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22/3/09: Nominee in Fine Art, 3rd Photography Masters Cup, International Color Awards

 

My first contribution to The Dictionary Of Image.

Explore #1 for September 7th, 2007!

 

It's a female Praying Mantis (Mantis religiosa), reflecting on a window.

Best viewed Large, On Black.

 

Thanks to nesster for the ttv layer.

 

- Added to the Cream of the Crop pool as my best of 2007.

Christmas decorations are typically put up in early December. In the UK, Christmas lights on the high street are generally switched on in November.[8] In the U.S., the traditional start of Christmas time is Thanksgiving.[citation needed] Major retailers put their seasonal decorations out for sale after back to school sales, while smaller niche Christmas Stores sell Christmas decorations year round.[citation needed]

A Christmas tree ornament.

 

In some places Christmas decorations are traditionally taken down on Twelfth Night, the evening of January 5 or January 6. The difference in this date is due to the fact that some count Christmas Day as the first day of Christmas, whereas for others Christmas Day is a feast day in its own right, and the first full day of the Christmas Season is December 26. In Hispanic and other cultures, this is more like Christmas Eve, as the Three Wise Men bring gifts that night, and therefore decorations are left up longer.[citation needed] The same is true[citation needed] in Eastern Orthodoxy, where Christmas falls on January 7. In the United States, most stores immediately remove decorations the day after Christmas, as if the holiday season were over once the gifts are bought.[citation needed] Nearly all Americans leave their home decorations up and lit until at least New Year's Day, and inside decorations can often be seen in windows for several days afterward.[citation needed] In some parts of the world the Christmas season continues until the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, also known as Candlemas, which occurs on February 2.[citation needed]

 

Wikipedia

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Fila Weathertec Hiking Shoe (Little Kid/Big Kid)Fila(2)

 

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Redundante Bilderflut ~ Redundant Flood of Images

 

Einstürzende Neubauten "Ubique media daemon" (youtube)

 

Stephansdom, Karlskirche, Parlament, Secession, Rathaus, Bastelbogen, Sachertorte, Wiener Schnitzl, Figlmüller, Riesenrad, Prater, Am Meeresgrund, Afghane, Pudel, Taube, hrdlicka, Katze, Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, Frieda Kahlo, Kaiserin Elisabeth - Sisi, Hofburg, Heldenplatz, Staatsoper,...

 

Part of "res noscenda" / flickr critique / unorthodox views of often depicted Viennese motifs / accumulation / redundant repetition

 

Collage 8 Pictures:

 

DMC-G2 - P1490731 8.9.2012 Tabak-Trafik Friedenthal Kassenhalle Westbahnhof

DMC-G2 - P1500891 21.9.2012 MQ Buchhandlung Walther König

DMC-G2 - P1500893 21.9.2012 MQ Buchhandlung Walther König

DMC-G2 - P1520055 26.10.2012 Wien Museum Karlsplatz, Museumshop

DMC-G2 - P1520056 26.10.2012 Wien Museum Karlsplatz, Museumshop

DMC-G2 - P1520057 26.10.2012 Wien Museum Karlsplatz, Museumshop

DMC-G2 - P1520475 17.11.2012 "press and books" Westbahnhof

DMC-G2 - P1530318 21.12.2012 Buchandlung Frick International Schulerstrasse

The Sydney Opera House is a multi-venue performing arts centre in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Situated on Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbour, close to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the facility is adjacent to the Sydney central business district and the Royal Botanic Gardens, between Sydney and Farm Coves.

 

Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, the facility formally opened on 20 October 1973 after a gestation beginning with Utzon's 1957 selection as winner of an international design competition. The Government of New South Wales, led by the premier, Joseph Cahill, authorised work to begin in 1958 with Utzon directing construction. The government's decision to build Utzon's design is often overshadowed by circumstances that followed, including cost and scheduling overruns as well as the architect's ultimate resignation.

 

Though its name suggests a single venue, the project comprises multiple performance venues which together are among the busiest performing arts centres in the world — hosting over 1,500 performances each year attended by some 1.2 million people. The venues produce and present a wide range of in-house productions and accommodate numerous performing arts companies, including four key resident companies: Opera Australia, The Australian Ballet, the Sydney Theatre Company and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. As one of the most popular visitor attractions in Australia, more than seven million people visit the site each year, with 300,000 people participating annually in a guided tour of the facility.

 

Identified as one of the 20th century's most distinctive buildings and one of the most famous performing arts centres in the world, the facility is managed by the Sydney Opera House Trust, under the auspices of the New South Wales Ministry of the Arts. The Sydney Opera House became a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 28 June 2007.

 

The facility features a modern expressionist design, with a series of large precast concrete "shells", each composed of sections of a sphere of 75.2 metres (246 ft 8.6 in) radius,[12] forming the roofs of the structure, set on a monumental podium. The building covers 1.8 hectares (4.4 acres) of land and is 183 m (600 ft) long and 120 m (394 ft) wide at its widest point. It is supported on 588 concrete piers sunk as much as 25 m (82 ft) below sea level.

 

Although the roof structures are commonly referred to as "shells" (as in this article), they are precast concrete panels supported by precast concrete ribs, not shells in a strictly structural sense. Though the shells appear uniformly white from a distance, they actually feature a subtle chevron pattern composed of 1,056,006 tiles in two colours: glossy white as well as matte cream. The tiles were manufactured by the Swedish company Höganäs AB which generally produced stoneware tiles for the paper-mill industry.

 

Apart from the tile of the shells and the Bradfield Highway. Significant interior surface treatments also include off-form concrete, Australian white birch plywood supplied from Wauchope in northern New South Wales, and brush box glulam.

 

Of the two larger spaces, the Concert Hall is in the western group of shells, the Joan Sutherland Theatre in the eastern group. The scale of the shells was chosen to reflect the internal height requirements, with low entrance spaces, rising over the seating areas up to the high stage towers. The smaller venues (the Drama Theatre, the Playhouse and the Studio) are within the podium, beneath the Concert Hall. A smaller group of shells set to the western side of the Monumental Steps houses the Bennelong Restaurant. The podium is surrounded by substantial open public spaces, and the large stone-paved forecourt area with the adjacent monumental steps is regularly used as a performance space.

 

The Sydney Opera House includes a number of performance venues:

 

Concert Hall: With 2,679 seats, the home of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and used by a large number of other concert presenters. It contains the Sydney Opera House Grand Organ, the largest mechanical tracker action organ in the world, with over 10,000 pipes.[citation needed]

Joan Sutherland Theatre: A proscenium theatre with 1,507 seats,[17] the Sydney home of Opera Australia and The Australian Ballet. Until 16 October 2012 it was known as the Opera Theatre.

Drama Theatre: A proscenium theatre with 544 seats, used by the Sydney Theatre Company and other dance and theatrical presenters.

Playhouse: An end-stage theatre with 398 seats.

Studio: A flexible space with a maximum capacity of 400, depending on configuration.

Utzon Room: A small multi-purpose venue, seating up to 210.

Recording Studio

Outdoor Forecourt: A flexible open-air venue with a wide range of configuration options, including the possibility of utilising the Monumental Steps as audience seating, used for a range of community events and major outdoor performances. The Forecourt will be closed to visitors and performances in 2011–2014 to construct a new entrance tunnel to a rebuilt loading dock for the Joan Sutherland Theatre.

 

Other areas (for example the northern and western foyers) are also used for performances on an occasional basis. Venues are also used for conferences, ceremonies and social functions.

 

The building also houses a recording studio, cafes, restaurants, bars and retail outlets. Guided tours are available, including a frequent tour of the front-of-house spaces, and a daily backstage tour that takes visitors backstage to see areas normally reserved for performers and crew members.

 

Planning began in the late 1940s, when Eugene Goossens, the Director of the NSW State Conservatorium of Music, lobbied for a suitable venue for large theatrical productions. The normal venue for such productions, the Sydney Town Hall, was not considered large enough. By 1954, Goossens succeeded in gaining the support of NSW Premier Joseph Cahill, who called for designs for a dedicated opera house. It was also Goossens who insisted that Bennelong Point be the site: Cahill had wanted it to be on or near Wynyard Railway Station in the northwest of the CBD.

 

An international design competition was launched by Cahill on 13 September 1955 and received 233 entries, representing architects from 32 countries. The criteria specified a large hall seating 3,000 and a small hall for 1,200 people, each to be designed for different uses, including full-scale operas, orchestral and choral concerts, mass meetings, lectures, ballet performances and other presentations.

 

The winner, announced in 1957, was Jørn Utzon, a Danish architect. According to legend the Utzon design was rescued from a final cut of 30 "rejects" by the noted Finnish American architect Eero Saarinen. The prize was £5,000. Utzon visited Sydney in 1957 to help supervise the project. His office moved to Palm Beach, Sydney in February 1963.

 

Utzon received the Pritzker Architecture Prize, architecture's highest honour, in 2003. The Pritzker Prize citation read:

 

There is no doubt that the Sydney Opera House is his masterpiece. It is one of the great iconic buildings of the 20th century, an image of great beauty that has become known throughout the world – a symbol for not only a city, but a whole country and continent.

  

The Sydney Opera House was formally opened by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, on 20 October 1973. A large crowd attended. Utzon was not invited to the ceremony, nor was his name mentioned. The opening was televised and included fireworks and a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9

 

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is a steel through arch bridge across Sydney Harbour that carries rail, vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic between the Sydney central business district (CBD) and the North Shore. The dramatic view of the bridge, the harbour, and the nearby Sydney Opera House is an iconic image of Sydney, and Australia. The bridge is nicknamed "The Coathanger" because of its arch-based design. Furthermore, the bridge is ubiquitously known to Sydneysiders simply as "the Bridge".

 

Under the direction of Dr J.J.C. Bradfield of the NSW Department of Public Works, the bridge was designed and built by British firm Dorman Long and Co Ltd of Middlesbrough and opened in 1932. The bridge's design was influenced by the Hell Gate Bridge in New York City.[5] It is the sixth longest spanning-arch bridge in the world and the tallest steel arch bridge, measuring 134 m (440 ft) from top to water level. It was also the world's widest long-span bridge, at 48.8 m (160 ft) wide, until construction of the new Port Mann Bridge in Vancouver was completed in 2012.

 

The southern (CBD) end of the bridge is located at Millers Point in The Rocks area, and the northern end at Milsons Point in the lower North Shore area. There are six original lanes of road traffic through the main roadway, plus an additional two lanes of road traffic on its eastern side, using lanes that were formerly tram tracks. Adjacent to the road traffic, a path for pedestrian use runs along the eastern side of the bridge, whilst a dedicated path for bicycle use only runs along the western side. Finally, between the main roadway and the western bicycle path are two lanes used for railway tracks, servicing the T1 North Shore Line for Sydney Trains.

 

The main roadway across the bridge is known as the Bradfield Highway and is about 2.4 km (1.5 mi) long, making it one of the shortest highways in Australia.

 

The building of the bridge was under the management of Bradfield. Three other people heavily involved in the bridge's design and construction were Lawrence Ennis, Edward Judge, and Sir Ralph Freeman. Ennis was the engineer-in-charge at Dorman Long and Co and the main on-site supervisor (Bradfield visited occasionally throughout the project and, in particular, at many key stages of the project, to inspect progress and make managerial decisions), Judge was chief technical engineer of Dorman Long, and Freeman was hired by the company to design the accepted model in further detail. Later a bitter disagreement broke out between Bradfield and Freeman as to who actually designed the bridge. Another name connected with the bridge's design is that of Arthur Plunkett.

 

Even during its construction, the bridge was such a prominent feature of Sydney that it would attract tourist interest. One of the ongoing tourist attractions of the bridge has been the south-east pylon, which is accessed via the pedestrian walkway across the bridge, and then a climb to the top of the pylon of about 200 steps.

 

Not long after the bridge's opening, commencing in 1934, Archer Whitford first converted this pylon into a tourist destination. He installed a number of attractions, including a café, a camera obscura, an Aboriginal museum, a "Mother's Nook" where visitors could write letters, and a "pashometer". The main attraction was the viewing platform, where "charming attendants" assisted visitors to use the telescopes available, and a copper cladding (still present) over the granite guard rails identified the suburbs and landmarks of Sydney at the time.

 

The outbreak of World War II in 1939 saw tourist activities on the bridge cease, as the military took over the four pylons and modified them to include parapets and anti-aircraft guns.

 

In 1948 Yvonne Rentoul opened the "All Australian Exhibition" in the pylon. This contained dioramas, and displays about Australian perspectives on subjects such as farming, sport, transport, mining, and the armed forces. An orientation table was installed at the viewing platform, along with a wall guide and binoculars. The owner kept several white cats in a rooftop cattery, which also served as an attraction, and there was a souvenir shop and postal outlet.[48] Rentoul's lease expired in 1971, and the pylon and its lookout remained closed to the public for over a decade.

 

The pylon was reopened in 1982, with a new exhibition celebrating the bridge's 50th anniversary. In 1987 a "Bicentennial Exhibition" was opened to mark the 200th anniversary of European settlement in Australia in 1988.[51]

 

The pylon was closed from April to November 2000 for the Roads & Traffic Authority and BridgeClimb to create a new exhibition called "Proud Arch". The exhibition focussed on Bradfield, and included a glass direction finder on the observation level, and various important heritage items.

 

The pylon again closed for four weeks in 2003 for the installation of an exhibit called "Dangerous Works", highlighting the dangerous conditions experienced by the original construction workers on the bridge, and two stained glass feature windows in memory of the workers.

  

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Ear Hat Ornament Set

US Disney Store

Disney Parks

Limited Edition of 600

Released - 2013-10-21

 

Product Information:

 

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Ear Hat Ornament Set

$175.00

Item No. 7509055880175P

 

Heigh-Ho-Ho-Ho!

 

Celebrate the holidays with the Seven Dwarfs and their limited edition boxed set of bejeweled, glittering ear hat ornaments, plus a sparkling Snow White ear hat ornament with Magic Mirror ear, surely the fairest one of all!

 

Magic in the details...

 

Created especially for Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort

 

In response to our loyal Guests' requests, each Guest will be limited to ordering a maximum of two of this item per order.

 

•Limited Edition of 600

•Set of 8 fully-sculptured ear hat ornaments

•Includes Snow White, Doc, Happy, Dopey, Grumpy, Sleepy, Bashful, and Sneezy

•Glitter and gem accents

•Snow White ornament features Magic Mirror ear

•Artist Cody Reynolds

•Satin ribbons for hanging

•Comes in presentation window box with satin bed

•Part of the Disney Ear Hat Ornament Collection

 

The bare necessities

 

•Resin

•Snow White 2 1/4'' H x 3 1/4'' W (at ears) x 3'' D

•Dwarfs 1 3/4'' H x 3 1/4'' W (at ears) x 2 1/4'' D

•Box 10 1/4'' H x 12 1/2'' W x 4 1/2'' D

•Imported

 

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The Little Mermaid Deluxe Doll Gift Set

US Disney Store

Released in select stores June 20, 2013

Released online July 8, 2013

 

Product images and information from the US Disney Store website.

 

The Little Mermaid Deluxe Doll Gift Set

$79.95

Item No. 6070040900879P

 

Treasures untold

 

Now your little mermaid can imagine her own undersea adventures with Ariel's deluxe five doll boxed set, including two exclusive 12'' characters; Ursula and for the first time ever, her alter-ego Vanessa!

 

Magic in the details...

 

5 Doll Set Includes:

 

•Ariel

•Prince Eric

•King Triton (with trident accessory)

•Ursula (exclusive to this set)

•Vanessa (new and exclusive to this set)

•Plus Flounder, Sebastian, and Scuttle play figures

 

Additional Information:

•Ariel and Vanessa dolls feature textured hair

•Detailed costumes with satin, velour and glitter accents

•Fully poseable

•Presentation window gift box with carry handle

•Celebrating the return of Disney's The Little Mermaid on DVD and Blu-ray

 

The bare necessities

 

•Ages 3+

•Plastic / polyester

•Dolls up to 12'' H

•Figures up to 2'' H

•Imported

 

Safety

 

WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD - Small Parts. Not for children under 3 years.

 

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No. 1 - 4: Exploring - the Abbey Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire .

 

The Nave whilst looking westward

 

The nave here was being built in all probability while the great Flambard was busy with Durham (1105-1130), and very soon after he had finished his labours at Twynham or Christchurch, Hampshire. Gloucester is generally assigned to Serlo, 1089 to 1100, and Norwich was begun in1096.

 

Above the arches of the nave are small double round-headed openings into a very narrow triforium walk, which is vaulted, as at Gloucester, with a quadrantal arch.

 

There is another peculiarity, too, here, in that the vaulting of the roof springs from corbels which rest directly on the capitals of the piers. As a result of this the roof looks low and heavy.

 

The triforium openings, which are divided by small shafts, similar in character to those in the tower chamber, are 5 feet 6 inches high and 4 feet 10 inches wide. The passage is 26 inches wide and 6-½ to 7 feet high.

 

The two western bays of the triforium are not alike. On the north the openings correspond to those in the other bays, and are not contracted to correspond with the narrowed arch below; whereas on the south side they are so contracted. By this means the square angle of the western pier was continued to the roof. On the north side the western pier ends abruptly at the capital of the respond.

 

The clerestory windows are partly concealed by the vaulting. Of course the original windows were much smaller, and were removed and the space enlarged when the re-roofing was done in the fourteenth century.

 

The Roof

-Originally, no doubt, as at Peterborough, where it remains, the inner roof was a flat panelled ceiling of wood, supported by a moulded framing. Whether the wooden roof decayed or was destroyed by fire, it was found necessary in the early part of the fourteenth century to re-roof the nave, and the present vaulting was then constructed. Beautiful though it is architecturally, it has the effect of dwarfing the nave, as it springs directly from the tops of the piers in the nave. In character it is a simple pointed vaulting, and the ribs at their many points of intersection are lavishly decorated with bosses.

 

Originally the vaulting was painted and gilded, but owing to the idiosyncrasies of those who fancied they were having things done "decently and in order," it was colour-washed in the early part of this century. The present scheme of colour decoration was carried out by Mr. T. Gambier Parry. Its chief merit is that it throws out the bosses in very strong relief. The bosses can be studied with an opera-glass, but it is less fatiguing to examine them with the help of a pocket mirror. There is a tradition that the bosses were carved by a monk who was not held in much esteem by his companions, and was a butt for their gibes and witticisms. Whether this was so or not, he knew how to carve rudely and effectively in stone, and long may his work remain with us. They represent in a highly pictorial manner the life of our Lord. Beginning at the west end, the central bosses depict:

(1)

The Nativity. (2) The Shepherds rendering homage.

(3) The Magi on their journey.

(4) The Magi in adoration.

(5) The finding of Christ in the Temple.

(6) The triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

(7) The Last Supper

(8) The Betrayal.

(9) The Flagellation.

(10) The Crucifixion.

(11) The Resurrection.

(12) The Ascension.

(13) The Day of Pentecost.

(14) The Coronation of the Virgin.

(15) The Last Judgment.

 

The other bosses contain angels bearing musical instruments of every known kind, and alternating, more or less regularly, with angels censing and angels bearing emblems of the Passion.

 

On the south side:

(1) Angels with pipe and tambourine.

(2) Angels with cymbals and bagpipes.

(3) Angels with hurdy-gurdy and harp.

(4) Angels with dulcimer and organ.

(5 and 6) Angels censing.

(7) St. Matthew and St. John with their emblems, a scroll and an eagle.

(8) Angel with a violin; others with emblems of the Passion, _i.e._,

posts, spear, and scourges.

 

On the north side are to be found:

(1) Angel with pipe and tabor; another censing.

(2) Angel with harp; another censing.

(3) Angels with rebec and zither.

(4) Angels with tabor and zither.

(5 and 6) Angels censing.

(7) St. Luke and St. Mark, with their emblems, a winged ox,

and a winged lion.

(8) Angel with a harp; others with emblems of the Passion, ie, a crown of thorns, a sponge, a cross, and a scourge.

 

Mr. Gambier Parry, who personally supervised, where he did not personally execute, the decoration of the roof, termed it "a marvellous specimen of English carving," and says that "together with the cathedrals of Gloucester and Norwich, it combined some of the finest features of mediæval sculpture." Further he adds that though "fine details must not be looked for, yet it exhibited a vigour of conception and a charm of inspiration which quite atoned for any

faults."

 

At the west end of the building are two half-figures, male and female, like the figure-heads of ships, which serve as corbels for the vaulting of the roof. They have been thought by some to represent Adam and Eve, and by others to represent the founder, Fitz-Hamon, and Sibylla his wife.

 

The Great West Window dates back, as far as the masonry is concerned, to 1686, and was erected then to replace the window blown in by the wind in 1661. The glass was inserted in 1886 by Rev. C.W. Grove in memory of his wife, and represents various scenes in the life of Christ. In the lowest tier is the Annunciation, with the Nativity in the centre, and the Presentation in the Temple on the right. Above is the Baptism by St. John in the Jordan, the Last Supper in the centre, the Agony in the Garden on the right. In the topmost tier is the Bearing of the Cross, the Crucifixion, and the appearance of our Lord to Mary after the Resurrection. In the head of the window are angels, those in the two side lights on either side being engaged in censing. In the central top light is Christ in Majesty, with angels. The glass is by Hardman.

The Abbey Church of Tewkesbury ...... by H.J.L.J. Masse, M.A.

London George Bell & Sons 1906

 

Larger size:-

farm3.static.flickr.com/2570/3974262304_c31b40b9ec_b.jpg

 

Taken on:-

August 29, 2007 at 11:35 BST

What craziness is this, a day in that London on a weekday? Well, working one day last weekend, and another next weekend, meant I took a day in Lieu.

 

So there.

 

And top of my list of places to visit was St Magnus. This would be the fifth time I have tried to get inside, and the first since I wrote to the church asking whether they would be open a particular Saturday, and then any Saturday. Letters which were ignored

 

So, I walked out of Monument Station, down the hill there was St Magnus: would it be open?

 

It was, and inside it was a box, nay a treasure chest of delights.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------

 

St Magnus the Martyr, London Bridge is a Church of England church and parish within the City of London. The church, which is located in Lower Thames Street near The Monument to the Great Fire of London,[1] is part of the Diocese of London and under the pastoral care of the Bishop of London and the Bishop of Fulham.[2] It is a Grade I listed building.[3] The rector uses the title "Cardinal Rector". [4]

St Magnus lies on the original alignment of London Bridge between the City and Southwark. The ancient parish was united with that of St Margaret, New Fish Street, in 1670 and with that of St Michael, Crooked Lane, in 1831.[5] The three united parishes retained separate vestries and churchwardens.[6] Parish clerks continue to be appointed for each of the three parishes.[7]

St Magnus is the guild church of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers and the Worshipful Company of Plumbers, and the ward church of the Ward of Bridge and Bridge Without. It is also twinned with the Church of the Resurrection in New York City.[8]

Its prominent location and beauty has prompted many mentions in literature.[9] In Oliver Twist Charles Dickens notes how, as Nancy heads for her secret meeting with Mr. Brownlow and Rose Maylie on London Bridge, "the tower of old Saint Saviour's Church, and the spire of Saint Magnus, so long the giant-warders of the ancient bridge, were visible in the gloom". The church's spiritual and architectural importance is celebrated in the poem The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot, who adds in a footnote that "the interior of St. Magnus Martyr is to my mind one of the finest among Wren's interiors".[10] One biographer of Eliot notes that at first he enjoyed St Magnus aesthetically for its "splendour"; later he appreciated its "utility" when he came there as a sinner.

 

The church is dedicated to St Magnus the Martyr, earl of Orkney, who died on 16 April in or around 1116 (the precise year is unknown).[12] He was executed on the island of Egilsay having been captured during a power struggle with his cousin, a political rival.[13] Magnus had a reputation for piety and gentleness and was canonised in 1135. St. Ronald, the son of Magnus's sister Gunhild Erlendsdotter, became Earl of Orkney in 1136 and in 1137 initiated the construction of St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall.[14] The story of St. Magnus has been retold in the 20th century in the chamber opera The Martyrdom of St Magnus (1976)[15] by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, based on George Mackay Brown's novel Magnus (1973).

 

he identity of the St Magnus referred to in the church's dedication was only confirmed by the Bishop of London in 1926.[16] Following this decision a patronal festival service was held on 16 April 1926.[17] In the 13th century the patronage was attributed to one of the several saints by the name of Magnus who share a feast day on 19 August, probably St Magnus of Anagni (bishop and martyr, who was slain in the persecution of the Emperor Decius in the middle of the 3rd century).[18] However, by the early 18th century it was suggested that the church was either "dedicated to the memory of St Magnus or Magnes, who suffer'd under the Emperor Aurelian in 276 [see St Mammes of Caesarea, feast day 17 August], or else to a person of that name, who was the famous Apostle or Bishop of the Orcades."[19] For the next century historians followed the suggestion that the church was dedicated to the Roman saint of Cæsarea.[20] The famous Danish archaeologist Professor Jens Jacob Asmussen Worsaae (1821–85) promoted the attribution to St Magnus of Orkney during his visit to the British Isles in 1846-7, when he was formulating the concept of the 'Viking Age',[21] and a history of London written in 1901 concluded that "the Danes, on their second invasion ... added at least two churches with Danish names, Olaf and Magnus".[22] A guide to the City Churches published in 1917 reverted to the view that St Magnus was dedicated to a martyr of the third century,[23] but the discovery of St Magnus of Orkney's relics in 1919 renewed interest in a Scandinavian patron and this connection was encouraged by the Rector who arrived in 1921

 

A metropolitan bishop of London attended the Council of Arles in 314, which indicates that there must have been a Christian community in Londinium by this date, and it has been suggested that a large aisled building excavated in 1993 near Tower Hill can be compared with the 4th-century Cathedral of St Tecla in Milan.[25] However, there is no archaeological evidence to suggest that any of the mediaeval churches in the City of London had a Roman foundation.[26] A grant from William I in 1067 to Westminster Abbey, which refers to the stone church of St Magnus near the bridge ("lapidee eccle sci magni prope pontem"), is generally accepted to be 12th century forgery,[27] and it is possible that a charter of confirmation in 1108-16 might also be a later fabrication.[28] Nonetheless, these manuscripts may preserve valid evidence of a date of foundation in the 11th century.

 

Archaeological evidence suggests that the area of the bridgehead was not occupied from the early 5th century until the early 10th century. Environmental evidence indicates that the area was waste ground during this period, colonised by elder and nettles. Following Alfred's decision to reoccupy the walled area of London in 886, new harbours were established at Queenhithe and Billingsgate. A bridge was in place by the early 11th century, a factor which would have encouraged the occupation of the bridgehead by craftsmen and traders.[30] A lane connecting Botolph's Wharf and Billingsgate to the rebuilt bridge may have developed by the mid-11th century. The waterfront at this time was a hive of activity, with the construction of embankments sloping down from the riverside wall to the river. Thames Street appeared in the second half of the 11th century immediately behind (north of) the old Roman riverside wall and in 1931 a piling from this was discovered during the excavation of the foundations of a nearby building. It now stands at the base of the church tower.[31] St Magnus was built to the south of Thames Street to serve the growing population of the bridgehead area[32] and was certainly in existence by 1128-33.[33]

The small ancient parish[34] extended about 110 yards along the waterfront either side of the old bridge, from 'Stepheneslane' (later Churchehawlane or Church Yard Alley) and 'Oystergate' (later called Water Lane or Gully Hole) on the West side to 'Retheresgate' (a southern extension of Pudding Lane) on the East side, and was centred on the crossroads formed by Fish Street Hill (originally Bridge Street, then New Fish Street) and Thames Street.[35] The mediaeval parish also included Drinkwater's Wharf (named after the owner, Thomas Drinkwater), which was located immediately West of the bridge, and Fish Wharf, which was to the South of the church. The latter was of considerable importance as the fishmongers had their shops on the wharf. The tenement was devised by Andrew Hunte to the Rector and Churchwardens in 1446.[36] The ancient parish was situated in the South East part of Bridge Ward, which had evolved in the 11th century between the embankments to either side of the bridge.[37]

In 1182 the Abbot of Westminster and the Prior of Bermondsey agreed that the advowson of St Magnus should be divided equally between them. Later in the 1180s, on their presentation, the Archdeacon of London inducted his nephew as parson.

 

Between the late Saxon period and 1209 there was a series of wooden bridges across the Thames, but in that year a stone bridge was completed.[39] The work was overseen by Peter de Colechurch, a priest and head of the Fraternity of the Brethren of London Bridge. The Church had from early times encouraged the building of bridges and this activity was so important it was perceived to be an act of piety - a commitment to God which should be supported by the giving of alms. London’s citizens made gifts of land and money "to God and the Bridge".[40] The Bridge House Estates became part of the City's jurisdiction in 1282.

 

Until 1831 the bridge was aligned with Fish Street Hill, so the main entrance into the City from the south passed the West door of St Magnus on the north bank of the river.[41] The bridge included a chapel dedicated to St Thomas Becket[42] for the use of pilgrims journeying to Canterbury Cathedral to visit his tomb.[43] The chapel and about two thirds of the bridge were in the parish of St Magnus. After some years of rivalry a dispute arose between the church and the chapel over the offerings given to the chapel by the pilgrims. The matter was resolved by the brethren of the chapel making an annual contribution to St Magnus.[44] At the Reformation the chapel was turned into a house and later a warehouse, the latter being demolished in 1757-58.

The church grew in importance. On 21 November 1234 a grant of land was made to the parson of St Magnus for the enlargement of the church.[45] The London eyre of 1244 recorded that in 1238 "A thief named William of Ewelme of the county of Buckingham fled to the church of St. Magnus the Martyr, London, and there acknowledged the theft and abjured the realm. He had no chattels."[46] Another entry recorded that "The City answers saying that the church of ... St. Magnus the Martyr ... which [is] situated on the king's highway ... ought to belong to the king and be in his gift".[47] The church presumably jutted into the road running to the bridge, as it did in later times.[48] In 1276 it was recorded that "the church of St. Magnus the Martyr is worth £15 yearly and Master Geoffrey de la Wade now holds it by the grant of the prior of Bermundeseie and the abbot of Westminster to whom King Henry conferred the advowson by his charter.

 

In 1274 "came King Edward and his wife [Eleanor] from the Holy Land and were crowned at Westminster on the Sunday next after the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady [15 August], being the Feast of Saint Magnus [19 August]; and the Conduit in Chepe ran all the day with red wine and white wine to drink, for all such as wished."[50] Stow records that "in the year 1293, for victory obtained by Edward I against the Scots, every citizen, according to their several trade, made their several show, but especially the fishmongers" whose solemn procession including a knight "representing St Magnus, because it was upon St Magnus' day".

An important religious guild, the Confraternity de Salve Regina, was in existence by 1343, having been founded by the "better sort of the Parish of St Magnus" to sing the anthem 'Salve Regina' every evening.[51] The Guild certificates of 1389 record that the Confraternity of Salve Regina and the guild of St Thomas the Martyr in the chapel on the bridge, whose members belonged to St Magnus parish, had determined to become one, to have the anthem of St Thomas after the Salve Regina and to devote their united resources to restoring and enlarging the church of St Magnus.[52] An Act of Parliament of 1437[53] provided that all incorporated fraternities and companies should register their charters and have their ordinances approved by the civic authorities.[54] Fear of enquiry into their privileges may have led established fraternities to seek a firm foundation for their rights. The letters patent of the fraternity of St Mary and St Thomas the Martyr of Salve Regina in St Magnus dated 26 May 1448 mention that the fraternity had petitioned for a charter on the grounds that the society was not duly founded.

 

In the mid-14th century the Pope was the Patron of the living and appointed five rectors to the benefice.[56]

Henry Yevele, the master mason whose work included the rebuilding of Westminster Hall and the naves of Westminster Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral, was a parishioner and rebuilt the chapel on London Bridge between 1384 and 1397. He served as a warden of London Bridge and was buried at St Magnus on his death in 1400. His monument was extant in John Stow's time, but was probably destroyed by the fire of 1666.[57]

Yevele, as the King’s Mason, was overseen by Geoffrey Chaucer in his capacity as the Clerk of the King's Works. In The General Prologue of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales the five guildsmen "were clothed alle in o lyveree Of a solempne and a greet fraternitee"[58] and may be thought of as belonging to the guild in the parish of St Magnus, or one like it.[59] Chaucer's family home was near to the bridge in Thames Street.

 

n 1417 a dispute arose concerning who should take the place of honour amongst the rectors in the City churches at the Whit Monday procession, a place that had been claimed from time to time by the rectors of St Peter Cornhill, St Magnus the Martyr and St Nicholas Cole Abbey. The Mayor and Aldermen decided that the Rector of St Peter Cornhill should take precedence.[61]

St Magnus Corner at the north end of London Bridge was an important meeting place in mediaeval London, where notices were exhibited, proclamations read out and wrongdoers punished.[62] As it was conveniently close to the River Thames, the church was chosen by the Bishop between the 15th and 17th centuries as a convenient venue for general meetings of the clergy in his diocese.[63] Dr John Young, Bishop of Callipolis (rector of St Magnus 1514-15) pronounced judgement on 16 December 1514 (with the Bishop of London and in the presence of Thomas More, then under-sheriff of London) in the heresy case concerning Richard Hunne.[64]

In pictures from the mid-16th century the old church looks very similar to the present-day St Giles without Cripplegate in the Barbican.[65] According to the martyrologist John Foxe, a woman was imprisoned in the 'cage' on London Bridge in April 1555 and told to "cool herself there" for refusing to pray at St Magnus for the recently deceased Pope Julius III.[66]

Simon Lowe, a Member of Parliament and Master of the Merchant Taylors' Company during the reign of Queen Mary and one of the jurors who acquitted Sir Nicholas Throckmorton in 1554, was a parishioner.[67] He was a mourner at the funeral of Maurice Griffith, Bishop of Rochester from 1554 to 1558 and Rector of St Magnus from 1537 to 1558, who was interred in the church on 30 November 1558 with much solemnity. In accordance with the Catholic church's desire to restore ecclesiastical pageantry in England, the funeral was a splendid affair, ending in a magnificent dinner.

 

Lowe was included in a return of recusants in the Diocese of Rochester in 1577,[69] but was buried at St Magnus on 6 February 1578.[70] Stow refers to his monument in the church. His eldest son, Timothy (died 1617), was knighted in 1603. His second son, Alderman Sir Thomas Lowe (1550–1623), was Master of the Haberdashers' Company on several occasions, Sheriff of London in 1595/96, Lord Mayor in 1604/05 and a Member of Parliament for London.[71] His youngest son, Blessed John Lowe (1553–1586), having originally been a Protestant minister, converted to Roman Catholicism, studied for the priesthood at Douay and Rome and returned to London as a missionary priest.[72] His absence had already been noted; a list of 1581 of "such persons of the Diocese of London as have any children ... beyond the seas" records "John Low son to Margaret Low of the Bridge, absent without licence four years". Having gained 500 converts to Catholicism between 1583 and 1586, he was arrested whilst walking with his mother near London Bridge, committed to The Clink and executed at Tyburn on 8 October 1586.[73] He was beatified in 1987 as one of the eighty-five martyrs of England and Wales.

