Smithfield, London. Famous for it’s meat market, St Bart’s hospital and historically infamous as a place of executions. Heretics and losers of political intrigue met their end here, on a grassy area just outside the London City walls known as Smooth Field. It’s where William Wallace and the leader of the Peasant’s Revolt, Wat Tyler, met their grisly ends. Many religious martyrs were burnt at the stake here, until the executions moved across town to Tyburn.
So why start a blog post about a wedding with such history? Because overlooking all this bloody history, stood the Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great ( Great St Barts ). One of London’s oldest churches and certainly one of it’s most atmospheric ( if not the brightest ) and the venue for Saturday’s wedding for Emma and Ben. It’s one of those ‘treasures’, off the tourist map pretty much ( although often used as a location in Hollywood movies ) as it’s hidden behind old and modern buildings that tower over the church next to Cloth Fair. This area is soaked in history! Once part of a larger monastic church and founded in 1123 by Rahere, along with the hospital, half of the church was demolished in the Dissolution. With the nave gone, what remains is the crossing and choir with it’s evocative Romanesque architecture. You enter from West Smithfield through a half-timbered Tudor gateway, into a frankly, dark entrance.But the choir backdrop to the altar and Rahere’s tomb is unique in the City of London, where many churches had to be rebuilt after the Great Fire of London in 1666 – which stopped yards from this spot.
But back to Saturday and the wedding. Coverage began at the Sofitel hotel in St James, a stone’s throw from the Mall and from a big bike race taking place that had looked like throwing a spanner in the works for the day, with road closures and feared congestion. Emma was getting ready with her family and bridesmaids in the Noel Coward suite. A vintage car and a Route master bus across to Smithfield – the traffic wasn’t too bad. The sun shone, it was warm and unfortunately for the bridesmaids, waiting for Emma and her father to arrive, it was erratically windy. Many a Marilyn Monroe ‘windy skirt’ took place. I’ve saved a bridesmaid’s blushers ( and ire towards me for taking it, perhaps? ) by not adding such a cheeky shot to this blogpost ( I’ll give it to Emma and Ben 🙂 ). With the ceremony complete it was back to the Sofitel hotel for the reception and meal. We even managed to find some space near the Mall for some portraits of Emma and Ben without having to dodge the cyclists. ( They were everywhere )
Here are a few images from the day…