City Spires and Towers #3

In this third installment of the series, we look at four churches within a few hundred yards of each other. They are St Magus, St Mary’s, St Margaret’s and St Dunstan’s. These churches have some of the most varied, and compromised, environments within such a small area.


St Magus the Martyr, by London Bridge.

We start with St Magnus the Martyr. As we saw in last week’s post, this church has escaped quite lightly in terms of how its spire (and its general prospect) is not so encumbered by enormous skyscrapers (the towers) that rise about it. The reason for that is of course this church is right by the river, which preserves to an extent the prospects afforded towards it.


St Magnus & The Monument. Complementary, not competitive.

It must not be forgot St Magnus is actually affected by the presence of the Shard on the opposite side of the Thames although that is not close enough to render the church and its spire somewhat insignificantly.

At the start of this series I asked if it was possible to find a church spire within the City of London that wasn’t marked (perhaps marred) in some way by the presence of a skyscraper. These four have been quite heavily affected despite the fact there are some prospects that still enable one to have peaceful enjoyment or mediation in the presence of the church and spire.

In the following photographs I used an ultra wide angle lens in order to gain some of the prospects which would have not been possible with normal wide angle lenses.

Last time I mentioned St Mary-at-Hill I said it had no spire. Well that is right, but it does have a small tower (as opposed to a spire.) Its relationship to other nearby spires and the modern towers is important as we see next.

 
St Mary’s tower in the context of historic Lovat Lane. The Walkie Talkie is high enough to encroach on this historic setting.

London Inheritance discusses the historical importance of St Mary’s and Lovat lane.


The east side of St Marys with its clock, plus a clear line of sight to The Shard. More buildings will rise in the south.


St Mary’s looking north from its clock to The Walkie Talkie, The Cheesegrater and St Margaret Pattens.

We ascend St Mary’s Hill to view St Margaret’s.


St Margaret and 20 Fenchurch Street from Eastcheap.

Clearly St Margaret’s is the most affected of the four. Its not as profound as some of those churches that I have surveyed within the City of London.  But its pretty overwhelmed particularly by the Walkie Talkie – or more officially 20 Fenchurch Street.


The Walkie Taklie (Sky Garden side) and St Margaret’s.

People queue up to enjoy the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street but barely anyone queues to recieve sermon at St Margaret’s. It shows a huge paradigm shift, but one that very few people will realise has even happened. I shall discuss this in a later post as there are deep philosophical implications that revolve around these spires and towers of the City.

The Walkie Talkie widens into a larger structure as it gets higher,and that of course affects the space around St Margaret’s.


Looking straight up to the sky in the space between St Margaret’s and the Walkie Talkie.

The Shard makes its presence in the skies above the four churches discussed in this post. Even though St. Margaret’s is the furthest away from the river, The Shard still makes its presence felt.


The Shard can be seen down St Mary at Hill from St Margaret’s.


St Mary’s (its clock is visible), St Margaret’s, The Walkie Talkie, The Cheesegrater with St Dunstan’s at extreme right.

In the above prospect we can see just St Marys (the newer side with its splendid clock) St Margarets (with the enormous Walkie Talkie and Cheesegrater) and St Dunstans at extreme right. At one time this area would have been a forest of churches (taking into account those that have fallen due to fire or war.) Its now full of modern skyscrapers!

St Dunstan’s is no longer a church, but like some of those others which were bombed in the war, St Dunstan’s tower and spire has survived.


St Dunstan’s is a place of rest and contemplation. But behind those trees….


Voila! The Walkie Talkie rises above St Dunstan’s.

The Shard again is evident, though it’s not like those buildings on the north side that can be viewed rising into the skies.


The Shard cannot be missed from St Dunstan’s.

The Shard,with its ever narrowing apex and topmost point, is said to be a spire of sorts, in fact that was Renzo Piano’s intention. He says The Shard had inspiration from Canaletto’s paintings showing the numerous church spires that could once be seen across the City.

Despite being the tallest tower in London, The Shard keeps itself a discreet distance from the City’s spires and in many ways it can be said to be the only structure that complements the City’s historic spires. Its something we will look at in future posts.

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