Saturday 15 March 2014

St Alfege Church, Greenwich ...

The Church with a Millennium of history ... as the Guide Book says “since 1012 when St Alfege witnessed to his faith and justice for the poor; there has been a church on this site in Greenwich”.  I described the manner of his death in my previous post ...
John James'
Tower (Hawksmoor's
was too expensive)

The manor of Greenwich had been under the protection of the Benedictine St Peter’s Abbey, Ghent in Flanders (Belgium) since 918 and was under the personal protection of Pope Eugenius III in 1150.

Nothing is known of that early church, while the only records of the second church, built in the early 13th century, are illustrations or panoramas of the outside from the 16th and 17th centuries.

Greenwich Peninsula c 1872
(Isle of Dogs is to the left)
The rectors appointed from Flanders were never acceptable to the people of Greenwich, who persuaded Edward III (1312 – 1377) to take over the manor in 1317. 

So began St Alfege Church’s pivotal position in the influence of persons associated with Greenwich, and from where the populace had a close view of the royal power struggles taking place at Greenwich Palace.

Isle of Dogs c 1899

The ‘good Duke Humphrey’ patron of the arts and founder of the Bodleian Library, Oxford was murdered in Greenwich in 1447.  Humphrey of Lancaster, Duke of Gloucester and Earl of Pembroke (1390 – 1447) was “son, brother and uncle of Kings”, being the 4th and youngest son of King Henry IV of England.

The church acted as a proxy Chapel Royal when Henry VIII was baptised in 1491.  The Chapel Royal falls under the Ecclesiastical Household of the monarch ... i.e. it serves the spiritual needs of the Sovereign.

Interior looking towards the organ; the pulpit top
can be seen, as I took the photo from the gallery
Samuel Pepys (1633 – 1703) noted in his diary in 1665 “by coach to Greenwich Church, where a good sermon, a fine church and a great company of handsome women” ... well now we know – he liked his women!

John Evelyn (1620 – 1706), the diarist, lived at Sayes Court nearby and commented that “at the conclusion of the church service, there was a French sermon preached after the use of the English Liturgy translated into French, to a congregation of about 100 French refugees” – I’m not sure why the French refugees were there, my history digs have failed me here.

Aerial view from Queen's House at front,
looking through the 'courts' of the old
Royal Naval College towards the
Isle of Dogs

Because of its proximity to the Royal Palace, the Old Royal Naval Hospital and the dockyards the thriving Greenwich-Deptford-Rotherhithe-Woolwich towns housed a diverse agglomeration of peoples ...

... sailors, watermen (the ‘taxis of the day), royal servants, shipbuilders, fishermen, travellers, trades folk, then more substantial houses were occupied by Ambassadors to the Court, natural philosophers, scientists, artists and artisans ... remember this was the centre of the Royal Court and government ... as the spread of London westwards really only took off in the 1700s.

The churches were refuges, places for worship, meeting houses and St Alfege’s played a prominent role in the lives of the Royals, the nobility and the master craftsmen to the trades’ people ...

St Alfege (his day is 19th April)
Francis Spear, in the early 1950s,
designed a number of  new windows for
the ones that were destroyed in the War

So when the act of God happened and the roof caved in during a storm in November 1710, the parishioners petitioned Parliament and were granted funds by the Commissioners, under the Fifty New Churches Act 1710: the government’s opportunity to create monuments to themselves and ...

... to Queen Anne, who reigned 1702 to 1707, and then, after the Union of England and Scotland in 1707, continued to reign as Queen of Great Britain, until she died in 1714.

Famous people who worked on the new church included:

A partial glimpse of the Sanctuary Altar,
together with one of the Benefaction Boards
Sir Nicholas Hawksmoor, a pupil of Sir Christopher Wren and Clerk of the Works at Greenwich Hospital for 40 years, was given the architectural commission. 

Hawksmoor (1661 – 1736) designed most of the 11 churches that came to be built to under the Act ... whose purpose was to serve the rapidly growing population of London.

Hawksmoor’s elaborate columns and cornices of the Sanctuary Altar are original and thankfully escaped the bombing in 1941. 

