Thursday, February 25, 2021

Samuel Lowdell


London The unfinished City
Samuel Lowdell (1864-1887).

Samuel Lowdell, of Bow Common, was a bargeman that worked on the barge 'William and Mary', on the River Thames. During his short life Samuel had previously saved two other people from the dangerous waters of Old Man Thames.

On the night of February 25, 1887, Samuel was working on the barge, near Blackfriars, when a shout went up that someone had fallen into the River. A boy, named Buck, had fallen in and, without any hesitation, Samuel dived into the frigid, murky waters to save him.

Unfortunately, on this occasion, after saving the boy, Samuel became stuck beneath a smaller boat, which was moored next to his barge. Despite frantic efforts to free him, Samuel never resurfaced and was presumed drowned. Buck was pulled from the water by another boat.

Samuel's body would not be recovered from the River Thames until March 23, 1887.

On April 3, 1887, Samuel Lowdell was buried in a common grave at Manor Park Cemetery.

This plaque is situated on the wall of the G. F. Watt's Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice, in Postman's Park. 

Monday, February 15, 2021

Cathedral Church of St. Saviour and St. Mary Overie

Cathedral Church of St. Saviour and St. Mary Overie (Southwark Cathedral).

Southwark Cathedral dominates the area around London Bridge, Bankside and sits right next to Borough Market.

It is a remarkable building that is gradually being swamped by other buildings in the area. One of the best ways to get to see the building in all of its glory, besides going inside, is to look down on it from The Shard.

If you are ever in the area then it is well worth exploring the building and its history, in which it is steeped. But, you must remember it is a working building, so entry may be refused on special occasions, so check their website or signage before visiting.

Brief History

The Cathedral Church of St. Saviour and St. Mary Overie is the 4th church to have been built on this site. Fire having destroyed the three previous churches. 

Parts of the building date from the 7th century, with St. Swithun, the Bishop of Winchester, rebuilding the church and adding a monastery, which replaced an earlier convent, in the 9th century.

These buildings were again rebuilt in the 12th century, by the Augustinian Canons, who also built St. Thomas's Hospital.

There are a few traces of the Norman Priory church that survive to this day, plus some 13th century parts.

Fire, once again, destroyed the church in 1206, with construction on on the new church beginning in 1220 in a Gothic style. It is now the oldest Gothic church in London.

Following more fire damage, in 1385, the Bishop of Winchester, Cardinal Beaufort, helped to finance the restoration of the building. In 1424 Beaufort's niece, Joan Beaufort, married James I, King of Scotland at the church.

In 1469 the stone-vaulted roof of the nave collapsed and was rebuilt in wood.

In 1539 the Priory was suppressed and handed to Henry VIII, at the reformation, with St. Mary Overie becoming the parish church of St. Saviour, Southwark.

In 1614 the parishioners bought the church from James I and it is with them that the property would remain.

During the English Civil War St. Saviour's escaped damage and its new tower was finished by 1689.

London The Unfinished City
Southwark Cathedral.

Sometime, in the early 19th century, some extensive and much needed repair work was carried out on the choir and tower. The wooden roof, of the nave, was taken down in 1831, leaving it open to the elements, resulting in the walls being demolished in 1840.

In 1890, it was decided that a Cathedral church was needed for the rising population, south of the River Thames, with St. Saviour's being the top choice. With the Prince of Wales laying the foundation stone, work swiftly began on the building. At the same time the boundaries of the medieval sees were being reorganised, with Southwark transferred from the See of Winchester to the See of Rochester.

In 1897 St. Saviour's became the Cathedral of South London, with Edward Stuart Talbot being enthroned as the 1st Bishop of Southwark, in 1905.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

London Necropolis Railway


London The unfinished City
London Necropolis Railway Station

Wandering around the south of the River Thames, near Waterloo Station, you are surrounded by some fantastic architecture. 

This building which, to me, looked like an old fire station is actually the entrance to the London Necropolis Railway. 

Brief History

With space becoming a premium in London, more people were interred outside of the city. Brockwood Cemetery, Surrey, seemed like the perfect choice, so a train line was built that would transport the deceased and their mourners there. Brockwood Cemetery would become known as the London Necropolis.

From 1854 the London Necropolis Company's funeral traffic to Brockwood Cemetery left from the Necropolis Station, just outside Waterloo, and for many years there was a daily funereal express, to and from the Cemetery.

The waiting rooms, as well as the carriages on the funeral train, were partitioned so as to keep mourners and the deceased from mixing, also allowing to keep the different social classes apart.

The London Necropolis Railway was also used to transport many exhumed bodies, from London's overflowing cemeteries, to Brockwood.

The company had expected to carry between ten and fifty thousand bodies, per year, but, they ended up carrying just over two thousand, per year.

The London terminus was badly damaged in April 1941, during an air raid, which left it unusable. Funeral trains still departed to Brockwood Cemetery, until its official closure in May 1941.

An early price list shows that the charge for a coffin was 2s 6d.

Sunday, February 07, 2021

Brydges Place


London The Unfinished City
Brydges Place, Bedfordbury entrance

Brydges Place is an odd curiosity, that I stumbled upon quite by accident.

It was during one of my meandering strolls around the West End that discovered this entrance on Bedfordbury, Charing Cross. I decided to wander along it, to see where it took me.

The entrance was of a typical width of about 6 feet and about 80 feet along another entrance appeared, on my left, which leads to Chandos Place. This entrance was considerably wider and was obviously built to allow vehicles to enter for loading and unloading. 

Continuing along Brydges Place, which runs for roughly 280 feet, the only people I saw were restaurant staff exiting the rear of their premises to place rubbish in the bins. It did make me wonder if, besides those who work along its length, anyone does use this alley as a shortcut.

A sense of unease started to plague me as, slowly, the walls appeared to be closing in on me. By the time I reached the end of Brydges Place, my shoulders were almost touching both sides of the alley. 

London The Unfinished City
Brydges Place, from St. Martin's Lane.

London is full of alleyways and narrow streets, some of which hide hidden gems like pubs and old shops and building. Brydges Place is not one of them. Instead, it is, quite simply, a straight walkway between one place and another. Its only saving grace, is its ability to make you feel uneasy as the walls start to close in on you. Obviously, if you entered from St. Martin's Lane the opposite would be true.

A comparison of both entrances.

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