Sticks in the Smoke 1: St Paul’s Cathedral Gardens

(Thursday 21 January 2016 )

001

Behind railings and ornate ironwork gates off the bustle of Paternoster Row, a few paces from the route of the ancient Watling street, just over 1.5 acres of gardens wrap around the end of St Paul’s Cathedral. Overgrown beds of shrubs and mature planes, limes and walnut trees border a series of informal lawns.  Laid stone slabs in earthy grass in the damp 001acathedral shadow on the north side feels something like an old country graveyard. But tall old plane trees and pines frame the surrounding glass and concrete office blocks of Paternoster and lead the eye up to a gleaming gold St. Paul standing high on his column.

The churchyard was opened as a public garden in the 1880s. Office workers lunch and chat on benches skirting the cathedral’s east end. Skateboarders and rucksacked tourists pass by in the winter sunshine. Excited playtime shrieks from St Paul’s schoolyard just below St Augustine’s Tower. A weeping pear tree leans towards the curved stonework. It seems to glow purple from inside its complexity of tortured winter twigs while uppermost branches glitter in the sunlight.
001bI draw the tree through a bed of fiery dogwood stems against a dark yew, a translucent plastic safety sheet covering a new office block build across Cannon St and und
erlined by the dark park railings. Squirrels scuttle close to my feet and eye my bright paintbox while a pied wagtail shivers close by. Drawing finished (see image at top), I leave into a sharply cold wind through the bright south garden, past rose beds and Bainbridge Copnall‘s sharp- chinned Beckett sprawling back across the grass.

(In his ‘Sticks in the Smoke’ project, Nick Andrew is  visiting, researching and drawing a different public park or garden in Central London each week of 2016, leading to a collection of paintings exploring the theme of city green spaces from the perspective of a rural landscape painter. These will be shown in an exhibition in London in 2017. www.nickandrew.co.uk )

St. Paul’s Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD
www.stpauls.co.uk
Google earth view here

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3 thoughts on “Sticks in the Smoke 1: St Paul’s Cathedral Gardens

  1. I just knew that was Dogwood you were looking through, Nick. What a fantastic idea. I’m really looking forward to seeing the painting which comes out of this.

    Liked by 1 person

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