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:

Monument EC3, on a hot day

Le Pain Quotidien at Monument was open on Sunday. I found a table in the shade and sketched.

Back at home I added tone and an experimental print background. What do you think?

Drawing: waterproof ink and watercolour Neutral Tint.

Print: Plate made from cut cardboard. Printed using Schmincke relief ink: “Aqua Linodruck #19210 permanent yellow”. Printed directly into the sketchbook.

Vestry House EC4

I walked in the back lanes between Cannon Street and Monument. Here is Vestry House on Laurence Pountney Hill EC4.

Vestry House EC4, sketched 13 June 2021, 15:10, 10″ x 7″ in Sketchbook 10

It is Grade II listed, listed in 1977. The listing says:

Late C19, red brick and stone. Stone doorcase with elaborate overdoor and pediment bearing the initials SP over panel of foliage inscribed Vestry House. 1st floor oriel window with big triangular gable over, projecting on scrolled consoles; 2nd floor windows in gable. Octagonal corner stair turret with pointed roof.

There is a blue tile further East along Laurence Pountney Hill. It reads:

Site of Laurence Pountney Church and Corpus Christi College.
Destroyed in the Great Fire 1666

I sketched from a raised walkway on a modern office block opposite. Here are some work-in-progress photos.

I stood in front of the offices of


Their logo cleverly captures all these initials.

Here is a map showing the location of Laurence Pountney Hill. The red square is Vestry House, the arrow shows the sightline of the drawing.

The colours are Lunar Earth, Mars Yellow, Perylene Maroon. The grey is Perylene Maroon and Phthalo Blue Turquoise. The green is the same blue with Mars Yellow.

The Fox and Anchor EC1

…its varnish was peeling but it was heavy and strong….

I set off on a warm afternoon intending to sketch a pub in Clerkenwell Green. On the way there, I walked along the north side of Smithfield. Down a side street I spotted a lone chair, placed as if waiting for me. It commanded an excellent view of the Fox and Anchor. I tried out the chair. Its varnish was peeling, but it was heavy and strong.

So I settled myself down and drew the Fox and Anchor. This is a very decorative pub. Pevsner* says it has a “joyful front of Doulton’s coloured tiles”. That’s Royal Doulton, the pottery company. I recommend the startling Royal Doulton building in Vauxhall, on the corner of Black Prince Road and Lambeth High Street. This is even more elaborate than the Fox and Anchor pub, since it was a living advertisement for the wares of the firm.

The Fox and Anchor dates from 1898. This date is on the tiles in that magnificent halo on the top, together with a picture of the Fox. The date is written in such flamboyant Art Nouveau script that it’s difficult to read. The whole of the front is tiled with ceramic tiles, in wonderful shapes, including tiles which go around the window frames. There is a dragon either side of the pub sign.

Fox and Anchor pub and hotel, EC1. Sketched 5th June 2021, 17:30 in Sketchbook 10. 8″ x 10″

This is a Young’s pub, open now. The Fox is shown on the pub sign, but not the Anchor. It has a special Smithfield licence, which means that it can offer beer for breakfast. This special licence is historically for serving the night shift meat workers at Smithfield. Someone of my acquaintance recounts stories of financial services workers in the City celebrating the end of projects with the Full English at the Fox, complete with pints of beer.

It is also a hotel. “Boutique” rooms are offered on its website. It must be a great place to stay!

I drew this picture between 4 and 5:30pm on a Saturday. The area was already becoming lively. A crowd spilled out of the “Be At One” cocktail bar.

Outside the Fox and Anchor people sat at tables quietly taking in the evening. And observing the person sketching, sat on a chair on the pavement opposite. As I noticed with my drawing earlier in the week, Londoners are losing their fear and are starting again with the social interactions. Several people came to say hello as I was working on the picture. Someone had seen me looking repeatedly up at the building and down at the picture. They had been discussing with their companion why I didn’t use a photograph. So they came and asked me, which was nice of them, and provoked an interesting discussion. Part of the answer is because “I like sitting here looking at the building,” and another part of the answer, which I struggled to express, is that I get a very different picture if I work from a photograph.

Another person came and asked technical questions. They use watercolours for life drawing, and wanted to know the name of the brown colour I use, which is Fired Gold Ochre. They also admired my paintbox.

Here are pictures of work in progress and my drawing location:

Here is a map showing the line of sight of the drawing. The nearby street is called “Fox and Knot Street” which is intriguing.

