City Spires & Towers #5

A City Spires & Towers post with a difference! These are tweets from noted aerial photographer Jason Hawkes, and illustrate the City’s situation with regards to both its churches and the many new skyscrapers. The tweets are from the past half year or so, the earliest ones first.

Just to recap, the aim of this series is to find the least crowded City church. That is, the one without skyscrapers or other towers impending upon it. As I have surveyed each of the City’s churches I’ve come to realise its quite a tall order…..

jasonhawkes - City Spires & Towers #5

As many of you will know, Jason is a fascinating aerial photographer who shows us aspects of London we would never see otherwise. There’s a huge diference between seeing how things are set out on a map and how they are in reality via Jason’s photographs. Those of London’s night time and its sunset are particularly endearing.

The first tweet is of great interest, it shows the City as proposed and as it was back in November 2016, the latter being the right hand picture and the one we shall refer to. In the space of half a year the area has changed enormously with the Scapel well on the way to completion. The development at 100 Bishopsgate has clearly become ginormous!

In terms of which spires can be seen, well there’s not many. This tweet sort of sets the scene, the cluster of skyscrapers and the Thames sweeping past in the distance. In terms of churches, All Hallows by the Tower is easily seen in the left middle of picture. Coming towards the Gherkin Bevis Marks synanogue is also visible and then there’s St Boltoph’s, perhaps the most prominent in the bottom right of the image.

In the next, still November 2016, showing the then barely risen Scapel, St Andrews Undershaft, St Marys Bow, St Stephens Walbrook, St Michael Cornhill, St Lawrence Jewry, St Mary Aldermary and St Nicholas Cole Abbey can be seen, which is a fair number. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this view is the huge gap between the City’s skyscrapers towards St Pauls. Evidently the policy of not building within sight of St Pauls has worked to an extent, though not fully effective as earlier structures, such as Faraday Building and the Barbican, compromise the views from the river. These were built at a time when such matters were not considered so critical.

In the early part of this year this view looking north from the Monument towards Liverpool Street was produced. Depsite the fact a good number of churches can be seen, it must be remembered appearances from the air can be deceptive and many of these churches are not so easily seen from the ground.

The most visible churches are: St Dunstan’s in the East, St Mary at Hill, St Margaret Pattens, St Michael Cornhill, St Edmund’s, St Mary Woolnoth and the other St Margaret’s (in Lothbury.)

Its a nice picture because one can see the busiest London thoroughfares as they are better lit/have more traffic. One particular road in the distance intrigued me, it goes straight as an arrow for a good distance yet London has barely any straight roads! The very bright lights along that particular road give a clue, and its of course Oxford Street. To the north and south of this are dark patches, the former is Regent’s Park and the latter Hyde Park/St James’s Park.

In this tweet sent 22 March 2017, not one of the churches in this small area of the City can be seen! Those slightly further south, e.g. St Margaret Patten, St Dunstan in the East and St Magus, are just visible. Another good picture showing how tightly clustered the City’s skyscrapers are and clearly more than ‘a lot of construction.’

This from last month is an amazing night view and rare that shows St Helen Bishopsgate in its full entirety. In perhaps less than a year’s time this view will be history for 22 Bishopsgate will have blocked St Helens out completely.

Taken late one evening looking straight down to the City it also shows the rear of St Andrew’s as the image’s centre. The spire of St Andrew Undershaft can barely been seen behind the Cheesegrater. Further down Leadenhall, St Katherine Cree is pretty well unobstructed, this is one of the few lucky churches in the City not to have some great tower hanging over it. That’s an envious position St Katherine Cree’s bound to keep for quite sometime. I’ll be writing more about this later in the series.

This tweet sent just a few days ago is pretty exciting. The image on the left is a nice zoom looking past the partially completed Scapel towards 10 Trinity Square and The Tower of London. It must be said however that All Hallows doesn’t get a look in because the line of sight to it is obscured by the Scapel.

That’s not the one we are looking at, its that on the right. This is a good view of the skyscrapers from the rear, so to say, and gives a good sense of their clustering around a very small  area of the City.

It also shows some nice aerial views of the City’s churches. The most fully visible of these is All Hallows by the Tower, which I looked at in City Spires & Towers #1. Sadly the two St Olaves churches, that in Mark Lane and the old church tower in Hart Street, are not visible.

At the one end of Leadenhall St Katherine Cree can be seen though partially obscured by the Gherkin. Just to the left of the Gherkin can be seen Bevis Marks synanogue. Further west St Peter’s Cornhill is quite visible. Its a very difficult church to see from the public roads in even though you can get a nice view of it within St Peter’s Alley (I’m not counting the rearwards prospect that can be seen on Gracechurch Street.)

Continuing the analysis of Jason’s May 2017 tweet, St Michael’s Cornhill’s spire is nicely shown though the main body of the church’s largely obscured by properties fronting Cornhill. South of St Peter’s is St Edmund’s in Lombard Street which can can be seen to a good extent. Its actual position on the ground is however very different as I hope to demonstrate in a later post.

As we go towards the river there’s St Magus the Martyr right by the Monument, then to the east St Margaret Patten is barely visible in the shadow of the Walkie Talkie. On the other side of Eastcheap St Mary at Hill is only just visible, then St Dunstans in the East. I looked at this group of churches a month ago (City Spires & Towers #2 & City Spires & Towers #3.)

As an added bonus Southwark Cathedral can be seen in the top right hand corner of the photograph.

All the pictures are credited to Jason Hawkes and embedded from Twitter.

Jason Hawkes Website.

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