Emerging From Hibernation

I guess it’s probably a bad time to be emerging from hibernation just when the snow is thick on the ground and the wind is whistling round SE10 making it feel like, according to Peter Cockroft, the Ancient God of London Weather, a Baltic -10°. But if I don’t do it now, I might never get round to it, so here I am, blinking into the dull grey light of the 1st December.

It’s only been a couple of weeks but it feels like months. I have no real idea what’s been going on, I’ve hardly been out, I’ve taken no photos and I’ve not even been Twitterising. My mail has been piling up – watch out in the next couple of days for a bumper Parish News as I finally get around to listing a load of stuff people have been telling me about. 

I think I’m looking forward to the festive season. I’m going to ease myself gently into Greenwich Christmas after a very odd time. My advent calendar today had a surreal picture of a penguin dressed up as a choirboy, in a fancy medieval-type outfit. Presumably one of a team of crack Arctic mercenary ninja penguin choirboys employed by the Vatican for Papal security.

For something a little more close to home, St Alfege’s Church begins its fourth annual Advent Windows event today. It’s a bit of a splendid week for the church – they celebrated the first (and probably trickiest) phase of the renovation on Monday with a peal of bells, exactly 300 years since the hideous storm that felled the first church. After the storm finally did for the medieval building the parishioners sent a petition to Parliament (yup, we were petitioning even then…) to get a new one built. They managed rather more than they’d hoped for – it was the start of a massive new church building programme in London. 

Of course the tower, which is slowly re-emerging from the scaffolding, isn’t as old as that – Hawksmoor’s original design was too pricey for the good burghers of Greenwich and he eventually palmed it off on St Georges in the East. Personally I actually prefer John James’s version, built 25 years later when they’d saved up some more cash, though sundry architecture critics have been sniffy about it in the past.

That’s the one that’s just been restored, but inside it there are still the remains of the medieval church, which sort of feels rather good. 

But back to the Advent windows – today’s, Voice,  is at 2-4 College Approach and will be unveiled at 6.30pm, when the traditional mince pies and mulled wine will be doled out. My favourite windows are the ones that are listed as ‘best seen after dark’ – and this is one of they.

My favourite-ever picture of St Alfege's Church Tower - an Advent Window in Theatre of Wine, 2007


Good to be back, folks…


the attachments to this post:

My favourite-ever picture of St Alfege's Church Tower - an Advent Window in Theatre of Wine, 2007
ToW christmas window


13 Comments to “Emerging From Hibernation”

  1. stonemuse says:

    welcome back … good to see your blog again.

  2. Paul says:

    Great to have you back.

    Apparently we’re lucky that we got the budget tower, which basically encased the old one.

    Lots of Hawksmoor buildings used iron cramps to hold the stone together and save time while the mortar set, a technique he and Vanbrugh copied from Roman buildings – but which proved disastrous in our damp climate, which is why buildings like Castle Howard are falling apart.

    On the tower, though, the stone slabs aren’t structural so they could be replaced relatively easily.

  3. Benedict says:

    Nice to see you Phantom…to see you….nice.
    I am starting my own “Advent Lawn” today, after being inspired by the first St Alfege event.

  4. Dazza says:

    BOO…….
    Hope everything is hunky dory at Phantom Towers?
    Glad to have you back, been missing my daily dose of all things Greenwich.
    Pity about this terrible AUTUMN weather though.(Winter doesn’t actually start till Dec 21st). Not that I’m getting a bee in my bonnet about everyone saying that ‘this winter has started early’……

  5. OldChina says:

    Welcome back GP, you have been missed. Thanks goodness you’re back in time for festivities :)

  6. scared of chives says:

    No one has mentioned the gritting

  7. What gritting, SoC? I have just had a very near miss on a pavement that was like glass, despite walking flat-footed in my biggest boots. That particular deathtrap was the ‘responsibility’ of Southeastern (not that they’re actually running any trains today) but when I went in to tell them they really needed to put some grit down before someone had a mischief, the place was deserted, save for a little old lady who had been waiting an hour for a train to Woolwich. The boards just said ‘delays’ so she’d waited. I ended up getting her on a bus instead. Southeastern – pah!

  8. Apart from that little rant – thanks for the welcome back, guys!

    But aren’t Southeastern just awful? No other ROC treats its passengers even half as poorly as they do. it’s just blatant contempt.

  9. OldChina says:

    South Eastern are dire. No trains to Charing Cross this morning so I ended up getting the DLR and Central Line to work, both of which were delayed and packed but were at least running and doing their best.

    Just wish I lived closer to the river – still the nicest and most reliable way of getting to work!

  10. we anchor in hope says:

    So nice to see you back Phant. Hope the tricorn is thermally lined if you’re planning on hanging round our SE railway platforms!!!

  11. Robert Number16 says:

    Dear Phantom.
    How very good to have you back.Hope all is well.Re St Alfege tower. I managed to climb to the top the scaffolding armed with a movie camera.I was given a very interesting tour from the project manager which was also filmed.
    Just finished painting my Advent window going up 16 Dec

  12. Looking forward to it, Robert! I LOVE Advent Windows…

  13. Ebspig says:

    Yes, welcome back and hope all is well. You were much missed!