Sunday, January 27th 2013
We were late getting started today, I admit it. The recent cold weather is a disincentive to early rising and we had done our weekly shopping on Friday night, so there was no urgent business to attend to. We had thought of going to Cafe Par for breakfast but by the time we got ourselves organized and out of the house, it was so late that breakfast had become brunch.
We passed through Spa Green Garden (opposite Sadler’s Wells Theatre), in order to take a quiet and pleasant route. The pigeons seemed in a Sunday mood too and had gathered around the foot of the war memorial like a church congregation. I hurried to take this photo because I saw a woman approaching with two dogs and thought these would scare away the pigeons but the dogs were unusually well behaved and the pigeons took little notice of them.
We were disappointed to find Cafe Par closed. The owner is a football fan and follows his team whenever possible, so perhaps there was a match he wanted to attend. Next time we see him, he’s in for some gentle ribbing.
We walked on towards Smithfield, looking for somewhere else open and serving food. We ended up in West Smithfield, beside the Rotunda Garden, where a branch of Carluccio’s was open and serving both breakfast and lunch, allowing choices from both menus!
The unusual double cattle trough is perhaps a reminder of the time when live cattle were driven here from farms around London. It is dedicated to the memory of Philip Twells (1808-80), a banker and sometime MP representing the City of London. He lived in Enfield where his widow built a new church, St Mary Magdalene, in his honour. More information on Philip Twells and his family will be found here.
In West Smithfield is St Bartholomew’s Hospital (which I have already written about here) and the Church of St Bartholomew the Great, whose picturesque Smithfield entrance can be glimpsed in the above photo.
The church was founded by the Normans in 1123 as an Augustine Priory. The Priory was dissolved in 1539 and the nave of the priory church was demolished. The stone gateway pictured above was the entrance to the south aisle of the church. The half-timbered building above it was added in 1595. The shield visible below the lower window bears the arms of William Scudamore who had the structure built as his house.
Looking at the gateway in this picture, you can well imagine that it was once the entrance to a church. Today it houses an iron gate topped by another shield of the Scudamore family.
From inside the precinct, the gatehouse looks, if anything, even more picturesque, like a Tudor house in miniature. The doorway is very low, even allowing for the shorter average stature of people in past times.
Inside the gatehouse is a plaque with, either side of it, a coat of arms bearing the motto “Weave Well”. The plaque tells us that the gatehouse was restored in 1932 and dedicated to the memory of the architect Sir Aston Webb, his brother Alfred Webb and Frederick L. Dove, “who worked together on the restoration of the fabric of the church for over forty years”. This refers to their rebuilding the church, which had fallen into disrepair.
The coat of arms is that of the Webb family and the spider and its web might be seen simply as a visual pun on the family name. The motto might then seem to be an extension of that idea. However, it has been proposed that the name Webb or Webbe suggests an origin in the weavers’ trade, in which case, the motto “Weave Well” is particularly apt, even though it is now interpreted euphemistically.
From the street called Cloth Fair, we get a view of the rebuilt or restored church, though the street is too narrow to allow one to get a good angle for a photo.
Also in Cloth Fair is Founders’ Hall, the headquarters of the the Worshipful Company of Founders, one of London’s oldest livery companies. As you can see, unlike many livery halls, this one is modern. The Founders’ first hall was in Lothbury, built in 1531. It was rebuilt in 1845 and later let out as offices to the Electric Telegraph Co. That firm also took over an adjoining house where the Founders had been meeting and so the Worshipful Company moved to St Swithins Lane. The new hall in Cloth Fair was built in 1986-7, the old hall being refurbished and let out as offices.
The Founders’ Company was granted a coat of arms in 1590 and the shield proudly bears items of their trade, a ewer or laver-pot and a pair of taper-candlesticks. By a quirk of history, this coat of arms in 1857 also became that of the district of Aliwal North in the Cape Colony of South Africa. The reasons for this and a history of the Company can be found on their Website (see Early History).
We walked on up to the Barbican on Aldersgate Street and there caught a bus back to the Angel. We spent the rest of the day at home in the warm, relaxing. Ah, Sunday!