 

Sir William Garrard, Master of the Haberdashers' Company, Alderman, Sheriff of London in 1553/53, Lord Mayor in 1555/56 and a Member of Parliament was born in the parish and buried at St Magnus in 1571.[74] Sir William Romney, merchant, philanthropist, Master of the Haberdashers' Company, Alderman for Bridge Within and Sheriff of London in 1603/04[75] was married at St Magnus in 1582. Ben Jonson is believed to have been married at St Magnus in 1594.[76]

The patronage of St Magnus, having previously been in the Abbots and Convents of Westminster and Bermondsey (who presented alternatively), fell to the Crown on the suppression of the monasteries. In 1553, Queen Mary, by letters patent, granted it to the Bishop of London and his successors.[77]

The church had a series of distinguished rectors in the second half of the 16th and first half of the 17th century, including Myles Coverdale (Rector 1564-66), John Young (Rector 1566-92), Theophilus Aylmer (Rector 1592-1625), (Archdeacon of London and son of John Aylmer), and Cornelius Burges (Rector 1626-41). Coverdale was buried in the chancel of St Bartholomew-by-the-Exchange, but when that church was pulled down in 1840 his remains were removed to St Magnus.[78]

On 5 November 1562 the churchwardens were ordered to break, or cause to be broken, in two parts all the altar stones in the church.[79] Coverdale, an anti-vestiarian, was Rector at the peak of the vestments controversy. In March 1566 Archbishop Parker caused great consternation among many clergy by his edicts prescribing what was to be worn and by his summoning the London clergy to Lambeth to require their compliance. Coverdale excused himself from attending.[80] Stow records that a non-conforming Scot who normally preached at St Magnus twice a day precipitated a fight on Palm Sunday 1566 at Little All Hallows in Thames Street with his preaching against vestments.[81] Coverdale's resignation from St Magnus in summer 1566 may have been associated with these events. Separatist congregations started to emerge after 1566 and the first such, who called themselves 'Puritans' or 'Unspottyd Lambs of the Lord', was discovered close to St Magnus at Plumbers' Hall in Thames Street on 19 June 1567.

 

St Magnus narrowly escaped destruction in 1633. A later edition of Stow's Survey records that "On the 13th day of February, between eleven and twelve at night, there happened in the house of one Briggs, a Needle-maker near St Magnus Church, at the North end of the Bridge, by the carelessness of a Maid-Servant setting a tub of hot sea-coal ashes under a pair of stairs, a sad and lamentable fire, which consumed all the buildings before eight of the clock the next morning, from the North end of the Bridge to the first vacancy on both sides, containing forty-two houses; water then being very scarce, the Thames being almost frozen over."[83] Susannah Chambers "by her last will & testament bearing date 28th December 1640 gave the sum of Twenty-two shillings and Sixpence Yearly for a Sermon to be preached on the 12th day of February in every Year within the Church of Saint Magnus in commemoration of God's merciful preservation of the said Church of Saint Magnus from Ruin, by the late and terrible Fire on London Bridge. Likewise Annually to the Poor the sum of 17/6."[84] The tradition of a "Fire Sermon" was revived on 12 February 2004, when the first preacher was the Rt Revd and Rt Hon Richard Chartres, Bishop of London.

 

Parliamentarian rule and the more Protestant ethos of the 1640s led to the removal or destruction of "superstitious" and "idolatrous" images and fittings. Glass painters such as Baptista Sutton, who had previously installed "Laudian innovations", found new employment by repairing and replacing these to meet increasingly strict Protestant standards. In January 1642 Sutton replaced 93 feet of glass at St Magnus and in June 1644 he was called back to take down the "painted imagery glass" and replace it.[86] In June 1641 "rail riots" broke out at a number of churches. This was a time of high tension following the trial and execution of the Earl of Strafford and rumours of army and popish plots were rife. The Protestation Oath, with its pledge to defend the true religion "against all Popery and popish innovation", triggered demands from parishioners for the removal of the rails as popish innovations which the Protestation had bound them to reform. The minister arranged a meeting between those for and against the pulling down of the rails, but was unsuccessful in reaching a compromise and it was feared that they would be demolished by force.[87] However, in 1663 the parish resumed Laudian practice and re-erected rails around its communion table.[88]

Joseph Caryl was incumbent from 1645 until his ejection in 1662. In 1663 he was reportedly living near London Bridge and preaching to an Independent congregation that met at various places in the City.[89]

During the Great Plague of 1665, the City authorities ordered fires to be kept burning night and day, in the hope that the air would be cleansed. Daniel Defoe's semi-fictictional, but highly realistic, work A Journal of the Plague Year records that one of these was "just by St Magnus Church"

 

Despite its escape in 1633, the church was one of the first buildings to be destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666.[91] St Magnus stood less than 300 yards from the bakehouse of Thomas Farriner in Pudding Lane where the fire started. Farriner, a former churchwarden of St Magnus, was buried in the middle aisle of the church on 11 December 1670, perhaps within a temporary structure erected for holding services.[92]

The parish engaged the master mason George Dowdeswell to start the work of rebuilding in 1668. The work was carried forward between 1671 and 1687 under the direction of Sir Christopher Wren, the body of the church being substantially complete by 1676.[93] At a cost of £9,579 19s 10d St Magnus was one of Wren's most expensive churches.[94] The church of St Margaret New Fish Street was not rebuilt after the fire and its parish was united to that of St Magnus.

 

The chancels of many of Wren’s city churches had chequered marble floors and the chancel of St Magnus is an example,[95] the parish agreeing after some debate to place the communion table on a marble ascent with steps[96] and to commission altar rails of Sussex wrought iron. The nave and aisles are paved with freestone flags. A steeple, closely modelled on one built between 1614 and 1624 by François d'Aguilon and Pieter Huyssens for the church of St Carolus Borromeus in Antwerp, was added between 1703 and 1706.[97] London's skyline was transformed by Wren's tall steeples and that of St Magnus is considered to be one his finest.[98]

The large clock projecting from the tower was a well-known landmark in the city as it hung over the roadway of Old London Bridge.[99] It was presented to the church in 1709 by Sir Charles Duncombe[100] (Alderman for the Ward of Bridge Within and, in 1708/09, Lord Mayor of London). Tradition says "that it was erected in consequence of a vow made by the donor, who, in the earlier part of his life, had once to wait a considerable time in a cart upon London Bridge, without being able to learn the hour, when he made a promise, that if he ever became successful in the world, he would give to that Church a public clock ... that all passengers might see the time of day."[101] The maker was Langley Bradley, a clockmaker in Fenchurch Street, who had worked for Wren on many other projects, including the clock for the new St Paul's Cathedral. The sword rest in the church, designed to hold the Lord Mayor's sword and mace when he attended divine service "in state", dates from 1708.

Duncombe and his benefactions to St Magnus feature prominently in Daniel Defoe's The True-Born Englishman, a biting satire on critics of William III that went through several editions from 1700 (the year in which Duncombe was elected Sheriff).

 

Shortly before his death in 1711, Duncombe commissioned an organ for the church, the first to have a swell-box, by Abraham Jordan (father and son).[103] The Spectator announced that "Whereas Mr Abraham Jordan, senior and junior, have, with their own hands, joinery excepted, made and erected a very large organ in St Magnus' Church, at the foot of London Bridge, consisting of four sets of keys, one of which is adapted to the art of emitting sounds by swelling notes, which never was in any organ before; this instrument will be publicly opened on Sunday next [14 February 1712], the performance by Mr John Robinson. The above-said Abraham Jordan gives notice to all masters and performers, that he will attend every day next week at the said Church, to accommodate all those gentlemen who shall have a curiosity to hear it".[104]

The organ case, which remains in its original state, is looked upon as one of the finest existing examples of the Grinling Gibbons's school of wood carving.[105] The first organist of St Magnus was John Robinson (1682–1762), who served in that role for fifty years and in addition as organist of Westminster Abbey from 1727. Other organists have included the blind organist George Warne (1792–1868, organist 1820-26 until his appointment to the Temple Church), James Coward (1824–80, organist 1868-80 who was also organist to the Crystal Palace and renowned for his powers of improvisation) and George Frederick Smith FRCO (1856–1918, organist 1880-1918 and Professor of Music at the Guildhall School of Music).[106] The organ has been restored several times - in 1760, 1782, 1804, 1855, 1861, 1879, 1891, 1924, 1949 after wartime damage and 1997 - since it was first built.[107] Sir Peter Maxwell Davies was one of several patrons of the organ appeal in the mid-1990s[108] and John Scott gave an inaugural recital on 20 May 1998 following the completion of that restoration.[109] The instrument has an Historic Organ Certificate and full details are recorded in the National Pipe Organ Register.[110]

The hymn tune "St Magnus", usually sung at Ascensiontide to the text "The head that once was crowned with thorns", was written by Jeremiah Clarke in 1701 and named for the church.

 

Canaletto drew St Magnus and old London Bridge as they appeared in the late 1740s.[112] Between 1756 and 1762, under the London Bridge Improvement Act of 1756 (c. 40), the Corporation of London demolished the buildings on London Bridge to widen the roadway, ease traffic congestion and improve safety for pedestrians.[113] The churchwardens’ accounts of St Magnus list many payments to those injured on the Bridge and record that in 1752 a man was crushed to death between two carts.[114] After the House of Commons had resolved upon the alteration of London Bridge, the Rev Robert Gibson, Rector of St Magnus, applied to the House for relief; stating that 48l. 6s. 2d. per annum, part of his salary of 170l. per annum, was assessed upon houses on London Bridge; which he should utterly lose by their removal unless a clause in the bill about to be passed should provide a remedy.[115] Accordingly, Sections 18 and 19 of 1756 Act provided that the relevant amounts of tithe and poor rate should be a charge on the Bridge House Estates.[116]

A serious fire broke out on 18 April 1760 in an oil shop at the south east corner of the church, which consumed most of the church roof and did considerable damage to the fabric. The fire burnt warehouses to the south of the church and a number of houses on the northern end of London Bridge.

 

As part of the bridge improvements, overseen by the architect Sir Robert Taylor, a new pedestrian walkway was built along the eastern side of the bridge. With the other buildings gone St Magnus blocked the new walkway.[117] As a consequence it was necessary in 1762 to 1763 to remove the vestry rooms at the West end of the church and open up the side arches of the tower so that people could pass underneath the tower.[118] The tower’s lower storey thus became an external porch. Internally a lobby was created at the West end under the organ gallery and a screen with fine octagonal glazing inserted. A new Vestry was built to the South of the church.[119] The Act also provided that the land taken from the church for the widening was "to be considered ... as part of the cemetery of the said church ... but if the pavement thereof be broken up on account of the burying of any persons, the same shall be ... made good ... by the churchwardens"

 

Soldiers were stationed in the Vestry House of St Magnus during the Gordon Riots in June 1780.[121]

By 1782 the noise level from the activities of Billingsgate Fish Market had become unbearable and the large windows on the north side of the church were blocked up leaving only circular windows high up in the wall.[122] At some point between the 1760s and 1814 the present clerestory was constructed with its oval windows and fluted and coffered plasterwork.[123] J. M. W. Turner painted the church in the mid-1790s.[124]

The rector of St Magnus between 1792 and 1808, following the death of Robert Gibson on 28 July 1791,[125] was Thomas Rennell FRS. Rennell was President of Sion College in 1806/07. There is a monument to Thomas Leigh (Rector 1808-48 and President of Sion College 1829/30,[126] at St Peter's Church, Goldhanger in Essex.[127] Richard Hazard (1761–1837) was connected with the church as sexton, parish clerk and ward beadle for nearly 50 years[128] and served as Master of the Parish Clerks' Company in 1831/32.[129]

In 1825 the church was "repaired and beautified at a very considerable expense. During the reparation the east window, which had been closed, was restored, and the interior of the fabric conformed to the state in which it was left by its great architect, Sir Christopher Wren. The magnificent organ ... was taken down and rebuilt by Mr Parsons, and re-opened, with the church, on the 12th February, 1826".[130] Unfortunately, as a contemporary writer records, "On the night of the 31st of July, 1827, [the church's] safety was threatened by the great fire which consumed the adjacent warehouses, and it is perhaps owing to the strenuous and praiseworthy exertions of the firemen, that the structure exists at present. ... divine service was suspended and not resumed until the 20th January 1828. In the interval the church received such tasteful and elegant decorations, that it may now compete with any church in the metropolis.

 

In 1823 royal assent was given to ‘An Act for the Rebuilding of London Bridge’ and in 1825 John Garratt, Lord Mayor and Alderman of the Ward of Bridge Within, laid the first stone of the new London Bridge.[132] In 1831 Sir John Rennie’s new bridge was opened further upstream and the old bridge demolished. St Magnus ceased to be the gateway to London as it had been for over 600 years. Peter de Colechurch[133] had been buried in the crypt of the chapel on the bridge and his bones were unceremoniously dumped in the River Thames.[134] In 1921 two stones from Old London Bridge were discovered across the road from the church. They now stand in the churchyard.

Wren's church of St Michael Crooked Lane was demolished, the final service on Sunday 20 March 1831 having to be abandoned due to the effects of the building work. The Rector of St Michael preached a sermon the following Sunday at St Magnus lamenting the demolition of his church with its monuments and "the disturbance of the worship of his parishioners on the preceeding Sabbath".[135] The parish of St Michael Crooked Lane was united to that of St Magnus, which itself lost a burial ground in Church Yard Alley to the approach road for the new bridge.[136] However, in substitution it had restored to it the land taken for the widening of the old bridge in 1762 and was also given part of the approach lands to the east of the old bridge.[137] In 1838 the Committee for the London Bridge Approaches reported to Common Council that new burial grounds had been provided for the parishes of St Michael, Crooked Lane and St Magnus, London Bridge.

 

Depictions of St Magnus after the building of the new bridge, seen behind Fresh Wharf and the new London Bridge Wharf, include paintings by W. Fenoulhet in 1841 and by Charles Ginner in 1913.[139] This prospect was affected in 1924 by the building of Adelaide House to a design by John James Burnet,[140] The Times commenting that "the new ‘architectural Matterhorn’ ... conceals all but the tip of the church spire".[141] There was, however, an excellent view of the church for a few years between the demolition of Adelaide Buildings and the erection of its replacement.[142] Adelaide House is now listed.[143] Regis House, on the site of the abandoned King William Street terminus of the City & South London Railway (subsequently the Northern Line),[144] and the Steam Packet Inn, on the corner of Lower Thames Street and Fish Street Hill,[145] were developed in 1931.

 

By the early 1960s traffic congestion had become a problem[147] and Lower Thames Street was widened over the next decade[148] to form part of a significant new east-west transport artery (the A3211).[149] The setting of the church was further affected by the construction of a new London Bridge between 1967 and 1973.[150] The New Fresh Wharf warehouse to the east of the church, built in 1939, was demolished in 1973-4 following the collapse of commercial traffic in the Pool of London[151] and, after an archaeological excavation,[152] St Magnus House was constructed on the site in 1978 to a design by R. Seifert & Partners.[153] This development now allows a clear view of the church from the east side.[154] The site to the south east of The Monument (between Fish Street Hill and Pudding Lane), formerly predominantly occupied by fish merchants,[155] was redeveloped as Centurion House and Gartmore (now Providian) House at the time of the closure of old Billingsgate Market in January 1982.[156] A comprehensive redevelopment of Centurion House began in October 2011 with completion planned in 2013.[157] Regis House, to the south west of The Monument, was redeveloped by Land Securities PLC in 1998.[158]

The vista from The Monument south to the River Thames, over the roof of St Magnus, is protected under the City of London Unitary Development Plan,[159] although the South bank of the river is now dominated by The Shard. Since 2004 the City of London Corporation has been exploring ways of enhancing the Riverside Walk to the south of St Magnus.[160] Work on a new staircase to connect London Bridge to the Riverside Walk is due to commence in March 2013.[161] The story of St Magnus's relationship with London Bridge and an interview with the rector featured in the television programme The Bridges That Built London with Dan Cruickshank, first broadcast on BBC Four on 14 June 2012.[162] The City Corporation's 'Fenchurch and Monument Area Enhancement Strategy' of August 2012 recommended ways of reconnecting St Magnus and the riverside to the area north of Lower Thames Street.

 

A lectureship at St Michael Crooked Lane, which was transferred to St Magnus in 1831, was endowed by the wills of Thomas and Susannah Townsend in 1789 and 1812 respectively.[164] The Revd Henry Robert Huckin, Headmaster of Repton School from 1874 to 1882, was appointed Townsend Lecturer at St Magnus in 1871.[165]

St Magnus narrowly escaped damage from a major fire in Lower Thames Street in October 1849.

 

During the second half of the 19th century the rectors were Alexander McCaul, DD (1799–1863, Rector 1850-63), who coined the term 'Judaeo Christian' in a letter dated 17 October 1821,[167] and his son Alexander Israel McCaul (1835–1899, curate 1859-63, rector 1863-99). The Revd Alexander McCaul Sr[168] was a Christian missionary to the Polish Jews, who (having declined an offer to become the first Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem)[169] was appointed professor of Hebrew and rabbinical literature at King's College, London in 1841. His daughter, Elizabeth Finn (1825–1921), a noted linguist, founded the Distressed Gentlefolk Aid Association (now known as Elizabeth Finn Care).[170]

In 1890 it was reported that the Bishop of London was to hold an inquiry as to the desirability of uniting the benefices of St George Botolph Lane and St Magnus. The expectation was a fusion of the two livings, the demolition of St George’s and the pensioning of "William Gladstone’s favourite Canon", Malcolm MacColl. Although services ceased there, St George’s was not demolished until 1904. The parish was then merged with St Mary at Hill rather than St Magnus.[171]

The patronage of the living was acquired in the late 19th century by Sir Henry Peek Bt. DL MP, Senior Partner of Peek Brothers & Co of 20 Eastcheap, the country's largest firm of wholesale tea brokers and dealers, and Chairman of the Commercial Union Assurance Co. Peek was a generous philanthropist who was instrumental in saving both Wimbledon Common and Burnham Beeches from development. His grandson, Sir Wilfred Peek Bt. DSO JP, presented a cousin, Richard Peek, as rector in 1904. Peek, an ardent Freemason, held the office of Grand Chaplain of England. The Times recorded that his memorial service in July 1920 "was of a semi-Masonic character, Mr Peek having been a prominent Freemason".[172] In June 1895 Peek had saved the life of a young French girl who jumped overboard from a ferry midway between Dinard and St Malo in Brittany and was awarded the bronze medal of the Royal Humane Society and the Gold Medal 1st Class of the Sociâetâe Nationale de Sauvetage de France.[173]

In November 1898 a memorial service was held at St Magnus for Sir Stuart Knill Bt. (1824–1898), head of the firm of John Knill and Co, wharfingers, and formerly Lord Mayor and Master of the Plumbers' Company.[174] This was the first such service for a Roman Catholic taken in an Anglican church.[175] Sir Stuart's son, Sir John Knill Bt. (1856-1934), also served as Alderman for the Ward of Bridge Within, Lord Mayor and Master of the Plumbers' Company.

 

Until 1922 the annual Fish Harvest Festival was celebrated at St Magnus.[176] The service moved in 1923 to St Dunstan in the East[177] and then to St Mary at Hill, but St Magnus retained close links with the local fish merchants until the closure of old Billingsgate Market. St Magnus, in the 1950s, was "buried in the stink of Billingsgate fish-market, against which incense was a welcome antidote".

 

A report in 1920 proposed the demolition of nineteen City churches, including St Magnus.[179] A general outcry from members of the public and parishioners alike prevented the execution of this plan.[180] The members of the City Livery Club passed a resolution that they regarded "with horror and indignation the proposed demolition of 19 City churches" and pledged the Club to do everything in its power to prevent such a catastrophe.[181] T. S. Eliot wrote that the threatened churches gave "to the business quarter of London a beauty which its hideous banks and commercial houses have not quite defaced. ... the least precious redeems some vulgar street ... The loss of these towers, to meet the eye down a grimy lane, and of these empty naves, to receive the solitary visitor at noon from the dust and tumult of Lombard Street, will be irreparable and unforgotten."[182] The London County Council published a report concluding that St Magnus was "one of the most beautiful of all Wren's works" and "certainly one of the churches which should not be demolished without specially good reasons and after very full consideration."[183] Due to the uncertainty about the church's future, the patron decided to defer action to fill the vacancy in the benefice and a curate-in-charge temporarily took responsibility for the parish.[184] However, on 23 April 1921 it was announced that the Revd Henry Joy Fynes-Clinton would be the new Rector. The Times concluded that the appointment, with the Bishop’s approval, meant that the proposed demolition would not be carried out.[185] Fr Fynes-Clinton was inducted on 31 May 1921.[186]

The rectory, built by Robert Smirke in 1833-5, was at 39 King William Street.[187] A decision was taken in 1909 to sell the property, the intention being to purchase a new rectory in the suburbs, but the sale fell through and at the time of the 1910 Land Tax Valuations the building was being let out to a number of tenants. The rectory was sold by the diocese on 30 May 1921 for £8,000 to Ridgways Limited, which owned the adjoining premises.[188] The Vestry House adjoining the south west of the church, replacing the one built in the 1760s, may also have been by Smirke. Part of the burial ground of St Michael Crooked Lane, located between Fish Street Hill and King William Street, survived as an open space until 1987 when it was compulsorily purchased to facilitate the extension of the Docklands Light Railway into the City.[189] The bodies were reburied at Brookwood Cemetery.

 

The interior of the church was restored by Martin Travers in 1924, in a neo-baroque style,[191] reflecting the Anglo-Catholic character of the congregation[192] following the appointment of Henry Joy Fynes-Clinton as Rector.[193] Fr Fynes, as he was often known, served as Rector of St Magnus from 31 May 1921 until his death on 4 December 1959 and substantially beautified the interior of the church.[194]

Fynes-Clinton held very strong Anglo-Catholic views, and proceeded to make St Magnus as much like a baroque Roman Catholic church as possible. However, "he was such a loveable character with an old-world courtesy which was irresistible, that it was difficult for anyone to be unpleasant to him, however much they might disapprove of his views".[195] He generally said the Roman Mass in Latin; and in personality was "grave, grand, well-connected and holy, with a laconic sense of humour".[196] To a Protestant who had come to see Coverdale's monument he is reported to have said "We have just had a service in the language out of which he translated the Bible".[197] The use of Latin in services was not, however, without grammatical danger. A response from his parishioners of "Ora pro nobis" after "Omnes sancti Angeli et Archangeli" in the Litany of the Saints would elicit a pause and the correction "No, Orate pro nobis."

 

In 1922 Fynes-Clinton refounded the Fraternity of Our Lady de Salve Regina.[198] The Fraternity's badge[199] is shown in the stained glass window at the east end of the north wall of the church above the reredos of the Lady Chapel altar. He also erected a statue of Our Lady of Walsingham and arranged pilgrimages to the Norfolk shrine, where he was one of the founding Guardians.[200] In 1928 the journal of the Catholic League reported that St Magnus had presented a votive candle to the Shrine at Walsingham "in token of our common Devotion and the mutual sympathy and prayers that are we hope a growing bond between the peaceful country shrine and the church in the heart of the hurrying City, from the Altar of which the Pilgrimages regularly start".[201]

Fynes-Clinton was General Secretary of the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches Union and its successor, the Anglican and Eastern Churches Association, from 1906 to 1920 and served as Secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury's Eastern Churches Committee from 1920 to around 1924. A Solemn Requiem was celebrated at St Magnus in September 1921 for the late King Peter of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.

At the midday service on 1 March 1922, J.A. Kensit, leader of the Protestant Truth Society, got up and protested against the form of worship.[202] The proposed changes to the church in 1924 led to a hearing in the Consistory Court of the Chancellor of the Diocese of London and an appeal to the Court of Arches.[203] Judgement was given by the latter Court in October 1924. The advowson was purchased in 1931, without the knowledge of the Rector and Parochial Church Council, by the evangelical Sir Charles King-Harman.[204] A number of such cases, including the purchase of the advowsons of Clapham and Hampstead Parish Churches by Sir Charles, led to the passage of the Benefices (Purchase of Rights of Patronage) Measure 1933.[205] This allowed the parishioners of St Magnus to purchase the advowson from Sir Charles King-Harman for £1,300 in 1934 and transfer it to the Patronage Board.

 

St Magnus was one of the churches that held special services before the opening of the second Anglo-Catholic Congress in 1923.[207] Fynes-Clinton[208] was the first incumbent to hold lunchtime services for City workers.[209] Pathé News filmed the Palm Sunday procession at St Magnus in 1935.[210] In The Towers of Trebizond, the novel by Rose Macauley published in 1956, Fr Chantry-Pigg's church is described as being several feet higher than St Mary’s Bourne Street and some inches above even St Magnus the Martyr.[211]

In July 1937 Fr Fynes-Clinton, with two members of his congregation, travelled to Kirkwall to be present at the 800th anniversary celebrations of St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall. During their stay they visited Egilsay and were shown the spot where St Magnus had been slain. Later Fr Fynes-Clinton was present at a service held at the roofless church of St Magnus on Egilsay, where he suggested to his host Mr Fryer, the minister of the Cathedral, that the congregations of Kirkwall and London should unite to erect a permanent stone memorial on the traditional site where Earl Magnus had been murdered. In 1938 a cairn was built of local stone on Egilsay. It stands 12 feet high and is 6 feet broad at its base. The memorial was dedicated on 7 September 1938 and a bronze inscription on the monument reads "erected by the Rector and Congregation of St Magnus the Martyr by London Bridge and the Minister and Congregation of St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall to commemorate the traditional spot where Earl Magnus was slain, AD circa 1116 and to commemorate the Octocentenary of St Magnus Cathedral 1937"

 

A bomb which fell on London Bridge in 1940 during the Blitz of World War II blew out all the windows and damaged the plasterwork and the roof of the north aisle.[213] However, the church was designated a Grade I listed building on 4 January 1950[214] and repaired in 1951, being re-opened for worship in June of that year by the Bishop of London, William Wand.[215] The architect was Laurence King.[216] Restoration and redecoration work has subsequently been carried out several times, including after a fire in the early hours of 4 November 1995.[217] Cleaning of the exterior stonework was completed in 2010.

 

Some minor changes were made to the parish boundary in 1954, including the transfer to St Magnus of an area between Fish Street Hill and Pudding Lane. The site of St Leonard Eastcheap, a church that was not rebuilt after the Great Fire, is therefore now in the parish of St Magnus despite being united to St Edmund the King.

Fr Fynes-Clinton marked the 50th anniversary of his priesthood in May 1952 with High Mass at St Magnus and lunch at Fishmongers' Hall.[218] On 20 September 1956 a solemn Mass was sung in St Magnus to commence the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the restoration of the Holy House at Walsingham in 1931. In the evening of that day a reception was held in the large chamber of Caxton Hall, when between three and four hundred guests assembled.[219]

Fr Fynes-Clinton was succeeded as rector in 1960 by Fr Colin Gill,[220] who remained as incumbent until his death in 1983.[221] Fr Gill was also closely connected with Walsingham and served as a Guardian between 1953 and 1983, including nine years as Master of the College of Guardians.[222] He celebrated the Mass at the first National Pilgrimage in 1959[223] and presided over the Jubilee celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the Shrine in 1981, having been present at the Holy House's opening.[224] A number of the congregation of St Stephen's Lewisham moved to St Magnus around 1960, following temporary changes in the form of worship there.

 

In 1994 the Templeman Commission proposed a radical restructuring of the churches in the City Deanery. St Magnus was identified as one of the 12 churches that would remain as either a parish or an 'active' church.[226] However, the proposals were dropped following a public outcry and the consecration of a new Bishop of London.

The parish priest since 2003 has been Fr Philip Warner, who was previously priest-in-charge of St Mary's Church, Belgrade (Diocese in Europe) and Apokrisiarios for the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Serbian Orthodox Church. Since January 2004 there has been an annual Blessing of the Thames, with the congregations of St Magnus and Southwark Cathedral meeting in the middle of London Bridge.[227] On Sunday 3 July 2011, in anticipation of the feast of the translation of St Thomas Becket (7 July), a procession from St Magnus brought a relic of the saint to the middle of the bridge.[228]

David Pearson specially composed two new pieces, a communion anthem A Mhànais mo rùin (O Magnus of my love) and a hymn to St Magnus Nobilis, humilis, for performance at the church on the feast of St Magnus the Martyr, 16 April 2012.[229] St Magnus's organist, John Eady, has won composition competitions for new choral works at St Paul's Cathedral (a setting of Veni Sancte Spiritus first performed on 27 May 2012) and at Lincoln Cathedral (a setting of the Matin responsory for Advent first performed on 30 November 2013).[230]

In addition to liturgical music of a high standard, St Magnus is the venue for a wide range of musical events. The Clemens non Papa Consort, founded in 2005, performs in collaboration with the production team Concert Bites as the church's resident ensemble.[231] The church is used by The Esterhazy Singers for rehearsals and some concerts.[232] The band Mishaped Pearls performed at the church on 17 December 2011.[233] St Magnus featured in the television programme Jools Holland: London Calling, first broadcast on BBC2 on 9 June 2012.[234] The Platinum Consort made a promotional film at St Magnus for the release of their debut album In the Dark on 2 July 2012.[235]

The Friends of the City Churches had their office in the Vestry House of St Magnus until 2013.

 

Martin Travers modified the high altar reredos, adding paintings of Moses and Aaron and the Ten Commandments between the existing Corinthian columns and reconstructing the upper storey. Above the reredos Travers added a painted and gilded rood.[237] In the centre of the reredos there is a carved gilded pelican (an early Christian symbol of self-sacrifice) and a roundel with Baroque-style angels. The glazed east window, which can be seen in an early photograph of the church, appears to have been filled in at this time. A new altar with console tables was installed and the communion rails moved outwards to extend the size of the sanctuary. Two old door frames were used to construct side chapels and placed at an angle across the north-east and south-east corners of the church. One, the Lady Chapel, was dedicated to the Rector's parents in 1925 and the other was dedicated to Christ the King. Originally, a baroque aumbry was used for Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament, but later a tabernacle was installed on the Lady Chapel altar and the aumbry was used to house a relic of the True Cross.

The interior was made to look more European by the removal of the old box pews and the installation of new pews with cut-down ends. Two new columns were inserted in the nave to make the lines regular. The Wren-period pulpit by the joiner William Grey[238] was opened up and provided with a soundboard and crucifix. Travers also designed the statue of St Magnus of Orkney, which stands in the south aisle, and the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham.[239]

On the north wall there is a Russian Orthodox icon, painted in 1908. The modern stations of the cross in honey-coloured Japanese oak are the work of Robert Randall and Ashley Sands.[240] One of the windows in the north wall dates from 1671 and came from Plumbers' Hall in Chequer Yard, Bush Lane, which was demolished in 1863 to make way for Cannon Street Railway Station.[241] A fireplace from the Hall was re-erected in the Vestry House. The other windows on the north side are by Alfred Wilkinson and date from 1952 to 1960. These show the arms of the Plumbers’, Fishmongers’ and Coopers’ Companies together with those of William Wand when Bishop of London and Geoffrey Fisher when Archbishop of Canterbury and (as noted above) the badge of the Fraternity of Our Lady de Salve Regina.

The stained glass windows in the south wall, which are by Lawrence Lee and date from 1949 to 1955, represent lost churches associated with the parish: St Magnus and his ruined church of Egilsay, St Margaret of Antioch with her lost church in New Fish Street (where the Monument to the Great Fire now stands), St Michael with his lost church of Crooked Lane (demolished to make way for the present King William Street) and St Thomas Becket with his chapel on Old London Bridge.[242]

The church possesses a fine model of Old London Bridge. One of the tiny figures on the bridge appears out of place in the mediaeval setting, wearing a policeman's uniform. This is a representation of the model-maker, David T. Aggett, who is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Plumbers and was formerly in the police service.[243]

The Mischiefs by Fire Act 1708 and the Fires Prevention (Metropolis) Act 1774 placed a requirement on every parish to keep equipment to fight fires. The church owns two historic fire engines that belonged to the parish of St Michael, Crooked Lane.[244] One of these is in storage at the Museum of London. The whereabouts of the other, which was misappropriated and sold at auction in 2003, is currently unknown.

In 1896 many bodies were disinterred from the crypt and reburied at the St Magnus's plot at Brookwood Cemetery, which remains the church's burial ground.

 

Prior to the Great Fire of 1666 the old tower had a ring of five bells, a small saints bell and a clock bell.[246] 47 cwt of bell metal was recovered[247] which suggests that the tenor was 13 or 14 cwt. The metal was used to cast three new bells, by William Eldridge of Chertsey in 1672,[248] with a further saints bell cast that year by Hodson.[249] In the absence of a tower, the tenor and saints bell were hung in a free standing timber structure, whilst the others remained unhung.[250]

A new tower was completed in 1704 and it is likely that these bells were transferred to it. However, the tenor became cracked in 1713 and it was decided to replace the bells with a new ring of eight.[251] The new bells, with a tenor of 21 cwt, were cast by Richard Phelps of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Between 1714 and 1718 (the exact date of which is unknown), the ring was increased to ten with the addition of two trebles given by two former ringing Societies, the Eastern Youths and the British Scholars.[252] The first peal was rung on 15 February 1724 of Grandsire Caters by the Society of College Youths. The second bell had to be recast in 1748 by Robert Catlin, and the tenor was recast in 1831 by Thomas Mears of Whitechapel,[253] just in time to ring for the opening of the new London Bridge. In 1843, the treble was said to be "worn out" and so was scrapped, together with the saints bell, while a new treble was cast by Thomas Mears.[254] A new clock bell was erected in the spire in 1846, provided by B R & J Moore, who had earlier purchased it from Thomas Mears.[255] This bell can still be seen in the tower from the street.

The 10 bells were removed for safe keeping in 1940 and stored in the churchyard. They were taken to Whitechapel Bell Foundry in 1951 whereupon it was discovered that four of them were cracked. After a long period of indecision, fuelled by lack of funds and interest, the bells were finally sold for scrap in 1976. The metal was used to cast many of the Bells of Congress that were then hung in the Old Post Office Tower in Washington, D.C.

A fund was set up on 19 September 2005, led by Dickon Love, a member of the Ancient Society of College Youths, with a view to installing a new ring of 12 bells in the tower in a new frame. This was the first of three new rings of bells he has installed in the City of London (the others being at St Dunstan-in-the-West and St James Garlickhythe). The money was raised and the bells were cast during 2008/9 by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. The tenor weighed 26cwt 3qtr 9 lbs (1360 kg) and the new bells were designed to be in the same key as the former ring of ten. They were consecrated by the Bishop of London on 3 March 2009 in the presence of the Lord Mayor[256] and the ringing dedicated on 26 October 2009 by the Archdeacon of London.[257] The bells are named (in order smallest to largest) Michael, Margaret, Thomas of Canterbury, Mary, Cedd, Edward the Confessor, Dunstan, John the Baptist, Erkenwald, Paul, Mellitus and Magnus.[258] The bells project is recorded by an inscription in the vestibule of the church.

 

The first peal on the twelve was rung on 29 November 2009 of Cambridge Surprise Maximus.[260] Notable other recent peals include a peal of Stedman Cinques on 16 April 2011 to mark the 400th anniversary of the granting of a Royal Charter to the Plumbers' Company,[261] a peal of Cambridge Surprise Royal on 28 June 2011 when the Fishmongers' Company gave a dinner for Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at their hall on the occasion of his 90th birthday[262] and a peal of Avon Delight Maximus on 24 July 2011 in solidarity with the people of Norway following the tragic massacre on Utoeya Island and in Oslo.[263] On the latter occasion the flag of the Orkney Islands was flown at half mast. In 2012 peals were rung during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on 3 June and during each of the three Olympic/Paralympic marathons, on 5 and 12 August and 9 September.

The BBC television programme, Still Ringing After All These Years: A Short History of Bells, broadcast on 14 December 2011, included an interview at St Magnus with the Tower Keeper, Dickon Love,[264] who was captain of the band that rang the "Royal Jubilee Bells" during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on 3 June 2012 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.[265] Prior to this, he taught John Barrowman to handle a bell at St Magnus for the BBC coverage.

The bells are currently rung every Sunday around 12:15 (following the service) by the Guild of St Magnus.

 

Every other June, newly elected wardens of the Fishmongers' Company, accompanied by the Court, proceed on foot from Fishmongers' Hall[267] to St Magnus for an election service.[268] St Magnus is also the Guild Church of The Plumbers' Company. Two former rectors have served as master of the company,[269] which holds all its services at the church.[270] On 12 April 2011 a service was held to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the granting of the company's Royal Charter at which the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd and Rt Hon Richard Chartres KCVO, gave the sermon and blessed the original Royal Charter. For many years the Cloker Service was held at St Magnus, attended by the Coopers' Company and Grocers' Company, at which the clerk of the Coopers' Company read the will of Henry Cloker dated 10 March 1573.[271]

St Magnus is also the ward church for the Ward of Bridge and Bridge Without, which elects one of the city's aldermen. Between 1550 and 1978 there were separate aldermen for Bridge Within and Bridge Without, the former ward being north of the river and the latter representing the City's area of control in Southwark. The Bridge Ward Club was founded in 1930 to "promote social activities and discussion of topics of local and general interest and also to exchange Ward and parochial information" and holds its annual carol service at St Magnus.

