Posts Tagged ‘St Paul's Cathedral’

Epiphany Rising Against Monarchy

Thursday, January 6th, 2022

Epiphany Rising Against Monarchy
Relatively few nowadays observe the 12 days of Christmas which come to an end on January 6th with Epiphany. Traditionally in the UK and some other countries it was when Christmas decorations were taken down, but also a feast day celebrating the arrival of the Three Kings with their gifts. Nowadays most seem to put up decorations even before the start of Advent and often take them down by the New Year.

Ian Bone holds a picture of Thomas Venner

Epiphany gained a new importance in literature and moved to entirely lower case in the work of James Joyce, where his hero Stephen Daedalus defines it as “a sudden spiritual manifestation, whether in the vulgarity of speech or of gesture or in a memorable phase of the mind itself.” Epiphanies are moments of revelation that change the the way a character or person sees life or a particular situation, suddenly seeing things in a new light. I think all great photographs are epiphanies.

Ian Bone speaks

But getting back to the 6th of January, and in particular the 6th of January 1661 which was the subject of a partial re-enactment on the 6th of January 2013, we need to remember the centrality of religion in those times. Though many might now protest against the monarchy, particularly in recent days over the ennobling of a war criminal and the alleged criminal acts against minors by one of the royal family, few would now do so for the kind of religious reasons that led Thomas Venner and his fellow Fifth Monarchists to carry out a bloody armed insurrection in the City of London.

As I wrote in My London Diary:

The Fifth Monarchists were an important religious movement in England during the rule of Oliver Cromwell, seeing the execution of King Charles as being part of the fulfulment of the Biblical prophesy in the book of Daniel about the end of the four kingdoms of history being followed by the “rule of a son of man” for a thousand years (which they took as the rule by the Pope) after which would come the Christ’s reign on earth. For this to happen, the old order had to be ended by violence – as had begun with the beheading of the king.

They included three of those who had signed the execution warrant, but they soon become disillusioned with Cromwell, who they saw as trying to make himself a king and they began to agitate against him. Thomas Venner was imprisoned for several years for plotting to overthrow Cromwell, but released when Richard Cromwell became Protector.s

They were incensed by the restoration of the monarchy, and in particular by the savagery shown by the new order against the ‘regicides’, including Fifth Monarchist Major-General Harrison who showed great bravery during his gruesome public execution by hanging, drawing and quartering.

My London Diary

Like Venner’s the re-enactment began at Swan Alley (now Great Swan Alley) and with around a similar number of his 50 or so followers, and were variously armed with pikes and other weapons. The event in 2013 began with a speech by Ian Bone about the history of the earlier event, followed by several other anarchists and socialists whose comments related the it to our current times. The event was for a short film, Epiphany, with Ian Bone as writer working with director Suzy Gillett.

I suspect Venner’s address was rather more fiery, but we did have a very fine banner, with a heraldic lion and the text ‘Who shall rouse him up?’, and as in 1661 the mob was led out of the yard by a young woman bearing a pike and the battle cry “King Jesus and the heads upon the gates“. Among those taking part was Sam, grandson of Philip Sidney Noakes, the last of the Muggletonians, another of the radical seventeenth century religious movements with his daughter Rachel.

Sam, grandson of Philip Sidney Noakes, the last of the Muggletonians, with his daughter Rachel

There were other anarchist banners and black and red flags and banners and people shouted some of the old slogans, ‘King Jesus‘, ‘Heads On Pikes‘ and ‘Nobility In Chains’. Though some were carrying axes and hammers, certainly illegal offensive weapons, none were put into use into what was a rather tame stroll with a number of stops to allow the film director Suzy Gillett to move the camera into position on the way via the Guildhall to the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral.

There the group were content with posing for photographs, rather than following Venner’s example and storming in and holding it for several days, along with other parts of the city, until finally the army was sent in against them. Most were then killed and the others captured after a long and bloody fight. Venner himself was wounded in 19 places before he was finally overpowered.

Together with ten others after a brief trial he was sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered; the sentence was carried out in front of the meeting place of his congregation in Swan Yard on 19 Jan 1661. Many other Fifth Monarchists who had taken no part in the rising were hunted down and hung or imprisoned, and draconian laws were enacted against dissenters but this did not end the movement.

You can read a fuller account of the event in Epiphany Rising Against King on My London Diary, and even more detail in a post on the Bristol Radical History Group site.