Sketch by Thornhill for the
Great Hall, Greenwich Hospital
(now known as Old Royal Naval
The restored ‘trompe de l’oeil’ paintings in the Sanctuary are by Sir James Thornhill (1675 – 1734), better known for the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College and the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Grinling Gibbons (1648 – 1721), the sculptor and wood carver, who became known as the “King’s Carver” ... he designed the original pulpit before WWII bombing destroyed a great deal of it ... but the restoration followed the original in shape, although because of lack of funds the design is much simpler.

There are two magnificent Benefaction Boards put into the second church in 1702, and afterwards into Hawksmoor’s church, which then survived the bombing as they were previously situated in the south staircase lobby – now they reside on either side of the Altar Sanctuary.

Famous people particularly associated with St Alfege’s include

View through glass - showing organ
stops, keyboard and part of the
Thomas Tallis (1505 - 1585), the Composer, whose influence was invaluable to the development and flowering of the golden age of Tudor Music under Elizabeth I.

For organ buffs: When the roof collapsed the 1552 organ was saved ... the remaining part of that console is displayed – it has a curious arrangement of reverse colour keys.  Some keys are split to achieve sharps and Middle D is noticeably more worn than the more usual Middle C.

Experts believe that the middle keyboard is almost certainly from Tudor times and would have been played by Tallis, and the Princesses Mary and Elizabeth while they lived at Greenwich Palace.

Photo of the music score displayed
Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII, after whom the ill-fated ship the Mary Rose is named.

The Revd. John Flamsteed (1646 – 1719), the first Astronomer Royal who was instrumental in persuading Charles II to construct an observatory at Greenwich.

General James Wolfe (1727 – 1759) - victorious soldier who died during the Battle at Quebec.  His body was brought back to England and is buried in the vault beneath the Church.

General James Wolfe's - glass
panel displayed on window sill
Henry Kelsey (1667 – 1724) explorer.  He was apprenticed to the Hudson’s Bay Company and in 1690-91 made a trip across the Canadian Plains being one of the first Europeans to do so .

Sir John Julius Angerstein (1753 – 1823) was born in St Petersburg, emigrated to London at 15, became a Lloyd’s underwriter at 21.  He was the main inspiration behind Lloyd’s, and was financial adviser to Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger.

He was a distinguished patron of the arts and his collection of paintings formed the core of the National (Art) Gallery.

Boston Tea Party - history of North America -
1789 - Engraving Plate, E Newberry
see Wiki page

Samuel Enderby (1755 – 1829) merchant.  He was a member of a Greenwich trading family which dealt in tea (their ships were the focus of the Boston Tea Party), whale oil and convicts.  The family financed three expeditions to Antarctica – hence the naming of Enderby Land.

General Sir Charles Gordon (1833 – 1885) – the grandson of Samuel Enderby; the General has a rich history.

Sir George Biddell Airy (1801 – 1885) Astronomer.  During his time as Astronomer Royal and with his researches he defined the Greenwich Meridian, which was internationally recognised in 1884.

Everyone's Chapel for World Peace
(photo taken from guide book)
In the south aisle is Everyone’s Chapel for World Peace ... particularly for the children.  At times during the year the altar frontals made by the children of the church are used, and give a unique perspective on life and World Peace. 

This is particularly appropriate for what was a main hub of activity around the ‘highway’ of the River Thames and the Greenwich Court in those early times ... where many diverse peoples came from different parts of the world, and where we now continue to celebrate enormous diversity in this small country of ours.
Coventry Cross -
photo from guide book

On the altar is a Coventry Cross, also known as a Cross of Nails.  After Coventry Cathedral was blitz bombed in 1940, a handful of 14th century hand-forged nails lay in the charred ruins.

Three of these medieval nails were used to form a cross and since then Coventry crosses have been presented to many churches and centres in the world as a symbol of peace and reconciliation.

Alfege’s last days were captured poetically and poignantly in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, apparently one of the very few pieces of verse appearing in them:

Captive then was
He that once
Was head of all England,
Of Christendom.