 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Magnus-the-Martyr

 

What craziness is this, a day in that London on a weekday? Well, working one day last weekend, and another next weekend, meant I took a day in Lieu.

 

So there.

 

And top of my list of places to visit was St Magnus. This would be the fifth time I have tried to get inside, and the first since I wrote to the church asking whether they would be open a particular Saturday, and then any Saturday. Letters which were ignored

 

So, I walked out of Monument Station, down the hill there was St Magnus: would it be open?

 

It was, and inside it was a box, nay a treasure chest of delights.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------

 

St Magnus the Martyr, London Bridge is a Church of England church and parish within the City of London. The church, which is located in Lower Thames Street near The Monument to the Great Fire of London,[1] is part of the Diocese of London and under the pastoral care of the Bishop of London and the Bishop of Fulham.[2] It is a Grade I listed building.[3] The rector uses the title "Cardinal Rector". [4]

St Magnus lies on the original alignment of London Bridge between the City and Southwark. The ancient parish was united with that of St Margaret, New Fish Street, in 1670 and with that of St Michael, Crooked Lane, in 1831.[5] The three united parishes retained separate vestries and churchwardens.[6] Parish clerks continue to be appointed for each of the three parishes.[7]

St Magnus is the guild church of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers and the Worshipful Company of Plumbers, and the ward church of the Ward of Bridge and Bridge Without. It is also twinned with the Church of the Resurrection in New York City.[8]

Its prominent location and beauty has prompted many mentions in literature.[9] In Oliver Twist Charles Dickens notes how, as Nancy heads for her secret meeting with Mr. Brownlow and Rose Maylie on London Bridge, "the tower of old Saint Saviour's Church, and the spire of Saint Magnus, so long the giant-warders of the ancient bridge, were visible in the gloom". The church's spiritual and architectural importance is celebrated in the poem The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot, who adds in a footnote that "the interior of St. Magnus Martyr is to my mind one of the finest among Wren's interiors".[10] One biographer of Eliot notes that at first he enjoyed St Magnus aesthetically for its "splendour"; later he appreciated its "utility" when he came there as a sinner.

 

The church is dedicated to St Magnus the Martyr, earl of Orkney, who died on 16 April in or around 1116 (the precise year is unknown).[12] He was executed on the island of Egilsay having been captured during a power struggle with his cousin, a political rival.[13] Magnus had a reputation for piety and gentleness and was canonised in 1135. St. Ronald, the son of Magnus's sister Gunhild Erlendsdotter, became Earl of Orkney in 1136 and in 1137 initiated the construction of St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall.[14] The story of St. Magnus has been retold in the 20th century in the chamber opera The Martyrdom of St Magnus (1976)[15] by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, based on George Mackay Brown's novel Magnus (1973).

 

he identity of the St Magnus referred to in the church's dedication was only confirmed by the Bishop of London in 1926.[16] Following this decision a patronal festival service was held on 16 April 1926.[17] In the 13th century the patronage was attributed to one of the several saints by the name of Magnus who share a feast day on 19 August, probably St Magnus of Anagni (bishop and martyr, who was slain in the persecution of the Emperor Decius in the middle of the 3rd century).[18] However, by the early 18th century it was suggested that the church was either "dedicated to the memory of St Magnus or Magnes, who suffer'd under the Emperor Aurelian in 276 [see St Mammes of Caesarea, feast day 17 August], or else to a person of that name, who was the famous Apostle or Bishop of the Orcades."[19] For the next century historians followed the suggestion that the church was dedicated to the Roman saint of Cæsarea.[20] The famous Danish archaeologist Professor Jens Jacob Asmussen Worsaae (1821–85) promoted the attribution to St Magnus of Orkney during his visit to the British Isles in 1846-7, when he was formulating the concept of the 'Viking Age',[21] and a history of London written in 1901 concluded that "the Danes, on their second invasion ... added at least two churches with Danish names, Olaf and Magnus".[22] A guide to the City Churches published in 1917 reverted to the view that St Magnus was dedicated to a martyr of the third century,[23] but the discovery of St Magnus of Orkney's relics in 1919 renewed interest in a Scandinavian patron and this connection was encouraged by the Rector who arrived in 1921

 

A metropolitan bishop of London attended the Council of Arles in 314, which indicates that there must have been a Christian community in Londinium by this date, and it has been suggested that a large aisled building excavated in 1993 near Tower Hill can be compared with the 4th-century Cathedral of St Tecla in Milan.[25] However, there is no archaeological evidence to suggest that any of the mediaeval churches in the City of London had a Roman foundation.[26] A grant from William I in 1067 to Westminster Abbey, which refers to the stone church of St Magnus near the bridge ("lapidee eccle sci magni prope pontem"), is generally accepted to be 12th century forgery,[27] and it is possible that a charter of confirmation in 1108-16 might also be a later fabrication.[28] Nonetheless, these manuscripts may preserve valid evidence of a date of foundation in the 11th century.

 

Archaeological evidence suggests that the area of the bridgehead was not occupied from the early 5th century until the early 10th century. Environmental evidence indicates that the area was waste ground during this period, colonised by elder and nettles. Following Alfred's decision to reoccupy the walled area of London in 886, new harbours were established at Queenhithe and Billingsgate. A bridge was in place by the early 11th century, a factor which would have encouraged the occupation of the bridgehead by craftsmen and traders.[30] A lane connecting Botolph's Wharf and Billingsgate to the rebuilt bridge may have developed by the mid-11th century. The waterfront at this time was a hive of activity, with the construction of embankments sloping down from the riverside wall to the river. Thames Street appeared in the second half of the 11th century immediately behind (north of) the old Roman riverside wall and in 1931 a piling from this was discovered during the excavation of the foundations of a nearby building. It now stands at the base of the church tower.[31] St Magnus was built to the south of Thames Street to serve the growing population of the bridgehead area[32] and was certainly in existence by 1128-33.[33]

The small ancient parish[34] extended about 110 yards along the waterfront either side of the old bridge, from 'Stepheneslane' (later Churchehawlane or Church Yard Alley) and 'Oystergate' (later called Water Lane or Gully Hole) on the West side to 'Retheresgate' (a southern extension of Pudding Lane) on the East side, and was centred on the crossroads formed by Fish Street Hill (originally Bridge Street, then New Fish Street) and Thames Street.[35] The mediaeval parish also included Drinkwater's Wharf (named after the owner, Thomas Drinkwater), which was located immediately West of the bridge, and Fish Wharf, which was to the South of the church. The latter was of considerable importance as the fishmongers had their shops on the wharf. The tenement was devised by Andrew Hunte to the Rector and Churchwardens in 1446.[36] The ancient parish was situated in the South East part of Bridge Ward, which had evolved in the 11th century between the embankments to either side of the bridge.[37]

In 1182 the Abbot of Westminster and the Prior of Bermondsey agreed that the advowson of St Magnus should be divided equally between them. Later in the 1180s, on their presentation, the Archdeacon of London inducted his nephew as parson.

 

Between the late Saxon period and 1209 there was a series of wooden bridges across the Thames, but in that year a stone bridge was completed.[39] The work was overseen by Peter de Colechurch, a priest and head of the Fraternity of the Brethren of London Bridge. The Church had from early times encouraged the building of bridges and this activity was so important it was perceived to be an act of piety - a commitment to God which should be supported by the giving of alms. London’s citizens made gifts of land and money "to God and the Bridge".[40] The Bridge House Estates became part of the City's jurisdiction in 1282.

 

Until 1831 the bridge was aligned with Fish Street Hill, so the main entrance into the City from the south passed the West door of St Magnus on the north bank of the river.[41] The bridge included a chapel dedicated to St Thomas Becket[42] for the use of pilgrims journeying to Canterbury Cathedral to visit his tomb.[43] The chapel and about two thirds of the bridge were in the parish of St Magnus. After some years of rivalry a dispute arose between the church and the chapel over the offerings given to the chapel by the pilgrims. The matter was resolved by the brethren of the chapel making an annual contribution to St Magnus.[44] At the Reformation the chapel was turned into a house and later a warehouse, the latter being demolished in 1757-58.

The church grew in importance. On 21 November 1234 a grant of land was made to the parson of St Magnus for the enlargement of the church.[45] The London eyre of 1244 recorded that in 1238 "A thief named William of Ewelme of the county of Buckingham fled to the church of St. Magnus the Martyr, London, and there acknowledged the theft and abjured the realm. He had no chattels."[46] Another entry recorded that "The City answers saying that the church of ... St. Magnus the Martyr ... which [is] situated on the king's highway ... ought to belong to the king and be in his gift".[47] The church presumably jutted into the road running to the bridge, as it did in later times.[48] In 1276 it was recorded that "the church of St. Magnus the Martyr is worth £15 yearly and Master Geoffrey de la Wade now holds it by the grant of the prior of Bermundeseie and the abbot of Westminster to whom King Henry conferred the advowson by his charter.

 

In 1274 "came King Edward and his wife [Eleanor] from the Holy Land and were crowned at Westminster on the Sunday next after the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady [15 August], being the Feast of Saint Magnus [19 August]; and the Conduit in Chepe ran all the day with red wine and white wine to drink, for all such as wished."[50] Stow records that "in the year 1293, for victory obtained by Edward I against the Scots, every citizen, according to their several trade, made their several show, but especially the fishmongers" whose solemn procession including a knight "representing St Magnus, because it was upon St Magnus' day".

An important religious guild, the Confraternity de Salve Regina, was in existence by 1343, having been founded by the "better sort of the Parish of St Magnus" to sing the anthem 'Salve Regina' every evening.[51] The Guild certificates of 1389 record that the Confraternity of Salve Regina and the guild of St Thomas the Martyr in the chapel on the bridge, whose members belonged to St Magnus parish, had determined to become one, to have the anthem of St Thomas after the Salve Regina and to devote their united resources to restoring and enlarging the church of St Magnus.[52] An Act of Parliament of 1437[53] provided that all incorporated fraternities and companies should register their charters and have their ordinances approved by the civic authorities.[54] Fear of enquiry into their privileges may have led established fraternities to seek a firm foundation for their rights. The letters patent of the fraternity of St Mary and St Thomas the Martyr of Salve Regina in St Magnus dated 26 May 1448 mention that the fraternity had petitioned for a charter on the grounds that the society was not duly founded.

 

In the mid-14th century the Pope was the Patron of the living and appointed five rectors to the benefice.[56]

Henry Yevele, the master mason whose work included the rebuilding of Westminster Hall and the naves of Westminster Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral, was a parishioner and rebuilt the chapel on London Bridge between 1384 and 1397. He served as a warden of London Bridge and was buried at St Magnus on his death in 1400. His monument was extant in John Stow's time, but was probably destroyed by the fire of 1666.[57]

Yevele, as the King’s Mason, was overseen by Geoffrey Chaucer in his capacity as the Clerk of the King's Works. In The General Prologue of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales the five guildsmen "were clothed alle in o lyveree Of a solempne and a greet fraternitee"[58] and may be thought of as belonging to the guild in the parish of St Magnus, or one like it.[59] Chaucer's family home was near to the bridge in Thames Street.

 

n 1417 a dispute arose concerning who should take the place of honour amongst the rectors in the City churches at the Whit Monday procession, a place that had been claimed from time to time by the rectors of St Peter Cornhill, St Magnus the Martyr and St Nicholas Cole Abbey. The Mayor and Aldermen decided that the Rector of St Peter Cornhill should take precedence.[61]

St Magnus Corner at the north end of London Bridge was an important meeting place in mediaeval London, where notices were exhibited, proclamations read out and wrongdoers punished.[62] As it was conveniently close to the River Thames, the church was chosen by the Bishop between the 15th and 17th centuries as a convenient venue for general meetings of the clergy in his diocese.[63] Dr John Young, Bishop of Callipolis (rector of St Magnus 1514-15) pronounced judgement on 16 December 1514 (with the Bishop of London and in the presence of Thomas More, then under-sheriff of London) in the heresy case concerning Richard Hunne.[64]

In pictures from the mid-16th century the old church looks very similar to the present-day St Giles without Cripplegate in the Barbican.[65] According to the martyrologist John Foxe, a woman was imprisoned in the 'cage' on London Bridge in April 1555 and told to "cool herself there" for refusing to pray at St Magnus for the recently deceased Pope Julius III.[66]

Simon Lowe, a Member of Parliament and Master of the Merchant Taylors' Company during the reign of Queen Mary and one of the jurors who acquitted Sir Nicholas Throckmorton in 1554, was a parishioner.[67] He was a mourner at the funeral of Maurice Griffith, Bishop of Rochester from 1554 to 1558 and Rector of St Magnus from 1537 to 1558, who was interred in the church on 30 November 1558 with much solemnity. In accordance with the Catholic church's desire to restore ecclesiastical pageantry in England, the funeral was a splendid affair, ending in a magnificent dinner.

 

Lowe was included in a return of recusants in the Diocese of Rochester in 1577,[69] but was buried at St Magnus on 6 February 1578.[70] Stow refers to his monument in the church. His eldest son, Timothy (died 1617), was knighted in 1603. His second son, Alderman Sir Thomas Lowe (1550–1623), was Master of the Haberdashers' Company on several occasions, Sheriff of London in 1595/96, Lord Mayor in 1604/05 and a Member of Parliament for London.[71] His youngest son, Blessed John Lowe (1553–1586), having originally been a Protestant minister, converted to Roman Catholicism, studied for the priesthood at Douay and Rome and returned to London as a missionary priest.[72] His absence had already been noted; a list of 1581 of "such persons of the Diocese of London as have any children ... beyond the seas" records "John Low son to Margaret Low of the Bridge, absent without licence four years". Having gained 500 converts to Catholicism between 1583 and 1586, he was arrested whilst walking with his mother near London Bridge, committed to The Clink and executed at Tyburn on 8 October 1586.[73] He was beatified in 1987 as one of the eighty-five martyrs of England and Wales.

 

Sir William Garrard, Master of the Haberdashers' Company, Alderman, Sheriff of London in 1553/53, Lord Mayor in 1555/56 and a Member of Parliament was born in the parish and buried at St Magnus in 1571.[74] Sir William Romney, merchant, philanthropist, Master of the Haberdashers' Company, Alderman for Bridge Within and Sheriff of London in 1603/04[75] was married at St Magnus in 1582. Ben Jonson is believed to have been married at St Magnus in 1594.[76]

The patronage of St Magnus, having previously been in the Abbots and Convents of Westminster and Bermondsey (who presented alternatively), fell to the Crown on the suppression of the monasteries. In 1553, Queen Mary, by letters patent, granted it to the Bishop of London and his successors.[77]

The church had a series of distinguished rectors in the second half of the 16th and first half of the 17th century, including Myles Coverdale (Rector 1564-66), John Young (Rector 1566-92), Theophilus Aylmer (Rector 1592-1625), (Archdeacon of London and son of John Aylmer), and Cornelius Burges (Rector 1626-41). Coverdale was buried in the chancel of St Bartholomew-by-the-Exchange, but when that church was pulled down in 1840 his remains were removed to St Magnus.[78]

On 5 November 1562 the churchwardens were ordered to break, or cause to be broken, in two parts all the altar stones in the church.[79] Coverdale, an anti-vestiarian, was Rector at the peak of the vestments controversy. In March 1566 Archbishop Parker caused great consternation among many clergy by his edicts prescribing what was to be worn and by his summoning the London clergy to Lambeth to require their compliance. Coverdale excused himself from attending.[80] Stow records that a non-conforming Scot who normally preached at St Magnus twice a day precipitated a fight on Palm Sunday 1566 at Little All Hallows in Thames Street with his preaching against vestments.[81] Coverdale's resignation from St Magnus in summer 1566 may have been associated with these events. Separatist congregations started to emerge after 1566 and the first such, who called themselves 'Puritans' or 'Unspottyd Lambs of the Lord', was discovered close to St Magnus at Plumbers' Hall in Thames Street on 19 June 1567.

 

St Magnus narrowly escaped destruction in 1633. A later edition of Stow's Survey records that "On the 13th day of February, between eleven and twelve at night, there happened in the house of one Briggs, a Needle-maker near St Magnus Church, at the North end of the Bridge, by the carelessness of a Maid-Servant setting a tub of hot sea-coal ashes under a pair of stairs, a sad and lamentable fire, which consumed all the buildings before eight of the clock the next morning, from the North end of the Bridge to the first vacancy on both sides, containing forty-two houses; water then being very scarce, the Thames being almost frozen over."[83] Susannah Chambers "by her last will & testament bearing date 28th December 1640 gave the sum of Twenty-two shillings and Sixpence Yearly for a Sermon to be preached on the 12th day of February in every Year within the Church of Saint Magnus in commemoration of God's merciful preservation of the said Church of Saint Magnus from Ruin, by the late and terrible Fire on London Bridge. Likewise Annually to the Poor the sum of 17/6."[84] The tradition of a "Fire Sermon" was revived on 12 February 2004, when the first preacher was the Rt Revd and Rt Hon Richard Chartres, Bishop of London.

 

Parliamentarian rule and the more Protestant ethos of the 1640s led to the removal or destruction of "superstitious" and "idolatrous" images and fittings. Glass painters such as Baptista Sutton, who had previously installed "Laudian innovations", found new employment by repairing and replacing these to meet increasingly strict Protestant standards. In January 1642 Sutton replaced 93 feet of glass at St Magnus and in June 1644 he was called back to take down the "painted imagery glass" and replace it.[86] In June 1641 "rail riots" broke out at a number of churches. This was a time of high tension following the trial and execution of the Earl of Strafford and rumours of army and popish plots were rife. The Protestation Oath, with its pledge to defend the true religion "against all Popery and popish innovation", triggered demands from parishioners for the removal of the rails as popish innovations which the Protestation had bound them to reform. The minister arranged a meeting between those for and against the pulling down of the rails, but was unsuccessful in reaching a compromise and it was feared that they would be demolished by force.[87] However, in 1663 the parish resumed Laudian practice and re-erected rails around its communion table.[88]

Joseph Caryl was incumbent from 1645 until his ejection in 1662. In 1663 he was reportedly living near London Bridge and preaching to an Independent congregation that met at various places in the City.[89]

During the Great Plague of 1665, the City authorities ordered fires to be kept burning night and day, in the hope that the air would be cleansed. Daniel Defoe's semi-fictictional, but highly realistic, work A Journal of the Plague Year records that one of these was "just by St Magnus Church"

 

Despite its escape in 1633, the church was one of the first buildings to be destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666.[91] St Magnus stood less than 300 yards from the bakehouse of Thomas Farriner in Pudding Lane where the fire started. Farriner, a former churchwarden of St Magnus, was buried in the middle aisle of the church on 11 December 1670, perhaps within a temporary structure erected for holding services.[92]

The parish engaged the master mason George Dowdeswell to start the work of rebuilding in 1668. The work was carried forward between 1671 and 1687 under the direction of Sir Christopher Wren, the body of the church being substantially complete by 1676.[93] At a cost of £9,579 19s 10d St Magnus was one of Wren's most expensive churches.[94] The church of St Margaret New Fish Street was not rebuilt after the fire and its parish was united to that of St Magnus.

 

The chancels of many of Wren’s city churches had chequered marble floors and the chancel of St Magnus is an example,[95] the parish agreeing after some debate to place the communion table on a marble ascent with steps[96] and to commission altar rails of Sussex wrought iron. The nave and aisles are paved with freestone flags. A steeple, closely modelled on one built between 1614 and 1624 by François d'Aguilon and Pieter Huyssens for the church of St Carolus Borromeus in Antwerp, was added between 1703 and 1706.[97] London's skyline was transformed by Wren's tall steeples and that of St Magnus is considered to be one his finest.[98]

The large clock projecting from the tower was a well-known landmark in the city as it hung over the roadway of Old London Bridge.[99] It was presented to the church in 1709 by Sir Charles Duncombe[100] (Alderman for the Ward of Bridge Within and, in 1708/09, Lord Mayor of London). Tradition says "that it was erected in consequence of a vow made by the donor, who, in the earlier part of his life, had once to wait a considerable time in a cart upon London Bridge, without being able to learn the hour, when he made a promise, that if he ever became successful in the world, he would give to that Church a public clock ... that all passengers might see the time of day."[101] The maker was Langley Bradley, a clockmaker in Fenchurch Street, who had worked for Wren on many other projects, including the clock for the new St Paul's Cathedral. The sword rest in the church, designed to hold the Lord Mayor's sword and mace when he attended divine service "in state", dates from 1708.

Duncombe and his benefactions to St Magnus feature prominently in Daniel Defoe's The True-Born Englishman, a biting satire on critics of William III that went through several editions from 1700 (the year in which Duncombe was elected Sheriff).

 

Shortly before his death in 1711, Duncombe commissioned an organ for the church, the first to have a swell-box, by Abraham Jordan (father and son).[103] The Spectator announced that "Whereas Mr Abraham Jordan, senior and junior, have, with their own hands, joinery excepted, made and erected a very large organ in St Magnus' Church, at the foot of London Bridge, consisting of four sets of keys, one of which is adapted to the art of emitting sounds by swelling notes, which never was in any organ before; this instrument will be publicly opened on Sunday next [14 February 1712], the performance by Mr John Robinson. The above-said Abraham Jordan gives notice to all masters and performers, that he will attend every day next week at the said Church, to accommodate all those gentlemen who shall have a curiosity to hear it".[104]

The organ case, which remains in its original state, is looked upon as one of the finest existing examples of the Grinling Gibbons's school of wood carving.[105] The first organist of St Magnus was John Robinson (1682–1762), who served in that role for fifty years and in addition as organist of Westminster Abbey from 1727. Other organists have included the blind organist George Warne (1792–1868, organist 1820-26 until his appointment to the Temple Church), James Coward (1824–80, organist 1868-80 who was also organist to the Crystal Palace and renowned for his powers of improvisation) and George Frederick Smith FRCO (1856–1918, organist 1880-1918 and Professor of Music at the Guildhall School of Music).[106] The organ has been restored several times - in 1760, 1782, 1804, 1855, 1861, 1879, 1891, 1924, 1949 after wartime damage and 1997 - since it was first built.[107] Sir Peter Maxwell Davies was one of several patrons of the organ appeal in the mid-1990s[108] and John Scott gave an inaugural recital on 20 May 1998 following the completion of that restoration.[109] The instrument has an Historic Organ Certificate and full details are recorded in the National Pipe Organ Register.[110]

The hymn tune "St Magnus", usually sung at Ascensiontide to the text "The head that once was crowned with thorns", was written by Jeremiah Clarke in 1701 and named for the church.

 

Canaletto drew St Magnus and old London Bridge as they appeared in the late 1740s.[112] Between 1756 and 1762, under the London Bridge Improvement Act of 1756 (c. 40), the Corporation of London demolished the buildings on London Bridge to widen the roadway, ease traffic congestion and improve safety for pedestrians.[113] The churchwardens’ accounts of St Magnus list many payments to those injured on the Bridge and record that in 1752 a man was crushed to death between two carts.[114] After the House of Commons had resolved upon the alteration of London Bridge, the Rev Robert Gibson, Rector of St Magnus, applied to the House for relief; stating that 48l. 6s. 2d. per annum, part of his salary of 170l. per annum, was assessed upon houses on London Bridge; which he should utterly lose by their removal unless a clause in the bill about to be passed should provide a remedy.[115] Accordingly, Sections 18 and 19 of 1756 Act provided that the relevant amounts of tithe and poor rate should be a charge on the Bridge House Estates.[116]

A serious fire broke out on 18 April 1760 in an oil shop at the south east corner of the church, which consumed most of the church roof and did considerable damage to the fabric. The fire burnt warehouses to the south of the church and a number of houses on the northern end of London Bridge.

 

As part of the bridge improvements, overseen by the architect Sir Robert Taylor, a new pedestrian walkway was built along the eastern side of the bridge. With the other buildings gone St Magnus blocked the new walkway.[117] As a consequence it was necessary in 1762 to 1763 to remove the vestry rooms at the West end of the church and open up the side arches of the tower so that people could pass underneath the tower.[118] The tower’s lower storey thus became an external porch. Internally a lobby was created at the West end under the organ gallery and a screen with fine octagonal glazing inserted. A new Vestry was built to the South of the church.[119] The Act also provided that the land taken from the church for the widening was "to be considered ... as part of the cemetery of the said church ... but if the pavement thereof be broken up on account of the burying of any persons, the same shall be ... made good ... by the churchwardens"

 

Soldiers were stationed in the Vestry House of St Magnus during the Gordon Riots in June 1780.[121]

By 1782 the noise level from the activities of Billingsgate Fish Market had become unbearable and the large windows on the north side of the church were blocked up leaving only circular windows high up in the wall.[122] At some point between the 1760s and 1814 the present clerestory was constructed with its oval windows and fluted and coffered plasterwork.[123] J. M. W. Turner painted the church in the mid-1790s.[124]

The rector of St Magnus between 1792 and 1808, following the death of Robert Gibson on 28 July 1791,[125] was Thomas Rennell FRS. Rennell was President of Sion College in 1806/07. There is a monument to Thomas Leigh (Rector 1808-48 and President of Sion College 1829/30,[126] at St Peter's Church, Goldhanger in Essex.[127] Richard Hazard (1761–1837) was connected with the church as sexton, parish clerk and ward beadle for nearly 50 years[128] and served as Master of the Parish Clerks' Company in 1831/32.[129]

In 1825 the church was "repaired and beautified at a very considerable expense. During the reparation the east window, which had been closed, was restored, and the interior of the fabric conformed to the state in which it was left by its great architect, Sir Christopher Wren. The magnificent organ ... was taken down and rebuilt by Mr Parsons, and re-opened, with the church, on the 12th February, 1826".[130] Unfortunately, as a contemporary writer records, "On the night of the 31st of July, 1827, [the church's] safety was threatened by the great fire which consumed the adjacent warehouses, and it is perhaps owing to the strenuous and praiseworthy exertions of the firemen, that the structure exists at present. ... divine service was suspended and not resumed until the 20th January 1828. In the interval the church received such tasteful and elegant decorations, that it may now compete with any church in the metropolis.

 

In 1823 royal assent was given to ‘An Act for the Rebuilding of London Bridge’ and in 1825 John Garratt, Lord Mayor and Alderman of the Ward of Bridge Within, laid the first stone of the new London Bridge.[132] In 1831 Sir John Rennie’s new bridge was opened further upstream and the old bridge demolished. St Magnus ceased to be the gateway to London as it had been for over 600 years. Peter de Colechurch[133] had been buried in the crypt of the chapel on the bridge and his bones were unceremoniously dumped in the River Thames.[134] In 1921 two stones from Old London Bridge were discovered across the road from the church. They now stand in the churchyard.

Wren's church of St Michael Crooked Lane was demolished, the final service on Sunday 20 March 1831 having to be abandoned due to the effects of the building work. The Rector of St Michael preached a sermon the following Sunday at St Magnus lamenting the demolition of his church with its monuments and "the disturbance of the worship of his parishioners on the preceeding Sabbath".[135] The parish of St Michael Crooked Lane was united to that of St Magnus, which itself lost a burial ground in Church Yard Alley to the approach road for the new bridge.[136] However, in substitution it had restored to it the land taken for the widening of the old bridge in 1762 and was also given part of the approach lands to the east of the old bridge.[137] In 1838 the Committee for the London Bridge Approaches reported to Common Council that new burial grounds had been provided for the parishes of St Michael, Crooked Lane and St Magnus, London Bridge.

 

Depictions of St Magnus after the building of the new bridge, seen behind Fresh Wharf and the new London Bridge Wharf, include paintings by W. Fenoulhet in 1841 and by Charles Ginner in 1913.[139] This prospect was affected in 1924 by the building of Adelaide House to a design by John James Burnet,[140] The Times commenting that "the new ‘architectural Matterhorn’ ... conceals all but the tip of the church spire".[141] There was, however, an excellent view of the church for a few years between the demolition of Adelaide Buildings and the erection of its replacement.[142] Adelaide House is now listed.[143] Regis House, on the site of the abandoned King William Street terminus of the City & South London Railway (subsequently the Northern Line),[144] and the Steam Packet Inn, on the corner of Lower Thames Street and Fish Street Hill,[145] were developed in 1931.

 

By the early 1960s traffic congestion had become a problem[147] and Lower Thames Street was widened over the next decade[148] to form part of a significant new east-west transport artery (the A3211).[149] The setting of the church was further affected by the construction of a new London Bridge between 1967 and 1973.[150] The New Fresh Wharf warehouse to the east of the church, built in 1939, was demolished in 1973-4 following the collapse of commercial traffic in the Pool of London[151] and, after an archaeological excavation,[152] St Magnus House was constructed on the site in 1978 to a design by R. Seifert & Partners.[153] This development now allows a clear view of the church from the east side.[154] The site to the south east of The Monument (between Fish Street Hill and Pudding Lane), formerly predominantly occupied by fish merchants,[155] was redeveloped as Centurion House and Gartmore (now Providian) House at the time of the closure of old Billingsgate Market in January 1982.[156] A comprehensive redevelopment of Centurion House began in October 2011 with completion planned in 2013.[157] Regis House, to the south west of The Monument, was redeveloped by Land Securities PLC in 1998.[158]

The vista from The Monument south to the River Thames, over the roof of St Magnus, is protected under the City of London Unitary Development Plan,[159] although the South bank of the river is now dominated by The Shard. Since 2004 the City of London Corporation has been exploring ways of enhancing the Riverside Walk to the south of St Magnus.[160] Work on a new staircase to connect London Bridge to the Riverside Walk is due to commence in March 2013.[161] The story of St Magnus's relationship with London Bridge and an interview with the rector featured in the television programme The Bridges That Built London with Dan Cruickshank, first broadcast on BBC Four on 14 June 2012.[162] The City Corporation's 'Fenchurch and Monument Area Enhancement Strategy' of August 2012 recommended ways of reconnecting St Magnus and the riverside to the area north of Lower Thames Street.

 

A lectureship at St Michael Crooked Lane, which was transferred to St Magnus in 1831, was endowed by the wills of Thomas and Susannah Townsend in 1789 and 1812 respectively.[164] The Revd Henry Robert Huckin, Headmaster of Repton School from 1874 to 1882, was appointed Townsend Lecturer at St Magnus in 1871.[165]

St Magnus narrowly escaped damage from a major fire in Lower Thames Street in October 1849.

 

During the second half of the 19th century the rectors were Alexander McCaul, DD (1799–1863, Rector 1850-63), who coined the term 'Judaeo Christian' in a letter dated 17 October 1821,[167] and his son Alexander Israel McCaul (1835–1899, curate 1859-63, rector 1863-99). The Revd Alexander McCaul Sr[168] was a Christian missionary to the Polish Jews, who (having declined an offer to become the first Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem)[169] was appointed professor of Hebrew and rabbinical literature at King's College, London in 1841. His daughter, Elizabeth Finn (1825–1921), a noted linguist, founded the Distressed Gentlefolk Aid Association (now known as Elizabeth Finn Care).[170]

In 1890 it was reported that the Bishop of London was to hold an inquiry as to the desirability of uniting the benefices of St George Botolph Lane and St Magnus. The expectation was a fusion of the two livings, the demolition of St George’s and the pensioning of "William Gladstone’s favourite Canon", Malcolm MacColl. Although services ceased there, St George’s was not demolished until 1904. The parish was then merged with St Mary at Hill rather than St Magnus.[171]

The patronage of the living was acquired in the late 19th century by Sir Henry Peek Bt. DL MP, Senior Partner of Peek Brothers & Co of 20 Eastcheap, the country's largest firm of wholesale tea brokers and dealers, and Chairman of the Commercial Union Assurance Co. Peek was a generous philanthropist who was instrumental in saving both Wimbledon Common and Burnham Beeches from development. His grandson, Sir Wilfred Peek Bt. DSO JP, presented a cousin, Richard Peek, as rector in 1904. Peek, an ardent Freemason, held the office of Grand Chaplain of England. The Times recorded that his memorial service in July 1920 "was of a semi-Masonic character, Mr Peek having been a prominent Freemason".[172] In June 1895 Peek had saved the life of a young French girl who jumped overboard from a ferry midway between Dinard and St Malo in Brittany and was awarded the bronze medal of the Royal Humane Society and the Gold Medal 1st Class of the Sociâetâe Nationale de Sauvetage de France.[173]

In November 1898 a memorial service was held at St Magnus for Sir Stuart Knill Bt. (1824–1898), head of the firm of John Knill and Co, wharfingers, and formerly Lord Mayor and Master of the Plumbers' Company.[174] This was the first such service for a Roman Catholic taken in an Anglican church.[175] Sir Stuart's son, Sir John Knill Bt. (1856-1934), also served as Alderman for the Ward of Bridge Within, Lord Mayor and Master of the Plumbers' Company.

 

Until 1922 the annual Fish Harvest Festival was celebrated at St Magnus.[176] The service moved in 1923 to St Dunstan in the East[177] and then to St Mary at Hill, but St Magnus retained close links with the local fish merchants until the closure of old Billingsgate Market. St Magnus, in the 1950s, was "buried in the stink of Billingsgate fish-market, against which incense was a welcome antidote".

 

A report in 1920 proposed the demolition of nineteen City churches, including St Magnus.[179] A general outcry from members of the public and parishioners alike prevented the execution of this plan.[180] The members of the City Livery Club passed a resolution that they regarded "with horror and indignation the proposed demolition of 19 City churches" and pledged the Club to do everything in its power to prevent such a catastrophe.[181] T. S. Eliot wrote that the threatened churches gave "to the business quarter of London a beauty which its hideous banks and commercial houses have not quite defaced. ... the least precious redeems some vulgar street ... The loss of these towers, to meet the eye down a grimy lane, and of these empty naves, to receive the solitary visitor at noon from the dust and tumult of Lombard Street, will be irreparable and unforgotten."[182] The London County Council published a report concluding that St Magnus was "one of the most beautiful of all Wren's works" and "certainly one of the churches which should not be demolished without specially good reasons and after very full consideration."[183] Due to the uncertainty about the church's future, the patron decided to defer action to fill the vacancy in the benefice and a curate-in-charge temporarily took responsibility for the parish.[184] However, on 23 April 1921 it was announced that the Revd Henry Joy Fynes-Clinton would be the new Rector. The Times concluded that the appointment, with the Bishop’s approval, meant that the proposed demolition would not be carried out.[185] Fr Fynes-Clinton was inducted on 31 May 1921.[186]

The rectory, built by Robert Smirke in 1833-5, was at 39 King William Street.[187] A decision was taken in 1909 to sell the property, the intention being to purchase a new rectory in the suburbs, but the sale fell through and at the time of the 1910 Land Tax Valuations the building was being let out to a number of tenants. The rectory was sold by the diocese on 30 May 1921 for £8,000 to Ridgways Limited, which owned the adjoining premises.[188] The Vestry House adjoining the south west of the church, replacing the one built in the 1760s, may also have been by Smirke. Part of the burial ground of St Michael Crooked Lane, located between Fish Street Hill and King William Street, survived as an open space until 1987 when it was compulsorily purchased to facilitate the extension of the Docklands Light Railway into the City.[189] The bodies were reburied at Brookwood Cemetery.

 

The interior of the church was restored by Martin Travers in 1924, in a neo-baroque style,[191] reflecting the Anglo-Catholic character of the congregation[192] following the appointment of Henry Joy Fynes-Clinton as Rector.[193] Fr Fynes, as he was often known, served as Rector of St Magnus from 31 May 1921 until his death on 4 December 1959 and substantially beautified the interior of the church.[194]

Fynes-Clinton held very strong Anglo-Catholic views, and proceeded to make St Magnus as much like a baroque Roman Catholic church as possible. However, "he was such a loveable character with an old-world courtesy which was irresistible, that it was difficult for anyone to be unpleasant to him, however much they might disapprove of his views".[195] He generally said the Roman Mass in Latin; and in personality was "grave, grand, well-connected and holy, with a laconic sense of humour".[196] To a Protestant who had come to see Coverdale's monument he is reported to have said "We have just had a service in the language out of which he translated the Bible".[197] The use of Latin in services was not, however, without grammatical danger. A response from his parishioners of "Ora pro nobis" after "Omnes sancti Angeli et Archangeli" in the Litany of the Saints would elicit a pause and the correction "No, Orate pro nobis."

