St Andrews Church
For those of you who may be wondering a) what’s happened to all the picture stories and b) why I’m such a grumpy Phantom just now, I am once again battling with Blogger. For the last week or so I’ve been patiently waiting for it to allow me to load photographs, for the last week or so it has been cocking a cyber snook at me. Bear with me, folks – I have some fantastic pictures that people have sent me and the odd ok-ish sort of pic I’ve taken myself to go with various things that just wouldn’t be the same without illustrations. I have no idea how long Blogger will continue to play silly buggers.
In the meanwhile I have a question for you about a church that used to be on the Peninsula, but which is so now thoroughly lost I can find nothing at all about it. I only found it because I was flicking through a marvellous photo book from the 1980s – Greenwich – A Personal View, by Jon Sturdy and still reasonably available second-hand. Most of Sturdy’s book consists of moody pics of the usual Greenwich suspects – the Observatory, the Old Royal Naval College, Cutty Sark etc. but when he comes to the Peninsula, a more poignant story emerges.
A photograph of what was once The Mitre pub then the notorious Tunnel Club (now that nasty nightclub that changes its name every time it has a major glassing, it seems. I think it might be called Da House at the moment – but that could be last month’s name) has both gas holders behind it and, next to it on the page (and, I think, in real life) is a fabulously affecting picture of a mouldering church interior.
On the ripped-out floors, rubble collects from falling, dusty masonry; rusting, ancient heaters hang forlornly from crumbling columns. In Sturdy’s photograph, bright sunlight streams through high window, giving a feeling of melancholy rather than creepiness. No furnishings, no altar, pews or hangings remain, just an austere brick shell.
It doesn’t look an old church – perhaps late 19th, probably early 20th Century, I’d guess from the pic. Little details like the heaters and dead electricity sockets are missed on a first glance. But it’s not totally barren. Someone has adorned it at some point with branches of leaves, now dead themselves, tucked into the mouldings at the top of the columns. Who? Why? A flight of fancy on the part of the local youth? A pagan party held at the church’s deconsecration? The remains from Greenwich Coven’s last Beltane?
By 1986, when Sturdy was writing, the church was already derelict and “probably unsafe, but if you are brave there are still ornate carvings and mouldings to be seen” though he warns would-be explorers to “avoid the large hole in the middle of the floor.”
In vain I have searched for anything at all on this now long-lost church. I can find nothing on the net, or in any of my books – if it is in Mary Mills’s excellent Greenwich Marsh – The 300 Years Before the Dome, I haven’t found it yet. And to my shame, I don’t remember it at all.
So I’m asking you. What was this spectre in Jon Sturdy’s picture? Who built it? When? Why? When did it finally die?
I can’t reproduce it here (Blogger won’t let me, and besides, it’s not mine to publish) but maybe someone else has a picture? Does anyone have anything about this most lost of lost churches?