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Occupy London, The Lord Mayor’s Show & More

Friday, November 12th, 2021

Ten years ago was a very busy day for me in London. Saturday 12th November was the day of the annual Lord Mayor’s Show, which I’d photographed occasionally in previous years, but probably would not have bothered with, but it was made far more interesting this year by the presence of the Occupy London camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral.

I went up quite early to photograph the camp where later in the day Occupy LSX were to hold there own alternative ‘Not the Lord Mayors Show’ festival of entertainment, and wandered around talking to people and taking a few pictures.

I also went to take photographs of some of those preparing to take part in the Lord Mayor’s Show, and then took pictures as the parade began. As I commented, “I found the marching servicemen, military vehicles and weapons and military bands that are a major element of it disturbing. Of course the event as a whole reflects earlier times, with the city aldermen and liverymen in quaint costumes, but it would be appropriate for it to present a rather more civilised face to the world.

As in other years, the Lord Mayor’s coach stopped at St Pauls for him to be blessed by the Canon in Residence Rt Revd Michael Colclough. Occupy LSX asked the cathedral staff if the Canon would bless them too, and though the staff were very doubtful, the Canon came to talk with the people from Occupy and then blessed them too.

Entry to St Pauls, other than to take part in services usually involved paying a fee – back in 2011 it was £14.50 – but is free on the day of the Lord Mayor’s Show, and I took the opportunity to go in and up to the ‘Stone Gallery’ around the base of the dome (the higher ‘Golden Gallery’ was closed because of the crowds) and take some pictures there.

I took the District Line to Westminster for an advertised protest against Ethiopia’s war against Somalia, only to find there were only three men and a small boy at the advertised starting time, though they had a number of placards against what they describe as genocide and ‘Obama’s Proxy War’. They assured me more people would arrive and that the protest would continue for five or six hours, but when I came back again two house later there was no sign of it.

I returned to the City, where some protesters were setting off from the OccupyLSX camp at St Paul’s Cathedral for a ‘tour of shame’, visiting the offices of 3 arms dealers, Qinetiq, BAE and Rolls Royce, who went with David Cameron to Egypt in February to sell arms to the Egyptian army. This was a part of the International Day to Defend the Egyptian Revolution which had toppled the Mubarek regime, but the army had taken charge and there had been more than 12,000 trials in military courts, without the ability to call witnesses or access to lawyers in a programme of repression against the people. They called on the UK government to end support for the Egyptian military and stop selling them arms which might be used in further massacres such as that in Maspero a month earlier when soldiers opened fire killing 27 Coptic Christians and injuring over 300.

I left the marchers at Ludgate Circus and walked back to see what was happening with Occupy SLX at St Paul’s, then took the District Line again to Westminster to see if the Somali protest had grown. There was no sign of it, but I found another protest just leaving Old Palace Yard for a rally outside Westminster Abbey. This was the ‘500 Crosses for Life’ prayer procession, organised by EuroProLife UK, a “European ecumenical initiative” based in Germany with the full title “European Voice of the Unborn Children: Protect Our Life”, and there were several hundred people carrying white crosses.

They had walked from Westminster Cathedral to a rally here and a speaker at the rally was describing and applauding protests outside clinics in Germany where abortions take place. I found this disturbing – and commented on My London Diary “People have a right to their views on abortion, and to hold peaceful protests such as this and of course to pray about the matter. But isn’t harassing women who go to clinics at what is almost certainly for them a very stressful time morally offensive, a demonstration of an un-Christian lack of love as well as a statement of lack of faith in the power of prayer?”

More on all these at:
Anti-Abortion Prayer Protest
Day to Defend the Egyptian Revolution
Somalis Protest Obama’s War
London From St Paul’s
Lord Mayor’s Show
Lord Mayor’s Show – Occupy London


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1987 – Around Fleet St

Monday, March 1st, 2021

Dorset Rise, City, 1987 87-10m-66-positive_2400
Dorset Rise, City, 1987

Dorset Rise runs up from Tudor St towards Fleet Street, changing its name further up to Salisbury Court and lies at what was the heart of the newspaper industry in ‘Fleet St’. This building at 1-2 Dorset Rise dates from the 1930s and was reclad around 1985. In 2012-3 it was converted into a Premier Inn hotel.