 

In 1922 Fynes-Clinton refounded the Fraternity of Our Lady de Salve Regina.[198] The Fraternity's badge[199] is shown in the stained glass window at the east end of the north wall of the church above the reredos of the Lady Chapel altar. He also erected a statue of Our Lady of Walsingham and arranged pilgrimages to the Norfolk shrine, where he was one of the founding Guardians.[200] In 1928 the journal of the Catholic League reported that St Magnus had presented a votive candle to the Shrine at Walsingham "in token of our common Devotion and the mutual sympathy and prayers that are we hope a growing bond between the peaceful country shrine and the church in the heart of the hurrying City, from the Altar of which the Pilgrimages regularly start".[201]

Fynes-Clinton was General Secretary of the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches Union and its successor, the Anglican and Eastern Churches Association, from 1906 to 1920 and served as Secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury's Eastern Churches Committee from 1920 to around 1924. A Solemn Requiem was celebrated at St Magnus in September 1921 for the late King Peter of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.

At the midday service on 1 March 1922, J.A. Kensit, leader of the Protestant Truth Society, got up and protested against the form of worship.[202] The proposed changes to the church in 1924 led to a hearing in the Consistory Court of the Chancellor of the Diocese of London and an appeal to the Court of Arches.[203] Judgement was given by the latter Court in October 1924. The advowson was purchased in 1931, without the knowledge of the Rector and Parochial Church Council, by the evangelical Sir Charles King-Harman.[204] A number of such cases, including the purchase of the advowsons of Clapham and Hampstead Parish Churches by Sir Charles, led to the passage of the Benefices (Purchase of Rights of Patronage) Measure 1933.[205] This allowed the parishioners of St Magnus to purchase the advowson from Sir Charles King-Harman for £1,300 in 1934 and transfer it to the Patronage Board.

 

St Magnus was one of the churches that held special services before the opening of the second Anglo-Catholic Congress in 1923.[207] Fynes-Clinton[208] was the first incumbent to hold lunchtime services for City workers.[209] Pathé News filmed the Palm Sunday procession at St Magnus in 1935.[210] In The Towers of Trebizond, the novel by Rose Macauley published in 1956, Fr Chantry-Pigg's church is described as being several feet higher than St Mary’s Bourne Street and some inches above even St Magnus the Martyr.[211]

In July 1937 Fr Fynes-Clinton, with two members of his congregation, travelled to Kirkwall to be present at the 800th anniversary celebrations of St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall. During their stay they visited Egilsay and were shown the spot where St Magnus had been slain. Later Fr Fynes-Clinton was present at a service held at the roofless church of St Magnus on Egilsay, where he suggested to his host Mr Fryer, the minister of the Cathedral, that the congregations of Kirkwall and London should unite to erect a permanent stone memorial on the traditional site where Earl Magnus had been murdered. In 1938 a cairn was built of local stone on Egilsay. It stands 12 feet high and is 6 feet broad at its base. The memorial was dedicated on 7 September 1938 and a bronze inscription on the monument reads "erected by the Rector and Congregation of St Magnus the Martyr by London Bridge and the Minister and Congregation of St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall to commemorate the traditional spot where Earl Magnus was slain, AD circa 1116 and to commemorate the Octocentenary of St Magnus Cathedral 1937"

 

A bomb which fell on London Bridge in 1940 during the Blitz of World War II blew out all the windows and damaged the plasterwork and the roof of the north aisle.[213] However, the church was designated a Grade I listed building on 4 January 1950[214] and repaired in 1951, being re-opened for worship in June of that year by the Bishop of London, William Wand.[215] The architect was Laurence King.[216] Restoration and redecoration work has subsequently been carried out several times, including after a fire in the early hours of 4 November 1995.[217] Cleaning of the exterior stonework was completed in 2010.

 

Some minor changes were made to the parish boundary in 1954, including the transfer to St Magnus of an area between Fish Street Hill and Pudding Lane. The site of St Leonard Eastcheap, a church that was not rebuilt after the Great Fire, is therefore now in the parish of St Magnus despite being united to St Edmund the King.

Fr Fynes-Clinton marked the 50th anniversary of his priesthood in May 1952 with High Mass at St Magnus and lunch at Fishmongers' Hall.[218] On 20 September 1956 a solemn Mass was sung in St Magnus to commence the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the restoration of the Holy House at Walsingham in 1931. In the evening of that day a reception was held in the large chamber of Caxton Hall, when between three and four hundred guests assembled.[219]

Fr Fynes-Clinton was succeeded as rector in 1960 by Fr Colin Gill,[220] who remained as incumbent until his death in 1983.[221] Fr Gill was also closely connected with Walsingham and served as a Guardian between 1953 and 1983, including nine years as Master of the College of Guardians.[222] He celebrated the Mass at the first National Pilgrimage in 1959[223] and presided over the Jubilee celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the Shrine in 1981, having been present at the Holy House's opening.[224] A number of the congregation of St Stephen's Lewisham moved to St Magnus around 1960, following temporary changes in the form of worship there.

 

In 1994 the Templeman Commission proposed a radical restructuring of the churches in the City Deanery. St Magnus was identified as one of the 12 churches that would remain as either a parish or an 'active' church.[226] However, the proposals were dropped following a public outcry and the consecration of a new Bishop of London.

The parish priest since 2003 has been Fr Philip Warner, who was previously priest-in-charge of St Mary's Church, Belgrade (Diocese in Europe) and Apokrisiarios for the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Serbian Orthodox Church. Since January 2004 there has been an annual Blessing of the Thames, with the congregations of St Magnus and Southwark Cathedral meeting in the middle of London Bridge.[227] On Sunday 3 July 2011, in anticipation of the feast of the translation of St Thomas Becket (7 July), a procession from St Magnus brought a relic of the saint to the middle of the bridge.[228]

David Pearson specially composed two new pieces, a communion anthem A Mhànais mo rùin (O Magnus of my love) and a hymn to St Magnus Nobilis, humilis, for performance at the church on the feast of St Magnus the Martyr, 16 April 2012.[229] St Magnus's organist, John Eady, has won composition competitions for new choral works at St Paul's Cathedral (a setting of Veni Sancte Spiritus first performed on 27 May 2012) and at Lincoln Cathedral (a setting of the Matin responsory for Advent first performed on 30 November 2013).[230]

In addition to liturgical music of a high standard, St Magnus is the venue for a wide range of musical events. The Clemens non Papa Consort, founded in 2005, performs in collaboration with the production team Concert Bites as the church's resident ensemble.[231] The church is used by The Esterhazy Singers for rehearsals and some concerts.[232] The band Mishaped Pearls performed at the church on 17 December 2011.[233] St Magnus featured in the television programme Jools Holland: London Calling, first broadcast on BBC2 on 9 June 2012.[234] The Platinum Consort made a promotional film at St Magnus for the release of their debut album In the Dark on 2 July 2012.[235]

The Friends of the City Churches had their office in the Vestry House of St Magnus until 2013.

 

Martin Travers modified the high altar reredos, adding paintings of Moses and Aaron and the Ten Commandments between the existing Corinthian columns and reconstructing the upper storey. Above the reredos Travers added a painted and gilded rood.[237] In the centre of the reredos there is a carved gilded pelican (an early Christian symbol of self-sacrifice) and a roundel with Baroque-style angels. The glazed east window, which can be seen in an early photograph of the church, appears to have been filled in at this time. A new altar with console tables was installed and the communion rails moved outwards to extend the size of the sanctuary. Two old door frames were used to construct side chapels and placed at an angle across the north-east and south-east corners of the church. One, the Lady Chapel, was dedicated to the Rector's parents in 1925 and the other was dedicated to Christ the King. Originally, a baroque aumbry was used for Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament, but later a tabernacle was installed on the Lady Chapel altar and the aumbry was used to house a relic of the True Cross.

The interior was made to look more European by the removal of the old box pews and the installation of new pews with cut-down ends. Two new columns were inserted in the nave to make the lines regular. The Wren-period pulpit by the joiner William Grey[238] was opened up and provided with a soundboard and crucifix. Travers also designed the statue of St Magnus of Orkney, which stands in the south aisle, and the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham.[239]

On the north wall there is a Russian Orthodox icon, painted in 1908. The modern stations of the cross in honey-coloured Japanese oak are the work of Robert Randall and Ashley Sands.[240] One of the windows in the north wall dates from 1671 and came from Plumbers' Hall in Chequer Yard, Bush Lane, which was demolished in 1863 to make way for Cannon Street Railway Station.[241] A fireplace from the Hall was re-erected in the Vestry House. The other windows on the north side are by Alfred Wilkinson and date from 1952 to 1960. These show the arms of the Plumbers’, Fishmongers’ and Coopers’ Companies together with those of William Wand when Bishop of London and Geoffrey Fisher when Archbishop of Canterbury and (as noted above) the badge of the Fraternity of Our Lady de Salve Regina.

The stained glass windows in the south wall, which are by Lawrence Lee and date from 1949 to 1955, represent lost churches associated with the parish: St Magnus and his ruined church of Egilsay, St Margaret of Antioch with her lost church in New Fish Street (where the Monument to the Great Fire now stands), St Michael with his lost church of Crooked Lane (demolished to make way for the present King William Street) and St Thomas Becket with his chapel on Old London Bridge.[242]

The church possesses a fine model of Old London Bridge. One of the tiny figures on the bridge appears out of place in the mediaeval setting, wearing a policeman's uniform. This is a representation of the model-maker, David T. Aggett, who is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Plumbers and was formerly in the police service.[243]

The Mischiefs by Fire Act 1708 and the Fires Prevention (Metropolis) Act 1774 placed a requirement on every parish to keep equipment to fight fires. The church owns two historic fire engines that belonged to the parish of St Michael, Crooked Lane.[244] One of these is in storage at the Museum of London. The whereabouts of the other, which was misappropriated and sold at auction in 2003, is currently unknown.

In 1896 many bodies were disinterred from the crypt and reburied at the St Magnus's plot at Brookwood Cemetery, which remains the church's burial ground.

 

Prior to the Great Fire of 1666 the old tower had a ring of five bells, a small saints bell and a clock bell.[246] 47 cwt of bell metal was recovered[247] which suggests that the tenor was 13 or 14 cwt. The metal was used to cast three new bells, by William Eldridge of Chertsey in 1672,[248] with a further saints bell cast that year by Hodson.[249] In the absence of a tower, the tenor and saints bell were hung in a free standing timber structure, whilst the others remained unhung.[250]

A new tower was completed in 1704 and it is likely that these bells were transferred to it. However, the tenor became cracked in 1713 and it was decided to replace the bells with a new ring of eight.[251] The new bells, with a tenor of 21 cwt, were cast by Richard Phelps of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Between 1714 and 1718 (the exact date of which is unknown), the ring was increased to ten with the addition of two trebles given by two former ringing Societies, the Eastern Youths and the British Scholars.[252] The first peal was rung on 15 February 1724 of Grandsire Caters by the Society of College Youths. The second bell had to be recast in 1748 by Robert Catlin, and the tenor was recast in 1831 by Thomas Mears of Whitechapel,[253] just in time to ring for the opening of the new London Bridge. In 1843, the treble was said to be "worn out" and so was scrapped, together with the saints bell, while a new treble was cast by Thomas Mears.[254] A new clock bell was erected in the spire in 1846, provided by B R & J Moore, who had earlier purchased it from Thomas Mears.[255] This bell can still be seen in the tower from the street.

The 10 bells were removed for safe keeping in 1940 and stored in the churchyard. They were taken to Whitechapel Bell Foundry in 1951 whereupon it was discovered that four of them were cracked. After a long period of indecision, fuelled by lack of funds and interest, the bells were finally sold for scrap in 1976. The metal was used to cast many of the Bells of Congress that were then hung in the Old Post Office Tower in Washington, D.C.

A fund was set up on 19 September 2005, led by Dickon Love, a member of the Ancient Society of College Youths, with a view to installing a new ring of 12 bells in the tower in a new frame. This was the first of three new rings of bells he has installed in the City of London (the others being at St Dunstan-in-the-West and St James Garlickhythe). The money was raised and the bells were cast during 2008/9 by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. The tenor weighed 26cwt 3qtr 9 lbs (1360 kg) and the new bells were designed to be in the same key as the former ring of ten. They were consecrated by the Bishop of London on 3 March 2009 in the presence of the Lord Mayor[256] and the ringing dedicated on 26 October 2009 by the Archdeacon of London.[257] The bells are named (in order smallest to largest) Michael, Margaret, Thomas of Canterbury, Mary, Cedd, Edward the Confessor, Dunstan, John the Baptist, Erkenwald, Paul, Mellitus and Magnus.[258] The bells project is recorded by an inscription in the vestibule of the church.

 

The first peal on the twelve was rung on 29 November 2009 of Cambridge Surprise Maximus.[260] Notable other recent peals include a peal of Stedman Cinques on 16 April 2011 to mark the 400th anniversary of the granting of a Royal Charter to the Plumbers' Company,[261] a peal of Cambridge Surprise Royal on 28 June 2011 when the Fishmongers' Company gave a dinner for Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at their hall on the occasion of his 90th birthday[262] and a peal of Avon Delight Maximus on 24 July 2011 in solidarity with the people of Norway following the tragic massacre on Utoeya Island and in Oslo.[263] On the latter occasion the flag of the Orkney Islands was flown at half mast. In 2012 peals were rung during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on 3 June and during each of the three Olympic/Paralympic marathons, on 5 and 12 August and 9 September.

The BBC television programme, Still Ringing After All These Years: A Short History of Bells, broadcast on 14 December 2011, included an interview at St Magnus with the Tower Keeper, Dickon Love,[264] who was captain of the band that rang the "Royal Jubilee Bells" during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on 3 June 2012 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.[265] Prior to this, he taught John Barrowman to handle a bell at St Magnus for the BBC coverage.

The bells are currently rung every Sunday around 12:15 (following the service) by the Guild of St Magnus.

 

Every other June, newly elected wardens of the Fishmongers' Company, accompanied by the Court, proceed on foot from Fishmongers' Hall[267] to St Magnus for an election service.[268] St Magnus is also the Guild Church of The Plumbers' Company. Two former rectors have served as master of the company,[269] which holds all its services at the church.[270] On 12 April 2011 a service was held to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the granting of the company's Royal Charter at which the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd and Rt Hon Richard Chartres KCVO, gave the sermon and blessed the original Royal Charter. For many years the Cloker Service was held at St Magnus, attended by the Coopers' Company and Grocers' Company, at which the clerk of the Coopers' Company read the will of Henry Cloker dated 10 March 1573.[271]

St Magnus is also the ward church for the Ward of Bridge and Bridge Without, which elects one of the city's aldermen. Between 1550 and 1978 there were separate aldermen for Bridge Within and Bridge Without, the former ward being north of the river and the latter representing the City's area of control in Southwark. The Bridge Ward Club was founded in 1930 to "promote social activities and discussion of topics of local and general interest and also to exchange Ward and parochial information" and holds its annual carol service at St Magnus.

 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Magnus-the-Martyr

Visit my website: www.macropoulos.com

 

22/3/09: Nominee in Wildlife, 3rd Photography Masters Cup, International Color Awards

 

Moorish Gecko (Tarentola mauritanica), clinging to the other side of the office window.

 

Best viewed Large, On Black.

 

If you've ever seen a gecko, then you must have admired their ability to scurry up walls and stick to ceilings. People had been baffled for years at how geckos manage to adhere to even the most polished surfaces. They don't use claws (otherwise they wouldn't be able to hold on to a glass window like in this photo). Suction was regarded as an unlikely explanation since geckos can cling on to a wall even in a vacuum. That astonishing trick of walking upside down on the ceiling would seem to rule out friction. Furthermore, without any glands on their feet, it would be hard for geckos to produce their own natural glue. So how do they do it?

 

Scientists found out that that the attractive forces that hold geckos to surfaces are van der Waals interactions, intermolecular forces so weak they are normally swamped by the many stronger forces in nature. Geckos have millions of densely packed, fine hairs, or setae, on their toes. The end of each seta is further subdivided into hundreds to thousands of structures called spatulae. Each such spatula interacts with the surface's molecules and the cumulative effect from the billions of tiny spatulae is a force strong enough to hold many times the weight of the small reptile. Geckos have developed an amazing way of walking, that rolls these hairs onto the surface, and then peels them off again, just like adhesive tape, only better. Because, unlike adhesive tape, the setae on the feet of geckos are also self cleaning and will usually remove any clogging dirt within a few steps! Imagine the possibilities... Synthetic Gecko, Gecko Tape, Carbon Nanotubes, these are some examples of the kind of research going on...

Sources:

- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gecko

- news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/781611.stm

- www.sciencenews.org/articles/20050108/fob6.asp

What craziness is this, a day in that London on a weekday? Well, working one day last weekend, and another next weekend, meant I took a day in Lieu.

 

So there.

 

And top of my list of places to visit was St Magnus. This would be the fifth time I have tried to get inside, and the first since I wrote to the church asking whether they would be open a particular Saturday, and then any Saturday. Letters which were ignored

 

So, I walked out of Monument Station, down the hill there was St Magnus: would it be open?

 

It was, and inside it was a box, nay a treasure chest of delights.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------

 

St Magnus the Martyr, London Bridge is a Church of England church and parish within the City of London. The church, which is located in Lower Thames Street near The Monument to the Great Fire of London,[1] is part of the Diocese of London and under the pastoral care of the Bishop of London and the Bishop of Fulham.[2] It is a Grade I listed building.[3] The rector uses the title "Cardinal Rector". [4]

St Magnus lies on the original alignment of London Bridge between the City and Southwark. The ancient parish was united with that of St Margaret, New Fish Street, in 1670 and with that of St Michael, Crooked Lane, in 1831.[5] The three united parishes retained separate vestries and churchwardens.[6] Parish clerks continue to be appointed for each of the three parishes.[7]

St Magnus is the guild church of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers and the Worshipful Company of Plumbers, and the ward church of the Ward of Bridge and Bridge Without. It is also twinned with the Church of the Resurrection in New York City.[8]

Its prominent location and beauty has prompted many mentions in literature.[9] In Oliver Twist Charles Dickens notes how, as Nancy heads for her secret meeting with Mr. Brownlow and Rose Maylie on London Bridge, "the tower of old Saint Saviour's Church, and the spire of Saint Magnus, so long the giant-warders of the ancient bridge, were visible in the gloom". The church's spiritual and architectural importance is celebrated in the poem The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot, who adds in a footnote that "the interior of St. Magnus Martyr is to my mind one of the finest among Wren's interiors".[10] One biographer of Eliot notes that at first he enjoyed St Magnus aesthetically for its "splendour"; later he appreciated its "utility" when he came there as a sinner.

 

The church is dedicated to St Magnus the Martyr, earl of Orkney, who died on 16 April in or around 1116 (the precise year is unknown).[12] He was executed on the island of Egilsay having been captured during a power struggle with his cousin, a political rival.[13] Magnus had a reputation for piety and gentleness and was canonised in 1135. St. Ronald, the son of Magnus's sister Gunhild Erlendsdotter, became Earl of Orkney in 1136 and in 1137 initiated the construction of St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall.[14] The story of St. Magnus has been retold in the 20th century in the chamber opera The Martyrdom of St Magnus (1976)[15] by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, based on George Mackay Brown's novel Magnus (1973).

 

he identity of the St Magnus referred to in the church's dedication was only confirmed by the Bishop of London in 1926.[16] Following this decision a patronal festival service was held on 16 April 1926.[17] In the 13th century the patronage was attributed to one of the several saints by the name of Magnus who share a feast day on 19 August, probably St Magnus of Anagni (bishop and martyr, who was slain in the persecution of the Emperor Decius in the middle of the 3rd century).[18] However, by the early 18th century it was suggested that the church was either "dedicated to the memory of St Magnus or Magnes, who suffer'd under the Emperor Aurelian in 276 [see St Mammes of Caesarea, feast day 17 August], or else to a person of that name, who was the famous Apostle or Bishop of the Orcades."[19] For the next century historians followed the suggestion that the church was dedicated to the Roman saint of Cæsarea.[20] The famous Danish archaeologist Professor Jens Jacob Asmussen Worsaae (1821–85) promoted the attribution to St Magnus of Orkney during his visit to the British Isles in 1846-7, when he was formulating the concept of the 'Viking Age',[21] and a history of London written in 1901 concluded that "the Danes, on their second invasion ... added at least two churches with Danish names, Olaf and Magnus".[22] A guide to the City Churches published in 1917 reverted to the view that St Magnus was dedicated to a martyr of the third century,[23] but the discovery of St Magnus of Orkney's relics in 1919 renewed interest in a Scandinavian patron and this connection was encouraged by the Rector who arrived in 1921

 

A metropolitan bishop of London attended the Council of Arles in 314, which indicates that there must have been a Christian community in Londinium by this date, and it has been suggested that a large aisled building excavated in 1993 near Tower Hill can be compared with the 4th-century Cathedral of St Tecla in Milan.[25] However, there is no archaeological evidence to suggest that any of the mediaeval churches in the City of London had a Roman foundation.[26] A grant from William I in 1067 to Westminster Abbey, which refers to the stone church of St Magnus near the bridge ("lapidee eccle sci magni prope pontem"), is generally accepted to be 12th century forgery,[27] and it is possible that a charter of confirmation in 1108-16 might also be a later fabrication.[28] Nonetheless, these manuscripts may preserve valid evidence of a date of foundation in the 11th century.

 

Archaeological evidence suggests that the area of the bridgehead was not occupied from the early 5th century until the early 10th century. Environmental evidence indicates that the area was waste ground during this period, colonised by elder and nettles. Following Alfred's decision to reoccupy the walled area of London in 886, new harbours were established at Queenhithe and Billingsgate. A bridge was in place by the early 11th century, a factor which would have encouraged the occupation of the bridgehead by craftsmen and traders.[30] A lane connecting Botolph's Wharf and Billingsgate to the rebuilt bridge may have developed by the mid-11th century. The waterfront at this time was a hive of activity, with the construction of embankments sloping down from the riverside wall to the river. Thames Street appeared in the second half of the 11th century immediately behind (north of) the old Roman riverside wall and in 1931 a piling from this was discovered during the excavation of the foundations of a nearby building. It now stands at the base of the church tower.[31] St Magnus was built to the south of Thames Street to serve the growing population of the bridgehead area[32] and was certainly in existence by 1128-33.[33]

The small ancient parish[34] extended about 110 yards along the waterfront either side of the old bridge, from 'Stepheneslane' (later Churchehawlane or Church Yard Alley) and 'Oystergate' (later called Water Lane or Gully Hole) on the West side to 'Retheresgate' (a southern extension of Pudding Lane) on the East side, and was centred on the crossroads formed by Fish Street Hill (originally Bridge Street, then New Fish Street) and Thames Street.[35] The mediaeval parish also included Drinkwater's Wharf (named after the owner, Thomas Drinkwater), which was located immediately West of the bridge, and Fish Wharf, which was to the South of the church. The latter was of considerable importance as the fishmongers had their shops on the wharf. The tenement was devised by Andrew Hunte to the Rector and Churchwardens in 1446.[36] The ancient parish was situated in the South East part of Bridge Ward, which had evolved in the 11th century between the embankments to either side of the bridge.[37]

In 1182 the Abbot of Westminster and the Prior of Bermondsey agreed that the advowson of St Magnus should be divided equally between them. Later in the 1180s, on their presentation, the Archdeacon of London inducted his nephew as parson.

 

Between the late Saxon period and 1209 there was a series of wooden bridges across the Thames, but in that year a stone bridge was completed.[39] The work was overseen by Peter de Colechurch, a priest and head of the Fraternity of the Brethren of London Bridge. The Church had from early times encouraged the building of bridges and this activity was so important it was perceived to be an act of piety - a commitment to God which should be supported by the giving of alms. London’s citizens made gifts of land and money "to God and the Bridge".[40] The Bridge House Estates became part of the City's jurisdiction in 1282.

 

Until 1831 the bridge was aligned with Fish Street Hill, so the main entrance into the City from the south passed the West door of St Magnus on the north bank of the river.[41] The bridge included a chapel dedicated to St Thomas Becket[42] for the use of pilgrims journeying to Canterbury Cathedral to visit his tomb.[43] The chapel and about two thirds of the bridge were in the parish of St Magnus. After some years of rivalry a dispute arose between the church and the chapel over the offerings given to the chapel by the pilgrims. The matter was resolved by the brethren of the chapel making an annual contribution to St Magnus.[44] At the Reformation the chapel was turned into a house and later a warehouse, the latter being demolished in 1757-58.

The church grew in importance. On 21 November 1234 a grant of land was made to the parson of St Magnus for the enlargement of the church.[45] The London eyre of 1244 recorded that in 1238 "A thief named William of Ewelme of the county of Buckingham fled to the church of St. Magnus the Martyr, London, and there acknowledged the theft and abjured the realm. He had no chattels."[46] Another entry recorded that "The City answers saying that the church of ... St. Magnus the Martyr ... which [is] situated on the king's highway ... ought to belong to the king and be in his gift".[47] The church presumably jutted into the road running to the bridge, as it did in later times.[48] In 1276 it was recorded that "the church of St. Magnus the Martyr is worth £15 yearly and Master Geoffrey de la Wade now holds it by the grant of the prior of Bermundeseie and the abbot of Westminster to whom King Henry conferred the advowson by his charter.

 

In 1274 "came King Edward and his wife [Eleanor] from the Holy Land and were crowned at Westminster on the Sunday next after the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady [15 August], being the Feast of Saint Magnus [19 August]; and the Conduit in Chepe ran all the day with red wine and white wine to drink, for all such as wished."[50] Stow records that "in the year 1293, for victory obtained by Edward I against the Scots, every citizen, according to their several trade, made their several show, but especially the fishmongers" whose solemn procession including a knight "representing St Magnus, because it was upon St Magnus' day".

An important religious guild, the Confraternity de Salve Regina, was in existence by 1343, having been founded by the "better sort of the Parish of St Magnus" to sing the anthem 'Salve Regina' every evening.[51] The Guild certificates of 1389 record that the Confraternity of Salve Regina and the guild of St Thomas the Martyr in the chapel on the bridge, whose members belonged to St Magnus parish, had determined to become one, to have the anthem of St Thomas after the Salve Regina and to devote their united resources to restoring and enlarging the church of St Magnus.[52] An Act of Parliament of 1437[53] provided that all incorporated fraternities and companies should register their charters and have their ordinances approved by the civic authorities.[54] Fear of enquiry into their privileges may have led established fraternities to seek a firm foundation for their rights. The letters patent of the fraternity of St Mary and St Thomas the Martyr of Salve Regina in St Magnus dated 26 May 1448 mention that the fraternity had petitioned for a charter on the grounds that the society was not duly founded.

 

In the mid-14th century the Pope was the Patron of the living and appointed five rectors to the benefice.[56]

Henry Yevele, the master mason whose work included the rebuilding of Westminster Hall and the naves of Westminster Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral, was a parishioner and rebuilt the chapel on London Bridge between 1384 and 1397. He served as a warden of London Bridge and was buried at St Magnus on his death in 1400. His monument was extant in John Stow's time, but was probably destroyed by the fire of 1666.[57]

Yevele, as the King’s Mason, was overseen by Geoffrey Chaucer in his capacity as the Clerk of the King's Works. In The General Prologue of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales the five guildsmen "were clothed alle in o lyveree Of a solempne and a greet fraternitee"[58] and may be thought of as belonging to the guild in the parish of St Magnus, or one like it.[59] Chaucer's family home was near to the bridge in Thames Street.

 

n 1417 a dispute arose concerning who should take the place of honour amongst the rectors in the City churches at the Whit Monday procession, a place that had been claimed from time to time by the rectors of St Peter Cornhill, St Magnus the Martyr and St Nicholas Cole Abbey. The Mayor and Aldermen decided that the Rector of St Peter Cornhill should take precedence.[61]

St Magnus Corner at the north end of London Bridge was an important meeting place in mediaeval London, where notices were exhibited, proclamations read out and wrongdoers punished.[62] As it was conveniently close to the River Thames, the church was chosen by the Bishop between the 15th and 17th centuries as a convenient venue for general meetings of the clergy in his diocese.[63] Dr John Young, Bishop of Callipolis (rector of St Magnus 1514-15) pronounced judgement on 16 December 1514 (with the Bishop of London and in the presence of Thomas More, then under-sheriff of London) in the heresy case concerning Richard Hunne.[64]

In pictures from the mid-16th century the old church looks very similar to the present-day St Giles without Cripplegate in the Barbican.[65] According to the martyrologist John Foxe, a woman was imprisoned in the 'cage' on London Bridge in April 1555 and told to "cool herself there" for refusing to pray at St Magnus for the recently deceased Pope Julius III.[66]

Simon Lowe, a Member of Parliament and Master of the Merchant Taylors' Company during the reign of Queen Mary and one of the jurors who acquitted Sir Nicholas Throckmorton in 1554, was a parishioner.[67] He was a mourner at the funeral of Maurice Griffith, Bishop of Rochester from 1554 to 1558 and Rector of St Magnus from 1537 to 1558, who was interred in the church on 30 November 1558 with much solemnity. In accordance with the Catholic church's desire to restore ecclesiastical pageantry in England, the funeral was a splendid affair, ending in a magnificent dinner.

 

Lowe was included in a return of recusants in the Diocese of Rochester in 1577,[69] but was buried at St Magnus on 6 February 1578.[70] Stow refers to his monument in the church. His eldest son, Timothy (died 1617), was knighted in 1603. His second son, Alderman Sir Thomas Lowe (1550–1623), was Master of the Haberdashers' Company on several occasions, Sheriff of London in 1595/96, Lord Mayor in 1604/05 and a Member of Parliament for London.[71] His youngest son, Blessed John Lowe (1553–1586), having originally been a Protestant minister, converted to Roman Catholicism, studied for the priesthood at Douay and Rome and returned to London as a missionary priest.[72] His absence had already been noted; a list of 1581 of "such persons of the Diocese of London as have any children ... beyond the seas" records "John Low son to Margaret Low of the Bridge, absent without licence four years". Having gained 500 converts to Catholicism between 1583 and 1586, he was arrested whilst walking with his mother near London Bridge, committed to The Clink and executed at Tyburn on 8 October 1586.[73] He was beatified in 1987 as one of the eighty-five martyrs of England and Wales.

 

Sir William Garrard, Master of the Haberdashers' Company, Alderman, Sheriff of London in 1553/53, Lord Mayor in 1555/56 and a Member of Parliament was born in the parish and buried at St Magnus in 1571.[74] Sir William Romney, merchant, philanthropist, Master of the Haberdashers' Company, Alderman for Bridge Within and Sheriff of London in 1603/04[75] was married at St Magnus in 1582. Ben Jonson is believed to have been married at St Magnus in 1594.[76]

The patronage of St Magnus, having previously been in the Abbots and Convents of Westminster and Bermondsey (who presented alternatively), fell to the Crown on the suppression of the monasteries. In 1553, Queen Mary, by letters patent, granted it to the Bishop of London and his successors.[77]

The church had a series of distinguished rectors in the second half of the 16th and first half of the 17th century, including Myles Coverdale (Rector 1564-66), John Young (Rector 1566-92), Theophilus Aylmer (Rector 1592-1625), (Archdeacon of London and son of John Aylmer), and Cornelius Burges (Rector 1626-41). Coverdale was buried in the chancel of St Bartholomew-by-the-Exchange, but when that church was pulled down in 1840 his remains were removed to St Magnus.[78]

On 5 November 1562 the churchwardens were ordered to break, or cause to be broken, in two parts all the altar stones in the church.[79] Coverdale, an anti-vestiarian, was Rector at the peak of the vestments controversy. In March 1566 Archbishop Parker caused great consternation among many clergy by his edicts prescribing what was to be worn and by his summoning the London clergy to Lambeth to require their compliance. Coverdale excused himself from attending.[80] Stow records that a non-conforming Scot who normally preached at St Magnus twice a day precipitated a fight on Palm Sunday 1566 at Little All Hallows in Thames Street with his preaching against vestments.[81] Coverdale's resignation from St Magnus in summer 1566 may have been associated with these events. Separatist congregations started to emerge after 1566 and the first such, who called themselves 'Puritans' or 'Unspottyd Lambs of the Lord', was discovered close to St Magnus at Plumbers' Hall in Thames Street on 19 June 1567.

 

St Magnus narrowly escaped destruction in 1633. A later edition of Stow's Survey records that "On the 13th day of February, between eleven and twelve at night, there happened in the house of one Briggs, a Needle-maker near St Magnus Church, at the North end of the Bridge, by the carelessness of a Maid-Servant setting a tub of hot sea-coal ashes under a pair of stairs, a sad and lamentable fire, which consumed all the buildings before eight of the clock the next morning, from the North end of the Bridge to the first vacancy on both sides, containing forty-two houses; water then being very scarce, the Thames being almost frozen over."[83] Susannah Chambers "by her last will & testament bearing date 28th December 1640 gave the sum of Twenty-two shillings and Sixpence Yearly for a Sermon to be preached on the 12th day of February in every Year within the Church of Saint Magnus in commemoration of God's merciful preservation of the said Church of Saint Magnus from Ruin, by the late and terrible Fire on London Bridge. Likewise Annually to the Poor the sum of 17/6."[84] The tradition of a "Fire Sermon" was revived on 12 February 2004, when the first preacher was the Rt Revd and Rt Hon Richard Chartres, Bishop of London.

 

Parliamentarian rule and the more Protestant ethos of the 1640s led to the removal or destruction of "superstitious" and "idolatrous" images and fittings. Glass painters such as Baptista Sutton, who had previously installed "Laudian innovations", found new employment by repairing and replacing these to meet increasingly strict Protestant standards. In January 1642 Sutton replaced 93 feet of glass at St Magnus and in June 1644 he was called back to take down the "painted imagery glass" and replace it.[86] In June 1641 "rail riots" broke out at a number of churches. This was a time of high tension following the trial and execution of the Earl of Strafford and rumours of army and popish plots were rife. The Protestation Oath, with its pledge to defend the true religion "against all Popery and popish innovation", triggered demands from parishioners for the removal of the rails as popish innovations which the Protestation had bound them to reform. The minister arranged a meeting between those for and against the pulling down of the rails, but was unsuccessful in reaching a compromise and it was feared that they would be demolished by force.[87] However, in 1663 the parish resumed Laudian practice and re-erected rails around its communion table.[88]

Joseph Caryl was incumbent from 1645 until his ejection in 1662. In 1663 he was reportedly living near London Bridge and preaching to an Independent congregation that met at various places in the City.[89]

During the Great Plague of 1665, the City authorities ordered fires to be kept burning night and day, in the hope that the air would be cleansed. Daniel Defoe's semi-fictictional, but highly realistic, work A Journal of the Plague Year records that one of these was "just by St Magnus Church"

 

Despite its escape in 1633, the church was one of the first buildings to be destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666.[91] St Magnus stood less than 300 yards from the bakehouse of Thomas Farriner in Pudding Lane where the fire started. Farriner, a former churchwarden of St Magnus, was buried in the middle aisle of the church on 11 December 1670, perhaps within a temporary structure erected for holding services.[92]

The parish engaged the master mason George Dowdeswell to start the work of rebuilding in 1668. The work was carried forward between 1671 and 1687 under the direction of Sir Christopher Wren, the body of the church being substantially complete by 1676.[93] At a cost of £9,579 19s 10d St Magnus was one of Wren's most expensive churches.[94] The church of St Margaret New Fish Street was not rebuilt after the fire and its parish was united to that of St Magnus.

