesterday, however, the church and the café were closed. I found shelter from the rain in the overhang of 1 Distaff Lane, Bracken House, and drew this picture.

St Nicholas Cole Abbey, EC4. 16th May 2021, 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10

You see the magnificent trumpet shape of the spire. There is a boat on top! According to the Wikipedia entry:

This [weathervane] came from St Michael Queenhithe (demolished 1876), and was added to the spire in 1962.

Here is work in progress on the picture, and a map:

On sunnier days, I have drawn St Paul’s Cathedral from a bench to the south of the church:

City Churches

This is one of an emerging collection of drawings of City churches. You can see the drawings so far by clicking this link:

St Mary Somerset EC4

In a narrow sliver of land between Upper Thames Street and Lambeth Hill is the tower of St Mary Somerset. This is a Wren church, built in 1886-94. The body of the church was demolished in 1871, leaving only the tower. The tower was listed Grade I in January 1950. It is now being converted into a single private home, according to the website of architects Pilbrow & Partners.

St Mary Somerset, Upper Thames Street EC4, 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10. 11 May 2021, 2pm.

I drew this picture from the footbridge over Upper Thames Street, on the North side, where it becomes Fye Foot Lane.

Map showing the position of St Mary Somerset, and where I was standing.

From this angle, Upper Thames Street is hidden behind the trees. The building on the left of the drawing is 1 High Timber Street. It’s an enormous post-modern building, which looks like offices.

I enjoyed the top of St Mary Somerset. There is no spire, instead there are eight huge stone monuments. The Historic England describes it in the listing: “Parapet with 8 tall pedestals supporting urns at the corners and obelisks in between.” It looks as though it might be a board game, laid out on a huge square board, for giants of immense strength to play.

Top of St Mary Somerset: a fantasy board game?

The sketch took about 45 minutes on location. I completed it at my desk after lunch. The colours are: Phthalo Blue Turquoise, Permanent Yellow Deep, Green Gold, Mars Yellow, Perylene Maroon. Here are snapshots of work in progress.

I have drawn various City churches. I enjoy the way they co-exist with the modern buildings.

St James Bermondsey SE1

quick sketch

Walking back from the Little Bread Pedlar with my bag of goodies, I came to a standstill in front of St James’ Church, Bermondsey.

This is a magnificent 19th Century church, with a dragon as a weathervane. There is a generous park around the church, and benches. I made a quick sketch.

After my lunch, I walked along the West side of the church and passed between huge stone gateposts. Looking back, the church was spectacular against a moody sky.

There were some convenient benches stacked outside a closed pub, so I sat down and made a longer sketch.

St James’ Church, Bermondsey, 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10. 5th May 2021 14:15

From this angle, the church might be in the countryside. What you can’t see in the drawing is the half-timbered pub, which is just off to the left. It is called “The Gregorian”. The pub sign is a heraldic shield, with a black dragon facing a white dove. The motto below the shield reads “SHALOM”. I can find no explanation for why a pub in Bermondsey should have a greeting in Hebrew on its coat of arms. But there it is. The pub was closed, so I couldn’t ask them.

The church is remarkable in many ways. For one thing, it is enormous, and very solidly built. Walking along the West wall, I could see that there was a crypt along the entire length. The steeple has clocks on each of its four faces, which is commendable and generous, in my view. All of the clocks were working, and showed the right time, including the one which was facing North over the roof of the Nave, and thus invisible except by a narrow angle.

As I was drawing this, the rain started, and then stopped, and started again. Eventually I packed up and finished the drawing at my desk when I got home. I also found out more about the church. The first stone was laid in 1827 and it was consecrated in 1829. The church was built as part of a huge Church building programme, funded by central government after the Napoleonic wars. The fund was called the “million-pound fund” and the churches built are called “Waterloo Churches” or “Commissioners’ Churches” for the Church Commissioners who managed the programme. Wikipedia has a whole article on the subject. I found it interesting that the government would embark on such expenditure when surely its funds were depleted after the wars? Information on a notice board by the church says that the fund was established as a thank-offering for peace, and a memorial to the soldiers who had fallen. Wikipedia offers two additional explanations.

