Dear New York

Dear New York,

Those are some stunning photos - really working with the theme. I do love the black and white one - really shows the contrast between old and new New York. Looks great in black and white to!

So last week, I went and had a bit of an explore of some of the hidden history of London, by walking and visiting 3 different (slightly morbid) places - each with their own stories, myths and history (so prepare for a bit of a photo dump!).

The first stop was a little place near where I work called “Cross Bones” Graveyard. This, as legend tells, is an unconsecrated graveyard used to bury prostitutes and sex workers who used to ply their trade on the South Side of the river. Somewhat ironically, these prostitutes were nicknamed the “Winchester Geese” as they were licenced by the Bishop of Winchester and they worked along the “Pilgrim’s Way” from London to Canterbury, almost certainly giving the holy pilgrims something to pray about once they finally arrived.

Today, the gate into the site is covered in ribbons and crosses, where people have come to pay their respects, and there is a new garden area inside where visitors can sit and find a bit of respite.

The second site has a somewhat less checkered past, but is similarly poignant. I headed North across the river until I came to a quiet place of relative peace in the centre of the busy city -  a hidden gem called St Dunstan-in-the-East. This is an 11th Century Church that over time has had many alterations, with new additions being built, getting badly damaged during the Great Fire of London in 1666, repaired, and then finally getting bombed during the Blitz in 1941. Rather than being torn down and replaced like many of the other buildings that were destroyed during the war, this Church was cleared out and a lovely open air garden was planted inside. Today it is a memorial to the War, and a lovely little place to explore. The main walls still stand, as does the steeple, and it is wonderful to see all of the plants and flowers growing in the inside of a church, and to be able to look up to where the roof used to be, and instead see the sky.

My third little adventure took me to yet another graveyard, this time near King’s Cross next to St Pancras Old Church. This is commonly considered to be one of the oldest places of Christian worship in England and in its own right is a very beautiful structure, however within the graveyard were two little pieces of history I wanted to see. The first was a memorial stone to an almost criminally underrepresented figure - commonly considered to be one of the founders of feminism, a fearless advocate for education for women and often slightly overshadowed and almost never mentioned without at least passing reference to her daughter, Mary Shelley (a tradition I seem to be unfairly keeping with).

Mary Wollstonecraft, most famously the author of A Vindication of the Rights of Women argued (quite rightly) that women were not the natural inferiors of men, and it was because of the social rules they lived within, and unfairly and overbearingly male orientated laws, that led to a lack of education and opportunity for women. She argued that given the same opportunities as men, women could achieve just as much, if not more. She was arguing this in 1792 and it wasn’t for another 136 years that women finally got an equal vote in the UK.

The memorial stone in the churchyard is not a big or obvious one, but it is important. I just can’t help thinking that if her name was slightly easier to remember, she would be more commonly known (but I am also aware that she impressively resisted tradition and kept her own name after marriage, something people find difficult to do even today).

The second piece of history is very much less important, but a lot prettier. Called the “Hardy Tree” this monument was “built” by Thomas Hardy who, before becoming a poet and author, worked in St Pancras as an architect. As part of his job he oversaw the movement and clearance of graves and headstones at the Graveyard. These headstones were piled into a little mound, and since then, a tree has grown through the centre, making for a very photogenic effect.

So, I think this week my theme for you is going to be A Little Bit of History. Of course you by no means have to upload as many photos as I did, just one will do (I went a bit mad with my camera!)

For your theme, Iconic Buildings, I took it as an opportunity to try something I have been waiting to do, and try my hand (properly this time) at long exposure photography. This involved finding my tripod, and hunting around London for some landmarks that would look lovely after dark. I think I have achieved the effect I was looking for, and had a lot of fun experimenting!

Happy hunting!


P.S. I have a bonus photo for this week's theme, too. I had so much fun this week with my camera! I really went overboard!