The picture took an hour and a half, all on location. The colours are: Fired Gold Ochre, Phthalo Blue Turquoise, Buff Titanium, Mars Yellow, Permanent Yellow Deep. and some Perylene Maroon to make the grey colours. The yellow lines on the road are Naples Yellow.

I have sketched other pubs in the area:

*p454, “The Buildings of England, London 1: The City of London, by Simon Bradley and Nikolaus Pevsner. 1999 edition.

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.

Microsketching (2)

On my walks around the City, as lockdowns have eased, I carry a tiny sketchbook and make quick drawings. I’ve just finished microsketchbook number 2.

Here are some pictures from this sketchbook. Mostly I draw buildings.

Sometimes I draw people, especially if I’m in a waiting room.

Microsketching sketchbook number 2 is 6″ x 4″ and came from “Print Urchin Press and Bindery” . The paper is real watercolour paper: Bockingford. I use De Atramentis document ink, black, which is waterproof, in a Sailor fountain pen with a fine nib. Then I put a watercolour wash over.

Now I am starting microsketchbook number 3.

Microsketchbook number 3, from Print Urchin press and bindery.

My first Microsketchbook is here:

Microsketching and memory

Here are some tiny sketches I made as a result of local walks. I have a small sketchbook, about 3½ inches by 5½ inches, the size of a big mobile phone. On my walks, I pause for…

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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.

The Jugged Hare, from the Podium EC2

Here is the view looking North along Silk Street, from the Barbican Podium, next to Cromwell Tower.

The Jugged Hare from the Podium, 29 April 2021, 6pm, 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10

The buildings are, from left to right:

  • the operations centre of a bank, the building with the arch
  • The Jugged Hare, on the corner, with the pub sign
  • The Brewery, the red-brick building
  • Linklaters, a legal firm, on the right with the squarish windows.

On the sky line, the tall building is “HyLo” (or HiLo?) under construction on Bunhill Row, and the magnificent chimney of The Brewery.

In front of the chimney there is a whole superstructure on the roof of the Brewery which covers various industrial kitchen fans and ducts. These fans and ducts made a lot of noise, irritating neighbours. So last year they put a fence round, as you see in the picture in grey. Currently, both the Brewery and the Jugged Hare are closed, so it remains to be seen if the fence reduces the noise.

I drew this picture from the podium. Here is work in progress.

Here’s a rough sketch map, showing the viewpoint of the drawing.

65 Basinghall St EC2 from the plaza

In a previous post I presented a drawing of 65 Basinghall Street done from the bridge which is on the North side of the building. Here is the south side.

65 Basinghall Street is the building in front, with the scalloped arches. Behind it is City Place House.

65 Basinghall Street EC1 (foreground), City Place House (background) 8″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 9. 23rd April 2021

City Place House was built in 1992, and is due for demolition and replacement by a building which is taller and broader.

65 Basinghall Street is listed Grade II. The Historic England website gives the reason for the listing:

No 65 and 65a Basinghall Street, 1966-69, by Richard Gilbert Scott, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

  • for its creative composition of plane, form and interconnected masses;
  • for its use of materials, in particular the elegant polished white cement cladding and distinctive, celebratory, concrete shell-vaulting;
  • in its skilful planning, providing varied accommodation, open space and a high-level pedestrian link, on a corner plot.

Historic interest:

  • as the first part of the architect’s most significant secular commission, distinctively expressing his personal style and establishing his creative, Modern, response to the medieval Gothic of this important site;
  • as one element of the contribution made to the site over a period of almost seventy years by England’s most celebrated architectural dynasty.

The “celebrated architectural dynasty” is the Gilbert Scotts, 4 generations of architects down the male line.

Richard Gilbert-Scott was the fourth in line. He also designed the Guildhall Art Gallery and Guildhall Library.

  • George Gilbert-Scott (1811-78) – Albert Memorial, Midland Hotel, St Pancras Station
  • George Gilbert-Scott Junior (1839-1897)- St Agnes Kennington, [In 1884, he was declared ‘of unsound mind’]
  • Giles Gilbert-Scott (1880-1960) – Guildhall North Wing, Battersea Power Station, Telephone Kiosk, LMH Chapel, Bankside Power Station (=Tate Modern), Cambridge University Library, Cropthorne Court (Maida Vale)
  • Richard Gilbert-Scott (1923-2017) Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Library, 65 Basinghall Street.

65 Basinghall Street was originally an exhibition hall and offices with two temporary magistrates’ courts (with cells) and a records store over basement car parking.