 

The chancels of many of Wren’s city churches had chequered marble floors and the chancel of St Magnus is an example,[95] the parish agreeing after some debate to place the communion table on a marble ascent with steps[96] and to commission altar rails of Sussex wrought iron. The nave and aisles are paved with freestone flags. A steeple, closely modelled on one built between 1614 and 1624 by François d'Aguilon and Pieter Huyssens for the church of St Carolus Borromeus in Antwerp, was added between 1703 and 1706.[97] London's skyline was transformed by Wren's tall steeples and that of St Magnus is considered to be one his finest.[98]

The large clock projecting from the tower was a well-known landmark in the city as it hung over the roadway of Old London Bridge.[99] It was presented to the church in 1709 by Sir Charles Duncombe[100] (Alderman for the Ward of Bridge Within and, in 1708/09, Lord Mayor of London). Tradition says "that it was erected in consequence of a vow made by the donor, who, in the earlier part of his life, had once to wait a considerable time in a cart upon London Bridge, without being able to learn the hour, when he made a promise, that if he ever became successful in the world, he would give to that Church a public clock ... that all passengers might see the time of day."[101] The maker was Langley Bradley, a clockmaker in Fenchurch Street, who had worked for Wren on many other projects, including the clock for the new St Paul's Cathedral. The sword rest in the church, designed to hold the Lord Mayor's sword and mace when he attended divine service "in state", dates from 1708.

Duncombe and his benefactions to St Magnus feature prominently in Daniel Defoe's The True-Born Englishman, a biting satire on critics of William III that went through several editions from 1700 (the year in which Duncombe was elected Sheriff).

 

Shortly before his death in 1711, Duncombe commissioned an organ for the church, the first to have a swell-box, by Abraham Jordan (father and son).[103] The Spectator announced that "Whereas Mr Abraham Jordan, senior and junior, have, with their own hands, joinery excepted, made and erected a very large organ in St Magnus' Church, at the foot of London Bridge, consisting of four sets of keys, one of which is adapted to the art of emitting sounds by swelling notes, which never was in any organ before; this instrument will be publicly opened on Sunday next [14 February 1712], the performance by Mr John Robinson. The above-said Abraham Jordan gives notice to all masters and performers, that he will attend every day next week at the said Church, to accommodate all those gentlemen who shall have a curiosity to hear it".[104]

The organ case, which remains in its original state, is looked upon as one of the finest existing examples of the Grinling Gibbons's school of wood carving.[105] The first organist of St Magnus was John Robinson (1682–1762), who served in that role for fifty years and in addition as organist of Westminster Abbey from 1727. Other organists have included the blind organist George Warne (1792–1868, organist 1820-26 until his appointment to the Temple Church), James Coward (1824–80, organist 1868-80 who was also organist to the Crystal Palace and renowned for his powers of improvisation) and George Frederick Smith FRCO (1856–1918, organist 1880-1918 and Professor of Music at the Guildhall School of Music).[106] The organ has been restored several times - in 1760, 1782, 1804, 1855, 1861, 1879, 1891, 1924, 1949 after wartime damage and 1997 - since it was first built.[107] Sir Peter Maxwell Davies was one of several patrons of the organ appeal in the mid-1990s[108] and John Scott gave an inaugural recital on 20 May 1998 following the completion of that restoration.[109] The instrument has an Historic Organ Certificate and full details are recorded in the National Pipe Organ Register.[110]

The hymn tune "St Magnus", usually sung at Ascensiontide to the text "The head that once was crowned with thorns", was written by Jeremiah Clarke in 1701 and named for the church.

 

Canaletto drew St Magnus and old London Bridge as they appeared in the late 1740s.[112] Between 1756 and 1762, under the London Bridge Improvement Act of 1756 (c. 40), the Corporation of London demolished the buildings on London Bridge to widen the roadway, ease traffic congestion and improve safety for pedestrians.[113] The churchwardens’ accounts of St Magnus list many payments to those injured on the Bridge and record that in 1752 a man was crushed to death between two carts.[114] After the House of Commons had resolved upon the alteration of London Bridge, the Rev Robert Gibson, Rector of St Magnus, applied to the House for relief; stating that 48l. 6s. 2d. per annum, part of his salary of 170l. per annum, was assessed upon houses on London Bridge; which he should utterly lose by their removal unless a clause in the bill about to be passed should provide a remedy.[115] Accordingly, Sections 18 and 19 of 1756 Act provided that the relevant amounts of tithe and poor rate should be a charge on the Bridge House Estates.[116]

A serious fire broke out on 18 April 1760 in an oil shop at the south east corner of the church, which consumed most of the church roof and did considerable damage to the fabric. The fire burnt warehouses to the south of the church and a number of houses on the northern end of London Bridge.

 

As part of the bridge improvements, overseen by the architect Sir Robert Taylor, a new pedestrian walkway was built along the eastern side of the bridge. With the other buildings gone St Magnus blocked the new walkway.[117] As a consequence it was necessary in 1762 to 1763 to remove the vestry rooms at the West end of the church and open up the side arches of the tower so that people could pass underneath the tower.[118] The tower’s lower storey thus became an external porch. Internally a lobby was created at the West end under the organ gallery and a screen with fine octagonal glazing inserted. A new Vestry was built to the South of the church.[119] The Act also provided that the land taken from the church for the widening was "to be considered ... as part of the cemetery of the said church ... but if the pavement thereof be broken up on account of the burying of any persons, the same shall be ... made good ... by the churchwardens"

 

Soldiers were stationed in the Vestry House of St Magnus during the Gordon Riots in June 1780.[121]

By 1782 the noise level from the activities of Billingsgate Fish Market had become unbearable and the large windows on the north side of the church were blocked up leaving only circular windows high up in the wall.[122] At some point between the 1760s and 1814 the present clerestory was constructed with its oval windows and fluted and coffered plasterwork.[123] J. M. W. Turner painted the church in the mid-1790s.[124]

The rector of St Magnus between 1792 and 1808, following the death of Robert Gibson on 28 July 1791,[125] was Thomas Rennell FRS. Rennell was President of Sion College in 1806/07. There is a monument to Thomas Leigh (Rector 1808-48 and President of Sion College 1829/30,[126] at St Peter's Church, Goldhanger in Essex.[127] Richard Hazard (1761–1837) was connected with the church as sexton, parish clerk and ward beadle for nearly 50 years[128] and served as Master of the Parish Clerks' Company in 1831/32.[129]

In 1825 the church was "repaired and beautified at a very considerable expense. During the reparation the east window, which had been closed, was restored, and the interior of the fabric conformed to the state in which it was left by its great architect, Sir Christopher Wren. The magnificent organ ... was taken down and rebuilt by Mr Parsons, and re-opened, with the church, on the 12th February, 1826".[130] Unfortunately, as a contemporary writer records, "On the night of the 31st of July, 1827, [the church's] safety was threatened by the great fire which consumed the adjacent warehouses, and it is perhaps owing to the strenuous and praiseworthy exertions of the firemen, that the structure exists at present. ... divine service was suspended and not resumed until the 20th January 1828. In the interval the church received such tasteful and elegant decorations, that it may now compete with any church in the metropolis.

 

In 1823 royal assent was given to ‘An Act for the Rebuilding of London Bridge’ and in 1825 John Garratt, Lord Mayor and Alderman of the Ward of Bridge Within, laid the first stone of the new London Bridge.[132] In 1831 Sir John Rennie’s new bridge was opened further upstream and the old bridge demolished. St Magnus ceased to be the gateway to London as it had been for over 600 years. Peter de Colechurch[133] had been buried in the crypt of the chapel on the bridge and his bones were unceremoniously dumped in the River Thames.[134] In 1921 two stones from Old London Bridge were discovered across the road from the church. They now stand in the churchyard.

Wren's church of St Michael Crooked Lane was demolished, the final service on Sunday 20 March 1831 having to be abandoned due to the effects of the building work. The Rector of St Michael preached a sermon the following Sunday at St Magnus lamenting the demolition of his church with its monuments and "the disturbance of the worship of his parishioners on the preceeding Sabbath".[135] The parish of St Michael Crooked Lane was united to that of St Magnus, which itself lost a burial ground in Church Yard Alley to the approach road for the new bridge.[136] However, in substitution it had restored to it the land taken for the widening of the old bridge in 1762 and was also given part of the approach lands to the east of the old bridge.[137] In 1838 the Committee for the London Bridge Approaches reported to Common Council that new burial grounds had been provided for the parishes of St Michael, Crooked Lane and St Magnus, London Bridge.

 

Depictions of St Magnus after the building of the new bridge, seen behind Fresh Wharf and the new London Bridge Wharf, include paintings by W. Fenoulhet in 1841 and by Charles Ginner in 1913.[139] This prospect was affected in 1924 by the building of Adelaide House to a design by John James Burnet,[140] The Times commenting that "the new ‘architectural Matterhorn’ ... conceals all but the tip of the church spire".[141] There was, however, an excellent view of the church for a few years between the demolition of Adelaide Buildings and the erection of its replacement.[142] Adelaide House is now listed.[143] Regis House, on the site of the abandoned King William Street terminus of the City & South London Railway (subsequently the Northern Line),[144] and the Steam Packet Inn, on the corner of Lower Thames Street and Fish Street Hill,[145] were developed in 1931.

 

By the early 1960s traffic congestion had become a problem[147] and Lower Thames Street was widened over the next decade[148] to form part of a significant new east-west transport artery (the A3211).[149] The setting of the church was further affected by the construction of a new London Bridge between 1967 and 1973.[150] The New Fresh Wharf warehouse to the east of the church, built in 1939, was demolished in 1973-4 following the collapse of commercial traffic in the Pool of London[151] and, after an archaeological excavation,[152] St Magnus House was constructed on the site in 1978 to a design by R. Seifert & Partners.[153] This development now allows a clear view of the church from the east side.[154] The site to the south east of The Monument (between Fish Street Hill and Pudding Lane), formerly predominantly occupied by fish merchants,[155] was redeveloped as Centurion House and Gartmore (now Providian) House at the time of the closure of old Billingsgate Market in January 1982.[156] A comprehensive redevelopment of Centurion House began in October 2011 with completion planned in 2013.[157] Regis House, to the south west of The Monument, was redeveloped by Land Securities PLC in 1998.[158]

The vista from The Monument south to the River Thames, over the roof of St Magnus, is protected under the City of London Unitary Development Plan,[159] although the South bank of the river is now dominated by The Shard. Since 2004 the City of London Corporation has been exploring ways of enhancing the Riverside Walk to the south of St Magnus.[160] Work on a new staircase to connect London Bridge to the Riverside Walk is due to commence in March 2013.[161] The story of St Magnus's relationship with London Bridge and an interview with the rector featured in the television programme The Bridges That Built London with Dan Cruickshank, first broadcast on BBC Four on 14 June 2012.[162] The City Corporation's 'Fenchurch and Monument Area Enhancement Strategy' of August 2012 recommended ways of reconnecting St Magnus and the riverside to the area north of Lower Thames Street.

 

A lectureship at St Michael Crooked Lane, which was transferred to St Magnus in 1831, was endowed by the wills of Thomas and Susannah Townsend in 1789 and 1812 respectively.[164] The Revd Henry Robert Huckin, Headmaster of Repton School from 1874 to 1882, was appointed Townsend Lecturer at St Magnus in 1871.[165]

St Magnus narrowly escaped damage from a major fire in Lower Thames Street in October 1849.

 

During the second half of the 19th century the rectors were Alexander McCaul, DD (1799–1863, Rector 1850-63), who coined the term 'Judaeo Christian' in a letter dated 17 October 1821,[167] and his son Alexander Israel McCaul (1835–1899, curate 1859-63, rector 1863-99). The Revd Alexander McCaul Sr[168] was a Christian missionary to the Polish Jews, who (having declined an offer to become the first Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem)[169] was appointed professor of Hebrew and rabbinical literature at King's College, London in 1841. His daughter, Elizabeth Finn (1825–1921), a noted linguist, founded the Distressed Gentlefolk Aid Association (now known as Elizabeth Finn Care).[170]

In 1890 it was reported that the Bishop of London was to hold an inquiry as to the desirability of uniting the benefices of St George Botolph Lane and St Magnus. The expectation was a fusion of the two livings, the demolition of St George’s and the pensioning of "William Gladstone’s favourite Canon", Malcolm MacColl. Although services ceased there, St George’s was not demolished until 1904. The parish was then merged with St Mary at Hill rather than St Magnus.[171]

The patronage of the living was acquired in the late 19th century by Sir Henry Peek Bt. DL MP, Senior Partner of Peek Brothers & Co of 20 Eastcheap, the country's largest firm of wholesale tea brokers and dealers, and Chairman of the Commercial Union Assurance Co. Peek was a generous philanthropist who was instrumental in saving both Wimbledon Common and Burnham Beeches from development. His grandson, Sir Wilfred Peek Bt. DSO JP, presented a cousin, Richard Peek, as rector in 1904. Peek, an ardent Freemason, held the office of Grand Chaplain of England. The Times recorded that his memorial service in July 1920 "was of a semi-Masonic character, Mr Peek having been a prominent Freemason".[172] In June 1895 Peek had saved the life of a young French girl who jumped overboard from a ferry midway between Dinard and St Malo in Brittany and was awarded the bronze medal of the Royal Humane Society and the Gold Medal 1st Class of the Sociâetâe Nationale de Sauvetage de France.[173]

In November 1898 a memorial service was held at St Magnus for Sir Stuart Knill Bt. (1824–1898), head of the firm of John Knill and Co, wharfingers, and formerly Lord Mayor and Master of the Plumbers' Company.[174] This was the first such service for a Roman Catholic taken in an Anglican church.[175] Sir Stuart's son, Sir John Knill Bt. (1856-1934), also served as Alderman for the Ward of Bridge Within, Lord Mayor and Master of the Plumbers' Company.

 

Until 1922 the annual Fish Harvest Festival was celebrated at St Magnus.[176] The service moved in 1923 to St Dunstan in the East[177] and then to St Mary at Hill, but St Magnus retained close links with the local fish merchants until the closure of old Billingsgate Market. St Magnus, in the 1950s, was "buried in the stink of Billingsgate fish-market, against which incense was a welcome antidote".

 

A report in 1920 proposed the demolition of nineteen City churches, including St Magnus.[179] A general outcry from members of the public and parishioners alike prevented the execution of this plan.[180] The members of the City Livery Club passed a resolution that they regarded "with horror and indignation the proposed demolition of 19 City churches" and pledged the Club to do everything in its power to prevent such a catastrophe.[181] T. S. Eliot wrote that the threatened churches gave "to the business quarter of London a beauty which its hideous banks and commercial houses have not quite defaced. ... the least precious redeems some vulgar street ... The loss of these towers, to meet the eye down a grimy lane, and of these empty naves, to receive the solitary visitor at noon from the dust and tumult of Lombard Street, will be irreparable and unforgotten."[182] The London County Council published a report concluding that St Magnus was "one of the most beautiful of all Wren's works" and "certainly one of the churches which should not be demolished without specially good reasons and after very full consideration."[183] Due to the uncertainty about the church's future, the patron decided to defer action to fill the vacancy in the benefice and a curate-in-charge temporarily took responsibility for the parish.[184] However, on 23 April 1921 it was announced that the Revd Henry Joy Fynes-Clinton would be the new Rector. The Times concluded that the appointment, with the Bishop’s approval, meant that the proposed demolition would not be carried out.[185] Fr Fynes-Clinton was inducted on 31 May 1921.[186]

The rectory, built by Robert Smirke in 1833-5, was at 39 King William Street.[187] A decision was taken in 1909 to sell the property, the intention being to purchase a new rectory in the suburbs, but the sale fell through and at the time of the 1910 Land Tax Valuations the building was being let out to a number of tenants. The rectory was sold by the diocese on 30 May 1921 for £8,000 to Ridgways Limited, which owned the adjoining premises.[188] The Vestry House adjoining the south west of the church, replacing the one built in the 1760s, may also have been by Smirke. Part of the burial ground of St Michael Crooked Lane, located between Fish Street Hill and King William Street, survived as an open space until 1987 when it was compulsorily purchased to facilitate the extension of the Docklands Light Railway into the City.[189] The bodies were reburied at Brookwood Cemetery.

 

The interior of the church was restored by Martin Travers in 1924, in a neo-baroque style,[191] reflecting the Anglo-Catholic character of the congregation[192] following the appointment of Henry Joy Fynes-Clinton as Rector.[193] Fr Fynes, as he was often known, served as Rector of St Magnus from 31 May 1921 until his death on 4 December 1959 and substantially beautified the interior of the church.[194]

Fynes-Clinton held very strong Anglo-Catholic views, and proceeded to make St Magnus as much like a baroque Roman Catholic church as possible. However, "he was such a loveable character with an old-world courtesy which was irresistible, that it was difficult for anyone to be unpleasant to him, however much they might disapprove of his views".[195] He generally said the Roman Mass in Latin; and in personality was "grave, grand, well-connected and holy, with a laconic sense of humour".[196] To a Protestant who had come to see Coverdale's monument he is reported to have said "We have just had a service in the language out of which he translated the Bible".[197] The use of Latin in services was not, however, without grammatical danger. A response from his parishioners of "Ora pro nobis" after "Omnes sancti Angeli et Archangeli" in the Litany of the Saints would elicit a pause and the correction "No, Orate pro nobis."

 

In 1922 Fynes-Clinton refounded the Fraternity of Our Lady de Salve Regina.[198] The Fraternity's badge[199] is shown in the stained glass window at the east end of the north wall of the church above the reredos of the Lady Chapel altar. He also erected a statue of Our Lady of Walsingham and arranged pilgrimages to the Norfolk shrine, where he was one of the founding Guardians.[200] In 1928 the journal of the Catholic League reported that St Magnus had presented a votive candle to the Shrine at Walsingham "in token of our common Devotion and the mutual sympathy and prayers that are we hope a growing bond between the peaceful country shrine and the church in the heart of the hurrying City, from the Altar of which the Pilgrimages regularly start".[201]

Fynes-Clinton was General Secretary of the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches Union and its successor, the Anglican and Eastern Churches Association, from 1906 to 1920 and served as Secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury's Eastern Churches Committee from 1920 to around 1924. A Solemn Requiem was celebrated at St Magnus in September 1921 for the late King Peter of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.

At the midday service on 1 March 1922, J.A. Kensit, leader of the Protestant Truth Society, got up and protested against the form of worship.[202] The proposed changes to the church in 1924 led to a hearing in the Consistory Court of the Chancellor of the Diocese of London and an appeal to the Court of Arches.[203] Judgement was given by the latter Court in October 1924. The advowson was purchased in 1931, without the knowledge of the Rector and Parochial Church Council, by the evangelical Sir Charles King-Harman.[204] A number of such cases, including the purchase of the advowsons of Clapham and Hampstead Parish Churches by Sir Charles, led to the passage of the Benefices (Purchase of Rights of Patronage) Measure 1933.[205] This allowed the parishioners of St Magnus to purchase the advowson from Sir Charles King-Harman for £1,300 in 1934 and transfer it to the Patronage Board.

 

St Magnus was one of the churches that held special services before the opening of the second Anglo-Catholic Congress in 1923.[207] Fynes-Clinton[208] was the first incumbent to hold lunchtime services for City workers.[209] Pathé News filmed the Palm Sunday procession at St Magnus in 1935.[210] In The Towers of Trebizond, the novel by Rose Macauley published in 1956, Fr Chantry-Pigg's church is described as being several feet higher than St Mary’s Bourne Street and some inches above even St Magnus the Martyr.[211]

In July 1937 Fr Fynes-Clinton, with two members of his congregation, travelled to Kirkwall to be present at the 800th anniversary celebrations of St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall. During their stay they visited Egilsay and were shown the spot where St Magnus had been slain. Later Fr Fynes-Clinton was present at a service held at the roofless church of St Magnus on Egilsay, where he suggested to his host Mr Fryer, the minister of the Cathedral, that the congregations of Kirkwall and London should unite to erect a permanent stone memorial on the traditional site where Earl Magnus had been murdered. In 1938 a cairn was built of local stone on Egilsay. It stands 12 feet high and is 6 feet broad at its base. The memorial was dedicated on 7 September 1938 and a bronze inscription on the monument reads "erected by the Rector and Congregation of St Magnus the Martyr by London Bridge and the Minister and Congregation of St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall to commemorate the traditional spot where Earl Magnus was slain, AD circa 1116 and to commemorate the Octocentenary of St Magnus Cathedral 1937"

 

A bomb which fell on London Bridge in 1940 during the Blitz of World War II blew out all the windows and damaged the plasterwork and the roof of the north aisle.[213] However, the church was designated a Grade I listed building on 4 January 1950[214] and repaired in 1951, being re-opened for worship in June of that year by the Bishop of London, William Wand.[215] The architect was Laurence King.[216] Restoration and redecoration work has subsequently been carried out several times, including after a fire in the early hours of 4 November 1995.[217] Cleaning of the exterior stonework was completed in 2010.

 

Some minor changes were made to the parish boundary in 1954, including the transfer to St Magnus of an area between Fish Street Hill and Pudding Lane. The site of St Leonard Eastcheap, a church that was not rebuilt after the Great Fire, is therefore now in the parish of St Magnus despite being united to St Edmund the King.

Fr Fynes-Clinton marked the 50th anniversary of his priesthood in May 1952 with High Mass at St Magnus and lunch at Fishmongers' Hall.[218] On 20 September 1956 a solemn Mass was sung in St Magnus to commence the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the restoration of the Holy House at Walsingham in 1931. In the evening of that day a reception was held in the large chamber of Caxton Hall, when between three and four hundred guests assembled.[219]

Fr Fynes-Clinton was succeeded as rector in 1960 by Fr Colin Gill,[220] who remained as incumbent until his death in 1983.[221] Fr Gill was also closely connected with Walsingham and served as a Guardian between 1953 and 1983, including nine years as Master of the College of Guardians.[222] He celebrated the Mass at the first National Pilgrimage in 1959[223] and presided over the Jubilee celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the Shrine in 1981, having been present at the Holy House's opening.[224] A number of the congregation of St Stephen's Lewisham moved to St Magnus around 1960, following temporary changes in the form of worship there.

 

In 1994 the Templeman Commission proposed a radical restructuring of the churches in the City Deanery. St Magnus was identified as one of the 12 churches that would remain as either a parish or an 'active' church.[226] However, the proposals were dropped following a public outcry and the consecration of a new Bishop of London.

The parish priest since 2003 has been Fr Philip Warner, who was previously priest-in-charge of St Mary's Church, Belgrade (Diocese in Europe) and Apokrisiarios for the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Serbian Orthodox Church. Since January 2004 there has been an annual Blessing of the Thames, with the congregations of St Magnus and Southwark Cathedral meeting in the middle of London Bridge.[227] On Sunday 3 July 2011, in anticipation of the feast of the translation of St Thomas Becket (7 July), a procession from St Magnus brought a relic of the saint to the middle of the bridge.[228]

David Pearson specially composed two new pieces, a communion anthem A Mhànais mo rùin (O Magnus of my love) and a hymn to St Magnus Nobilis, humilis, for performance at the church on the feast of St Magnus the Martyr, 16 April 2012.[229] St Magnus's organist, John Eady, has won composition competitions for new choral works at St Paul's Cathedral (a setting of Veni Sancte Spiritus first performed on 27 May 2012) and at Lincoln Cathedral (a setting of the Matin responsory for Advent first performed on 30 November 2013).[230]

In addition to liturgical music of a high standard, St Magnus is the venue for a wide range of musical events. The Clemens non Papa Consort, founded in 2005, performs in collaboration with the production team Concert Bites as the church's resident ensemble.[231] The church is used by The Esterhazy Singers for rehearsals and some concerts.[232] The band Mishaped Pearls performed at the church on 17 December 2011.[233] St Magnus featured in the television programme Jools Holland: London Calling, first broadcast on BBC2 on 9 June 2012.[234] The Platinum Consort made a promotional film at St Magnus for the release of their debut album In the Dark on 2 July 2012.[235]

The Friends of the City Churches had their office in the Vestry House of St Magnus until 2013.

 

Martin Travers modified the high altar reredos, adding paintings of Moses and Aaron and the Ten Commandments between the existing Corinthian columns and reconstructing the upper storey. Above the reredos Travers added a painted and gilded rood.[237] In the centre of the reredos there is a carved gilded pelican (an early Christian symbol of self-sacrifice) and a roundel with Baroque-style angels. The glazed east window, which can be seen in an early photograph of the church, appears to have been filled in at this time. A new altar with console tables was installed and the communion rails moved outwards to extend the size of the sanctuary. Two old door frames were used to construct side chapels and placed at an angle across the north-east and south-east corners of the church. One, the Lady Chapel, was dedicated to the Rector's parents in 1925 and the other was dedicated to Christ the King. Originally, a baroque aumbry was used for Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament, but later a tabernacle was installed on the Lady Chapel altar and the aumbry was used to house a relic of the True Cross.

The interior was made to look more European by the removal of the old box pews and the installation of new pews with cut-down ends. Two new columns were inserted in the nave to make the lines regular. The Wren-period pulpit by the joiner William Grey[238] was opened up and provided with a soundboard and crucifix. Travers also designed the statue of St Magnus of Orkney, which stands in the south aisle, and the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham.[239]

On the north wall there is a Russian Orthodox icon, painted in 1908. The modern stations of the cross in honey-coloured Japanese oak are the work of Robert Randall and Ashley Sands.[240] One of the windows in the north wall dates from 1671 and came from Plumbers' Hall in Chequer Yard, Bush Lane, which was demolished in 1863 to make way for Cannon Street Railway Station.[241] A fireplace from the Hall was re-erected in the Vestry House. The other windows on the north side are by Alfred Wilkinson and date from 1952 to 1960. These show the arms of the Plumbers’, Fishmongers’ and Coopers’ Companies together with those of William Wand when Bishop of London and Geoffrey Fisher when Archbishop of Canterbury and (as noted above) the badge of the Fraternity of Our Lady de Salve Regina.

The stained glass windows in the south wall, which are by Lawrence Lee and date from 1949 to 1955, represent lost churches associated with the parish: St Magnus and his ruined church of Egilsay, St Margaret of Antioch with her lost church in New Fish Street (where the Monument to the Great Fire now stands), St Michael with his lost church of Crooked Lane (demolished to make way for the present King William Street) and St Thomas Becket with his chapel on Old London Bridge.[242]

The church possesses a fine model of Old London Bridge. One of the tiny figures on the bridge appears out of place in the mediaeval setting, wearing a policeman's uniform. This is a representation of the model-maker, David T. Aggett, who is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Plumbers and was formerly in the police service.[243]

The Mischiefs by Fire Act 1708 and the Fires Prevention (Metropolis) Act 1774 placed a requirement on every parish to keep equipment to fight fires. The church owns two historic fire engines that belonged to the parish of St Michael, Crooked Lane.[244] One of these is in storage at the Museum of London. The whereabouts of the other, which was misappropriated and sold at auction in 2003, is currently unknown.

In 1896 many bodies were disinterred from the crypt and reburied at the St Magnus's plot at Brookwood Cemetery, which remains the church's burial ground.

 

Prior to the Great Fire of 1666 the old tower had a ring of five bells, a small saints bell and a clock bell.[246] 47 cwt of bell metal was recovered[247] which suggests that the tenor was 13 or 14 cwt. The metal was used to cast three new bells, by William Eldridge of Chertsey in 1672,[248] with a further saints bell cast that year by Hodson.[249] In the absence of a tower, the tenor and saints bell were hung in a free standing timber structure, whilst the others remained unhung.[250]

A new tower was completed in 1704 and it is likely that these bells were transferred to it. However, the tenor became cracked in 1713 and it was decided to replace the bells with a new ring of eight.[251] The new bells, with a tenor of 21 cwt, were cast by Richard Phelps of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Between 1714 and 1718 (the exact date of which is unknown), the ring was increased to ten with the addition of two trebles given by two former ringing Societies, the Eastern Youths and the British Scholars.[252] The first peal was rung on 15 February 1724 of Grandsire Caters by the Society of College Youths. The second bell had to be recast in 1748 by Robert Catlin, and the tenor was recast in 1831 by Thomas Mears of Whitechapel,[253] just in time to ring for the opening of the new London Bridge. In 1843, the treble was said to be "worn out" and so was scrapped, together with the saints bell, while a new treble was cast by Thomas Mears.[254] A new clock bell was erected in the spire in 1846, provided by B R & J Moore, who had earlier purchased it from Thomas Mears.[255] This bell can still be seen in the tower from the street.

The 10 bells were removed for safe keeping in 1940 and stored in the churchyard. They were taken to Whitechapel Bell Foundry in 1951 whereupon it was discovered that four of them were cracked. After a long period of indecision, fuelled by lack of funds and interest, the bells were finally sold for scrap in 1976. The metal was used to cast many of the Bells of Congress that were then hung in the Old Post Office Tower in Washington, D.C.

A fund was set up on 19 September 2005, led by Dickon Love, a member of the Ancient Society of College Youths, with a view to installing a new ring of 12 bells in the tower in a new frame. This was the first of three new rings of bells he has installed in the City of London (the others being at St Dunstan-in-the-West and St James Garlickhythe). The money was raised and the bells were cast during 2008/9 by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. The tenor weighed 26cwt 3qtr 9 lbs (1360 kg) and the new bells were designed to be in the same key as the former ring of ten. They were consecrated by the Bishop of London on 3 March 2009 in the presence of the Lord Mayor[256] and the ringing dedicated on 26 October 2009 by the Archdeacon of London.[257] The bells are named (in order smallest to largest) Michael, Margaret, Thomas of Canterbury, Mary, Cedd, Edward the Confessor, Dunstan, John the Baptist, Erkenwald, Paul, Mellitus and Magnus.[258] The bells project is recorded by an inscription in the vestibule of the church.

 

The first peal on the twelve was rung on 29 November 2009 of Cambridge Surprise Maximus.[260] Notable other recent peals include a peal of Stedman Cinques on 16 April 2011 to mark the 400th anniversary of the granting of a Royal Charter to the Plumbers' Company,[261] a peal of Cambridge Surprise Royal on 28 June 2011 when the Fishmongers' Company gave a dinner for Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at their hall on the occasion of his 90th birthday[262] and a peal of Avon Delight Maximus on 24 July 2011 in solidarity with the people of Norway following the tragic massacre on Utoeya Island and in Oslo.[263] On the latter occasion the flag of the Orkney Islands was flown at half mast. In 2012 peals were rung during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on 3 June and during each of the three Olympic/Paralympic marathons, on 5 and 12 August and 9 September.

The BBC television programme, Still Ringing After All These Years: A Short History of Bells, broadcast on 14 December 2011, included an interview at St Magnus with the Tower Keeper, Dickon Love,[264] who was captain of the band that rang the "Royal Jubilee Bells" during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on 3 June 2012 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.[265] Prior to this, he taught John Barrowman to handle a bell at St Magnus for the BBC coverage.

The bells are currently rung every Sunday around 12:15 (following the service) by the Guild of St Magnus.

 

Every other June, newly elected wardens of the Fishmongers' Company, accompanied by the Court, proceed on foot from Fishmongers' Hall[267] to St Magnus for an election service.[268] St Magnus is also the Guild Church of The Plumbers' Company. Two former rectors have served as master of the company,[269] which holds all its services at the church.[270] On 12 April 2011 a service was held to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the granting of the company's Royal Charter at which the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd and Rt Hon Richard Chartres KCVO, gave the sermon and blessed the original Royal Charter. For many years the Cloker Service was held at St Magnus, attended by the Coopers' Company and Grocers' Company, at which the clerk of the Coopers' Company read the will of Henry Cloker dated 10 March 1573.[271]

St Magnus is also the ward church for the Ward of Bridge and Bridge Without, which elects one of the city's aldermen. Between 1550 and 1978 there were separate aldermen for Bridge Within and Bridge Without, the former ward being north of the river and the latter representing the City's area of control in Southwark. The Bridge Ward Club was founded in 1930 to "promote social activities and discussion of topics of local and general interest and also to exchange Ward and parochial information" and holds its annual carol service at St Magnus.

 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Magnus-the-Martyr

 

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, United States

 

A collaborative project of the Federal Public Works Administration and the newly established New York City Housing Authority, the Williamsburg Houses are notable as one of the earliest housing developments in the United States to reflect the ideas of the modern movement in architecture. In the 1920s Williamsburg was one of the most densely populated sections of Brooklyn and nearly six hundred, mostly frame, structures were demolished to create the 23.3 acre site. Proposed in 1934, this residential complex was skillfully designed by the Williamsburg Associated Architects during 1935 and most units were occupied by 1938.

 

The partnership included Richmond H. Shreve, of Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, the architects of the Empire State Building, and William Lescaze, the Swiss-born architect who helped introduce the “International” style on the eastern seaboard. Lescaze was responsible for the design, which includes twenty 4-story structures on four “super” blocks turned at 15 degree angles to the street grid. Oriented to the sun and prevailing winds, this unusual layout produced a series of large and small courts, many of which flow into a large public space at the center of each block. A light-colored palette distinguishes the facades, executed in tan brick and exposed concrete.

 

Among the most prominent features are the entrances, marked by blue tile and projecting stainless steel canopies, and the handsome streamlined storefronts. The complex was widely discussed by contemporary critics and more than 25,000 New Yorkers applied for 1,622 apartments. During the mid-1990s, the buildings underwent an extensive restoration which included the replacement of all exterior materials. Sponsored by the Housing Authority, in consultation with the Landmarks Preservation Commission, these alterations were remarkably sensitive and in the 4th edition of the AIA Guide to New York City the “revivified” complex was called “the best public housing project ever built in New York.”

 

DESCRIPTION AND ANALYSIS

 

Housing the Masses

 

From the rowhouse to the apartment building, New York City has been a laboratory for innovative housing. Beginning after the Civil War, apartments, variously known as French Flats and tenements, were built to house the city’s surging population. Immigrants, for the most part, crowded into unregulated tenements, structures that maximized profits for developers while providing few amenities that we take for granted today, such as light, air, and private bathrooms.

 

Despite government efforts to legislate minimum standards in 1867 and 1879, initially private individuals took the most significant steps to make decent housing affordable to all. Several pioneering examples were located close to the Brooklyn waterfront, including the Home and Tower Buildings , the Astral Apartments and Riverside . The later complex surrounded a large tree-shaded courtyard incorporating a music pavilion and areas for drying laundry. Despite these, and a few innovative Manhattan developments, the majority of New Yorkers continued to live in substandard conditions.

 

The passage of the New Tenement Law in 1901 improved the situation, requiring that multiple dwellings be built on significantly larger lots, with fire escapes and separate “privies” for each family. After World War I, the garden apartment came into vogue. While most were built for the middle class, especially in Jackson Heights, a significant group were sponsored by unions and cooperative organizations that wished to provide members with inexpensive apartments. Significant examples include the Amalgamated Houses on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and the “Coops” built in the Bronx by the United Workers Cooperative Association .

 

The first significant act of government intervention occurred in 1926 with the passage of the New York State Housing Law. Promoted by Governor Alfred E. Smith to encourage construction through the formation of local authorities that would sell bonds or seek federal funds, it had little impact until 1934 when the New York City Housing Authority was established. The authority’s first project, aptly called the First Houses , was located in Manhattan’s East Village. Begun as a rehabilitation program involving the demolition of every third structure, due to structural problems the eight brick buildings were entirely rebuilt.

 

Throughout the early Depression, government-subsidized housing remained a controversial issue. Consequently, it was first promoted as worker relief, organized to create jobs but not compete with the commercial market. The first federal agency to involve itself with housing was the Reconstruction Finance Corporation which was created in 1932 to provide low-interest loans to limited-dividend housing corporations. Of the two loans it made, one was toward the construction of Knickerbocker Village . Built for the Fred F. French Company, this Chinatown-area development consists of two 12-story buildings, both enclosing an interior courtyard.

 

In mid-1933, as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, the Housing Division of the Public Works Administration was established. What made this agency different from its predecessor, the RFC, was that it would be directly involved in the planning and construction of low-income housing. The program was a great success and over the next three and half years it collaborated on the design and construction of 51 projects in 36 cities, including the Harlem River Houses and the Williamsburg Houses.

 

The passage of the Wagner-Steagall Bill by the United States Congress in September 1937, strengthened the federal government’s commitment to housing, but shifted greater control to local authorities. The first New York City housing project to be financed under this program was the Red Hook Houses in Brooklyn. Future construction, which would amount to more than half a million low-rental units nationwide by 1957, would be funded primarily through low-interest loans.