There could be seen
Great misery
Where formerly
Great joy was seen,

In the city from which
Christianity came,
And bliss before God
And bliss before the World

From Everyone’s Chapel for World Peace, the words:
Lord, Grant Us Peace

Henry Kelsey was probably the
first European to see buffalo
Illustration by Charles William
Jefferys (1869 - 1961)
I would like to credit the following for much of the information in this post:

The Guide Book to The Parish Church of St Alfege

The St Alfege Trail: a riverside walk and cycle route from Southwark Cathedral through a thousand years of history (a pamphlet produced for the Millennium of St Alfege 1012 – 2012)

Osbern’s Life of Alfege by Frances Shaw, a professor of Classics at Oxford University, who now teaches Latin, Greek and Philosophy in nearby Dulwich. 

(This translation from the Latin now makes Alfege’s life accessible to modern readers, while retaining the colour of Osbern’s distinctive style).  Osbern (c 1050 –c  1090) was a Benedictine monk, biographer and musician, precentor of Christ Church Canterbury.

This is a rather long post, but I wanted to leave in some detail and not curtail it too much ... a millennium of history in one post is a little squeezed – this is a wonderful place if you can get to visit.

In the 19th C Porthcurno, west Cornwall
was connected to the rest of the
world by submarine cables
I then found a very interesting article via the Atlantic Cable Company that throws a lot of light on the Enderby family, the docks, industrial activity and various engineering developments over three hundred years.

What caught my eye was the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum, Cornwall connection from where many of the world’s telegraph cables were manufactured and laid – hence the note here.

History of the Atlantic Cable from Porthcurno, West Cornwall and its connection with Enderby Wharf ..

I am once again joining in with the
A-Z 2014  Blogging Challenge
Sign up list is here

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


Optimistic Existentialist said...

Wow I'm the first commenter again. That's twice in a month! Do I win a cake?? St Alfege Church is absolutely beautiful. I can't wait to visit all of Europe's beautiful churches someday :)

Manzanita said...

What a history lesson. So much history was taking place in the British Isles while the American Indians were enjoying the freedom of their own country. Life goes on and history changes. When I read, "the roof fell in," I thought it was a figure of speach, meaning some horrible thing happened. The roof really did fall in and it really was a horrible thing. Lucky the beautiful organ was saved and with all the talented carvers, etc the restoration was grand. I like the way you figured out that Samuel P. liked the ladies. Ha

Luanne G. Smith said...

Can't claim to be an organ buff, but I do find that fascinating that the organ survived and that it was played by such famous fingers. :)

D.G. Hudson said...

Informative and interesting post, Hilary, which is what you always deliver. I love history and especially learning the humanizing bits behind the historical event.

I like the Coventry Cross, something from the ashes to show 'there is still hope'.

Annalisa Crawford said...

Such a rich history, and very lucky to have survived the war with just some missing windows. Like L.G, I love the idea of such famous people playing the organ and walking the aisles.

MunirGhiasuddin said...

You go to such lengths to give us information on England's history.
It is so sad that the founder of a library of arts was murdered.

It is not very unusual in Indian history that heirs to big Empires lived in poverty and dismay, sometimes because of force by people who betrayed them and sometimes by choice.

Once again, kudos to you for such a detailed blog post.
Take care

Jo said...

You do dig up some interesting stuff Hilary. Is the hospital still working? I had forgotten that Greenwich was the Royal centre in those days. One tends to forget that Buck House is a fairly modern acquisition or I do anyway. Saw a TV programme on BH the other day, didn't know it was built over a river in marshland.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

That's what is absolutely fascinating about Europe and the UK - the sheer history that is everywhere, from the tiniest hamlets to the greatest cities! But then, of course, we have our fascinating history too ... think of Mrs Ples, at a mere 2.05 million years! :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Keith - I could send you a delicious piece of fruit cake, that would last the trip .. but the customs form might be difficult!

I'm not sure how many lives you've got? Visiting all the beautiful churches in England would take you a long long time! But am so glad you enjoyed the post ...

