The sundial at Church of St. Margaret

Let the people praise

In another of those “I was here and did not know it” epiphanies, this passing shot of the blue sundials are on the tower of the Church of St. Margaret, previously where the House of Commons worshipped on special holidays.  The building partially visible to the left is the rear of Westminster Abbey.  As we traveled around London on the different busses, I never had a sense of where I was most of the time.  The complete phrase on the sundial face that is partially visible to the right is

Let the people praise thee, O God.

St. Margaret’s is a late 11th century (or 12th) church, but the exact date is unknown.  The date refers to the establishment of the church, not this particular building.  Due to its poor condition, in 1482 Robert Stowell began to rebuild the church, and it was completed in 1523.  The original clock was the work of Langley Bradley of London, and installed in 1712.  Bradley also built the clock for St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1708.

The clock mechanisms were removed in the 1980s and the sundials added.  The mechanisms survived and in 2019, the process of restoring the clock to the Tudor era tower commenced.  On completion of renovation of the tower (projected for October 2020) 3 sundials are to be renovated and the clock returned to the north side of the tower.  In the mid 1800s, there was much heated discussion about whether to “remove” St. Margaret’s from the Westminster grounds.  Those wishing to demolish the building cited its plain simplicity that detracted from the Westminster Abbey.  Others cited the vacant spot left would show a part of the Abbey not more attractive than St. Margaret’s and decried the expense of demolishing and rebuilding elsewhere rather than investing in some repair and renovation.  Fortunately, for whatever reasons, the decision was to leave St. Margaret’s right where it had been.

Additional Source:  Walter Thornbury, ‘St Margaret’s Westminster’, in Old and New London: Volume 3 (London, 1878), pp. 567-576. British History Online [accessed 31 July 2020].



This entry was posted in churches, Gothic Architecture, London and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The sundial at Church of St. Margaret

  1. Sheryl says:

    It’s fascinating how they considered demolishing St. Margaret’s in the mid-1800s – but that fortunately it wasn’t torn down and is still standing today.


  2. peggyjoan42 says:

    How fortunate they did not demolish this church. Such a silly reason to think of demolishing a landmark. The sundial is an interesting feature.


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