Christchurch Blackfriars Bridge SE1

On the South side of Blackfriars Bridge there is a church amongst trees. This is Christchurch Blackfriars Bridge.

Christchurch Blackfriars Bridge, 14th January 2022, 2pm 10″ x 7″ in Sketchbook 11
A window showing construction workers

This is the south side of the church, showing its open door. I went in. This is a very welcoming church. I passed three separate notices telling me I was welcome. Inside it is calm, warm and light. There are benches to sit on. There are marvellous stained glass windows. They show not saints and Bible stories, but Londoners. They show builders and printers, river workers, and engineers. There is a power station worker looking at a bank of rotary dial telephones, and a queue of people waiting for a red London bus. All these are beautifully done in stained glass.

This church accepts the idea that people might be “spiritual not religious”. Between 12noon and 2pm: they offer a “lunch time silent space”, and there are other events that include meditation and silence.

A detailed history of the church is in British History Survey of London: ‘Christ Church’, in Survey of London: Volume 22, Bankside (The Parishes of St. Saviour and Christchurch Southwark), ed. Howard Roberts and Walter H Godfrey (London, 1950), pp. 101-107. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol22/pp101-107 [accessed 16 January 2022].

Here is how it looked before 1941.

‘Plate 67: Christ Church. Exterior and watchhouse’, in Survey of London: Volume 22, Bankside (The Parishes of St. Saviour and Christchurch Southwark), ed. Howard Roberts and Walter H Godfrey (London, 1950), p. 67. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol22/plate-67 [accessed 16 January 2022].

It was completely gutted by incendiary bombing in April 1941. The 1950 “Survey of London” cited above describes it as a “shell”. The present church was completed in 1960, according to Pevsner (The Buildings of England, London 2: South, by Nicolaus Pevsner and Bridget Cherry, page 275). The architects were R Paxton Watson & B Costin.

The church is now surrounded by buildings and trees and is very much alive. Here is the view from the North:

Christchurch Blackfriars Bridge, 13th January 2022, 12:30pm 10″ x 7″ in Sketchbook 11

The outside air temperature was 3 degrees C and the paint wasn’t drying. Also I was very cold. I went for lunch in “Greensmiths”in Lower Marsh, and finished the painting there.

“Greensmiths” in Lower Marsh Waterloo.

Here is work in progress on the sketches, and some maps to show where this church is.

There were some spectacular shadows that day:

Christchurch Blackfriars Bridge, from the South, 14th January 2022 about 2pm.

The church community hold some of their events in the adjacent pub, the Rose and Crown:

Rose and Crown, SE1

Here is the Rose and Crown, just south of Blackfriars Bridge.

Rose and Crown, Blackfriars SE1, 20 November 2021, 10″ x 7″ in Sketchbook 11

This pub stands amongst modern blocks: linking past, present and future in a swirling area of change. Behind the pub, unexpectedly, is a beer garden, giving onto a wooded area around the nearby church, Christ Church.

Above the arched window of the pub, two dates are carved in the stone work: 1787 and 1887

Above the arched window: 1787 and 1887 (or 1881?)

The pub’s website says the building “is thought to date back to the late 1800s”. The marvellous “pubwiki” entry tells me that the pub “was established in 1787, re-built in its present form in 1887″. They trace the landlords’ names and dates through census and insurance records, and note a John” Clark, victualler at this location, in 1789.

1789/John Clark/victualler/../../Sun Fire Office records held at the London Metropolitan Archives” (data from Ewan of “pubwiki”)

Sketch map showing the Rose and Crown, SE1, and the viewpoint of my drawing, 20th November 2021

The roads round here have changed names. Colombo Street was “Collingwood Street” until 1937 (London Metropolitan Archives, notes on photos). Before that it was “Green Walk” in the 1789 insurance records quoted above. Paris Garden was previously “Brunswick Street”. The area in front of the pub, now the Colombo Centre and a Novotel, is a bombsite in a 1951 photo in the London Picture Archive.

The area continues to undergo change. North of the pub is a huge empty lot. Buildings were demolished in or around 2019, and construction has not yet started.

The planning application (2019) is for 4 levels of basement and 6 buildings from 5 to 53 floors.

Planning application 19/AP/0414 from “planning.southwark.gov.uk”

If you walk into my drawing and turn into the dark passage to the right of the pub, you find this notice, written in stone. Recently another notice has been added, asking patrons to leave quietly.

By my calculation MDCCCXIX is 1000(M) + 500(D) + 300(CCC) + 10(X) + 9 (IX) = 1819

The purpose of the watch house was to guard the adjacent burial ground from body snatchers, according to the note on the London Metropolitan Archive Picture Gallery. Here is the watchhouse in 1932. The pub would be immediatly to the left of this photo:

View of Christ Church Watchhouse, record number: 113829, Catalogue number: SC_PHL_01_366_A8882 Photo date: 1932 © London Metropolitan Archives (City of London) Used under licence.

London Picture Archive notes:

“The Parish Watchhouse was built in 1809 and stood in the Church Yard until demolished in 1932. The Watchhouse was used to guard new burials against body snatchers. The Rectory, a new building similar in style, stands on the same site. Colombo Street was previously known as Collingwood Street.”

Here is work in progress on the drawing. You see the current rectory, which replaced the watch-house, on the right.

Location:

The pub cat, sleeping.
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