August this year will be the 80th anniversary of the start of the Blitz, that constant bombing in the Second World War which, second only to the Great Fire of London, changed the face of this great City.
A symbol of the Blitz spirit can be found inside a church in the City of London, only a stone’s throw from that great survivor of the bombing, St Paul’s Cathedral. St Vedast in Foster Lane, rebuilt after the Great Fire of London, was not so fortunate. On 30th December 1940 it was gutted – all that remained were the walls and tower –the roof and everything inside destroyed. After the war it was beautifully restored, like so many churches in the City, and you would never guess how it had been damaged.
Inside the church is an amazing display of silver plate dating from the 16th to 18th century – chalices, communion plates, a sermon timer – all belonging to the various parishes which have been amalgamated over the centuries into this one church. However the most precious items – no 19 in the picture above (and also the oldest) look decidedly battered and certainly not gleaming like the rest of the collection – you would be forgiven for thinking they were made of pewter not silver. This is the communion cup and paten (plate for the wafers) which were in use in the church during the period of the Blitz and recovered from the ruins! There was a chemical reaction as a result of the bombing which permanently changed their appearance. These amazing survivors date from the time of Elizabeth I – 1559, but their value is seen as not being due to their age or metallic value but as a symbol of defiance – church worship did not stop.
One of the many hidden treasures in the City of London. Come on one of our guided walks to find out about other secrets.
Susan Baker is a qualified City of London Tour Guide who delivers guided walks and private tours in London. View all of Susan’s walking tours.