Although I was born within the sound of Bow Bells, making me a true Cockney, I am less of a Londoner than Chris, who spent most of his working life in and around the capital. After taking in the view I shared yesterday, we wondered if we could see Saint Paul’s cathedral or would it be lost among the towers of Mammon? Chris thought the planners would have wanted to preserve the view of it from Greenwich, I was much less sure, remembering the gung-ho attitude to vanity projects of the last London Mayor, Boris Johnson.
We walked across the hill to look West towards the actual City of London, a small borough in the midst of it all. We peered left and right, identifying a couple of suburban towers, but were disappointed, until I spotted the dome, dwarfed by the towers, but still visible from a green hill in Greenwich. My photograph was not usable, but this shows a similar view from 1898 – similar but for one thing: the Cathedral is at the centre of William Hyde’s engraving unchallenged by the rash of towers spreading across from those we saw in yesterday’s picture.
There are all sorts of possible responses to this, most of them platitudes.
But the story goes that Christopher Wren, architect of the present Cathedral, following the disastrous fire of 1666, found in the ruins, as he began surveying the site, a stone carved with the word ‘RESURGAM’ – I shall arise. And his Cathedral rose where the old one had stood. Let us Christians live as if we believe that, and the gates of hell will not prevail.