Sl Helen’s Church, Bishopsgate


On Sunday we continued our visit to the City of London and stopped for a coffee in a Costa opposite The Gherkin. To our surprise and irritation, we realised after drinking our cappuccinos that the cafe had no toilet! How is it acceptable that a medium-size establishment selling drinks with lots of indoor seating has no WC?! We therefore frantically started searching for a toilet in the vicinity.

Fortunately, we quickly came across an open church. The space was quite enchanting, so we decided to stay for a while to explore it. The friendly staff was preparing for the afternoon mass, practicing the mellow songs for the evening. We came to be intrigued by the unusual proportion of the naves and spatial organisation, the odd asymmetry visible in both plan and elevation, and single transept tucked in at the back. We subsequently learned that the medieval building came into existence in different stages since the 13th century, and that the northern part was originally the Nun’s Quire, who observed the mass through a partition wall that was torn down in the 16th century.


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