@ Manzanita - yes an awful lot happened in this part of the world .. and as you say the American Indians had their land for over half of this 1,000 years.

The idiom "when the roof falls in" applies to something suddenly happening .. and in those early buildings - it was likely the roof would fall in, as happened here.

Thankfully lots within the Church survived ... and so much is known about those early Master builders, musicians, carvers etc ...

Pepys was known as a womaniser - and this quote really confirmed that fact.

@ LG - I'm not an organ buff either, but I do love seeing quirky historical items and this was behind a glass screen. It does seem amazing that the Princesses played that organ about 500 years ago ..

@ DG - thanks .. there was so much to write about for this post: the area and its history, let alone the church building ... and then the people - and I didn't mention them all ...

We were given three nails along with a palm cross about 5 years ago, when my mother was in the Nursing Centre ... now those three nails make sense .. neither my mother nor I could work them out: our ignorance shone through, at least I now understand the connotation ...

@ Annalisa - the inside of the church was burnt out .. but they rescued what could be restored ... and despite the stringencies of finances after the war - have done an amazing job, while recording everything for us.

Walking the aisles listening to organ music played by Thomas Tallis - a time trip indeed.

@ Munir - many thanks .. fortunately the guidebooks and pamphlet gave me most of it .. but I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

The Indian continent's history is very full and rich - but I don't know a great deal about it .. except the British weren't perhaps the best - yet if we hadn't been exploring and developing trade routes the world might be a very different place.

@ Jo - thankfully it was available for me to extract - hence the credits I give at the end.

We do forget don't we .. the Palace of Westminster (pre the Houses of Parliament) was very important in Medieval days .. and in fact was built on Thorney Island .. that area was very marshy - Henry VIII used to hunt the royal fields west of Buckingham Palace as it is today, and Hyde Park ..

Lots of tiny rivers draining into the Thames have been built over ... as London expanded and was drained.

@ Judy - there is so much here: this church just seems to have had so much going on - mostly because of its association to the Palace of Greenwich ...

But we don't have a Mrs Ples - though I might see a younger Mrs Britain of about one million years when I get the Natural History Museum later this year.

Thanks everyone - just so lovely you're all interested to read - I appreciate your comments .. cheers Hilary

Suzanne Furness said...

We are indeed lucky to live in a country covered by so much history. I know the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum you talk about, down by the Minack Theatre - another fascinating place to visit.

Gattina said...

What a nice history lesson ! I have been in Greenwich years ago, but we traveled through on my UK tour.

cleemckenzie said...

It's hard to put so much history into one post, but you did a bang up job, Hilary. I enjoyed finding out so much about The Parish Church of St Alfege. What a list of historical figures were involved in its story.

Julia Hones said...

Greenwich is an intriguing place and you awakened my interest in it on your previous post.( There is so much history packed in this post!)

I love the chapel for World Peace.
Thanks, Hilary.

Mason Canyon said...

What a beautiful church and such amazing history. It's wonderful that records have been preserved for so long.

Janie Junebug said...

Thanks for the information. I'm watching a documentary called The Rape of Europa. It's about the nazis plundering works of art. It has me wondering how England protected its great works during the war. Maybe I'll find out further into the film.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's quite a history. Glad the organ was saved when the roof collapsed.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

England is such a treasure trove for history buffs. Compared to other parts of the world, America is still a youngster.

Frankie Miller said...

A millennium of fascinating history. I love visiting churches whenever I'm on holiday or having a day out. Even the smallest of village churches are interesting and often have unusual objects. One I visited recently had Chinese lanterns, very ornate ones.
I never seem to have time to take in all the history and I think you're wonderful having done so much research, Hilary.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Your wonderful post reminds me of how church is meaningful to civilization and adds to any country's history.

Susan Kane said...

We have traveled in England many times, and the churches are where we go at the beginning. Our children were awed by the structure and windows. Now I have some historical references.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Suzanne - we very lucky to live in GB, where so much recorded history has taken place, and where we're able to find out so much more.

We used to love going to the Minnack Theatre especially in those early days when we sat on rocks and turf. I must definitely visit the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum .. they're refurbishing it at the moment.