The Historic England website also notes the alterations made to the site in recent years:

The principal alterations to the building’s interior since its construction are the conversion of 65a Basinghall Street (the former exhibition hall) into office space, and the opening-up of the magistrates’ courts (part of 65 Basinghall Street) also to form office space. The hard landscaping has also been altered, the raised terrace to the south has been repaved, losing the original pattern of hexagonal paving and glass lenses, and the flight of steps leading up to the exhibition hall has been reconfigured to create a light well and lifts from the terrace down into the office space below. A scheme of retaining walls and plant boxes which were part of this landscaping has also been lost.

Here is a photo from the Historic England website, and a photo I took yesterday for comparison. I could not stand in exactly the same place as the photographer of 1974, because the walkway has changed. This is the view from the North.

Spot the differences?

  • The bridge has been replaced with something more chunky
  • The little canopy above the entrance to the Magistrates Court has vanished.
  • The building on the right (City Place House) has been rebuilt (1992)
  • You can no longer get a good view of 65 Basinghall Street from the highwalk!

There are many more differences on the South side. I can’t find a picture pre-2002, which was when a major refurbishment started on the Guildhall North wing. As part of this refurbishment, changes were made to the plaza and walkway. If you have a old photo – I’d be very interested to see it.

I made the drawing on a brilliant sunny day, 23rd April 2021, sitting on a bench on the plaza. 65A is currently in use as a non-symptomatic Covid testing centre. It didn’t seem to have many customers. I counted two in the time I was there, about 1½ hours. But I might have missed some.

Here are photos of work in progress.

Map showing location of drawing and viewpoint. From the planning application for City Place House (map drawn by Allies and Morrison LLP, 18/3/2021 [Detail, annotated])

Here are other drawings I’ve done in the area, click the title to read more.


I found a photo on Flickr by Peter Marshall, taken in 1986. Click the picture to go to Peter Marshall’s Flickr album and see a more detailed picture.

Guildhall, Exhibition hall, Magistrates' court, Offices, Richard Gilbert Scott, 65 Basinghall Street, City 86-9b-12_2400
Photo credit: Peter Marshall on Flickr, album “London 1986”

65 Basinghall St EC2 from the bridge

This is a view from the bridge over Basinghall Street, looking at the back of 65 Basinghall Street.

65 Basinghall Street from the bridge, 11″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 9. 22 April 2021, 12:40pm

There is much of interest in this view. There are the wonderful arching shell-like structures of 65 Basinghall Street. This was built in 1966-7 to the designs of Richard Gilbert Scott1

Above the arches is an extraordinary building in the style of steam punk. In my drawing it was not possible to capture the magnificent complexity of all the pipes and railings and ventilators and intersecting walls.

This sky-level structure is on top of the Chartered Insurance Institute, whose hall is on the right of my drawing.

Then there is the mystery of the missing city crest. Above a door at street level is an obvious blank space, where the crest of the City of London has evidently been removed. I wonder why.

As I was drawing, there was the sound of hooves, and two police horses went by under the bridge. See the marvellous wavy shadows in the photo!

I have walked over this bridge many times, but only recently have I spotted the little balcony, half way up the side of the building.

It is possible to get to this balcony. You just go around the building and up some stairs. It looks like part of a public walkway which has now been cut off. But the early pictures of the building show this balcony just as it is today.

I will write more about 65 Basinghall Street in my next post. It was originally a Magistrates Court (with cells!), an exhibition hall and offices.

Here are photos of the locality, and work in progress on the drawing.

This drawing took about 1½ hours on location. I put some finishing touches at my desk. The colours are Phthalo Blue Turquoise, Lavender, Perylene Maroon, and Mars Yellow. There is some Green Gold on the tree.

1 Richard Gilbert-Scott was the fourth in a dynasty of architects. He also designed the Guildhall Art Gallery and Guildhall Library.

From father to son here is the line:

  • George Gilbert-Scott (1811-78) – Albert Memorial, Midland Hotel, St Pancras Station
  • George Gilbert-Scott Junior (1839-1897)- St Agnes Kennington, [In 1884, he was declared ‘of unsound mind’]
  • Giles Gilbert-Scott (1880-1960) – Guildhall North Wing, Battersea Power Station, Telephone Kiosk, LMH Chapel, Bankside Power Station (=Tate Modern), Cambridge University Library, Cropthorne Court (Maida Vale)
  • Richard Gilbert-Scott (1923-2017) Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Library, 65 Basinghall Street.