Thursday, 8 April 2010

Hidden London - Battersea

The tourist sites of London feel faintly familiar to most people, whether they've visited them or not. 

Image courtesy of

London is at it's best, however, off the very well beaten tourist track.  I want to do an occasional series about the hidden corners of London.

I'm going to start with Battersea - the part just by Battersea Bridge, on the south side of the river.

This area was very heavily bombed by the Nazi bombers during World War 2, trying to get Battersea Power Station on the opposite side of the river.  They didn't hit it.

Battersea Power Station

Thanks to government re-building programmes up until the 1970's, the area is now largely made up of dreary council flats, light industrial sites and expensive, characterless new builds.

Thankfully, not everything was destroyed during the Blitz. The rather wonderful St. Mary's Church survived the conflagration.  There's been a church on this site since 693 AD.  William Blake was married here and Joseph Turner painted on this spot.

St. Mary's

I'm rather fond of this spot for a number of reasons.  Firstly, it's an oasis of calm in traffic bound hell of the area. Secondly, their admissions or rather, welcome policy is endearingly inclusive.

I don't know how well you can read this notice from my photo but it says that they welcome 'all people regardless of age, relationship status, colour, ability or disability, sexual orientation or how much or how little faith people have when they join us'.  Rather lovely, I think.

They also have a number of houseboats moored outside the church.

It seems like well established community.  They even have post boxes.

Battersea has always been an unusual area.  In 1913, Britain's first black mayor, John Archer was elected Mayor of Battersea.  It's one of those somewhat pragmatic areas with the super-rich living cheek-by-jowl with council estate tenants.  Definitely worth a visit if you want to experience another side of London. 

1 comment:

Ines said...

This is a great idea - to talk about parts of London, hidden from the normal tourist.
I would very much like to visit a church that is so open to everyone (that after all is what Christianity is about).


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...