@ Gattina - I'm sure the tour companies would take in Greenwich - there's a great deal to see.

@ Lee - many thanks - I'm just grateful for the information from the guide book and walking /cycling pamphlet. I have to say I learnt a great deal about our early history, our master craftsmen and how much was centred around those early wharfs and dock areas ...

@ Julia - The visit to the Church certainly opened my eyes to what's available out at Greenwich and its rich history. Reminding me that history is made over time .. via the workers and small communities who would have plied their trade along the coasts.

The Chapel For World Peace was a delight to find .. and learning about the Coventry Cross ..

@ Mason - we are indeed fortunate that writing and recording have enabled us to store so much and things we can still access and see.

Also the crafts people who spend hours restoring things, researching how they were originally made and putting them back together ..

@ Janie - the film the Monuments Men 'tells that story' .. I thought the film was awful, but I'm glad I saw via the film how much art was pillaged and stored in mines by the Nazis.

The British took many of their art works, monuments, artefacts and stored them underground too - a great deal of our culture was protected that way ...

But we were across the Channel, so at least the works of art couldn't be stolen, as happened in Europe.

@ Alex - it's just amazing to be able to see the remains of the organ behind the glass.

@ Susan - we are just very lucky to live here .. well I think I am. At least America appreciates art and you have some wonderful museums ...

@ Fanny - many of our churches have this much history don't they - or more, often. It was the connection with the Royal Court in early Medieval Days that has given Greenwich so much richness, which fortunately has been kept and recorded, so we can see it today.

@ Teresa - Churches have always been incredibly important to civilisations ... and thanks for reminding us.

@ Susan - the village churches with perhaps their adjacent castles, ruins etc .. open the doors to our very early life in the countryside ...

I'm glad this post will help you a little with an understanding of the events which occurred throughout England in various forms ... it certainly helps my understanding.

Cheers to you all - so lovely to see you - Hilary

Patsy said...

Samuel Peys had quite a reputation with the ladies. Apparently there are several juicy references in his diaries. Not that I'd read such a thing of course!

I like the Coventry crosses. I hadn't heard of those, but it's nice the nails were kept and used to help promote peace.

Anonymous said...

Some of those old churches definitely had the look of refuges -- or Noah's ark, ready to ride out the storm.

Brian Miller said...

pretty cool how things work out...the collapse of the roof for instance....and how that played into further expansion...and the church played into art...that organ, goodness it has me a little intimidated....smiles...

mail4rosey said...

I love looking back at history. And while I appreciate many of today's feats, I think the ones in the times long past are amazing simply because of the primitive way in which they had to be done. Some of the greatest things in our history took a lot of ingenuity, and a LOT of hard work!!

TALON said...

Hilary, what amazing history your country has. We're just infants in comparison here in Canada. I enjoyed reading this so much! Hope all is well.

Kim Van Sickler said...

A millennium of history in one post is quite an ambitious endeavor. That St. Alfege Trail sounds fun. I love hiking/biking through history. It brings the past to life for me.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Hilary,

I really ENJOY your posts on the loveliness of England's historical architecture and the arts. One can never have too much culture. And since England is STEEPING with history, there's so much to tell.

America is such a young country in comparison and we do not have such incredible Cathedrals, churches, and abbeys.

Andrea said...

Wow, very interesting!

Sherry Ellis said...

I certainly learn a lot of English history through your blog!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I swear, Hilary! I learn more from your posts than I ever did in school. Ever thought of turning all these posts into a book! What a great idea. Think of what all those children could learn.

I love all things concerning the UK. Never get tired of learning more.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Its location meant that church was very influential over the years.

Vallypee said...

I've just been catching up, Hilary. I know where to come for my history now :) One thing I noticed particularly was the view of the Isle of Dogs and the photo there. I've always had a special affection for the 'Dogs' and when I look at that image of it, I understand why it has maintained such a special identity. It really was a place apart!

dolorah said...

Long, yes; but informative and interesting. I feel like I've been traveling whenever I visit here.

Good luck with A-Z.

