Wednesday, December 25, 2013

St. Martin in the Fields, London

St. Martin in the Fields is a church on Trafalgar Square that I feel is famous, though perhaps that is just because I've heard "Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields" on classical radio so much. The chamber orchestra is named after the church, since it is where they first played.

St. Martin in the Fields

The church itself is dedicated to St. Martin of Tours and a church has been on that spot since medieval times. Back then, the church truly was "in the fields" between the cities in Westminster and London. The two cities have since expanded into a megalopolis. The current church was built in the 1720s by James Gibb and is a splendid neoclassical structure.

Side view of the church

As with many churches we visited in London, we did not get pictures inside the main body of the church. Photography is allowed at St. Martin but they had a service going while we were there. The crypt area was open with a small cafe and an exhibit.

Crypt cafe

The exhibit includes a whipping post from 1752. Such posts were in use since 1572 and typically on market days, so malefactors would be more shamed by the extra spectators. The magistrate would determine the number of lashes, up to whipping "until the body became bloody by reason of such whipping." Yikes! Typical crimes punished this way were vagrancy, drunkenness, disorder, blasphemy, and slander. More grave offenses, such as bigamy, theft, and forgery, might also incur this penalty. They stopped whipping women in 1791. They didn't stop whipping men until 1837.

Whipping post from 1752

On a lighter note, this statue of "The Original Pearly King" Henry Croft seems as if it is crafted of pearls. He was a street sweeper in the late 1800s/early 1900s who started decorating his clothes with mother of pearl buttons. He became famous and used that fame to raise money for charities like hospitals.

No comments:

Post a Comment