Bradshaw’s Hand Book to London – The West, District II, The Houses of Parliament and St John’s, Smith Square (no.18)

This amazing Tudor image of the Abbey and the Old Palace of Westminster brings to life the descriptions of an island site and its buildings. (It can be difficult to imagine the past – try this blog.)

The Abbey and the Old Palace of Westminster
The Abbey and the Old Palace of Westminster

The Old Palace of Westminster (interesting blog and photos). On 16 October 1834 the Palace burned down, apart from Westminster Hall, the undercroft of St Stephen’s Chapel,  and the Jewel Tower.

Old Palace of Westminster
Old Palace of Westminster
William Heath's drawing of the Palace on fire
William Heath’s drawing of the Palace on fire
The Jewel Tower of the Old Palace of Westminster
The Jewel Tower of the Old Palace of Westminster
Alone before God in the undercroft of St Stephen's Chapel
Alone before God in the undercroft of St Stephen’s Chapel

‘..The construction of the new Palace began in 1840. While Barry estimated a construction time of six years, at an estimated cost of £724,986, the project in fact took more than 30 years, at a cost of over £2 million. The first stone of the building was laid by Barry’s wife on 27 August 1840. The site was extended into the river by reclaiming land, to a total of about eight acres..’.

The Houses of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament
The famous Clock Tower, Big Ben, with the tourist pointing in the wrong direction!
The famous Clock Tower, Big Ben, with the tourist pointing in the wrong direction!
The buildings from Victoria Park gardens
The buildings from Victoria Park gardens, with the Victoria Tower on the left, containing the Royal Entrance
A Royal lion at the Royal entrance
A Royal lion at the Royal entrance in the Victoria Tower

Mr Bradshaw finishes his description of the buildings by saying: ‘..let us hope [the stately Palace of the Parliament] will never forfeit its highest claim to our admiration as the classical sanctuary of Britain’s intellectual greatness, the chosen palladium of her proudest attributes – freedom, eloquence, and power..’.

Memorial to the abolition of slavery
Memorial to Sir Thomas Buxton and his work for the abolition of slavery
The memorial stone
The memorial stone

Walking along Lord North Street to St John’s, I found these signs for air raid shelters. (General facts here.)

Air raid shelter sign at no.8 Lord North Street
Air raid shelter sign at no.8 Lord North Street
Air raid shelter
Air raid shelter
Window boxes
Window boxes

The Church of St John the Evangelist was built in 1728 by Thomas Archer, and usually referred to as ‘Queen Anne’s Footstool’, in reference to the towers at the four corners of the building! In 1710 Parliament set up The Commission for Building Fifty New Churches.  This was in response to the rapid expansion of the capital. The target was not achieved, but St John’s was one of the churches, which became collectively known as Queen Anne Churches.  The building was bombed during WWII, restored, and reopened as a concert venue in 1969 – St John’s, Smith Square.

St John's Smith Square
St John’s Smith Square
St John's Smith Square
St John’s Smith Square
In the garden of St John's
In the garden of St John’s

The burial ground for St John’s is a block away, across Horseferry Road.

The burial ground for St John's, Smith Square
The burial ground for St John’s, Smith Square

And on one side is this memorial to Christopher Cass, 1678-1734. He was a ‘..conspicuously successful master mason whose team worked in London, Cambridge and at a number of large country houses..’. He worked on St John’s and other churches as a result of the ‘Fifty Churches’ Act, but also worked outside London, at Blenheim and Chevening, amongst others. The article is a fascinating insight into a craftsman’s life – do read it.

Memorial in St John's burial ground
Memorial in St John’s burial ground

Horseferry Road is named, literally, after the river crossing, and marks the beginning of a long walk along Millbank.

Horseferry, c.1800
Horseferry, c.1800

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