Liz Blocker said...

This is lovely - such a great, interesting post. Thank you so much for sharing all of this!

Juliet said...

Wow. This one is jam-packed with information. I like the stained glass window, and enjoy Samuel Pepys's turn of phrase. Thanks Hilary. You are my history lesson for each week.

Trisha said...

Thanks for this fascinating overview. I studied Medieval history at uni and we did quite a lot of study of cathedrals and so on.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Patsy - it was just fun seeing the Pepys quote in the guide book and I couldn't resist putting it in.

The Coventry cross was something I hadn't realised or taken in before .. but wonderful to know the medieval nails were kept and reused in such a fashion.

@ Milo - the Church provides a refuge for those in need: always has done and will continue to do so.

@ Brian - the roof collapse was good timing .. and coincided with the New Churches Act, required for the expanding population.

The organ was incredible to see - it looks really well preserved.

@ Rosey - yes, the workmen of yesteryear were very good at building things, while those early designers were undaunted in their vision and ideas. Exactly as you say a lot of ingenuity, and a lot of very hard work.

@ Talon - there's a lot here, as in Europe too .. and our advantage was we've been recording it.

It's good that countries value their past ... and glad that you enjoyed the post - good to see you.

@ Kim - a millennium relative to this church, I should have said - but still St Alfege's has seen many monarchs in its time.

The St Alfege trail does look fun - we can go from Southwark Cathedral opposite St Paul's on the south bank all the way round to Greenwich, the Queen's House, naval dockyards and Greenwich Park (where the original Tudor Palace was built, pre the Queen's House) - an excellent trail for walking, cycling with lots of interesting sites along the way.

Hiking/biking can open up so much history ...

@ Michael - good to see you and yes we have so much culture - there's always something to stop and look at - this church was an excellent find ... so much going on.

America and Canada are young - but you've plenty of museums, your own buildings are now historical .. and you're appreciating other cultures ..

@ Andrea - thanks ..

@ Sherry - I teach myself, as I blog along .. that's a big treat for me.

@ Joylene – I can reliably tell you – I teach myself a great deal too! I have book ideas for the future ... and I’m sure I’ll be doing something soon. It’s great you are happy reading these posts and learning/seeing a little more of our life here.

@ Diane – yes the location was essential – absolutely on the doorstep of the Tudor monarchs, while being near the Thames to minister to those early sailors.

@ Val – many thanks .. the previous post I put a link to the Wiki page as to the etymological determination for the Isle of Dogs name – that was an interesting extra. Also how we’ve been able to incorporate these islands into Greater London as skills have improved and the need has occurred ... The Isle of Dogs needed to be bridged and tunnelled to gain access, though in earlier times 40m of land was infilled to give an entry point.

@ Donna – glad you enjoyed it. I feel like I’ve been travelling when I write my posts!

@ Liz – so pleased you enjoyed it .. St Alfege played a very important role in our English way of life ...

@ Juliet – yes there was more I could have put in – but I managed to hold off a little! The stained glass windows deserve a lot of attention and I’ll enjoy having a closer look at those. Samuel Pepys was funny wasn’t he .. he said it like he saw and felt it: succinct writing though!

@ Trisha – I think I’d have like to have done a history degree .. so that must have been very interesting ... there is so much symbolic thought in the planning and subsequent building of a Cathedral – and what a wonderful subject to have studied.

Cheers to you all – lovely to see you .. wonderful weekend we had, now it’s still sunny which is lovely – no grey skies .. enjoy the week Hilary

Rhonda Albom said...

British history really came alive for us when we were in the UK. Too bad we missed this church, primarily because we forgot to go to Greenwich. No kidding, it was on our list, but we forgot. Your post was really informative and interesting.

Rosaria Williams said...

So much to learn,,,

Stephen Tremp said...

I have to say I am not a big fan of the big organ. they are beautiful to look at. But to have to listen to? I just don't care for them. But there is much history associated with them.

Theresa Milstein said...

Wow, what a beautiful church. Such a long history. That keyboard is the perfect example! Thanks for sharing. (Love the part about the "handsome" ladies!)

