Posts Tagged ‘Church of Scotland’

Around Pont St, 1988

Wednesday, June 30th, 2021

Pont St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3i-01-positive_2400
Pont St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3i-01

Back in 1988 I seem to have sentenced myself to wander extensively along Pont St, in earlier days one of London’s most fashionable streets and still one of its more expensive, linking Knightsbridge and Belgravia.

Pont St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3i-55-positive_2400
Pont St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3i-55

Pont Street gets its name from the bridge over the river Westbourne, probably close to where Cadogan Lane now crosses the street close to its east end. Knightsbridge too was named for its bridge over this river, which flows down from Hampstead Heath to the Thames in Chelsea, passing across Sloane Square Underground Station in a very visible 19th century iron aqueduct. The bridge is still marked on maps from 1830 when the east section of Pont St was first developed but by 1840 the river had disappeared underground.

Pont St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3i-56-positive_2400
Pont St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3i-56

Pont Street originally was developed to the east of Sloane St and was only developed to the west in the late 1870s, with building continued in the following decade. Cadogan Square was built between 1877 and 1888.

Cadogan Square, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3j-65-positive_2400
Cadogan Square, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3j-65

‘Pont St’ became a synonym for the snobbish posh, and the architectural style of most the area around Pont St west of Sloane St was called by Osbert Lancaster ‘Pont St Dutch’. In Pevsner and Cherry’s London 3 North West, published in 1991 it is described as “tall sparingly decorated red brick mansions for very wealthy occupants, in the semi-Dutch, semi-Queen Anne manner of Shaw or George & Peto”. It is very handy for both Harrods and Sloane Square.

Pont St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3i-64-positive_2400
Pont St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3i-64

A welcome departure from this incredible rash of red-brick is St Columba’s Church, designed by Sir Edward Maule for the Church of Scotland. Completed in 1955 it replaced the orginal 1884 St Columba’s Church on the same site which had been destroyed by bombing in 1941. I think it altogether a more attractive building than Maule’s Guildford Cathedral.

St Columba's Church Of Scotland, church, Pont St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3j-62-positive_2400
St Columba’s Church Of Scotland, church, Pont St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3j-62

Pont Street has had some famous residents, including Lillie Langtry who lived for five years at No 21. This became a part of the Cadogan Hotel, where famously Oscar Wilde was arrested in 1985.

Hans Place, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3i-66-positive_2400
Hans Place, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3i-66

All pictures (and more) in my album 1988 London Photos – and you can see a larger version of the images and browse through the album by clicking on any of them.

Iona – the Abbey

Friday, August 14th, 2020

Every time I peel an onion, something I do several times most weeks, it reminds me of our stay at Iona. As paying guests of the Iona Community at the Abbey we took our part in the daily chores which kept the place running, and each morning after breakfast I went with the other ‘Otters’ – the work group to which I had been assigned to the kitchen to prepare vegetables. My part in this job seemed always to be one of two or three of us peeling onions – and you need a lot of onions to cook vegetarian meals for around 50 or 60 people.

There are a lot of dodges that people advise to avoid tears when peeling onions, and I think I tried them all. They may help if you are only peeling one or two, but none help if you have a mountain of them to get through. You cry, and crying only makes it worse. Still, I think I preferred it to cleaning the lavatories and washrooms that my partner was assigned to.

The Abbey is essentially a twentieth-century reconstruction carried out by teams of volunteers from the Iona Community after the site with its ruins was gifted to the Church of Scotland by the 8th Duke of Argyll in 1899, with more modern living accommodation built alongside it in a matching external style.

The Duke is still present – in marble, lying beside his wife.

As well as the abbey, alongside it is a small church, the oldest building on Iona (c 1150) with an ancient graveyard where 48 Kings of Scotland were buried. They were joined more recently by Labour leader John Smith; a boulder marks his grave with the message “An Honest Man’s The Noblest Work of God”.

There are ruins of another chapel in the grounds, as well as those of a former Bishop’s House, and splendid views across the sound to Mull, enough to drag me out of bed for a short walk before breakfast (and onions.) And of course there were a number of short religious services, optional but an important part of the experience, though with too much unaccompanied singing for my taste.

More pictures in and around the Abbey from our visit 12 years ago on My London Diary.