London Surrounding Walks. St Stephen's Walbrook.
Continue right over Lombard Street to pass the Church of St Mary Woolnoth.
It was here, in an infamous Friday morning sermon in 1868, Father Ignatius inflamed the sensibilities of the traders on Lombard Street, by declaring them far worse than Jericho. His remarks prompted hundreds of men to yell and hoot him as he left the church. This was followed a week later by the so-called ‘Apple Riot’, when thousands of people armed with apples arrived to pelt Father Ignatius and his congregation. They would have exacted a bruising reprisal had it not been for the timely intervention of the police.
Cross over King William Street, go straight ahead along St Swithin’s Lane, take the first right into Mansion House Place, and go left into St Stephen’s Row.
The towering walls of the Mansion House, home of the Lord Mayor of London rise along the right side. In his essay ‘Gone Astray’, Dickens recalled how, as a young boy, he had passed the kitchen here as dinner was being prepared and peeping ‘in through the kitchen window… my heart began to beat with hope that the Lord Mayor… would look out of an upper apartment and direct me to be taken in… ’
Continue ahead into Walbrook. Where immediately on the left is:-
The Church of St Stephen Walbrook, one of the most beautiful churches in London. The Critical Review of Publick Buildings in London (1734) observed that it was “famous all over Europe and justly reputed the masterpiece of the celebrated Sir Christopher Wren. Perhaps Italy itself itself can produce no modern buildings that can vie with this in taste or proportion.”
The altar at the church’s centre was carved by the sculptor Henry Moore at the request of the rector Chad Varah, the man who founded the Samaritans in the 1950’s. When Chad asked Henry Moore to do the altar, the sculptor at first demurred claiming that he was agnostic. Chad’s response was “Henry, I’m not asking you to take the service, I understand that you’re a bit of a chiseller; just do your job!”