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

What a lovely church and an amazing history. One of my favorite things about England...such a rich history and dating back so far--and documented!

Karen Lange said...

I don't blame you for wanting to include all this info. It is interesting, and made more so with the details and whatnot. Have you ever thought about compiling a booklet or some such with some of your posts? I think some (besides your followers here) might be interested in reading it.

Have a great week! :)

Silvia Writes said...

I love history, so coming here is joy. Sounds like the church served as many things to many people -- but I particularly like that it served as a refuge at some point. Interesting to read about the politics and royal struggles of the time. Also beautiful images.

Alfege's words are poetic and poignant indeed, and nice to know they were preserved in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles.
Thanks for sharing another great post, Hilary.

Christine Rains said...

I love coming to your history lessons. What a beautiful church. Thank you for sharing with us.

Christine Rains said...

I love coming to your history lessons. What a beautiful church. Thank you for sharing with us.

H. R. Sinclair said...

Beautiful. The wood of the pews is a gorgeous color too.

Lynn said...

What a fascinating place. I love the story of the organ.

Unknown said...

Looks like a lot of great history to be uncovered.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Rhonda - visiting historical places does bring the facts to life ... well I reckon you're ready for another visit - and Greenwich will be on the list. There's a lot there ... but I don't think you'll forget next time!

@ Rosaria - many thanks ..

@ Stephen - the sound really does resonate, but it's an acquired listening sound ... I can lose myself sometime. This Tallis organ console was just brilliant to see ...

@ Theresa - isn't the keyboard superb to see .. and I really enjoyed the little time I had there - I must return to look further ...

@ Elizabeth - fortunately so much is documented and now with all the forensic analysis and scientific data we can add to the basics .. I'm just amazed at what else they find ...

@ Karen - thanks so much. My thought processes re books are mulling gently - but I only give a glimpse on subjects ... something will be happening ...

@ Silvia - that's lovely to read .. and good to see you. Churches were the meeting place .. and in some places are introducing that element of community life back in again ...

St Alfege's has a very rich broad history - which makes it so informative and interesting. Thankfully we have some wonderful unique books recording (after the event/times)a chronicle of life in those very early days of our human history.

@ Christine - good to see you and thanks for coming by .. I appreciate your comment.

@ Holly - the hue of the wood is wonderful ... I should have captured more .. but I was bowled over by all the history!

@ Lynn - thanks ... Greenwich has a rich story to tell .. and I'm so pleased so much has been preserved, including that organ.

@ Lady Lilith - good to see you ..

Cheers everyone - have a good week .. it's 'warm' but gloomy here! Hilary

Deniz Bevan said...

Thanks for sharing all this with us, Hilary!
I love being in spaces with so much history to them - just think of all the people who've come and gone!

Haven't had a chance to visit Greenwich yet, but I hope to someday.

And ooh, there's a Turner exhibit on? I hope you're going to share that with us too, so I can live vicariously through you :-)

Love the bones in your other post - mole made me think of Mole in the Wind in the Willows :-)

Janie Junebug said...

I finished watching The Rape of Europa last night, Hilary, and learned about the monuments men. So interesting.


klahanie said...

Greetings human, Hilary,

Wow and you really do go into a great amount of detail. As you will know, my human is quite familiar with a lot of what you allude to.

Thus to keep it brief, I might add that there is an elementary school in Vancouver that is named General James Wolfe.

All the beast, um best with that A to Z.

Pawsitive wishes,

Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar!

Jo said...

To Penny - I used to live quite close to the village where General Wolfe was born. Im pawsitive you know where I mean.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Deniz - well I'm sure you'll get to visit Greenwich on one of your next trips to London .. pick a sunny day - and it's just beautiful down there. So much to look and to see!

Turner - I went to the Greenwich exhibition yesterday and it was extremely impressive; I went to Brighton Pavilion a couple of weeks ago to see the Turner paintings of about 200+ years go on the town pre its development; then there were some Turner watercolours exhibited at a Tate watercolour exhibition; and finally a very good programme on Turner and his art a couple of years ago ..