Dorset Rise, City, 1987 87-10m-56-positive_2400
Dorset Rise, City, 1987

3 Dorset Rise is a high quality 10 storey office building, sometimes said to have been built in 1985 but probably dating from the 1930s and like the hotel at 1-2 given a new shiny pink brown granite facing in that year. I am unsure if the deco touches at the top of these blocks date from the 1930s or were added in 1985.

Kingscote St, City, 1987 87-10m-44-positive_2400
Kingscote St, City, 1987

I had forgotten where Kingscote St is and had to look for it on Google Maps. Its a short street, around 50 metres long, between Watergate and Tudor St, a short distance west of New Bridge St. One side is occupied by a hotel and the other by a large shared office building. I think this doorway, now slightly altered was at the rear of 100 Victoria Embankment, better known as Unilever House, where Watergate meets Kingscote but if so the sculpture I photographed has gone.

Blackfriars House, New Bridge St,  City, 1987 87-10m-33-positive_2400
Blackfriars House, New Bridge St, City, 1987

Blackfriars House on New Bridge St is a rather dull building with some fine detail and perhaps surprisingly is Grade II listed, the text beginning “1913-16 by F. W. Troup. Steel-framed commercial building with white majolica facing. 7 storeys, the rectilinear structural grid expressed in the facade which is, however, divided in a classically-derived manner.” My picture I think makes it look a far more interesting building than it really is. It is now a hotel.

The Blackfriar, New Bridge St, Queen Victoria St, City, 1987 87-10m-31-positive_2400
The Blackfriar, New Bridge St, Queen Victoria St, City, 1987

The Blackfriar is a fine pub built around 1875 on the corner of Queen Victoria St, part of the site of a former friary. But it only got the decoration which gave rise to its Grade II* listing in the early years of the twentieth century, beginning in 1905, with work by architect Herbert Fuller-Clark and sculptors Frederick T. Callcott & Henry Poole. Sir John Betjeman led a campaign to save it from demolition in the 1960s and CAMRA has published a couple of books about historic pub interiors which feature it.

I think the huge and extremely boring block of the Bank of New York Mellon at 160 Queen Victoria St now blocks this view of St Paul’s Cathedral. It might be possible, but difficult to design a building of less architectural merit.

City Golf Club, Bride Lane, City, 1987 87-10m-25-positive_2400
City Golf Club, Bride Lane, City, 1987

I don’t think any golf was ever played at the City Golf Club and there were never any balls on the fairway in its left-hand window. The two people standing talking in its doorway are I think clearly employees rather than golfers. The Golf Club in Bride Lane a few yards from Fleet St was a members only drinking club much frequented by journalists at a time when pubs closed in the afternoons.

Daily Telegraph, Fleet St, City, 1987 87-10m-13-positive_2400
Daily Telegraph, Fleet St, City, 1987

Perhaps surprisingly the Daily Telegraph building dates from only 4 years before its near neighbour at the Daily Express. The Telegraph building has some Art Deco touches with Egyptian decorations which accord with its date of 1928, designed by Elcock C Sutcliffe with Thomas Tait, but seems rather old-fashioned and staid, with a monumental colonnade perhaps in keeping with its assumed gravitas, but seems to me despite its decorations a decidedly Edwardian building. Pevsner gave it a one of his more scathing reviews, “neo-Greco-Egyptian imitation has turned modernist, with much fluting, fancy iron-work and little to recommend it”. It was Grade II listed in 1983.

Probably my reason for photographing this building was that the Daily Telegraph had just moved out to offices in Victoria – and you can see the boards up in front of its ground floor as it was being made ready for occupation by investment bankers Goldman Sachs on lease until 2021. They moved to Plumtree Court in nearby Shoe Lane and the property, now owned by Qatar, is being again revamped.

Daily Express, Fleet St, City, 1987 87-10m-11-positive_2400
Daily Express, Fleet St, City, 1987

The Daily Express had moved to their new building designed by Ellis and Clarke with Sir Owen Williams, very much in the modern movement of the age in 1931. It was the first London building where the outer wall was a non-structural ‘curtain wall’ and was Grade II* listed in 1972. Like its similar offices in Manchester it was known as the Black Lubyanka. When I made this picture in 1987 the newspaper was still produced here, moving out two years later in 1989 across the Thames to Blackfriars Rd. It came back to the City in Lower Thames St in 2004.

These pictures are from Page 7 of my album 1987 London Photos.