Church of St Botolph without Aldgate

Posted on 05/01/2020 By

St Botolph without Aldgate

Church of St Botolph without Aldgate.

When we began writing Mindfully Bertie in August 2016, we started with a clean slate. A void in our lives had been created by the loss of Diddley the year before. A void that could provide opportunity for creativity, whilst never forgetting the love and affection for the person we missed so much. A clean slate on which the plan was – there wasn’t one. In particular, there were no traditions at all. Four years later, we now do have one tradition. The Christmas journey away from Laurel Cottage to East London for a few days in a Premier Inn. A trip for just Bobby and I, in which we indulge in whatever comes to mind and ends with his son Andrew’s family travelling to London for a West End Musical.

There is no public transport in London on Christmas Day. It gives a strange air of freedom from responsibility for all those fertile brains wishing to squeeze adventures out of every second. For us, it also gives a wish to go to a church service. But not just any church. It has to be a voyage of discovery in itself. This year our sights were set much closer to where we were staying.

Just a few minutes walk away is St Botolph without Aldgate, and that is the subject of today’s story.

St Botolph without Aldgate.

The “without” in the title refers to the church being built just outside the city walls at the Aldgate. An East Anglian Saint, who was the patron saint of travellers before St Christopher. There are other churches in London all positioned near the ancient gates to the city named after this same Saint.

If you would like a more detailed description of the church and its contents, I found this blog particularly interesting.

But for now we invite you to join us in St Botolph just before the Christmas Day service started

St Botolph without Aldgate at Christmas time.

Ready for the Christmas service.

St Botolph without Aldgate at Christmas time.

"Mary of the Sorrows" St Botolphs without Aldgate.

‘Mary of the Sorrows”. A symbol from its previous denomination as a Roman Catholic church (C of E now).

Beautiful ceiling in St Botolphs without Aldgate.

Beautiful ceiling.

Advent candles in St Botolph without Aldgate.

Advent candles.

St Botolph without Aldgate. The oldest complete church organ in the United Kingdom. Returned to its 1744 specification.

The oldest complete church organ in the United Kingdom. Returned to its 1744 specification.

A selection of the stained glass windows, all honouring Lord Mayors of London and their professions:

Stained glass window in St Botolphs dedicated to David Joseph Collins, Lightmonger, Master 1996-1997.

Stained glass window in St Botolphs dedicated to Alderman the Lord Levene of Portsoken KBE, Carman, Lord Mayor 1998-1999.

Stained glass window in St Botolphs dedicated to Sir Samuel Joseph, Cutler, Lord Mayor 1942-1943.

Stained glass window in St Botolphs dedicated to Sir Francis Moon, Stationer, Lord Mayor 1854-1855.

These artefacts are described in our recommended blog above:

Burial stone for Benjamin Pratt AM.

Burial Stone for Sir Edward Darcy Knight.

Burial Stone for Robert Tailor of Silverdale.

A beautiful carving depicting King David with a harp, surrounded by violins and lutes.

This beautiful panel came from the church of St Mary Matfelon, Whitechapel. It is all that is left of a church destroyed by bombing on 27 December 1940.

The brass plaque underneath the carving.

Colourful bust of Robert Dow.

Robert Dow who lived to 90 (see the other blog above).

Back out in the fresh air of Christmas Day, Bobby wasn’t up for a long walk. So, we had a few minutes stroll. Never more than five minutes from the church. It’s quite amazing what this church building had seen in its lifetime. Built in 1744. Bombed in the Second World War. Surrounded by destruction, yet surviving. Damaged, but restorable. It became a Grade 1 listed building and was re-hallowed in the presence of The Queen Mother and the Lord Mayor of London on 8 November 1966. And now, it is dwarfed by the steel and glass of the modern city. Still important, the land around it was re-landscaped only last year. We loved it there.

The Kahaila Café, Portsoken Pavilion, Aldgate Square.

Part of the re-landscaping adjacent. A rusty café.

An original Police Telephone post in light blue.

Police telephone box.

The garden of St Botolph without Aldgate.

The garden of St Botolph without Aldgate.

The Gherkin, almost hidden amongst even taller buildings.

The “Gherkin”. To Bobby, a beautiful modern building. Ironically, hidden and overshadowed by even bigger buildings. Just as the church once was.

The Lloyds building, Aldgate.

Lloyds.

The "Cheese Grater", Aldgate.

The “Cheese Grater”.

The "Scalpel". Peering between giants.

The “Scalpel”. Peering between giants.

St Andrew Undershaft. 1532. A rare church that survived both The Great Fire of London and the Blitz.The "Scalpel" towering behind, reflecting the "Gherkin".

St Andrew Undershaft. 1532. A rare church that survived both The Great Fire of London and the Blitz.The “Scalpel” towering behind, reflecting the “Gherkin”.

Noticeboard explaining that St Andrew Undershaft Church is now used by St Helen's Church, Bishopgate.

Still a working church. There are divided opinions over the free for all policy of London accepting old and new right next door to each other. Other cities like Paris separate them, but then Paris wasn’t bombed to bits in the war.

Grub on Christmas Day.

"Jack the Chipper" Chip Shop!

London Transport style roundel with Jack the Chipper round the top, Fish and Chips round the bottom and Whitechapel across the centre.

Ornate ceiling in "Jack the Chipper".

London never closes. We had a lovely Christmas day dinner of fish and chips in the splendid “Jack the Chipper”, Whitechapel. Not far from the hotel.

(The Technical Director now wonders how many melons need to been consumed in restoration of all this unhealthy eating…)

The West End Musical.

Poster for Mary Poppins.

“Practically Perfect in every way”.

The Ball Family in front of an illuminated Mary Poppins poster.

The Ball Family at Mary Poppins.

Mary Poppins poster.

In the auditorium - Happy times: Andrew, Daisy-Mae, Giselle, Marie.

Happy times: Andrew, Daisy-Mae, Giselle, Marie.

Lighting a Christmas Day Candle to Diddley

in St Botolph without Aldgate.

Bertie in front of a candle lit for Diddley, with the Mary of Sorrows behind.

Close up of Bertie and the candle.

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ChristmasMindfulSpitalfieldsTowns and Cities    


  1. Avatar Kate says:

    Love your annual tribute to the amazing history of London, in fact i love all your trips down memory lane and appreciation of life. Here’s to another year of Mindfully Bertie…

  2. Avatar Jim Allen says:

    Thank you, Bob. That is one of the sights/sites we missed in our three years in England.

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