St Martin-in-the-Fields, London: 2006


This pure Irish Linen tea towel is quite unusual in design: it has a thick, navy blue, solid border and the rest is black and white; a black and white sketch of the actual church and a paragraph of writing giving a brief history of the church (which readers will be delighted I don’t have to repeat).

I went to St Martin-in-the-Fields in 2006 because someone had told me that there was an excellent cafe in the crypt.  I headed straight to the crypt and didn’t manage to have a look around the church.  The cafe lived up to expectations, with an unusual menu, possibly too much beans and lentils for my liking but excellent flavours (I’m sounding like a cooking programme).  I liked the setting; the dark, brick walls gave the cafe a great atmosphere.  I liked the fact that all the profits from the cafe, including from jazz evenings, are put towards the projects that are run by the church, especially those working with homeless people.  This carries on the legacy of Dick Sheppard, Vicar from 1914-1927, of being ‘The Church of the Ever Open Door’.  I did like the fact that the cafe also sold a tea towel!!  Perhaps my favourite bit (other than the tea towel) was the life-size, marble statue of Henry Croft, the first Pearly King of London; the statue had been moved from St Pancras Cemetary in 2002.

Ever wondered about the name, St Martin-in-the-Fields?  St Martin refers to St Martin of Tours who was a soldier, born in, possibly, 316 AD.  Legend suggests that he was riding on horseback one day when he came across a beggar who was virtually without clothes; Martin took off his cloak and rent it in two with his sword, giving half to the beggar.  Personally, I would have thought he could have spared the whole cloak but anyway, as a result of this act, he is now Patron Saint of beggars, tailors and wool weavers as well as soldiers, geese, vintners, inn-keepers and France.  ‘In the fields’ refers to the fact that in 1542, Henry VIII rebuilt (not destroyed as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries) the church in order to keep plague victims in the area, so they did not have to pass through his Palace of Whitehall (very generous indeed!!!). At this time, it was literally ‘in the fields’, an isolated position between Westminster and London.  The current church was rebuilt in 1722, when the original was in a state of decay.

This tea towel reminds me of a very enjoyable meal that I had at St Martin-in-the-Fields and the fact that it was such a pleasure to be in a church that had not been destroyed through the Dissolution of the Monasteries.  I understand that a lot of work has been done to the crypt and the church since I visited; I should go back sometime.

P.S.  Many apologies for the tea stains!!!!

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