  1. The demographics of the country were changing substantially in the first part of the 19th century. There were churches where there were insufficient people, and people where there were insufficient churches. This was certainly the case in Bermondsey, where the population quadrupled during the 19th century, from roughly 17 thousand in 1801 to over 80 thousand in 1901. The people were engaged in trades associated with the docks, such as ropemaking.
  2. It was seen by the government as important to provide churches in order to prevent insurrection (note 1). Churches provided guidance, stability, and social control. The French revolution of 1789-99 lived in people’s memories.

St James’ Church accommodated 2000 people, when built. It continues to offer services and describes itself as an Anglican evangelical church, with a “vibrant and active congregation of all ages and backgrounds, drawn from many countries in the world.” This is from the information leaflet on the church website. (Note 3) This information leaflet contains the following picture of the restored dragon weathervane, which I couldn’t resist including here:

“Restored and regilded, St James’s dragon weathervane, returns to Bermondsey in 2018” (from St James Bermondsey History leaflet, Note 3, and vicar’s blog: Note 4)

According to the church website (note 2), the bells were cast by Mears of Whitechapel from the canon left behind by Napoleon. The architect was James Savage.

Here is work in progress on the drawing:

  1. Wikipedia article quotes Port, M. H. (2006), 600 New Churches: the Church Building Commission 1818-1856 (2nd ed.), Reading: Spire Books, pages 15 and 16 ISBN978-1-904965-08-4
  2. Website of St James Bermondsey: is here. http://www.godlovesbermondsey.co.uk/our-history.php
  3. St James Church website history information leaflet: http://www.godlovesbermondsey.co.uk/resources/Church%20History%20Leaflet%202019a%20-%20June%2022%20%20FINAL.pdf
  4. The vicar of St James published a blog article about the return of the dragon here: https://bermondseyvicar.blogspot.com/2018/08/the-dragon-returns.html?m=0

All Hallows on the Wall EC2, and 110 Bishopsgate

London Wall is the old Roman wall around the City of London. It is also the name of a street. Here is the church All Hallows on the Wall, drawn from outside the Carpenters’ Hall.

All Hallows on the Wall, with 110 Bishopsgate behind, drawn 30th April 2021, 12:35. 10″ x 8″ in Sketchbook 10

I drew All Hallows last year, from across the street, see this post:

Viewpoint of the drawing.

Today’s drawing was with a viewpoint looking east along London Wall, towards the tower blocks on the eastern part of the City. The tower block on the right is “Salesforce Tower” also known as “Heron Tower” and “110 Bishopsgate”. It was completed in 2011. The architect was Kohn Pedersen Fox.

The colours in the drawing are Phthalo Blue Turquoise, Perylene Maroon, Mars Yellow. The bright green is Green Gold. There some Iridescent Silver on the towers.

Here is work in progress on location.

All Hallows by the Tower EC3

This is the view looking South along Seething Lane. The ground falls away quite steeply here, towards to the Thames. On the left, out of the picture, is “Ten Trinity Square” a 2017 Four Seasons development in the 1912-22 offices of the Port of London Authority. Behind me as I drew this picture was an incongruous 21st century cubical building, which seems to house utilities or a power plant of some sort, possibly communicating with chambers below ground. From time to time it emitted whirring and pumping noises.

Above ground is Seething Lane Gardens, and this view of All Hallows by the Tower.

All Hallows by the Tower, 7″ x 10″, 22 March 2021, in Sketchbook 9

All Hallows by the Tower describes itself as “the oldest church in the City”, referring to evidence that it existed 675AD. It is near the Tower of London and former docklands. Like many City Churches, it has been reconstructed several times in its long history, most recently after severe bomb damage in the 1939-45 conflict. The tower you see in my drawing was built in 1955, and the “spiritedly Baroque copper-clad spire” (Pevsner1) was added in 1958. Here is a photo during the reconstruction process. You see the Tower of London in the background to the right.