 

Site

 

The Williamsburg Houses are located in northwestern Brooklyn, approximately one mile east of the Williamsburg Bridge and two blocks south of Grand Street, a lively commercial thoroughfare. Founded as part of the town of Bushwick in the mid17th century, Williamsburg was incorporated as a village in 1827. The community prospered and by 1852 it was the 20th largest city in the nation. Three years later, Williamsburg became part of Brooklyn and was commonly referred to as the Eastern District. Although ferry service was important to the area’s development, it was the planning and construction of a second East River crossing, the Williamsburg Bridge, that caused the most dramatic growth.

 

Proposed in 1883, the bridge was completed with much fanfare in 1903, serving pedestrians, bicycles and horse-drawn vehicles. In subsequent decades, Williamsburg rivaled the Lower East Side in population and density. The Brooklyn Eagle claimed in 1920 that the bridge was part of the busiest traffic center in the nation and that a single block north of it was the most crowded in the world. Conditions in the neighborhood continued to deteriorate throughout the decade, so much so that the population began to decline.

 

In October 1933, the Federal Works Administration established a slum clearance committee to study conditions throughout New York City. Richmond H. Shreve, who would later serve as chief architect of the Williamsburg Houses, was named director. Based on the committee’s recommendations, $25 million was set aside for a housing program in New York City. Under the direction of the NYCHA, a more comprehensive study was undertaken in 1934, focusing on fourteen neighborhoods, including Williamsburg. The PWA reported:

 

When the study was completed the blighted slum area of the Williamsburg section stood out as the best example where the most good could be done in wholesale clearance work.

 

Of 93 blocks studied, a grid of 12 was identified for redevelopment in Williamsburg. These blocks were chosen because property values were relatively low and the owners were willing to sell. Most of buildings were mixed-use, incorporating retail spaces at ground level and apartments above. Each lot was carefully documented: 90% of the structures were at least forty years old, 70% were built of wood, 78% had no central heating, and 67% had no private toilets. Such statistics were used to paint an extremely bleak picture of life there:

 

But the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, according to official surveys, is unique in that its slums bear the stamp of dull listlessness and despair . . . Laissez faire, exploitation, and land speculation have robbed the community of its natural potentialities for development and orderly urban life.

 

Public amenities were also in short supply; there were few schools and there were almost no parks.

 

Architects

 

Five architects were appointed to the NYCHA’s architectural board in May 1934: Richmond H. Shreve of Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, Matthew W. Del Gaudio , William Lescaze , Arthur C. Holden , and James F. Bly. As members of the board, their initial role was advisory. They would act as the authority’s chief architect, overseeing the design and construction of municipal housing citywide.

 

In June 1934 an open competition was held to choose the architects who would work on the Williamsburg Houses and other NYCHA projects. The program guidelines did not specify the location, but the grid chosen closely resembled the long blocks where the Williamsburg Houses would be built. Of 278 architects who participated, 5 of the 22 selected were assigned to the Brooklyn project: Samuel Gardstein, of Holmgren, Volz & Gardstein, G. Harmon Gurney , of Gurney & Clavan, John W. Ingle Jr., Paul Trapani , and Harry Leslie Walker .

 

In June 1935, a contract was signed with the Williamsburg Associated Architects. The partnership consisted of ten men: the five architects selected by jury, as well as the five members of the architectural board. Among them, Shreve had the most experience with large projects, having worked on a succession of major Manhattan skyscrapers, most notably, the Empire State Building .

 

A graduate of the College of Architecture at Cornell University , he began his career as a member of the school’s faculty and later joined the firm of Carrére & Hastings in New York City where he distinguished himself as having a “genius for the solution of operational and administrative problems.” Whereas prior to the Depression he mainly worked on office buildings, in his later years Shreve was associated with residential developments, most notably the Vladeck Houses on the Lower East Side, and Parkchester , a development with more than twelve thousand apartments in the Bronx. During the late 1930s, he also served as a member of the board of design for the New York World’s Fair.

 

Design

 

Of the three initial projects built by the NYCHA and the PWA, the Williamsburg Houses were the most innovative. Shreve appointed Lescaze as the chief designer, responsible for the plan and elevations. In the 1930s, he was at the height of his career, profiled in publications read by professionals and the layman. Born near Geneva, Switzerland, in 1896, he studied in Zurich with the architect Karl Moser in 1915-19 and for a brief period worked in Paris with Henri Sauvage, an important designer of apartment buildings. Lescaze moved to the United States in 1920 and after working in Cleveland and New York City, formed a partnership with George Howe, a Philadelphia architect, in 1929.

 

Their association lasted four years and produced one architectural masterpiece, the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society building, completed in 1932. During the mid-1930s, he was extremely active, working on unrealized plans for the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, as well as building three of the earliest modern-style townhouses in Manhattan, his own house and studio, completed in 1934, as well as the Raymond C. and Mildred Kramer and Edward and Dorothy Norman houses. He also designed, with Albert Frey, the Chrystie-Forsyth Houses. Planned in 1931, this unrealized proposal was included in the Museum of Modern Art’s so-called “International Style” exhibition of 1932.

 

One of the most unique aspects of the Williamsburg Houses is the plan. To create the 23.3 acre complex, twelve blocks were acquired by the city, and the two east-west streets were closed to traffic to create four “super” blocks. All but one extend three full blocks from north to south, except part of the block between Manhattan and Graham Avenues that was set aside for a new junior high school and play area.

 

The development of New York City was closely tied to its gridiron. Introduced in 1811, it resulted in a city of predictable intersecting streets and avenues. In 1835, a similar plan was approved for Brooklyn and by the early 1850s the streets that cross through the site of the Williamsburg Houses had opened.

 

Most were named for area residents, such as Daniel Maujer, a lawyer and alderman, John and James Lorimer Graham, land jobbers, and James Scholes, a local land owner. The impact of this approach is visible throughout New York City, establishing blocks and lots of equal size and dimensions. Residential developers benefitted immensely, commissioning rowhouse and tenement designs that could be repeated without regard to location.

 

By the end of the 19th century, there was relatively little open space in Manhattan and Brooklyn. As part of the City Beautiful movement, various attempts were made to loosen the grid’s hold, first through the passage of the Small Parks Act in 1887, which focused on tenement neighborhoods, and later, by situating major civic structures in plazas. Similar ideas shaped the development of garden apartments which came into vogue after 1910. One of the primary characteristics of this type of multiple dwelling was reduced site coverage.

 

In most cases, such as in the Jackson Heights Historic District, the buildings were set around the perimeter of each block, enclosing large private gardens, but in other situations, such as at the Harlem River Houses, a “crankshaft” arrangement was adopted, creating a mixture of interior and exterior courts.

 

Lescaze borrowed freely from both the garden apartment tradition and architects associated with European modernism. In his earliest design, each block incorporated six U-shaped structures arranged around a narrow central court. A later design was considerably more irregular. Turned at an angle to the street, there were fewer but larger buildings.

 

Many aspects of this proposal were integrated into the final design. The Williamsburg Houses are configured in three ways, with footprints suggesting a capital “H,” small “h,” and “T.” All have small spurs and extensions, resembling crossbars. By adding this feature the number of courtyards was significantly increased. Within each block are six buildings ; at the north and south are the “H” and “h” configurations, and in the middle, the “T”s.

 

The decision to turn the buildings at a 15 degree angle to the street grid proved controversial. PWA accounts described it in functional terms, explaining that the orientation would provide tenants with more sun and take advantage of the prevailing northwest breezes. During the previous decade, many architects and planners experimented with similar ideas. One of the earliest built examples “to deviate from the geometry of the New York gridiron” was the Mesa Verde apartments in Jackson Heights. Designed by Henry Atterbury Smith and based on an earlier proposal from 1917, the development featured two rows of six “closed L buildings” set at 45 degree angle to the surrounding streets.

 

Lescaze, however, was more likely to have been influenced by European sources. During the 1920s, he frequently returned to Europe, a period when leading architects were involved in the design of social housing. Many favored the “tower in the park” approach in which free-standing high-rise structures stood in continuous open space. Writing in English in 1935, Walter Gropius concluded that apartment blocks should “command a clear view of the sky, over broad expanses of grass and trees which separate the blocks and serve as playgrounds.”

 

Another source of inspiration might have been Ernst May who oversaw the design and construction of many low-rise housing estates in Frankfurt. In his Bruchfeldstrasse development of 1926-27, designed with C. K. Rudloff, one section was arranged in an overlapping zig-zag configuration. As in Williamsburg, each unit had corner windows, providing tenants with uninterrupted views of a central garden.

 

Many writers were skeptical about the benefits of Lescaze’s plan. Hamlin argued that the layout would convert the courts “into perfect channels for Project for a group of factories. our most vicious northwest winds.” He was told that

 

the arrangement had, in fact, been chosen for aesthetic reasons, to “break up the street facades” and “allow the feeling of space to weave in and out on the street fronts. This goal was definitely achieved, producing an environment that was new and distinctive. The flowing spaces that Lescaze planned are less monumental and more intimate than those experienced in most housing projects, juxtaposing wedge-shaped lawns with semi-enclosed courtyards and large open plazas. As originally built, no fences interrupted the spaces and the areas adjoining the curving concrete walks were paved with cobblestone.

 

The Elevations

 

Equally modern were the elevations. Lescaze was attracted to the expressive and aesthetic qualities of modern materials. Particularly unusual was the decision to use a light-colored palette. Built from reinforced concrete, the walls were originally enclosed with a sand-cast brick that was variously described by observers as bright tan, yellowish, pinkish, and grayish warm pink. One of the most notable features was the exposed concrete floor plates which express the structure and division between the floors while giving the complex a strong horizontal appearance. Talbot Hamlin observed:

 

The effectiveness of the buildings is undoubted. The striping of brick and concrete and the contrast of the light walls which front the stair towers make a vivid picture . . .

 

Prior to the mid-1930s, red brick was the most frequently used material in housing developments, used throughout Jackson Heights and in the First Houses and Harlem River Houses. The proposal to break with this tradition generated considerable debate. While the general scheme was approved in June 1935, it was not until October that specific materials were selected. Presumably, the PWA wished to standardize the building process and reduce costs. Frederick Ackerman, technical director of the NYCHA, defended Lescaze’s proposal. He wrote the authority’s chairman, Langdon W. Post:

 

. . . the “effect” of the Project will depend very largely upon the texture and quality of the exterior wall. Unless the exterior wall possesses a greater intrinsic interest than one made of common brick then the resultant effect is certain to be a bleak, barren and unusually forbidding mass of building:

 

One might readily mistake the At Williamsburg, the buildings stand as freestanding objects, finished on all sides and approachable from multiple directions. No facade dominates and the apartment entrances face both the streets and courtyards. For those unfamiliar with the layout, the angled plan may have been somewhat disorienting. To make it easier to navigate, signs were installed throughout the complex and Lescaze skillfully designed the entrances, making dramatic use of color and form. Like Le Corbusier, he was an “accomplished” painter and frequently used color, especially blue, to enliven wall surfaces. Another possible model was May’s housing development at Praunheim where contrasting colors were used to give the projecting stair towers a distinctive appearance.

 

Within the courtyards are as many as five entrances. Each is sheltered by a small cantilevered aluminum marquee and is flanked by square blue terra-cotta tiles. The entrances that are located at the far end of the larger courtyards are set at a angle. In these instances, the tiles spread onto the adjoining walls and extend above the parapet to the stair bulkhead. Other tile treatments project slightly forward, or are recessed above the doors to the roof. An entrance is also located in the covered breezeway. Reached by a short flight of stairs connecting both the street and courtyard, the more public street facade had an asymmetrical character, incorporating projecting blue tiles to one side and a wide aluminum marquee.

 

Construction

 

To prepare the site for construction, 568 buildings were demolished on 349 lots and approximately 5,400 people were relocated. A 1935 report described the population as divided equally between American born, Italian born, and other nationalities. Most were semi-skilled workers, employed in manufacturing, or as clerks, truck drivers, and construction workers.

 

Demolition commenced in June 1935 as PWA supervisor Elizabeth Ross dug a crowbar into the facade of 197 Manhattan Avenue, near Ten Eyck Street. In the months that followed:

 

Steam shovels and picks played a tune to rival that of the pipes of the Pied Piper of Hamlin. From every dank basement and crumbling wall rats fled in droves. Backyards disgorged an assortment of rusted cans, trash, filth and litter that would have discouraged the most voracious goat.

 

Ground was broken on January 3, 1936. Following a brief ceremony in the rain, public officials addressed an audience of five hundred at Public School 196. During April 1936, the first foundations were poured at the southwest corner of Manhattan Avenue and Stagg Street. Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia was in attendance, followed by “a few hundred interested onlookers and an army of schoolboys.”

 

As the foundations neared completion, the PWA solicited bids for construction. Starrett Brothers & Eken was awarded the $7. 5 million contract for the first 18 buildings in October 1936. A subsequent contract, for construction of buildings No. 5 and 18, was signed in late April 1937.

 

Founded by Paul Starrett and William Aiken Starrett and Andrew J. Eken in 1922, the firm was responsible for such high-profile buildings as the New York Life Insurance Company Building , Bank of Manhattan Building , McGraw-Hill Building , and Empire State Building . The Starrett Brothers worked closely with Shreve on the Empire State Building and it is likely that this relationship helped secure the contract for the Williamsburg Houses. William Starrett acknowledged the importance and complexity of this issue when he said:

 

It is the hope of people who are discussing this problem that those same brains that put together the great skyscrapers . . . will turn toward this.

 

Starrett Brothers & Eken later built Parkchester , Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.

 

The cornerstone was laid in October 1936. It contained an aerial view of the site, a copy of the federal act creating the PWA, as well as an autographed copy of Jacob Riis’s timeless account of slum conditions, How the Other Half Lives, donated by his widow. Construction progressed rapidly, and aside from minor walk-outs by metalworkers and painters, the first six buildings were ready for occupancy with a year, in September

 

Publicity

 

The Williamsburg Houses was the largest and costliest project built by the PWA. With 1,622 apartments, it was more than twice the size of the Harlem River Houses. The approximate cost was $12.8 million. It was described by the PWA as part of “demonstration program” and numerous public events were held. In a letter to Post, Shreve stated:

 

As this project is the beginning of what, in a way, is a housing community experiment and as the public attitude toward housing will be largely controlled by the success or failure of such an experiment, it is of importance that every effort be made to make the first experiment successful.

 

In this context, how the project was perceived was of the utmost importance. Once the design had been approved, a scale model was built by the PWA and exhibited at banks in Brooklyn Heights and Williamsburg during late 1935 and 1936. This presentation was accompanied by a series of posters documenting the site, including photographs of earlier buildings and their demolition, as well as projected floor plans. The New York Times reported the model:

 

. . . throws into graphic relief the application of the new principle of multiple housing, providing more air, sunlight and recreational facilities and involving a departure from the solid-block construction.

 

The idea of using public funds to create low-income housing was relatively new and much of the language used in speeches and press releases heralded it as a major advance. At the site, signs were posted, calling Williamsburg the “Largest Low Rental Development in the USA.” At the ground-breaking, public officials evoked the memory of Alfred T. White, whose Brooklyn developments were among the first attempts to improve low-income housing in the nation.

 

Mayor LaGuardia thanked the President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, for his support, as did Harold L. Ickes, Secretary of the Interior, who described slums as a “vicious project of that old order whose passing, we hope, is at hand.” While some critics equated the federal housing program with socialism, most speakers saw it as a defense of democracy.

 

In November 1935, Post had contacted the PWA, requesting that the complex be called the “Ten Eyck” Houses. No explanation was given, but it is likely that the request was made to distinguish the new development from the larger surrounding neighborhood.

 

Ten Eyck Street was one of two east-west streets closed to create the site and it was probably named for the Dutch family whose Brooklyn lineage extended back to at least the 18th century. In the immediate area also lived William Ten Eyck, who during the mid-19th century served as the deacon of the Reformed Church of South Bushwick . Post’s request was quickly approved. The new name, however, was not widely used and a 1938 PWA publication refers to the development as the Williamsburg Houses.

 

On October 28, 1936, the construction site was briefly visited by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt. According to the New York Times, ten thousand school children and five thousand adults “cheered the President’s passage through the streets bordering the housing project.”

 

Three “model” apartments were opened for public view in July through August 1937. Furnished with loans from various Brooklyn department stores, they were presented at 180 Maujer Street. Post was an early visitor and he described the apartments as a “demonstration of what can be done, this is the most valuable contribution to social progress that the New Deal has made.” An average of 1,200 persons a day visited. In September 1937, a second group of apartments opened at 176 Maujer Street, including one decorated entirely with “reconditioned furniture.” In a related development, during April and May 1938, the WPA created an exhibit in a storefront office at 212 Graham Avenue. Organized by William Friedman of the art teaching division, the display was changed periodically to demonstrate different apartment layouts and decoration. Nine experts spent five months preparing the exhibit, hoping that it would influence local residents and provide a model for future public housing developments. A music branch, at 176 Maujer Street, also provided lessons in theory, voice, and various instruments.

 

Tenants

 

According to the Brooklyn Eagle, the Williamsburg Houses were “one of the most perfect home sites in the word . . . an eagerly sought spot to live.” Income and need formed the basis of selection and no tenant could earn more than five times the annual rent. Preference was also given to former residents of the site.

 

The first tenants began to occupy their apartments on September 30, 1937. The New York Times devoted at least two articles to “Moving Day,” as did the Brooklyn Eagle. As part of the operation, each tenant’s belongings were moved to a fumigation plant for sterilization near the intersection of Bushwick Avenue at Scholes Street.

 

This procedure was described as a “wise precaution against the spread of disease.” Bessie and Louis Grabkowitz were recognized by the NYCHA as the first official tenants. A week’s rent, of less than seven dollars, was paid and they were given keys to their new apartment. Two to five rooms in size, units featured steam heat, hot and cold water, as well as electric stoves and refrigerators. Residents praised their new homes, commenting on the appliances and abundant sunlight.

 

By the end of 1937, most apartments were occupied. A community newspaper, the Projector, began publishing on a semi-monthly basis in December 1937. In April 1938, the complex was completed. In addition to the twenty residential buildings, there were retail spaces, facing the north-south streets. The PWA reported:

 

To insure efficient, sanitary commercial services, 49 stores and shops within the project, distributing drugs, groceries, appliances, and general merchandise, have been leased to private individuals.

 

The storefronts were executed in a sleek Moderne style. To the north and south, they curved away from the street, recalling the streamlined designs of Erich Mendelsohn, as well as J. J. P. Oud’s Kiefhoek development of 1925. The prominent metal parapets were blue, matching the color of the apartment entrances. Despite their polished design, a significant number failed to attract and retain tenants. Consequently, in 1945 ten unleased spaces, near the corners of Maujer and Leonard Streets, and Scholes Street and Bushwick Avenue, were converted to apartments.

 

Tenants enjoyed a variety of useful services. At the center of the complex, on Graham Avenue stood the stripped classical-style William J. Gaynor Junior High School , and opposite it, Building No. 11 housed a nursery school. Incorporated into the building’s south court and featuring a large play terrace, Hamlin described its glass-fronted design as “pleasant” and “delightful.” In addition, a new Moderne-style health center was built directly across from the complex, on Maujer Street.

 

Throughout the development were “social and craft rooms.” These basement spaces were originally used for classes, clubs, and meetings and many were decorated with large colorful murals. In contrast to the majority of WPA murals that were executed in style of social realism, the Williamsburg murals were non-objective. Lescaze favored “abstract and stimulating patterns” and Burgoyne Diller who headed the Federal Art Project, wrote that:

 

The decision to place abstract murals in these rooms [of the Williamsburg Housing Project] was made because the areas were intended to provide a place of relaxation and entertainment . . . The more arbitrary the color, possible when not determined by the description of objects, enables the artist to place an emphasis on its psychological potential to stimulate relaxation.

 

Of twelve murals commissioned, at least five were installed. In the early 1990s, the deteriorated canvases were restored and moved to the Brooklyn Museum of Art. They include works by the American painters Ilya Bolotowsky, Paul Kelpe, and Balcomb Greene.

  

Critical Reception

 

The opening of the Williamsburg Houses was treated as major news and writers used the event to analyze the project and express their own views about the role of public housing and the importance of modern architecture. Some of the earliest comments came from the architect Walter Gropius, former director of the Bauhaus in Germany. On a visit to New York City in April 1937 he was interviewed by H.I. Brock in the New York Times. They traveled together throughout the city, visiting both new skyscrapers and the nearly-complete Brooklyn development. Gropius was impressed and praised the unusual plan, saying that Lescaze:

 

. . . seems to have solved the problem of space and light very successfully and economically, and it has the great advantage of being spread over enough land to make it worthwhile as a sample of planned development.

 

Lewis Mumford was the first critic to publish a substantial review in February 1938. As a persistent advocate for public housing, he used the opportunity to evaluate the “outlines of the new order of building.” He praised the PWA for eschewing “overpriced building lots” and instead assembling large sites in quieter areas where streets could be closed to traffic to create gardens and playgrounds. Considerable attention was paid to the slanted orientation. Although he described it as “a bit queer,” he liked the way it separated the residences from the street and that it gave the appearance that the architects were concerned about providing tenants with ample sunlight.

 

Talbot Hamlin published the most-detailed analysis. In this review, he addressed both PWA projects, calling them “a new vision of democracy ... they are better than the most expensive apartments on Park Avenue.” Despite such praise, he expressed mixed feelings. While he found the buildings “fresh and inventive and alive,” he was disturbed by the “shockingly low” standards of construction. He also admired the “imaginative and carefully studied detailing,” but criticized the landscaping as little more than adequate. The WPA Guide to New York City, published in 1939, shared similar views, quoting Hamlin’s review, and praising the design of the individual buildings.

 

In the years since completion, the Williamsburg Houses have been a frequent subject for architectural historians. Many, starting with the Museum of Modern Art in 1939, have placed the development within the context of European modernism. In an exhibition celebrating the museum’s 10th anniversary and the opening of its new building, it was the only architectural work represented that was located in New York City. In a brief essay on housing, the curators highlighted the “triple-size superblocks,” that form an “oasis of open space,” but criticized the adjoining school building as a lost opportunity to create a “truly important work.” Photographs of the complex were also included in Forms and Functions of Twentieth-Century Architecture , in sections devoted to city planning and concrete construction.

 

G. Holmes Perkins wrote in the city planning section that despite faults, the complex “may be held up as patterns for tomorrow.” Richard Pommer, in one of the most insightful discussions of Depression-era housing in the United States, criticized the angled plan, calling Lescaze a “versatile pasticheur” who used visual effects without logic or relation to function. Robert A. M. Stern shared this view, writing in 1980 that it “seems overrated.” Richard Plunz, in A History of Housing in New York City, credited the project as the start of a “brief but intense struggle” to determine the aesthetic direction government-built housing would take. All four editions of the AIA Guide to New York City have praised the Williamsburg Houses. The 1968 edition called it a “very successful solution to the problem of low-rent subsidized housing,” and in 2000 “the best public housing project ever built in New York.”

 

Subsequent History

 

Conveyed by the federal government to the NYCHA in 1957, the Williamsburg Houses continue to serve their original purpose, housing more than three thousand New Yorkers. Major alterations were first proposed in 1980 and significant work took place during 1985-91. At this time, the original casement windows were replaced with bronze-colored aluminum sash and the blue terra cotta that surrounded the entrances, with tan “Morocco” glazed brick.

 

In a remarkable turnaround, during the mid1990s, the facades were restored. What began as continued maintenance, soon evolved into a major architectural project, requiring an outside contractor and consultation with the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Under the supervision of Neil Cohen of the NYCHA, the elevations were completely reskinned, the parapets replaced, as well as the chimneys, railings, and terra-cotta banding. In addition, new canopies, doors, lighting fixtures, and signage were fabricated.

 

The approximately $70 million project was executed with great sensitivity; there was an article in the real estate section of the New York Times and the NYCHA was the recipient of the Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award from the New York Landmarks Conservancy , which praised the participants for restoring the complex to “better-than-new condition.” Restoration of the storefronts, except along Bushwick Avenue, was completed in 2002.

 

The high standards set by the design of the Williamsburg Houses have rarely been matched. Innovative in terms of scale, plan, and aesthetics, it remains one of the most pleasant and architecturally-distinguished housing developments in New York City.

 

Description

 

There are twenty walk-up buildings in the 23.3acre Williamsburg complex and a total of 1,620 apartments. These buildings are numbered from 1 to 20 and each entrance has its own street address, for instance, “112 Maujer Street.” Stainless steel signs, with pin-mounted numbers and letters, identify each entrance.

 

The site extends four blocks east to west, from Bushwick Avenue to Leonard Street, and three blocks north to south, from Maujer to Scholes Streets. The principal north-south artery is Graham Avenue. Between Maujer and Scholes Streets, Ten Eyck Street and Stagg Street are closed to vehicles. These winding east-west paths are called Ten Eyck Walk and Stagg Walk. They are identified by large pin-mounted stainless steel letters attached to the building facades and are visible along the north-south streets. Throughout the complex are wall-mounted cantilevered lighting fixtures. These glass and aluminum fixtures are reproductions of the originals.

 

Three of the four blocks have a tree-shaded open space at center. At present, non-historic benches, play equipment, and basketball courts are located here. Most lawns are enclosed by low iron fences. Though not original, these fences pre-date the 1990s. Pole-mounted lighting fixtures are occasionally used to illuminate these areas.

 

All buildings materials are non-historic. Each structure is four stories tall and clad in ochre-colored brick. Exterior concrete spandrel beams are exposed at each floor. To disguise patches to the concrete, the beams are coated with a grey-colored water repellency finish. The entrances are flanked by blue structural glazed facing tiles that are approximately 12 by 12 inches. Blue mortar was used to minimize the joint lines. A canopy projects in front of each entrance . Made of stainless steel, they incorporate recessed down lights. Some canopies are supported by a single pipe column. The entrance doors and sidelights are made of stainless steel.

 

Each door has a grid of four small square windows. Breezeways serve a dual purpose: reached by two sets of stairs, they provide an additional north-south passage, as well as entry to apartments. Most of the stairs are flanked by stainless steel railings. The bronze anodized aluminum windows, installed in the 1980s, are all one-over-one. Arranged as single windows or in pairs, they have concrete sills and meet the concrete spandrels above. The smaller windows light the bathrooms. Single windows and pairs are located where the facades meet, often creating triple-width openings at the cantilevered corners.

 

There are three general building configurations. All are original to the complex. They include eight buildings with “H” shaped floor plans, six with floor plans that suggest a small letter “h,” and six buildings with “T” shaped floor plans. While the “H” and “h” types alternate along Maujer and Scholes Streets , the “T” shaped buildings are located only between Ten Eyck Walk and Stagg Walk.

 

The “H” buildings are nearly symmetrical, with almost identical north and south courtyards. At the center of each court is either a projecting center section or breezeway. The apartments are reached by four distinct entrances, each with a different tile treatment. They include: corner, wide, recessed between the door and the roof, and incorporated within a breezeway. Each entrance leads to interior stairs. The windows that light the stairs are arranged in horizontal grids of six and eight panes. Except for the recessed variant, the tiles project slightly and rise above the parapet to the stair bulkhead. The opposite side of the breezeway has no tilework. Reached by stairs, each breezeway incorporates two concrete columns and a metal door. The “h” buildings are similar to the “H” buildings, except one court is partially enclosed.

 

The “T” buildings have shallow courts. The top of the ‘T” has three entrances, each framed with blue tiles. A pair of entrances are also found facing each other in one of the side courts, and occasionally on the opposite side, as well. Building No. 11, located on the east side of Graham Avenue, is unique due to the presence of a nursery school at the wider south end. To accommodate this function, the entrances were moved and the court at the south end was enclosed. The south wall of school is clad with glass blocks, many of which are original. A concrete shed, at the center of the wall, is not historic and there are plans for removal. From the south facade extends a raised play area that is enclosed by a fence. Along the east side of the building, facing Graham Avenue, a non-historic ramp with metal railings has been constructed.

 

Commercial storefronts parallel the streets and adjoin the apartment buildings in various locations. The materials are non-historic, but the new elevations closely resemble the originals. The largest storefronts are located on either side of Graham Avenue, between Maujer Street and Ten Eyck Walk . Smaller retail spaces are located along Graham Avenue ; on Leonard Street ; and on Bushwick Avenue . They have a stream-lined character and curve away from the street at both ends. One story tall, they have granite bases and are clad with stainless steel and metal that has a baked-on blue porcelain finish. Above the storefronts runs the blue metal parapet, crowned by a stainless steel roof rail. Lighting was added above the storefronts, and security gates, when the stores are open, roll up and are neatly hidden within the facades. Large glass blocks or plate glass are used throughout. Along Bushwick Avenue, the modifications are less sympathetic and a vertical grid of older decorative concrete block occasionally interrupts the facade.

 

- From the 2003 NYCLPC Landmark Designation Report

Williamsburg, Brooklyn

 

A collaborative project of the Federal Public Works Administration and the newly established New York City Housing Authority, the Williamsburg Houses are notable as one of the earliest housing developments in the United States to reflect the ideas of the modern movement in architecture. In the 1920s Williamsburg was one of the most densely populated sections of Brooklyn and nearly six hundred, mostly frame, structures were demolished to create the 23.3 acre site. Proposed in 1934, this residential complex was skillfully designed by the Williamsburg Associated Architects during 1935 and most units were occupied by 1938.

 

The partnership included Richmond H. Shreve, of Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, the architects of the Empire State Building, and William Lescaze, the Swiss-born architect who helped introduce the “International” style on the eastern seaboard. Lescaze was responsible for the design, which includes twenty 4-story structures on four “super” blocks turned at 15 degree angles to the street grid. Oriented to the sun and prevailing winds, this unusual layout produced a series of large and small courts, many of which flow into a large public space at the center of each block. A light-colored palette distinguishes the facades, executed in tan brick and exposed concrete.

 

Among the most prominent features are the entrances, marked by blue tile and projecting stainless steel canopies, and the handsome streamlined storefronts. The complex was widely discussed by contemporary critics and more than 25,000 New Yorkers applied for 1,622 apartments. During the mid-1990s, the buildings underwent an extensive restoration which included the replacement of all exterior materials. Sponsored by the Housing Authority, in consultation with the Landmarks Preservation Commission, these alterations were remarkably sensitive and in the 4th edition of the AIA Guide to New York City the “revivified” complex was called “the best public housing project ever built in New York.”

 

DESCRIPTION AND ANALYSIS

 

Housing the Masses

 

From the rowhouse to the apartment building, New York City has been a laboratory for innovative housing. Beginning after the Civil War, apartments, variously known as French Flats and tenements, were built to house the city’s surging population. Immigrants, for the most part, crowded into unregulated tenements, structures that maximized profits for developers while providing few amenities that we take for granted today, such as light, air, and private bathrooms.

 

Despite government efforts to legislate minimum standards in 1867 and 1879, initially private individuals took the most significant steps to make decent housing affordable to all. Several pioneering examples were located close to the Brooklyn waterfront, including the Home and Tower Buildings (William Field and Son, 1876-78), the Astral Apartments (Lamb & Rich, 1885-87) and Riverside (William Field and Son, 1890). The later complex surrounded a large tree-shaded courtyard incorporating a music pavilion and areas for drying laundry. Despite these, and a few innovative Manhattan developments, the majority of New Yorkers continued to live in substandard conditions.

 

The passage of the New Tenement Law in 1901 improved the situation, requiring that multiple dwellings be built on significantly larger lots, with fire escapes and separate “privies” for each family. After World War I, the garden apartment came into vogue. While most were built for the middle class, especially in Jackson Heights, a significant group were sponsored by unions and cooperative organizations that wished to provide members with inexpensive apartments. Significant examples include the Amalgamated Houses (Springsteen & Goldhammer, 1930) on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and the “Coops” built in the Bronx by the United Workers Cooperative Association (Springsteen & Goldhammer, 1925-27; Herman Jessor, 1927-29).

 

The first significant act of government intervention occurred in 1926 with the passage of the New York State Housing Law. Promoted by Governor Alfred E. Smith to encourage construction through the formation of local authorities that would sell bonds or seek federal funds, it had little impact until 1934 when the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) was established. The authority’s first project, aptly called the First Houses (Frederick L. Ackerman, 1934-36), was located in Manhattan’s East Village. Begun as a rehabilitation program involving the demolition of every third structure, due to structural problems the eight brick buildings were entirely rebuilt.

 

Throughout the early Depression, government-subsidized housing remained a controversial issue. Consequently, it was first promoted as worker relief, organized to create jobs but not compete with the commercial market. The first federal agency to involve itself with housing was the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) which was created in 1932 to provide low-interest loans to limited-dividend housing corporations. Of the two loans it made, one was toward the construction of Knickerbocker Village (John S. Van Wart & Frederick L. Ackerman, 1933). Built for the Fred F. French Company, this Chinatown-area development consists of two 12-story buildings, both enclosing an interior courtyard.

 

In mid-1933, as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, the Housing Division of the Public Works Administration (PWA) was established. What made this agency different from its predecessor, the RFC, was that it would be directly involved in the planning and construction of low-income housing. The program was a great success and over the next three and half years it collaborated on the design and construction of 51 projects in 36 cities, including the Harlem River Houses and the Williamsburg Houses.

 

The passage of the Wagner-Steagall Bill (aka U.S. Housing Bill) by the United States Congress in September 1937, strengthened the federal government’s commitment to housing, but shifted greater control to local authorities. The first New York City housing project to be financed under this program was the Red Hook Houses (Electus Litchfied, chief designer, 1938-39) in Brooklyn. Future construction, which would amount to more than half a million low-rental units nationwide by 1957, would be funded primarily through low-interest loans.

 

Site

 

The Williamsburg Houses are located in northwestern Brooklyn, approximately one mile east of the Williamsburg Bridge and two blocks south of Grand Street, a lively commercial thoroughfare. Founded as part of the town of Bushwick in the mid17th century, Williamsburg was incorporated as a village in 1827. The community prospered and by 1852 it was the 20th largest city in the nation. Three years later, Williamsburg became part of Brooklyn and was commonly referred to as the Eastern District. Although ferry service was important to the area’s development, it was the planning and construction of a second East River crossing, the Williamsburg Bridge, that caused the most dramatic growth.

 

Proposed in 1883, the bridge was completed with much fanfare in 1903, serving pedestrians, bicycles and horse-drawn vehicles. In subsequent decades, Williamsburg rivaled the Lower East Side in population and density. The Brooklyn Eagle claimed in 1920 that the bridge was part of the busiest traffic center in the nation and that a single block north of it was the most crowded in the world. Conditions in the neighborhood continued to deteriorate throughout the decade, so much so that the population began to decline.

 

In October 1933, the Federal Works Administration (PWA) established a slum clearance committee to study conditions throughout New York City. Richmond H. Shreve, who would later serve as chief architect of the Williamsburg Houses, was named director. Based on the committee’s recommendations, $25 million was set aside for a housing program in New York City. Under the direction of the NYCHA, a more comprehensive study was undertaken in 1934, focusing on fourteen neighborhoods, including Williamsburg. The PWA reported:

 

When the study was completed the blighted slum area of the Williamsburg section stood out as the best example where the most good could be done in wholesale clearance work.

 

Of 93 blocks studied, a grid of 12 was identified for redevelopment in Williamsburg. These blocks were chosen because property values were relatively low and the owners were willing to sell. Most of buildings were mixed-use, incorporating retail spaces at ground level and apartments above. Each lot was carefully documented: 90% of the structures were at least forty years old, 70% were built of wood, 78% had no central heating, and 67% had no private toilets. Such statistics were used to paint an extremely bleak picture of life there:

 

But the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, according to official surveys, is unique in that its slums bear the stamp of dull listlessness and despair . . . Laissez faire, exploitation, and land speculation have robbed the community of its natural potentialities for development and orderly urban life.

 

Public amenities were also in short supply; there were few schools and there were almost no parks.

 

Architects

 

Five architects were appointed to the NYCHA’s architectural board in May 1934: Richmond H. Shreve (1877-1946) of Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, Matthew W. Del Gaudio (1889-1960), William Lescaze (1899-1969), Arthur C. Holden (18901993), and James F. Bly. As members of the board, their initial role was advisory. They would act as the authority’s chief architect, overseeing the design and construction of municipal housing citywide.

