Our first Sunday in London

Today we decided to attend St Helen’s Bishopgate (a conservative Anglican church).

St Helen’s Bishopsgate is the largest surviving church in the City of London. It was built in the 12th century, but many additions have been made to it since then. At the beginning of the 13th century a second (parallel) nave was built on the north side of the building for a nunnery. For the next 300 years the addition would accommodate Benedictine nuns on the one side and parishioners on the other. The priory was dissolved in 1538 by Henry VIII (it seems he did a lot of that) . Since then the building has gone through many renovations. For one, the walls separating the two naves (north and south) was taken down to create a more open space. It was later used by the Worshipful Company of Leathersellers, until it was demolished in 1799. It took the next 90 odd years to restore the old building and reopened in 1893 on St John the Baptist Day by the Bishop of London Frederick Temple.

St. Helen’s Bishopsgate is one of the few churches in London to survive the Great Fire of London, the Blitz and WWII . However, it did not manage to escape loss entirely; years later in 1992/3 it was heavily damaged by a couple of IRA bombs which lifted the roof and shattered what were the city’s largest medieval stained glass windows as well as many monuments. St Helen’s Bishopgate, however, still holds more monuments than any other church in London (second only to Westminster Abby… naturally).

It is said that William Shakespeare attended St. Helen’s Bishopsgate in 1590. Though it would help to first know who Shakespeare really was, but who knows, it could be true.

It is now a very large congregation so they have three services every Sunday. Since we had a hard time getting out this morning we thought it best to try to make it to their afternoon service instead. We now had a little extra time before we had to be at church so we thought we would just take the bus in early and walk around.

All the buses here are red two story story buses, but every time one goes by (which is frequently) Norah let’s us know that there is “another red bus!” We of course sat at the top and watched London as we rode on through town. The girls just loved it. I think we have a pair of city girls on our hands. They love it when the world is busy around them, they just follow in line, watching, listening and playing. It’s is marvelous to watch. Judah loves being out too. We took him in his carrier today. He bounced and laughed and talked the whole way. Our little man has a lot to say.

We got out of the bus a few blocks early to walk around and bumped right into a large street market! YAY! So we walked around wide eyed. The sweet, spicy smell of all kinds of food drifting in the air (there was even a lady who was selling espresso from the back of her car!) was enchanting. Oh it was fun. On our way out, we gave the girls a couple of carrots for a snack to eat on the way to church. So there were our girls walking and talking, carrot in hand, happy as could be.

Eventually we found the church (just in time for service). I didn’t hear any of the sermon really, Judah was hungry so I went straight up to nurse him. I did hear some music that I recognized though.  There was one other lady in the nursing room with me. She was very nice and suggested quite a few places for us to visit. Apparently the Science Museum in Kensington is fantastic for kids (it’s an award winning museum). She said that it is always swimming with children. Maybe this week we’ll make our way over there to check it out. The best part: the museum is free! So we can go as much as we like!

After the service, we walked over to the building where the kids are brought for Sunday School, which was about two blocks away (we let the girls go with the other kids during the service… I did not realize that they were taken so far away. Oh well), to pick up the girls and fellowship with some of the parents there. We met some great people who were all very welcoming.

While on the bus on our way home, Norah asks “When do we have church?”. You see at Michiana Covenant the kids go to Sunday School at 9:15am and then afterwards at 10:30am we all head into service where we sit and worship together. At St. Helen’s kids don’t sit in the service, they are taken out before the sermon starts to another building to play instead. I am so glad that my girls missed that this week. We did too 🙂

We had a great Sunday. We hope you all did too!

Oh and I totally forgot the camera today. So there are no pictures today. We really missed having the camera too. There was much to see today. Here is a picture of the church from wikipedia.



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