Church of Allhallows-by-the Tower and view along Great Tower Street to the Tower of London, 1955. View eastward, with Byward Street to the left. Picture credit: Ben Brooksbank, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20592839 [Permission details: Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0]

For comparison, here is the same view today. I had to stand a bit further back to get the whole tower in shot.The single lamp-post in the distance in 1955 is still there today, but now it is joined by a host of other street furniture. And there’s a tree in front of the church now.

All Hallows by the Tower, 29 March 2021

Once again the marvellous “A London Inheritance” site has a fascinating article on the church.

The church is on Byward Street, which becomes Tower Hill.

The building to the left of my drawing is number 16 Byward Street. There’s an “All Bar One” at ground level. According to Pevsner1 below this building is the former “Mark Lane Underground Station” (1p440). This was closed when the current Tower Hill Station replaced it in 1967.

The building to the right, with the dark vertical fins, is ‘Knollys House’, described by Pevsner1 as “a slab” (p439). The architect was Howard, Souster and Fairburn. The fins are a 1985 refurbishment.

Seething Lane Gardens, where I was sitting, were re-opened in 2018 after a two year closure. According to the City of London Press release at the time (6 July 2018)

“Rainwater harvested from the roof of the 10 Trinity Square will be used to irrigate the garden. The garden has a long association with the 17th century diarist, Samuel Pepys, who lived and worked in the Navy Office which once stood on the site. It is marked by a Blue Plaque and a bust of Pepys by late British sculptor Karin Jonzen, which stood in the former garden, has been relocated as a centrepiece of the new garden.”

No mention is made of the cubical structure which makes the whirring noises. I must investigate further.

Here is work in progress on the drawing:

REFERENCES

  1. Pevsner: London 1, The City of London by Simon Bradley and Nicholas Pevsner 1997 edition.
  2. Mark Lane Station on an 1888 plan: “This file is from the Mechanical Curator collection, a set of over 1 million images scanned from out-of-copyright books and released to Flickr Commons by the British Library, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32674842”

St Magnus the Martyr

Here is a view of St Magnus the Martyr, a Wren church next to London Bridge.

St Magnus the Martyr, 7″ x 10″, in sketchbook 9

St Magnus Martyr has a foundation that goes back before the first stone bridge across the Thames, which was built in 1209.

The church of St Magnus Martyr escaped the fire of London Bridge in 1633. However it was one of the first churches to be destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. It is only a few hundred yards from Pudding Lane, where the fire started. The present church was built 1671-76 to the designs of Christopher Wren. The steeple which I have drawn was added in 1703-6.

At this time, the road going to London Bridge was just to the left (west) of the Church. The clock which you see in my picture, bottom left, hung over the road. I have all this information from the extensive history set out on the St Magnus Martyr website, which includes this marvellous story about the clock:

It was presented to the church in 1709 by Sir Charles Duncombe (Alderman for the Ward of Bridge Within and, in 1708/09, Lord Mayor of London). Tradition says “that it was erected in consequence of a vow made by the donor, who, in the earlier part of his life, had once to wait a considerable time in a cart upon London Bridge, without being able to learn the hour, when he made a promise, that if he ever became successful in the world, he would give to that Church a public clock … that all passengers might see the time of day.” The maker was Langley Bradley, a clockmaker in Fenchurch Street, who had worked for Wren on many other projects, including the clock for the new St Paul’s Cathedral.

The current London Bridge was built 1825-1831. It is a little upstream (west) of the old London Bridge, so the approach road no longer goes past St Magnus Martyr.

The crane in my picture is at the junction of Gracechurch St and Eastcheap, next to Monument Station. It occupies the whole width of Gracechurch Street. It appears to be lifting concrete blocks onto the top of the building that was, for a short while, House of Fraser.

I drew this from a deserted platform, high up near the river Thames.

Inked on location, coloured back home. The outside air temperature was 4 degrees C.