 

In June 1934 an open competition was held to choose the architects who would work on the Williamsburg Houses and other NYCHA projects. The program guidelines did not specify the location, but the grid chosen closely resembled the long blocks where the Williamsburg Houses would be built. Of 278 architects who participated, 5 of the 22 selected were assigned to the Brooklyn project: Samuel Gardstein, of Holmgren, Volz & Gardstein, G. Harmon Gurney (b. 1896), of Gurney & Clavan, John W. Ingle Jr., Paul Trapani (1887-1974), and Harry Leslie Walker (1877-1954).

 

In June 1935, a contract was signed with the Williamsburg Associated Architects. The partnership consisted of ten men: the five architects selected by jury, as well as the five members of the architectural board. Among them, Shreve had the most experience with large projects, having worked on a succession of major Manhattan skyscrapers, most notably, the Empire State Building (Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, 1931).

 

A graduate of the College of Architecture at Cornell University (1902), he began his career as a member of the school’s faculty and later joined the firm of Carrére & Hastings in New York City where he distinguished himself as having a “genius for the solution of operational and administrative problems.” Whereas prior to the Depression he mainly worked on office buildings, in his later years Shreve was associated with residential developments, most notably the Vladeck Houses (1940) on the Lower East Side, and Parkchester (1938-42), a development with more than twelve thousand apartments in the Bronx. During the late 1930s, he also served as a member of the board of design for the New York World’s Fair.

 

Design

 

Of the three initial projects built by the NYCHA and the PWA, the Williamsburg Houses were the most innovative. Shreve appointed Lescaze as the chief designer, responsible for the plan and elevations. In the 1930s, he was at the height of his career, profiled in publications read by professionals and the layman. Born near Geneva, Switzerland, in 1896, he studied in Zurich with the architect Karl Moser in 1915-19 and for a brief period worked in Paris with Henri Sauvage, an important designer of apartment buildings. Lescaze moved to the United States in 1920 and after working in Cleveland and New York City, formed a partnership with George Howe, a Philadelphia architect, in 1929.

 

Their association lasted four years and produced one architectural masterpiece, the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society building, completed in 1932. During the mid-1930s, he was extremely active, working on unrealized plans for the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, as well as building three of the earliest modern-style townhouses in Manhattan, his own house and studio, completed in 1934, as well as the Raymond C. and Mildred Kramer (1934-5) and Edward and Dorothy Norman (1940) houses. He also designed, with Albert Frey, the Chrystie-Forsyth Houses. Planned in 1931, this unrealized proposal was included in the Museum of Modern Art’s so-called “International Style” exhibition of 1932.

 

One of the most unique aspects of the Williamsburg Houses is the plan. To create the 23.3 acre complex, twelve blocks were acquired by the city, and the two east-west streets (Stagg and Ten Eyck) were closed to traffic to create four “super” blocks. All but one extend three full blocks from north to south, except part of the block between Manhattan and Graham Avenues that was set aside for a new junior high school and play area.

 

The development of New York City was closely tied to its gridiron. Introduced in 1811, it resulted in a city of predictable intersecting streets and avenues. In 1835, a similar plan was approved for Brooklyn and by the early 1850s the streets that cross through the site of the Williamsburg Houses had opened.

 

Most were named for area residents, such as Daniel Maujer, a lawyer and alderman, John and James Lorimer Graham, land jobbers, and James Scholes, a local land owner. The impact of this approach is visible throughout New York City, establishing blocks and lots of equal size and dimensions. Residential developers benefitted immensely, commissioning rowhouse and tenement designs that could be repeated without regard to location.

 

By the end of the 19th century, there was relatively little open space in Manhattan and Brooklyn. As part of the City Beautiful movement, various attempts were made to loosen the grid’s hold, first through the passage of the Small Parks Act in 1887, which focused on tenement neighborhoods, and later, by situating major civic structures in plazas. Similar ideas shaped the development of garden apartments which came into vogue after 1910. One of the primary characteristics of this type of multiple dwelling was reduced site coverage.

 

In most cases, such as in the Jackson Heights Historic District, the buildings were set around the perimeter of each block, enclosing large private gardens, but in other situations, such as at the Harlem River Houses, a “crankshaft” arrangement was adopted, creating a mixture of interior and exterior courts.

 

Lescaze borrowed freely from both the garden apartment tradition and architects associated with European modernism. In his earliest design, each block incorporated six U-shaped structures arranged around a narrow central court. A later design was considerably more irregular. Turned at an angle to the street, there were fewer but larger buildings.

 

Many aspects of this proposal were integrated into the final design. The Williamsburg Houses are configured in three ways, with footprints suggesting a capital “H,” small “h,” and “T.” All have small spurs and extensions, resembling crossbars. By adding this feature the number of courtyards was significantly increased. Within each block are six buildings (except north of the school); at the north and south are the “H” and “h” configurations, and in the middle, the “T”s.

 

The decision to turn the buildings at a 15 degree angle to the street grid proved controversial. PWA accounts described it in functional terms, explaining that the orientation would provide tenants with more sun and take advantage of the prevailing northwest breezes. During the previous decade, many architects and planners experimented with similar ideas. One of the earliest built examples “to deviate from the geometry of the New York gridiron” was the Mesa Verde apartments (1926) in Jackson Heights. Designed by Henry Atterbury Smith and based on an earlier proposal from 1917, the development featured two rows of six “closed L buildings” set at 45 degree angle to the surrounding streets.

 

Lescaze, however, was more likely to have been influenced by European sources. During the 1920s, he frequently returned to Europe, a period when leading architects were involved in the design of social housing. Many favored the “tower in the park” approach in which free-standing high-rise structures stood in continuous open space. Writing in English in 1935, Walter Gropius concluded that apartment blocks should “command a clear view of the sky, over broad expanses of grass and trees which separate the blocks and serve as playgrounds.”

 

Another source of inspiration might have been Ernst May who oversaw the design and construction of many low-rise housing estates in Frankfurt. In his Bruchfeldstrasse development of 1926-27, designed with C. K. Rudloff, one section was arranged in an overlapping zig-zag configuration. As in Williamsburg, each unit had corner windows, providing tenants with uninterrupted views of a central garden.

 

Many writers were skeptical about the benefits of Lescaze’s plan. Hamlin argued that the layout would convert the courts “into perfect channels for Project for a group of factories. our most vicious northwest winds.” He was told that

 

the arrangement had, in fact, been chosen for aesthetic reasons, to “break up the street facades” and “allow the feeling of space to weave in and out on the street fronts. This goal was definitely achieved, producing an environment that was new and distinctive. The flowing spaces that Lescaze planned are less monumental and more intimate than those experienced in most housing projects, juxtaposing wedge-shaped lawns with semi-enclosed courtyards and large open plazas. As originally built, no fences interrupted the spaces and the areas adjoining the curving concrete walks were paved with cobblestone.

 

The Elevations

 

Equally modern were the elevations. Lescaze was attracted to the expressive and aesthetic qualities of modern materials. Particularly unusual was the decision to use a light-colored palette. Built from reinforced concrete, the walls were originally enclosed with a sand-cast brick that was variously described by observers as bright tan, yellowish, pinkish, and grayish warm pink. One of the most notable features was the exposed concrete floor plates which express the structure and division between the floors while giving the complex a strong horizontal appearance. Talbot Hamlin observed:

 

The effectiveness of the buildings is undoubted. The striping of brick and concrete and the contrast of the light walls which front the stair towers make a vivid picture . . .

 

Prior to the mid-1930s, red brick was the most frequently used material in housing developments, used throughout Jackson Heights and in the First Houses and Harlem River Houses. The proposal to break with this tradition generated considerable debate. While the general scheme was approved in June 1935, it was not until October that specific materials were selected. Presumably, the PWA wished to standardize the building process and reduce costs. Frederick Ackerman, technical director of the NYCHA, defended Lescaze’s proposal. He wrote the authority’s chairman, Langdon W. Post:

 

. . . the “effect” of the Project will depend very largely upon the texture and quality of the exterior wall. Unless the exterior wall possesses a greater intrinsic interest than one made of common brick then the resultant effect is certain to be a bleak, barren and unusually forbidding mass of building:

 

One might readily mistake the At Williamsburg, the buildings stand as freestanding objects, finished on all sides and approachable from multiple directions. No facade dominates and the apartment entrances face both the streets and courtyards. For those unfamiliar with the layout, the angled plan may have been somewhat disorienting. To make it easier to navigate, signs were installed throughout the complex and Lescaze skillfully designed the entrances, making dramatic use of color and form. Like Le Corbusier, he was an “accomplished” painter and frequently used color, especially blue, to enliven wall surfaces. Another possible model was May’s housing development at Praunheim (1926-29) where contrasting colors were used to give the projecting stair towers a distinctive appearance.

 

Within the courtyards are as many as five entrances. Each is sheltered by a small cantilevered aluminum marquee and is flanked by square blue terra-cotta tiles. The entrances that are located at the far end of the larger courtyards are set at a angle. In these instances, the tiles spread onto the adjoining walls and extend above the parapet to the stair bulkhead. Other tile treatments project slightly forward, or are recessed above the doors to the roof. An entrance is also located in the covered breezeway. Reached by a short flight of stairs connecting both the street and courtyard, the more public street facade had an asymmetrical character, incorporating projecting blue tiles to one side and a wide aluminum marquee.

 

Construction

 

To prepare the site for construction, 568 buildings were demolished on 349 lots and approximately 5,400 people were relocated. A 1935 report described the population as divided equally between American born, Italian born, and other nationalities. Most were semi-skilled workers, employed in manufacturing, or as clerks, truck drivers, and construction workers.

 

Demolition commenced in June 1935 as PWA supervisor Elizabeth Ross dug a crowbar into the facade of 197 Manhattan Avenue, near Ten Eyck Street. In the months that followed:

 

Steam shovels and picks played a tune to rival that of the pipes of the Pied Piper of Hamlin. From every dank basement and crumbling wall rats fled in droves. Backyards disgorged an assortment of rusted cans, trash, filth and litter that would have discouraged the most voracious goat.

 

Ground was broken on January 3, 1936. Following a brief ceremony in the rain, public officials addressed an audience of five hundred at Public School 196. During April 1936, the first foundations were poured at the southwest corner of Manhattan Avenue and Stagg Street. Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia was in attendance, followed by “a few hundred interested onlookers and an army of schoolboys.”

 

As the foundations neared completion, the PWA solicited bids for construction. Starrett Brothers & Eken was awarded the $7. 5 million contract for the first 18 buildings in October 1936. A subsequent contract, for construction of buildings No. 5 and 18, was signed in late April 1937.

 

Founded by Paul Starrett (1866-1957) and William Aiken Starrett (1877-1932) and Andrew J. Eken (1882-1965) in 1922, the firm was responsible for such high-profile buildings as the New York Life Insurance Company Building (1925), Bank of Manhattan Building (1929-30), McGraw-Hill Building (1930-31), and Empire State Building (1930-31, all are designated New York City Landmarks). The Starrett Brothers worked closely with Shreve on the Empire State Building and it is likely that this relationship helped secure the contract for the Williamsburg Houses. William Starrett acknowledged the importance and complexity of this issue when he said:

 

It is the hope of people who are discussing this (slum) problem that those same brains that put together the great skyscrapers . . . will turn toward this.

 

Starrett Brothers & Eken later built Parkchester (Richmond H. Shreve, chairman of the board of design, 1938-42), Stuyvesant Town (Irwin Clavan and Gilmore Clarke, 1943-49) and Peter Cooper Village (Irwin Clavan and Gilmore D. Clarke, 1947) for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.

 

The cornerstone was laid in October 1936. It contained an aerial view of the site, a copy of the federal act creating the PWA, as well as an autographed copy of Jacob Riis’s timeless account of slum conditions, How the Other Half Lives, donated by his widow. Construction progressed rapidly, and aside from minor walk-outs by metalworkers and painters, the first six buildings were ready for occupancy with a year, in September

 

Publicity

 

The Williamsburg Houses was the largest and costliest project built by the PWA. With 1,622 apartments, it was more than twice the size of the Harlem River Houses. The approximate cost was $12.8 million. It was described by the PWA as part of “demonstration program” and numerous public events were held. In a letter to Post, Shreve stated:

 

As this project is the beginning of what, in a way, is a housing community experiment and as the public attitude toward housing will be largely controlled by the success or failure of such an experiment, it is of importance that every effort be made to make the first experiment successful.

 

In this context, how the project was perceived was of the utmost importance. Once the design had been approved, a scale model was built by the PWA and exhibited at banks in Brooklyn Heights and Williamsburg during late 1935 and 1936. This presentation was accompanied by a series of posters documenting the site, including photographs of earlier buildings and their demolition, as well as projected floor plans. The New York Times reported the model:

 

. . . throws into graphic relief the application of the new principle of multiple housing, providing more air, sunlight and recreational facilities and involving a departure from the solid-block construction.

 

The idea of using public funds to create low-income housing was relatively new and much of the language used in speeches and press releases heralded it as a major advance. At the site, signs were posted, calling Williamsburg the “Largest Low Rental Development in the USA.” At the ground-breaking, public officials evoked the memory of Alfred T. White, whose Brooklyn developments were among the first attempts to improve low-income housing in the nation.

 

Mayor LaGuardia thanked the President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, for his support, as did Harold L. Ickes, Secretary of the Interior, who described slums as a “vicious project of that old order whose passing, we hope, is at hand.” While some critics equated the federal housing program with socialism, most speakers saw it as a defense of democracy.

 

In November 1935, Post had contacted the PWA, requesting that the complex be called the “Ten Eyck” Houses. No explanation was given, but it is likely that the request was made to distinguish the new development from the larger surrounding neighborhood.

 

Ten Eyck Street was one of two east-west streets closed to create the site and it was probably named for the Dutch family whose Brooklyn lineage extended back to at least the 18th century. In the immediate area also lived William Ten Eyck, who during the mid-19th century served as the deacon of the Reformed Church of South Bushwick (1853, a designated New York City Landmark). Post’s request was quickly approved. The new name, however, was not widely used and a 1938 PWA publication refers to the development as the Williamsburg Houses.

 

On October 28, 1936, the construction site was briefly visited by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt. According to the New York Times, ten thousand school children and five thousand adults “cheered the President’s passage through the streets bordering the housing project.”

 

Three “model” apartments were opened for public view in July through August 1937. Furnished with loans from various Brooklyn department stores, they were presented at 180 Maujer Street. Post was an early visitor and he described the apartments as a “demonstration of what can be done, this is the most valuable contribution to social progress that the New Deal has made.” An average of 1,200 persons a day visited. In September 1937, a second group of apartments opened at 176 Maujer Street, including one decorated entirely with “reconditioned furniture.” In a related development, during April and May 1938, the WPA created an exhibit in a storefront office at 212 Graham Avenue. Organized by William Friedman of the art teaching division, the display was changed periodically to demonstrate different apartment layouts and decoration. Nine experts spent five months preparing the exhibit, hoping that it would influence local residents and provide a model for future public housing developments. A music branch, at 176 Maujer Street, also provided lessons in theory, voice, and various instruments.

 

Tenants

 

According to the Brooklyn Eagle, the Williamsburg Houses were “one of the most perfect home sites in the word . . . an eagerly sought spot to live.” Income and need formed the basis of selection and no tenant could earn more than five times the annual rent. Preference was also given to former residents of the site.

 

The first tenants began to occupy their apartments on September 30, 1937. The New York Times devoted at least two articles to “Moving Day,” as did the Brooklyn Eagle. As part of the operation, each tenant’s belongings were moved to a fumigation plant for sterilization near the intersection of Bushwick Avenue at Scholes Street.

 

This procedure was described as a “wise precaution against the spread of disease.” Bessie and Louis Grabkowitz were recognized by the NYCHA as the first official tenants. A week’s rent, of less than seven dollars, was paid and they were given keys to their new apartment. Two to five rooms in size, units featured steam heat, hot and cold water, as well as electric stoves and refrigerators. Residents praised their new homes, commenting on the appliances and abundant sunlight.

 

By the end of 1937, most apartments were occupied. A community newspaper, the Projector, began publishing on a semi-monthly basis in December 1937. In April 1938, the complex was completed. In addition to the twenty residential buildings, there were retail spaces, facing the north-south streets. The PWA reported:

 

To insure efficient, sanitary commercial services, 49 stores and shops within the project, distributing drugs, groceries, appliances, and general merchandise, have been leased to private individuals.

 

The storefronts were executed in a sleek Moderne style. To the north and south, they curved away from the street, recalling the streamlined designs of Erich Mendelsohn, as well as J. J. P. Oud’s Kiefhoek development of 1925. The prominent metal parapets were blue, matching the color of the apartment entrances. Despite their polished design, a significant number failed to attract and retain tenants. Consequently, in 1945 ten unleased spaces, near the corners of Maujer and Leonard Streets, and Scholes Street and Bushwick Avenue, were converted to apartments.

 

Tenants enjoyed a variety of useful services. At the center of the complex, on Graham Avenue stood the stripped classical-style William J. Gaynor Junior High School (1936-37), and opposite it, Building No. 11 housed a nursery school. Incorporated into the building’s south court and featuring a large play terrace, Hamlin described its glass-fronted design as “pleasant” and “delightful.” In addition, a new Moderne-style health center was built directly across from the complex, on Maujer Street.

 

Throughout the development were “social and craft rooms.” These basement spaces were originally used for classes, clubs, and meetings and many were decorated with large colorful murals. In contrast to the majority of WPA murals that were executed in style of social realism, the Williamsburg murals were non-objective. Lescaze favored “abstract and stimulating patterns” and Burgoyne Diller who headed the Federal Art Project, wrote that:

 

The decision to place abstract murals in these rooms [of the Williamsburg Housing Project] was made because the areas were intended to provide a place of relaxation and entertainment . . . The more arbitrary the color, possible when not determined by the description of objects, enables the artist to place an emphasis on its psychological potential to stimulate relaxation.

 

Of twelve murals commissioned, at least five were installed. In the early 1990s, the deteriorated canvases were restored and moved to the Brooklyn Museum of Art. They include works by the American painters Ilya Bolotowsky, Paul Kelpe, and Balcomb Greene.

  

Critical Reception

 

The opening of the Williamsburg Houses was treated as major news and writers used the event to analyze the project and express their own views about the role of public housing and the importance of modern architecture. Some of the earliest comments came from the architect Walter Gropius, former director of the Bauhaus in Germany. On a visit to New York City in April 1937 he was interviewed by H.I. Brock in the New York Times. They traveled together throughout the city, visiting both new skyscrapers and the nearly-complete Brooklyn development. Gropius was impressed and praised the unusual plan, saying that Lescaze:

 

. . . seems to have solved the problem of space and light very successfully and economically, and it has the great advantage of being spread over enough land to make it worthwhile as a sample of planned development.

 

Lewis Mumford was the first critic to publish a substantial review in February 1938. As a persistent advocate for public housing, he used the opportunity to evaluate the “outlines of the new order of building.” He praised the PWA for eschewing “overpriced building lots” and instead assembling large sites in quieter areas where streets could be closed to traffic to create gardens and playgrounds. Considerable attention was paid to the slanted orientation. Although he described it as “a bit queer,” he liked the way it separated the residences from the street and that it gave the appearance that the architects were concerned about providing tenants with ample sunlight.

 

Talbot Hamlin published the most-detailed analysis. In this review, he addressed both PWA projects, calling them “a new vision of democracy ... they are better than the most expensive apartments on Park Avenue.” Despite such praise, he expressed mixed feelings. While he found the buildings “fresh and inventive and alive,” he was disturbed by the “shockingly low” standards of construction. He also admired the “imaginative and carefully studied detailing,” but criticized the landscaping as little more than adequate. The WPA Guide to New York City, published in 1939, shared similar views, quoting Hamlin’s review, and praising the design of the individual buildings.

 

In the years since completion, the Williamsburg Houses have been a frequent subject for architectural historians. Many, starting with the Museum of Modern Art in 1939, have placed the development within the context of European modernism. In an exhibition celebrating the museum’s 10th anniversary and the opening of its new building, it was the only architectural work represented that was located in New York City. In a brief essay on housing, the curators highlighted the “triple-size superblocks,” that form an “oasis of open space,” but criticized the adjoining school building as a lost opportunity to create a “truly important work.” Photographs of the complex were also included in Forms and Functions of Twentieth-Century Architecture (1952), in sections devoted to city planning and concrete construction.

 

G. Holmes Perkins wrote in the city planning section that despite faults, the complex “may be held up as patterns for tomorrow.” Richard Pommer, in one of the most insightful discussions of Depression-era housing in the United States, criticized the angled plan, calling Lescaze a “versatile pasticheur” who used visual effects without logic or relation to function. Robert A. M. Stern shared this view, writing in 1980 that it “seems overrated.” Richard Plunz, in A History of Housing in New York City, credited the project as the start of a “brief but intense struggle” to determine the aesthetic direction government-built housing would take. All four editions of the AIA Guide to New York City have praised the Williamsburg Houses. The 1968 edition called it a “very successful solution to the problem of low-rent subsidized housing,” and in 2000 “the best public housing project ever built in New York.”

 

Subsequent History

 

Conveyed by the federal government to the NYCHA in 1957, the Williamsburg Houses continue to serve their original purpose, housing more than three thousand New Yorkers. Major alterations were first proposed in 1980 and significant work took place during 1985-91. At this time, the original casement windows were replaced with bronze-colored aluminum sash and the blue terra cotta that surrounded the entrances, with tan “Morocco” glazed brick.

 

In a remarkable turnaround, during the mid1990s, the facades were restored. What began as continued maintenance, soon evolved into a major architectural project, requiring an outside contractor and consultation with the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Under the supervision of Neil Cohen of the NYCHA, the elevations were completely reskinned, the parapets replaced, as well as the chimneys, railings, and terra-cotta banding. In addition, new canopies, doors, lighting fixtures, and signage were fabricated.

 

The approximately $70 million project was executed with great sensitivity; there was an article in the real estate section of the New York Times and the NYCHA was the recipient of the Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award from the New York Landmarks Conservancy (1999), which praised the participants for restoring the complex to “better-than-new condition.” Restoration of the storefronts, except along Bushwick Avenue, was completed in 2002.

 

The high standards set by the design of the Williamsburg Houses have rarely been matched. Innovative in terms of scale, plan, and aesthetics, it remains one of the most pleasant and architecturally-distinguished housing developments in New York City.

 

Description

 

There are twenty walk-up buildings in the 23.3acre Williamsburg complex and a total of 1,620 apartments. These buildings are numbered from 1 to 20 and each entrance has its own street address, for instance, “112 Maujer Street.” Stainless steel signs, with pin-mounted numbers and letters, identify each entrance.

 

The site extends four blocks east to west, from Bushwick Avenue to Leonard Street, and three blocks north to south, from Maujer to Scholes Streets. The principal north-south artery is Graham Avenue. Between Maujer and Scholes Streets, Ten Eyck Street and Stagg Street are closed to vehicles. These winding east-west paths are called Ten Eyck Walk and Stagg Walk. They are identified by large pin-mounted stainless steel letters attached to the building facades and are visible along the north-south streets. Throughout the complex are wall-mounted cantilevered lighting fixtures. These glass and aluminum fixtures are reproductions of the originals.

 

Three of the four blocks have a tree-shaded open space at center. At present, non-historic benches, play equipment, and basketball courts are located here. Most lawns are enclosed by low iron fences. Though not original, these fences pre-date the 1990s. Pole-mounted lighting fixtures are occasionally used to illuminate these areas.

 

All buildings materials are non-historic. Each structure is four stories tall and clad in ochre-colored brick. Exterior concrete spandrel beams are exposed at each floor. To disguise patches to the concrete, the beams are coated with a grey-colored water repellency finish. The entrances are flanked by blue structural glazed facing tiles that are approximately 12 by 12 inches. Blue mortar was used to minimize the joint lines. A canopy projects in front of each entrance (except on one side of the breezeways). Made of stainless steel, they incorporate recessed down lights. Some canopies are supported by a single pipe column. The entrance doors and sidelights are made of stainless steel.

 

Each door has a grid of four small square windows. Breezeways serve a dual purpose: reached by two sets of stairs, they provide an additional north-south passage, as well as entry to apartments. Most of the stairs are flanked by stainless steel railings. The bronze anodized aluminum windows, installed in the 1980s, are all one-over-one. Arranged as single windows or in pairs, they have concrete sills and meet the concrete spandrels above. The smaller windows light the bathrooms. Single windows and pairs are located where the facades meet, often creating triple-width openings at the cantilevered corners.

 

There are three general building configurations. All are original to the complex. They include eight buildings with “H” shaped floor plans, six with floor plans that suggest a small letter “h,” and six buildings with “T” shaped floor plans. While the “H” and “h” types alternate along Maujer and Scholes Streets (except next to the school where both are “H” shaped), the “T” shaped buildings are located only between Ten Eyck Walk and Stagg Walk.

 

The “H” buildings (Nos. 1, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, and 20) are nearly symmetrical, with almost identical north and south courtyards. At the center of each court is either a projecting center section or breezeway. The apartments are reached by four distinct entrances, each with a different tile treatment. They include: corner, wide, recessed between the door and the roof, and incorporated within a breezeway. Each entrance leads to interior stairs. The windows that light the stairs are arranged in horizontal grids of six and eight panes. Except for the recessed variant, the tiles project slightly and rise above the parapet to the stair bulkhead. The opposite side of the breezeway has no tilework. Reached by stairs, each breezeway incorporates two concrete columns and a metal door. The “h” buildings (Nos. 2, 5, 19, 13, 16 and 19) are similar to the “H” buildings, except one court is partially enclosed.

 

The “T” buildings (Nos. 3, 4, 11, 12, 17, 18) have shallow courts. The top of the ‘T” has three entrances, each framed with blue tiles. A pair of entrances are also found facing each other in one of the side courts, and occasionally on the opposite side, as well. Building No. 11, located on the east side of Graham Avenue, is unique due to the presence of a nursery school at the wider south end. To accommodate this function, the entrances were moved and the court at the south end was enclosed. The south wall of school is clad with glass blocks, many of which are original. A concrete shed, at the center of the wall, is not historic and there are plans for removal. From the south facade extends a raised play area that is enclosed by a fence. Along the east side of the building, facing Graham Avenue, a non-historic ramp with metal railings has been constructed.

 

Commercial storefronts parallel the streets and adjoin the apartment buildings in various locations. The materials are non-historic, but the new elevations closely resemble the originals. The largest storefronts are located on either side of Graham Avenue, between Maujer Street and Ten Eyck Walk (Nos. 8 and 9). Smaller retail spaces are located along Graham Avenue (near Scholes Street, No. 13); on Leonard Street (near Maujer Street, No. 1); and on Bushwick Avenue (between Maujer and Stagg Walk, No. 16). They have a stream-lined character and curve away from the street at both ends. One story tall, they have granite bases and are clad with stainless steel and metal that has a baked-on blue porcelain finish. Above the storefronts runs the blue metal parapet, crowned by a stainless steel roof rail. Lighting was added above the storefronts, and security gates, when the stores are open, roll up and are neatly hidden within the facades. Large glass blocks or plate glass are used throughout. Along Bushwick Avenue, the modifications are less sympathetic and a vertical grid of older decorative concrete block occasionally interrupts the facade.

 

- From the 2003 NYCLPC Landmark Designation Report

 

www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/n/newportwetlands/index.as...

  

This nature reserve offers a haven for wildlife on the edge of the city, but is a great place for people too with a new RSPB visitor centre, a café, shop and children's play area.

 

Cetti's warblers and bearded tits can be seen and heard in the reedbeds, and ducks, geese and swans visit the reserve in large numbers during the winter. You'll enjoy spectacular views of the Severn estuary all year round.

 

Newport Wetlands is a partnership between Natural Resources Wales, Newport City Council and the RSPB.

  

Opening times

 

Open every day (closed Christmas Day), 9 am to 5 pm (Coffee Shop open 10 am to 4 pm). On Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, the centre will be open from 10 am to 4 pm and the coffee shop will be open 10 am to 3.30 pm. Please note that the carpark also closes at 5:30pm.

  

Entrance charges

 

None

  

If you are new to birdwatching...

 

Autumn/winter is the best time of year for birdwatching at Newport Wetlands when migratory wildfowl and wading birds begin to arrive ready for their winter stay.

  

Information for families

 

Newport Wetlands visitor centre is ideal for children and families. Guided walks and children's activities are available on the reserve, drinks and a bite to eat can be enjoyed in the coffee shop afterwards, followed by a browse in the retail area. Children will find the outdoor children's activity area with its 4 m high simulation of the East Usk Lighthouse very entertaining. We can offer a variety of fun environmental activity and exploration days for a wide range of local interest groups.

  

Information for dog owners

 

Some access for dogs - marked footpaths on perimeter of reserve. For more information, please contact the NRW enquiry line.

  

Star species

 

Our star species are some of the most interesting birds you may see on your visit to the reserve.

  

Bearded tit

 

You will often hear bearded tits before you see them. Listen for their bell-like 'pinging' calls, then watch them whizzing across the tops of the reeds. They perch up on the stems in calm weather and feed on fallen seeds on the mud at the base of the reeds.

  

Dunlin

 

Dunlins can be seen at Newport Wetlands at almost any time. They breed further north, including in the Arctic, but migrating birds pass through in spring and autumn and some also spend winter here. Watch for them probing their beaks into the mud as they feed.

  

Little egret

 

These dainty little white herons can be seen throughout the year at Newport. You can see them fishing, stirring up fish fry from the muddy bottom with their feet.

  

Little grebe

 

Listen for little grebes 'whinnying' in spring as part of their courtship displays. They are small, round birds, and remarkably buoyant despite their fluffy feathers.

  

Shoveler

 

Shovelers are commonest here in winter, but are also a regular breeding bird. Watch them using their beaks like sieves to sift out microscopic aquatic life from the water.

  

Seasonal highlights

  

Each season brings a different experience at our nature reserves. In spring, the air is filled with birdsong as they compete to establish territories and attract a mate. In summer, look out for young birds making their first venture into the outside world. Autumn brings large movements of migrating birds - some heading south to a warmer climate, others seeking refuge in the UK from the cold Arctic winter. In winter, look out for large flocks of birds gathering to feed, or flying at dusk to form large roosts to keep warm.

  

Spring

 

Spring is the start of the breeding season and is an active and exciting time of year at Newport Wetlands, as birds set about finding their mates and building nests. Breeding waders at the reserve include lapwings and oystercatchers. Bearded tits begin to nest in the reedbeds. During late April and early May, swallows and swifts begin arriving from Africa, and can be seen flying overhead. This is a great time of year to listen out for the distinctive call of the cuckoo and many plants, including orchids, will begin to burst into colourful flower.

  

Summer

 

Grass snakes can sometimes be seen soaking up the sun or skimming expertly through the water among the reeds. Around sixteen species of dragonflies, twenty-three species of butterfly and two hundred species of moth are found at Newport Wetlands. After dark is the best time for moth spotting, but visitors are likely to see species like cinnabar moths and scarlet tiger moths during the daytime. The reserve is also home to badgers, moles and wood mice. Otters live here too, but are notoriously shy of humans and can be difficult to spot. Their droppings, or ‘spraint’, are the most commonly spotted clue to their presence.

  

Autumn

 

In autumn, the reeds turn from a vibrant lush green to yellowing brown. Groups of goldfinches can be seen flitting around the reserve and are particularly visible along Perry Lane, using their long beaks to extract seeds from the teasels. Autumn is another extremely active season at Newport Wetlands, as migratory wildfowl and wading birds begin to arrive ready for their winter stay. Curlews, redshanks, dunlins and oystercatchers feed on the estuary at low tide using their long, pointy beaks to sift through the nutritious mud for worms and grubs.

  

Winter

 

The starling roost at the reserve is a not-to-be-missed wildlife experience. From October onwards, large groups of starlings gather at dusk in great black clouds. At its peak, around 50,000 birds swoop and soar overhead, chattering noisily. After a breathtaking display, the birds drop dramatically into the reedbeds where they settle for the night. Another winter treat at Newport Wetlands is a single bittern, which has been seen here most winters since 2001. Bitterns are rare and extremely secretive, moving silently through the reeds looking for fish. Parts of the reserve provide a winter home for nationally important numbers of black-tailed godwits, shovelers and dunlins.

  

Facilities

  

Information centre

 

Car park

 

Toilets

 

Disabled toilets

 

Baby-changing facilities

 

Group bookings accepted

 

Guided walks available

 

Good for walking

 

Pushchair friendly

 

Viewing points

 

Viewing screens are available.

  

Nature trails

 

There are a number of nature trails around the reserve of various lengths with easy accessibility for wheelchairs and pushchairs.

  

Tearoom

 

Coffee shop serving triple-certified organic Fairtrade coffee, fairtrade tea, Fairtrade hot chocolate, and a selection of organic cold drinks, sandwiches, baguettes, locally-produced cakes and cookies.

 

Refreshments available

 

Hot drinks

 

Cold drinks

 

Snacks

 

Confectionery

  

Shop

 

A retail outlet for all your bird food and bird care accessories with a wide selection of binoculars and telescopes. There is also a fantastic selection of gifts and children's items.

  

The shop stocks:

 

Binoculars and telescopes

 

Bird food

 

Bird feeders

 

Gifts

  

Cafe

 

Our cafe in the visitor centre has large, panoramic windows overlooking the reserve and surrounding countryside. There is a large outdoor decking area providing additional seating with the same relaxing views. We provide organic Fairtrade tea and hot chocolate, and locally-produced cakes and ice cream.

 

We serve our own exclusive coffee that is grown, imported and roasted by us. It's Fairtrade, organic and certified bird-friendly by the Smithsonian Institute, so now you can help save nature simply by enjoying a great cup of coffee!

 

We are proud to hold a Level 5 Food Hygiene rating enabling our customers to have full confidence in the food and service that we provide.

  

Opening hours

 

10 am to 4 pm daily (closed Christmas Day)

  

Highlights from our menu

 

Triple-certified coffee including cappuccinos, lattes and Americanos, all freshly-made

We are known for our Bara Brith, Welsh cakes and hot toasted teacakes

From autumn through to spring we sell steaming tasty soups which are gluten-free

We provide a variety of sandwiches and rolls made with bread from a family baker

Pole-and-line-caught skipjack tuna is used to fill delicious sandwiches or rolls

Good variety of sandwiches and cakes. Coffee excellent

  

Access to the cafe

 

The coffee shop is in the visitor centre which has wheelchair-friendly ramps into the centre and out onto the reserve.

  

Children welcome

 

There are highchairs for babies and toddlers. We provide children's lunchboxes containing a sandwich, two-finger Kitkat, apple or orange juice and a choice of wildlife face mask.

  

We use local ingredients

 

We use Welsh meats, cheeses and free-range organic eggs.

  

Dietary requirements

 

We sell vegetarian and vegan food, some wheat-free snacks and soup, and some organic food.

  

Accessibility

 

8 August 2013

 

This is a Summary Access Statement. A full access statement is available to download from this page.

 

Before you visit

 

Clear print site leaflet available from reception

 

Visitor Centre open 9 am to 5 pm daily, except Christmas Day. coffee shop open 10 am to 4 pm

 

Entry to the reserve is free of charge

 

Car park open 8.30 am to 5.30 pm daily

 

Three mobility scooters and two wheelchairs available to hire out free of charge. Telephone for details

 

Registered assistance dogs welcome (please do not be offended if we ask for evidence of registration)

 

A dog walking route map is available from the visitor centre. Tethering rings and drinking bowl at the visitor centre entrance

 

Check events and activities for accessibility,

  

How to get here

 

Newport Railway Station (5 miles/8 km). Taxis usually available

 

Bus stop in the reserve car park, Number 63

  

Car parking

 

Free parking, 180 m/197 yds from the visitor centre

10 blue badge spaces

85 parking spaces

Drop-off at visitor centre arranged by telephone 01633 636363

Tarmac surface, path to visitor centre compacted limestone chippings and dust

  

Visitor centre and shop

 

Entrance by wooden walkway with a maximum gradient of 1:40. Manually operated doors. Non-slip tiled surface. Low section on service counter. Hearing loop system is installed at the service counter and in the education rooms. Good natural and artificial lighting. Staff can give assistance and read out any literature if required. Binoculars are available for hire (£3.50 for the day).