So I've imbued my brain with art - very lightly, but so interesting to learn about.

So pleased little mole and his bones amused - I saw the jaw bone programme last night .. amazing.

@ Janie - thanks for coming back .. I'm sure the film I saw (The Monuments Men) didn't do the lost works justice, but one certainly got the enormity of the pillage. It really was the rape of Europa .. and as you say so interesting.

@ Gary (I should say Penny) - yes this was a long post - but St Alfege's had so many links into the royal court and all the associations of nobility, creative forces around I couldn't easily leave things out.

Interesting to read about the elementary school in Vancouver ... long way from Quebec.

Yes I must gear myself up for the A-Z .. thanks for the pawsitive wishes, and visit ..

@ Jo - it's an amazing part of the world ... I hadn't realised Wolfe was born in Westerham in Kent, but the family lived in Ireland. Then when he was 11 they moved to Greenwich. Even then .. they moved around didn't they ..

Thanks to you all - so pleased you've managed to read through this post ... cheers Hilary

Nikki said...

Hi! Thanks for your comment. I didn't know i required a code for comments and cant figure out how to remove it..

Tara Tyler said...

all the history and images and elegant old names remind me of Game of Thrones, reading last two books and loving the drama behind the politics - Great Britain has such a colorful and inspirational history!

ps - my neighborhood in Ohio is called Greenwich =)

M Pax said...

Wow, 1012. That's a really long time ago and amazing. What a beautiful church. It'd be interesting to see what all it witnessed over all that time.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ NIkki - glad you got the Word Verification sorted out ready for the A-Z ..

@ Tara - there are so many characters, and weird and wonderful montages arising from the dark ages, the medieval periods ... I don't know anything about Game of Thrones - perhaps I should look!

Glad you enjoyed the post though .. and I bet I know where your neighbourhood name came from!

@ Mary - yes one thousand years is quite long isn't it .. I've often wanted to be a fly on the wall or nearby tree and be able to see the peoples, the discussions over time ...

Fun to think of what was discussed, what was overheard, the fashions of the day, the rough working clothes ..

Thanks for being here .. cheers Hilary

Sara said...


I think people who live in Europe, especially England, are so lucky. Just stumbling upon a church like you did with this one is a walk through history. I enjoyed this post very much:~)

I remember visiting churches when we traveled. I loved the markers on the floor for people who had died. I don't mean to be morbid, but sometimes the few words would carved into the stone would tell such stories.

You do a wonderful job of making history fascinating. I know it's due in part to your love of it, which comes across in your posts. I always learn something AND enjoy the process. You're a good teacher:~)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sara .. lovely to see you - this Church was special, as I think all London churches would be .. I just don't deviate off to look.

We can learn so much about an area from the old tombs in the Church or the flagstone memorials on the floor ... and as you say - incredible short sayings are often engraved.

Just glad I'm able to bring some history to light for a few interested parties .. it's a puzzle, but once it starts slotting into place - it is fascinating. I now often get asked am I a teacher! Sadly no ..

Cheers and thanks so much for the visit - Hilary said...

Your blog is such a treasure trove. I look forwarding to more captivating views and enlightening snippets of info during April.

Be well, Hilary.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Robyn .. many thanks .. I'm looking forward to the A-Z too - and I hope everyone enjoys them: the challenge of writing litte but giving much ...

Thanks for coming by - cheers Hilary

Unknown said...


This was so interesting and beautiful!

I've seen you many places around the web and finally checked you out. I'm also looking forward to your A-Z posts (I read that one before this one). I pulled out this year due to too much outside stuff, but will visit the short ones as I can. A pictorial view of the coast of UK will be nice.

Thanks for coming by and checking out my remodel at The Writing Nut.

M.L. Swift, Writer

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Michael - many thanks .. I know those connections are there and eventually we all seem to make them.

Glad you enjoyed the post - I was completely taken with the Church.

A -Z .. well I'd better settle and write a few more .. I'm behind!

I hope all your writing goes well while we're toddling through our ABCs .. enjoy your 'free time' ..

Cheers Hilary