  

Nature trails

 

Four main trails. All level on compacted with one incline using a zig-zag. Floating walkways have been used by wheelchairs, scooters and pushchairs but caution should be taken due to buoyancy.

  

Viewing facilities

 

Natural viewing opportunities throughout the reserve. A wheelchair accessible viewing screens overlooking the reedbeds.

  

Toilets

 

Unisex accessible toilet along with separate ladies and gents available on ground floor of Visitor Centre. Level step free access. Baby changing table and a second baby facility in ladies toilets.

  

Catering

 

Step-free level access. Outside deck viewing area. Tables are well spaced apart. Good natural and overhead lighting. Non slip tiles. Accessible WC in the visitor centre.

  

Shop

 

Shop is located in the visitor centre. Level entry step free with no doors. There is step free, level access throughout. Non-slip tiled surface. Ample room. Well lit with daylight and fluorescent lighting. Promotional video usually playing with subtitles. Staff can provide assistance.

  

Classrooms

 

Two classrooms available as one room if required. Step-free, level access throughout. Non-slip flooring. Artificial even lighting. Portable hearing loop system available. Two raised ponds nearby.

  

Picnic area

 

Four picnic tables with wheelchair access outside visitor centre. Visitors free to bring their own refreshments for picnics.

 

Help us improve accessibility by sending feedback to the Site Manager.

  

For more information

 

Newport Wetlands

 

E-mail: newport-wetlands@rspb.org.uk

 

Telephone:01633 636363

  

How to get here

 

By bicycle (Sustrans cycle route)

 

Sustrans National Cycle Network route 4 has a branch to Newport Wetlands using existing roads. The car park has a covered cycle stand. Please note that cycling on the reserve is restricted to a designated route.

  

By train

 

The nearest railway station is Newport - which is five miles from the reserve. There is a taxi rank at the station and Newport bus station is just a few minutes walk away. For train times to and from Newport visit www.nationalrail.co.uk or telephone 08457 484950.

  

By bus

 

From the Kingsway Bus Station in Newport, the Number 63 bus leaves at 7.30 am, 9 am, 11 am, 1.30 pm, 3 pm, 4.50 pm and 6 pm and stops at the bus stop in the reserve car park. Alternatively, contact Newport Bus 01633 670563.

  

By road

 

Join the A48 at either junction 24 or 28 of the M4. Follow the A48 until you come to the Spytty Retail Park roundabout. Exit onto the A4810 Queensway Meadows. At the first roundabout take the third exit onto Meadows Road and follow the brown tourist signs to the reserve.

  

Our partners

 

The Newport Wetlands project is funded by the European Union's Objective Two programme supported by the Welsh Assembly Government and secured via the Newport European Partnership, Newport City Council's allocation of the Welsh Assembly Government's Local Regeneration Fund, Newport City Council's Landfill Tax Credit Scheme, the Environment Agency Wales and Visit Wales – the Department of Enterprise, Innovation and Networks.

 

Natural Resources Wales, Newport City Council and the RSPB would like to thank the communities of Newport and the volunteers who have supported Newport Wetlands.

  

Newport Wetlands Conference and Meeting Rooms

  

Set in the tranquil surroundings of a peaceful nature reserve, our excellent conference facilities offer a superb location for a great getaway from the office and provide a wonderful setting for a variety of corporate events. You will receive a warm welcome from the staff at the Visitor Centre, providing a professional and efficient service.

 

We can provide facilities for the following

 

Conferences

 

Board Meetings

 

Seminars

 

Training Courses

 

Presentations

  

Away days

 

Rooms can be arranged in boardroom, theatre style or in any other format to suit your event. We also have a range of equipment for hire including a digital projector and smart board facilities.

 

Your booking fee includes free car parking, access to the Reserve as well as the Visitor Centre, Shop and Café. The Reserve comprises of a series of lagoons and reed beds from reclaimed industrial land, which is now home to a wealth of wildlife.

 

A tour of the Reserve can be arranged as an unusual and revitalising break during a meeting or away day.

  

Catering

 

Fairtrade coffee and tea, biscuits or homemade cakes can be served throughout the day, and we can provide a freshly prepared buffet to suit your dietary requirements including vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options. Buffets include a selection of classic sandwiches, a selection of savoury items, fresh fruit and a selection of freshly baked homemade cakes.

 

Alternatively, delegates can stroll across to the café themselves and appreciate inspirational views of the reserve from the veranda.

  

The Lakeside Suite

 

A purpose built meeting room, which caters for 12 people boardroom style or 25 people theatre style.

  

The Education Facilities

 

Set in a tranquil environment, overlooking the waters edge the Education Rooms offers the perfect environment for larger events and conferences. The room can be organised in various styles and caters for up to 80 people theatre style.

 

For more information or to make a provisional booking, please contact Adrianne Jones using the details below.

 

For more information

 

Adrianne Jones

Centre Co-ordinator

E-mail: adrianne.jones@rspb.org.uk

Telephone:01633 636355

Demel

The title of this article is ambiguous. Other uses, see Demel (disambiguation).

K.u.K. Hofzuckerbäcker Ch Demel 's Söhne GmbH

Founded in 1786

Coffee and pastry industry

Products Coffee, tea, cakes

website www.Demel.at

Interior furnishings from Komptoir Demel in Vienna, from Portois Fix

When decorating goods Visitors may watch.

Demel is one of the most famous Viennese pastry at the carbon (cabbage) market (Kohlmarkt) 14 in the first Viennese district Innere Stadt. Demel was a k.u.k. Hofzuckerbäcker and runs this item today in public.

History

1778 came the of Wurttemberg stemming confectioner Ludwig Dehne to Vienna. 1786, he founded his pastry shot at the place of St. Michael. Dehne died in 1799 of tuberculosis. His widow then married the confectioner Gottlieb Wohlfahrt. In 1813 they bought the house in St. Michael's Square 14. Despite numerous innovations such as frozen the company's finances could not be rehabilitated. After the death of Gottlieb Wohlfahrt in 1826 the widow and her son from her first marriage August Dehne succeeded but the economic boom. August Dehne managed to great wealth, he invested in land. As the son of August Dehne struck another career as a lawyer, Dehne sold the confectionery in 1857 to his first mate Christoph Demel.

Demel also had success in the continuation of the company and established it to a Viennese institution. After the death of Christoph Demel in 1867 his sons Joseph and Charles took over the business, which is why it since "Christoph Demel 's Söhne" means. On request Demel received 1874 the Hoflieferantentitel (the titel as purveyor to the court). The proximity to the Imperial Palace directly opposite made business more profitable. The Hofburg borrowed from Demel occasionally staff and tableware for special occasions such as proms and parties. Recent developments in the art of confectionery were brought from Paris. Trained at Demel, professionals quickly found employment.

1888 Old Burgtheater was demolished at Michael's place and transformed the place. Demel had to move out of the house and he moved to the Kohlmarkt 14. The new store inside was equipped inside with high costs by purveyor to the court Portois & Fix. The interior is decorated in the style of Neo-Rococo with mahogany wood and mirrors. Regulars were members of the Viennese court as Empress Elisabeth, and other prominent members of the Vienna society of the time, the actress Katharina Schratt and Princess Pauline von Metternich. A peculiarity of Demel from the time of the monarchy is that the always female attendance, which originally was recruited from monastic students, is dressed in a black costume with a white apron. They are called Demelinerinnen and address the guest traditionally in a special "Demel German", which is a polite form of the third person plural, omitting the personal salutation and with questions such as "elected Have you?" or "want to eat?" was known.

After the death of Joseph and Carl Demel took over Carl's widow Maria in 1891 the management. She also received the k.u.k. Hoflieferantentitel. From 1911 to 1917 led Carl Demel (junior) the business and then his sister Anna Demel (4 March 1872 in Vienna - November 8, 1956 ibid ; born Siding). Under her leadership, the boxes and packaging were developed by the Wiener Werkstätte. Josef Hoffmann established in 1932 because of a contract the connection of the artist Friedrich Ludwig Berzeviczy-Pallavicini to Anna Demel. The design of the shop windows at that time was an important means of expression of the shops and there were discussions to whether they should be called visual or storefront (Seh- or Schaufenster - display window or look window). While under the Sehfenster (shop window) an informative presentation of goods was understood, the goods should be enhanced by staging the showcase. From 1933 until his emigration in 1938 took over Berzeviczy-Pallavicini the window dressing of Demel and married in 1936 Klara Demel, the adopted niece of Anna Demel.

During the Nazi regime in Austria the confectioner Demel got privileges from the district leadership because of its reputation. Baldur von Schirach and his wife took the confectioner under their personal protection, there were special allocations of gastronomic specialties from abroad in order to continue to survive. But while the two sat in the guest room and consumed cakes, provided the Demelinerinnen in a hallway between the kitchen and toilet political persecutws, so-called U-Boats. Those here were also hearing illegal radio stations and they discussed the latest news.

1952 Anna Demel was the first woman after the war to be awarded the title Kommerzialrat. She died in 1956. Klara Demel took over the management of the bakery. Berzeviczy-Pallavicini, who lived in the United States until then returned to Vienna. After Clara's death on 19 April 1965, he carried on the pastry. During his time at Demel he established the tradition to make from showpieces of the sugar and chocolate craft extravagant neo-baroque productions. Baron Berzeviczy sold the business in 1972 for economic reasons to the concealed appearing Udo Proksch, who established in 1973 in the first floor rooms for the Club 45; also Defence Minister Karl Lütgendorf had his own salon. After Proksch was arrested in 1989 in connection with the Lucona scandal, he sold Demel to the non-industry German entrepreneur Günter Wichmann. 1993 it came to insolvency. Raiffeisen Bank Vienna as principal creditor, acquired the property in 1994 from the bankrupt company to initially continue itself the traditional Viennese company through a subsidiary. In the process of the renovation in March 1995 on the fourth floor were mura painting from the 18th century exposed and the baroque courtyard covered by a glass construction which since the re-opening on 18 April 1996 can be used as Schanigarten (pavement café) or conservatory.

In 2002 the catering company Do & Co took over the Demel. The company was awarded with the "Golden Coffee Bean " of Jacobs coffee in 1999. Demel now has additional locations in Salzburg and New York.

Products

Demel chocolate products

One of the most famous specialty of the house is " Demel's Sachertorte" . The world-famous Sachertorte was invented by Franz Sacher, but completed only in its today known form by his son Eduard Sacher while training in Demel. After a 1938 out of court enclosed process occurred after the Second World War a till 1965 during dispute between Demel and the Sacher Hotel: The hotel insisted on its naming rights, Demel, however, could pointing out already since the invention of the "Original Sacher" called pie "having used the denomination". Demel had after the death of Anna Sacher in 1930, under defined conditions, the generation and distribution rights for "Eduard-Sacher-Torte" received. The dispute was settled in favor of the Hotel Sacher and the Demelsche cake is today, "Demel 's Sachertorte" and is still made ​​by hand. While a layer of apricot jam under the chocolate icing and another in the center of the cake can be found in the "Original Sacher-Torte", is in "Demel 's Sachertorte " the layer in the middle omitted.

Besides the Sachertorte helped another specialty the pastry to world fame: the original gingerbread figures whose modeling came from the collection of Count Johann Nepomuk Graf Wilczek on Castle Kreuzenstein. Then there are the Demel cake (almond-orange mass with blackcurrant jam, marzipan and chocolate coating), Anna Torte, Dobos cake, cake trays, Russian Punch Cake, Esterházy cake, apple strudel and other confectionary specialties. Popular with many tourists are the candied violets with which Demel earlier supplied the imperial court and they allegedly have been the Lieblingsnaschereien (favorite candies) of Empress Elisabeth ("Sisi"). Rooms in the upper floors as the Pictures Room, Gold Room and the Silver rooms are rented for events. In addition to the pastry shop Demel operates, as it did at the time of the monarchy, a catering service, after the re-opening in 1996 as well as storage, shipping and packaging was desettled in the 22nd District of Vienna. Demel is also responsible for the catering at Niki Aviation.

de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demel

 

 

www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/n/newportwetlands/index.as...

  

This nature reserve offers a haven for wildlife on the edge of the city, but is a great place for people too with a new RSPB visitor centre, a café, shop and children's play area.

 

Cetti's warblers and bearded tits can be seen and heard in the reedbeds, and ducks, geese and swans visit the reserve in large numbers during the winter. You'll enjoy spectacular views of the Severn estuary all year round.

 

Newport Wetlands is a partnership between Natural Resources Wales, Newport City Council and the RSPB.

  

Opening times

 

Open every day (closed Christmas Day), 9 am to 5 pm (Coffee Shop open 10 am to 4 pm). On Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, the centre will be open from 10 am to 4 pm and the coffee shop will be open 10 am to 3.30 pm. Please note that the carpark also closes at 5:30pm.

  

Entrance charges

 

None

  

If you are new to birdwatching...

 

Autumn/winter is the best time of year for birdwatching at Newport Wetlands when migratory wildfowl and wading birds begin to arrive ready for their winter stay.

  

Information for families

 

Newport Wetlands visitor centre is ideal for children and families. Guided walks and children's activities are available on the reserve, drinks and a bite to eat can be enjoyed in the coffee shop afterwards, followed by a browse in the retail area. Children will find the outdoor children's activity area with its 4 m high simulation of the East Usk Lighthouse very entertaining. We can offer a variety of fun environmental activity and exploration days for a wide range of local interest groups.

  

Information for dog owners

 

Some access for dogs - marked footpaths on perimeter of reserve. For more information, please contact the NRW enquiry line.

  

Star species

 

Our star species are some of the most interesting birds you may see on your visit to the reserve.

  

Bearded tit

 

You will often hear bearded tits before you see them. Listen for their bell-like 'pinging' calls, then watch them whizzing across the tops of the reeds. They perch up on the stems in calm weather and feed on fallen seeds on the mud at the base of the reeds.

  

Dunlin

 

Dunlins can be seen at Newport Wetlands at almost any time. They breed further north, including in the Arctic, but migrating birds pass through in spring and autumn and some also spend winter here. Watch for them probing their beaks into the mud as they feed.

  

Little egret

 

These dainty little white herons can be seen throughout the year at Newport. You can see them fishing, stirring up fish fry from the muddy bottom with their feet.

  

Little grebe

 

Listen for little grebes 'whinnying' in spring as part of their courtship displays. They are small, round birds, and remarkably buoyant despite their fluffy feathers.

  

Shoveler

 

Shovelers are commonest here in winter, but are also a regular breeding bird. Watch them using their beaks like sieves to sift out microscopic aquatic life from the water.

  

Seasonal highlights

  

Each season brings a different experience at our nature reserves. In spring, the air is filled with birdsong as they compete to establish territories and attract a mate. In summer, look out for young birds making their first venture into the outside world. Autumn brings large movements of migrating birds - some heading south to a warmer climate, others seeking refuge in the UK from the cold Arctic winter. In winter, look out for large flocks of birds gathering to feed, or flying at dusk to form large roosts to keep warm.

  

Spring

 

Spring is the start of the breeding season and is an active and exciting time of year at Newport Wetlands, as birds set about finding their mates and building nests. Breeding waders at the reserve include lapwings and oystercatchers. Bearded tits begin to nest in the reedbeds. During late April and early May, swallows and swifts begin arriving from Africa, and can be seen flying overhead. This is a great time of year to listen out for the distinctive call of the cuckoo and many plants, including orchids, will begin to burst into colourful flower.

  

Summer

 

Grass snakes can sometimes be seen soaking up the sun or skimming expertly through the water among the reeds. Around sixteen species of dragonflies, twenty-three species of butterfly and two hundred species of moth are found at Newport Wetlands. After dark is the best time for moth spotting, but visitors are likely to see species like cinnabar moths and scarlet tiger moths during the daytime. The reserve is also home to badgers, moles and wood mice. Otters live here too, but are notoriously shy of humans and can be difficult to spot. Their droppings, or ‘spraint’, are the most commonly spotted clue to their presence.

  

Autumn

 

In autumn, the reeds turn from a vibrant lush green to yellowing brown. Groups of goldfinches can be seen flitting around the reserve and are particularly visible along Perry Lane, using their long beaks to extract seeds from the teasels. Autumn is another extremely active season at Newport Wetlands, as migratory wildfowl and wading birds begin to arrive ready for their winter stay. Curlews, redshanks, dunlins and oystercatchers feed on the estuary at low tide using their long, pointy beaks to sift through the nutritious mud for worms and grubs.

  

Winter

 

The starling roost at the reserve is a not-to-be-missed wildlife experience. From October onwards, large groups of starlings gather at dusk in great black clouds. At its peak, around 50,000 birds swoop and soar overhead, chattering noisily. After a breathtaking display, the birds drop dramatically into the reedbeds where they settle for the night. Another winter treat at Newport Wetlands is a single bittern, which has been seen here most winters since 2001. Bitterns are rare and extremely secretive, moving silently through the reeds looking for fish. Parts of the reserve provide a winter home for nationally important numbers of black-tailed godwits, shovelers and dunlins.

  

Facilities

  

Information centre

 

Car park

 

Toilets

 

Disabled toilets

 

Baby-changing facilities

 

Group bookings accepted

 

Guided walks available

 

Good for walking

 

Pushchair friendly

 

Viewing points

 

Viewing screens are available.

  

Nature trails

 

There are a number of nature trails around the reserve of various lengths with easy accessibility for wheelchairs and pushchairs.

  

Tearoom

 

Coffee shop serving triple-certified organic Fairtrade coffee, fairtrade tea, Fairtrade hot chocolate, and a selection of organic cold drinks, sandwiches, baguettes, locally-produced cakes and cookies.

 

Refreshments available

 

Hot drinks

 

Cold drinks

 

Snacks

 

Confectionery

  

Shop

 

A retail outlet for all your bird food and bird care accessories with a wide selection of binoculars and telescopes. There is also a fantastic selection of gifts and children's items.

  

The shop stocks:

 

Binoculars and telescopes

 

Bird food

 

Bird feeders

 

Gifts

  

Cafe

 

Our cafe in the visitor centre has large, panoramic windows overlooking the reserve and surrounding countryside. There is a large outdoor decking area providing additional seating with the same relaxing views. We provide organic Fairtrade tea and hot chocolate, and locally-produced cakes and ice cream.

 

We serve our own exclusive coffee that is grown, imported and roasted by us. It's Fairtrade, organic and certified bird-friendly by the Smithsonian Institute, so now you can help save nature simply by enjoying a great cup of coffee!

 

We are proud to hold a Level 5 Food Hygiene rating enabling our customers to have full confidence in the food and service that we provide.

  

Opening hours

 

10 am to 4 pm daily (closed Christmas Day)

  

Highlights from our menu

 

Triple-certified coffee including cappuccinos, lattes and Americanos, all freshly-made

We are known for our Bara Brith, Welsh cakes and hot toasted teacakes

From autumn through to spring we sell steaming tasty soups which are gluten-free

We provide a variety of sandwiches and rolls made with bread from a family baker

Pole-and-line-caught skipjack tuna is used to fill delicious sandwiches or rolls

Good variety of sandwiches and cakes. Coffee excellent

  

Access to the cafe

 

The coffee shop is in the visitor centre which has wheelchair-friendly ramps into the centre and out onto the reserve.

  

Children welcome

 

There are highchairs for babies and toddlers. We provide children's lunchboxes containing a sandwich, two-finger Kitkat, apple or orange juice and a choice of wildlife face mask.

  

We use local ingredients

 

We use Welsh meats, cheeses and free-range organic eggs.

  

Dietary requirements

 

We sell vegetarian and vegan food, some wheat-free snacks and soup, and some organic food.

  

Accessibility

 

8 August 2013

 

This is a Summary Access Statement. A full access statement is available to download from this page.

 

Before you visit

 

Clear print site leaflet available from reception

 

Visitor Centre open 9 am to 5 pm daily, except Christmas Day. coffee shop open 10 am to 4 pm

 

Entry to the reserve is free of charge

 

Car park open 8.30 am to 5.30 pm daily

 

Three mobility scooters and two wheelchairs available to hire out free of charge. Telephone for details

 

Registered assistance dogs welcome (please do not be offended if we ask for evidence of registration)

 

A dog walking route map is available from the visitor centre. Tethering rings and drinking bowl at the visitor centre entrance

 

Check events and activities for accessibility,

  

How to get here

 

Newport Railway Station (5 miles/8 km). Taxis usually available

 

Bus stop in the reserve car park, Number 63

  

Car parking

 

Free parking, 180 m/197 yds from the visitor centre

10 blue badge spaces

85 parking spaces

Drop-off at visitor centre arranged by telephone 01633 636363

Tarmac surface, path to visitor centre compacted limestone chippings and dust

  

Visitor centre and shop

 

Entrance by wooden walkway with a maximum gradient of 1:40. Manually operated doors. Non-slip tiled surface. Low section on service counter. Hearing loop system is installed at the service counter and in the education rooms. Good natural and artificial lighting. Staff can give assistance and read out any literature if required. Binoculars are available for hire (£3.50 for the day).

  

Nature trails

 

Four main trails. All level on compacted with one incline using a zig-zag. Floating walkways have been used by wheelchairs, scooters and pushchairs but caution should be taken due to buoyancy.

  

Viewing facilities

 

Natural viewing opportunities throughout the reserve. A wheelchair accessible viewing screens overlooking the reedbeds.

  

Toilets

 

Unisex accessible toilet along with separate ladies and gents available on ground floor of Visitor Centre. Level step free access. Baby changing table and a second baby facility in ladies toilets.

  

Catering

 

Step-free level access. Outside deck viewing area. Tables are well spaced apart. Good natural and overhead lighting. Non slip tiles. Accessible WC in the visitor centre.

  

Shop

 

Shop is located in the visitor centre. Level entry step free with no doors. There is step free, level access throughout. Non-slip tiled surface. Ample room. Well lit with daylight and fluorescent lighting. Promotional video usually playing with subtitles. Staff can provide assistance.

  

Classrooms

 

Two classrooms available as one room if required. Step-free, level access throughout. Non-slip flooring. Artificial even lighting. Portable hearing loop system available. Two raised ponds nearby.

  

Picnic area

 

Four picnic tables with wheelchair access outside visitor centre. Visitors free to bring their own refreshments for picnics.

 

Help us improve accessibility by sending feedback to the Site Manager.

  

For more information

 

Newport Wetlands

 

E-mail: newport-wetlands@rspb.org.uk

 

Telephone:01633 636363

  

How to get here

 

By bicycle (Sustrans cycle route)

 

Sustrans National Cycle Network route 4 has a branch to Newport Wetlands using existing roads. The car park has a covered cycle stand. Please note that cycling on the reserve is restricted to a designated route.

  

By train

 

The nearest railway station is Newport - which is five miles from the reserve. There is a taxi rank at the station and Newport bus station is just a few minutes walk away. For train times to and from Newport visit www.nationalrail.co.uk or telephone 08457 484950.

  

By bus

 

From the Kingsway Bus Station in Newport, the Number 63 bus leaves at 7.30 am, 9 am, 11 am, 1.30 pm, 3 pm, 4.50 pm and 6 pm and stops at the bus stop in the reserve car park. Alternatively, contact Newport Bus 01633 670563.

  

By road

 

Join the A48 at either junction 24 or 28 of the M4. Follow the A48 until you come to the Spytty Retail Park roundabout. Exit onto the A4810 Queensway Meadows. At the first roundabout take the third exit onto Meadows Road and follow the brown tourist signs to the reserve.

  

Our partners

 

The Newport Wetlands project is funded by the European Union's Objective Two programme supported by the Welsh Assembly Government and secured via the Newport European Partnership, Newport City Council's allocation of the Welsh Assembly Government's Local Regeneration Fund, Newport City Council's Landfill Tax Credit Scheme, the Environment Agency Wales and Visit Wales – the Department of Enterprise, Innovation and Networks.

 

Natural Resources Wales, Newport City Council and the RSPB would like to thank the communities of Newport and the volunteers who have supported Newport Wetlands.

  

Newport Wetlands Conference and Meeting Rooms

  

Set in the tranquil surroundings of a peaceful nature reserve, our excellent conference facilities offer a superb location for a great getaway from the office and provide a wonderful setting for a variety of corporate events. You will receive a warm welcome from the staff at the Visitor Centre, providing a professional and efficient service.

 

We can provide facilities for the following

 

Conferences

 

Board Meetings

 

Seminars

 

Training Courses

 

Presentations

  

Away days

 

Rooms can be arranged in boardroom, theatre style or in any other format to suit your event. We also have a range of equipment for hire including a digital projector and smart board facilities.

 

Your booking fee includes free car parking, access to the Reserve as well as the Visitor Centre, Shop and Café. The Reserve comprises of a series of lagoons and reed beds from reclaimed industrial land, which is now home to a wealth of wildlife.

 

A tour of the Reserve can be arranged as an unusual and revitalising break during a meeting or away day.

  

Catering

 

Fairtrade coffee and tea, biscuits or homemade cakes can be served throughout the day, and we can provide a freshly prepared buffet to suit your dietary requirements including vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options. Buffets include a selection of classic sandwiches, a selection of savoury items, fresh fruit and a selection of freshly baked homemade cakes.

 

Alternatively, delegates can stroll across to the café themselves and appreciate inspirational views of the reserve from the veranda.

  

The Lakeside Suite

 

A purpose built meeting room, which caters for 12 people boardroom style or 25 people theatre style.

  

The Education Facilities

 

Set in a tranquil environment, overlooking the waters edge the Education Rooms offers the perfect environment for larger events and conferences. The room can be organised in various styles and caters for up to 80 people theatre style.

 

For more information or to make a provisional booking, please contact Adrianne Jones using the details below.

 

For more information

 

Adrianne Jones

Centre Co-ordinator

E-mail: adrianne.jones@rspb.org.uk

Telephone:01633 636355

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is a steel through arch bridge across Sydney Harbour that carries rail, vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic between the Sydney central business district (CBD) and the North Shore. The dramatic view of the bridge, the harbour, and the nearby Sydney Opera House is an iconic image of Sydney, and Australia. The bridge is nicknamed "The Coathanger" because of its arch-based design. Furthermore, the bridge is ubiquitously known to Sydneysiders simply as "the Bridge".

 

Under the direction of Dr J.J.C. Bradfield of the NSW Department of Public Works, the bridge was designed and built by British firm Dorman Long and Co Ltd of Middlesbrough and opened in 1932. The bridge's design was influenced by the Hell Gate Bridge in New York City. It is the sixth longest spanning-arch bridge in the world and the tallest steel arch bridge, measuring 134 m (440 ft) from top to water level. It was also the world's widest long-span bridge, at 48.8 m (160 ft) wide, until construction of the new Port Mann Bridge in Vancouver was completed in 2012.

 

The southern (CBD) end of the bridge is located at Millers Point in The Rocks area, and the northern end at Milsons Point in the lower North Shore area. There are six original lanes of road traffic through the main roadway, plus an additional two lanes of road traffic on its eastern side, using lanes that were formerly tram tracks. Adjacent to the road traffic, a path for pedestrian use runs along the eastern side of the bridge, whilst a dedicated path for bicycle use only runs along the western side. Finally, between the main roadway and the western bicycle path are two lanes used for railway tracks, servicing the T1 North Shore Line for Sydney Trains.

 

The main roadway across the bridge is known as the Bradfield Highway and is about 2.4 km (1.5 mi) long, making it one of the shortest highways in Australia.

 

The building of the bridge was under the management of Bradfield. Three other people heavily involved in the bridge's design and construction were Lawrence Ennis, Edward Judge, and Sir Ralph Freeman. Ennis was the engineer-in-charge at Dorman Long and Co and the main on-site supervisor (Bradfield visited occasionally throughout the project and, in particular, at many key stages of the project, to inspect progress and make managerial decisions), Judge was chief technical engineer of Dorman Long, and Freeman was hired by the company to design the accepted model in further detail. Later a bitter disagreement broke out between Bradfield and Freeman as to who actually designed the bridge. Another name connected with the bridge's design is that of Arthur Plunkett.

 

Even during its construction, the bridge was such a prominent feature of Sydney that it would attract tourist interest. One of the ongoing tourist attractions of the bridge has been the south-east pylon, which is accessed via the pedestrian walkway across the bridge, and then a climb to the top of the pylon of about 200 steps.

 

Not long after the bridge's opening, commencing in 1934, Archer Whitford first converted this pylon into a tourist destination. He installed a number of attractions, including a café, a camera obscura, an Aboriginal museum, a "Mother's Nook" where visitors could write letters, and a "pashometer". The main attraction was the viewing platform, where "charming attendants" assisted visitors to use the telescopes available, and a copper cladding (still present) over the granite guard rails identified the suburbs and landmarks of Sydney at the time.

 

The outbreak of World War II in 1939 saw tourist activities on the bridge cease, as the military took over the four pylons and modified them to include parapets and anti-aircraft guns.

 

In 1948 Yvonne Rentoul opened the "All Australian Exhibition" in the pylon. This contained dioramas, and displays about Australian perspectives on subjects such as farming, sport, transport, mining, and the armed forces. An orientation table was installed at the viewing platform, along with a wall guide and binoculars. The owner kept several white cats in a rooftop cattery, which also served as an attraction, and there was a souvenir shop and postal outlet. Rentoul's lease expired in 1971, and the pylon and its lookout remained closed to the public for over a decade.

 

The pylon was reopened in 1982, with a new exhibition celebrating the bridge's 50th anniversary. In 1987 a "Bicentennial Exhibition" was opened to mark the 200th anniversary of European settlement in Australia in 1988.

 

The pylon was closed from April to November 2000 for the Roads & Traffic Authority and BridgeClimb to create a new exhibition called "Proud Arch". The exhibition focussed on Bradfield, and included a glass direction finder on the observation level, and various important heritage items.

 

The pylon again closed for four weeks in 2003 for the installation of an exhibit called "Dangerous Works", highlighting the dangerous conditions experienced by the original construction workers on the bridge, and two stained glass feature windows in memory of the workers.

  

The Sydney Opera House is a multi-venue performing arts centre in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Situated on Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbour, close to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the facility is adjacent to the Sydney central business district and the Royal Botanic Gardens, between Sydney and Farm Coves.

 

Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, the facility formally opened on 20 October 1973[3] after a gestation beginning with Utzon's 1957 selection as winner of an international design competition. The Government of New South Wales, led by the premier, Joseph Cahill, authorised work to begin in 1958 with Utzon directing construction. The government's decision to build Utzon's design is often overshadowed by circumstances that followed, including cost and scheduling overruns as well as the architect's ultimate resignation.

 

Though its name suggests a single venue, the project comprises multiple performance venues which together are among the busiest performing arts centres in the world — hosting over 1,500 performances each year attended by some 1.2 million people. The venues produce and present a wide range of in-house productions and accommodate numerous performing arts companies, including four key resident companies: Opera Australia, The Australian Ballet, the Sydney Theatre Company and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. As one of the most popular visitor attractions in Australia, more than seven million people visit the site each year, with 300,000 people participating annually in a guided tour of the facility.

 

Identified as one of the 20th century's most distinctive buildings and one of the most famous performing arts centres in the world, the facility is managed by the Sydney Opera House Trust, under the auspices of the New South Wales Ministry of the Arts. The Sydney Opera House became a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 28 June 2007.

 

The facility features a modern expressionist design, with a series of large precast concrete "shells", each composed of sections of a sphere of 75.2 metres (246 ft 8.6 in) radius, forming the roofs of the structure, set on a monumental podium. The building covers 1.8 hectares (4.4 acres) of land and is 183 m (600 ft) long and 120 m (394 ft) wide at its widest point. It is supported on 588 concrete piers sunk as much as 25 m (82 ft) below sea level.

 

Although the roof structures are commonly referred to as "shells" (as in this article), they are precast concrete panels supported by precast concrete ribs, not shells in a strictly structural sense.[13] Though the shells appear uniformly white from a distance, they actually feature a subtle chevron pattern composed of 1,056,006 tiles in two colours: glossy white as well as matte cream. The tiles were manufactured by the Swedish company Höganäs AB which generally produced stoneware tiles for the paper-mill industry.

 

Apart from the tile of the shells and the glass curtain walls of the foyer spaces, the building's exterior is largely clad with aggregate panels composed of pink granite quarried at Tarana. Significant interior surface treatments also include off-form concrete, Australian white birch plywood supplied from Wauchope in northern New South Wales, and brush box glulam.

 

Of the two larger spaces, the Concert Hall is in the western group of shells, the Joan Sutherland Theatre in the eastern group. The scale of the shells was chosen to reflect the internal height requirements, with low entrance spaces, rising over the seating areas up to the high stage towers. The smaller venues (the Drama Theatre, the Playhouse and the Studio) are within the podium, beneath the Concert Hall. A smaller group of shells set to the western side of the Monumental Steps houses the Bennelong Restaurant. The podium is surrounded by substantial open public spaces, and the large stone-paved forecourt area with the adjacent monumental steps is regularly used as a performance space.

 

The Sydney Opera House includes a number of performance venues:

 

Concert Hall: With 2,679 seats, the home of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and used by a large number of other concert presenters. It contains the Sydney Opera House Grand Organ, the largest mechanical tracker action organ in the world, with over 10,000 pipes.[citation needed]

Joan Sutherland Theatre: A proscenium theatre with 1,507 seats,[17] the Sydney home of Opera Australia and The Australian Ballet. Until 16 October 2012 it was known as the Opera Theatre.

Drama Theatre: A proscenium theatre with 544 seats, used by the Sydney Theatre Company and other dance and theatrical presenters.

Playhouse: An end-stage theatre with 398 seats.

Studio: A flexible space with a maximum capacity of 400, depending on configuration.

Utzon Room: A small multi-purpose venue, seating up to 210.

Recording Studio

Outdoor Forecourt: A flexible open-air venue with a wide range of configuration options, including the possibility of utilising the Monumental Steps as audience seating, used for a range of community events and major outdoor performances. The Forecourt will be closed to visitors and performances in 2011–2014 to construct a new entrance tunnel to a rebuilt loading dock for the Joan Sutherland Theatre.

 

Other areas (for example the northern and western foyers) are also used for performances on an occasional basis. Venues are also used for conferences, ceremonies and social functions.

 

The building also houses a recording studio, cafes, restaurants, bars and retail outlets. Guided tours are available, including a frequent tour of the front-of-house spaces, and a daily backstage tour that takes visitors backstage to see areas normally reserved for performers and crew members.

 

Planning began in the late 1940s, when Eugene Goossens, the Director of the NSW State Conservatorium of Music, lobbied for a suitable venue for large theatrical productions. The normal venue for such productions, the Sydney Town Hall, was not considered large enough. By 1954, Goossens succeeded in gaining the support of NSW Premier Joseph Cahill, who called for designs for a dedicated opera house. It was also Goossens who insisted that Bennelong Point be the site: Cahill had wanted it to be on or near Wynyard Railway Station in the northwest of the CBD.

 

An international design competition was launched by Cahill on 13 September 1955 and received 233 entries, representing architects from 32 countries. The criteria specified a large hall seating 3,000 and a small hall for 1,200 people, each to be designed for different uses, including full-scale operas, orchestral and choral concerts, mass meetings, lectures, ballet performances and other presentations.

 

The winner, announced in 1957, was Jørn Utzon, a Danish architect. According to legend the Utzon design was rescued from a final cut of 30 "rejects" by the noted Finnish American architect Eero Saarinen. The prize was £5,000. Utzon visited Sydney in 1957 to help supervise the project. His office moved to Palm Beach, Sydney in February 1963.

 

Utzon received the Pritzker Architecture Prize, architecture's highest honour, in 2003. The Pritzker Prize citation read:

 

There is no doubt that the Sydney Opera House is his masterpiece. It is one of the great iconic buildings of the 20th century, an image of great beauty that has become known throughout the world – a symbol for not only a city, but a whole country and continent.

  

The Sydney Opera House was formally opened by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, on 20 October 1973. A large crowd attended. Utzon was not invited to the ceremony, nor was his name mentioned. The opening was televised and included fireworks and a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9

  

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