I found the website most interesting. Please keep me posted.
Patrick Streeter. CC City of London
The “The Citizens’ Memorial” website is a treasure trove of interesting information, beautiful illustrations and photographs, all of which serve to inform in great detail the purpose behind putting forward such a proposal.
Furthermore, the noble and creative vision to rebuild the missing walls of the battered and abused Christ Church Greyfriars and create a memorial of national monument status for the 28,000 citizens who lost their lives as a direct result of the aerial bombardment of the whole city of London in World War Two is an excellent idea and a unique opportunity to celebrate Sir Christopher Wren’s very important but somewhat neglected and under-appreciated church, whilst simultaneously venerating the deaths of so many with a well deserved memorial befitting the scale of the tragic loss.
Restoring part of the church and bestowing Christ Church Greyfriars as the sanctum of “The Citizens’ Memorial” is an honourable and virtuous concept which would rightly reclaim the once sacred and hallowed site, and create a quiet and dignified space akin to that of the purpose originally intended in the 1300s.
Christ Church Greyfriars is about midway on a chain of historical sites, beautiful buildings and interesting places stretching from the Barbican Arts Centre to The Tate Modern, almost in a straight line. Starting off from the Barbican :- The new Milton Court Theatre, Roman Wall, Museum Of London, Old General Post Office Building, Postman’s Park, Christ Church Greyfriars, Paternoster Square, St Paul’s Cathedral, Millennium Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and The Tate Modern, all of which can all be viewed within a twenty minute leisurely walk. Moreover, whilst standing on the Millennium bridge the ancient Tower Bridge, London, Southwark and Blackfriars bridges can all also be viewed along with the more recent attractions – London Eye, Gerkin, Shard.
The valuable addition of the “The Citizens’ Memorial” would link another fine gem to the illustrious chain of the City Of London’s national treasures. It would serve to connect and complement the somewhat understated memorial plinth in St Paul’s Cathedral churchyard and gracefully unite Sir Christopher Wren’s finest works.
It would be wonderful to see the “The Citizens’ Memorial” proposal approved by The City Of London, whereupon the next stages towards completion of the project could commence.
City Of London Resident.
Sir Christopher Wren’s Christ Church GreyFriars is the ideal location for the long awaited and well deserved citizens memorial.It would be difficult to imagine a more suitable or proper place to commemorate the deaths of so many citizens of London. I wish you every success with the citizens of London proposal. Please keep me informed.
Barbara Coughlan Oban Argyll Scotland.
I believe that the memorial to the Citizens’ lives lost during World War II is purposeful and meaningful. When I think of British lives’ lost in WW2 I perhaps only think of the soldiers and not the thousands of brave civilians that also lost their lives. I think it is the right time to complete such a project as relatives of the lost ones that are still alive today will not only be able to pass on stories of family lost in the War, there will be a physical monument to mark their important ancestry, thus keeping the memory alive. Also, it is incredible that part of the Christchurch building, along with many other beautiful old buildings are still standing despite the blitz and to restore Christchurch to its former glory would be yet another jewel in the City of London’s collection of amazing historical buildings. It would also create a space in the heart of London to commemorate the many Londoner’s lives that were lost. I really hope that the memorial goes ahead.
N Wilson, Epping (also former City of London Resident)
Surely, The City of London have an obligation to fulfil. It should be seen as a duty of honour to commemorate the deaths of the many unfortunate citizens who lost their lives by providing a significant national monument. Making Christ Church Greyfriars the designated area for the monument (the perfect place) and allowing the restoration of the church walls this would give the City Of London the opportunity to redeem the outrageous decision to demolish a wall of one Sir Christopher Wren’s finest works for the purpose of widening a road! An Unbelievable act of total disregard for our national heritage. The Citizens’ Memorial is a marvellous idea which could help to right two wrongs – the thoughtless destruction of the church wall and the need to honour the City of London’s tragic loss with a national memorial proportionate to the scale of the tragedy. Wishing you every success with your proposal.
As someone who visits London occasionally and knows little of wartime London, I am surprised to learn that more than 28000 citizens died as a result of WW2 bombardments.
I believe this to be a wonderful concept which would preserve a piece of London’s history as well as commemorate those who lived and died there. It would seem to me to be a perfectly appropriate place to build a memorial – a place of peace, a place to bring an awareness to members of the public who, like me, are unaware of the sacrifice of lives of some 28000+ ordinary people.
Wishing you every success in this proposal and venture.
I walk past this spot quite often (e.g. yesterday!), and it’s a great spot to be developed for the purpose. Enclosing it somewhat would make it look more proud and less sad. I don’t know much about such things, but I’m guessing that the investment required would prove fairly modest compared with the overall positive effect it would have not just to the building itself but the whole demeanour of Newgate Street. Good luck, Mike.
I recently had the opportunity to visit the Greyfriars site. This reinforces my view that the site is perfect for the purpose of a citizens memorial, it is such a perfect location. Come on ‘City of London’, grab this opportunity to pass the planning proposal!
A fascinating and instructive presentation for a very worthwhile project which would be a great contribution to the city of London. Good luck.
Many of London’s famous buildings were destroyed, in part, or completely, including, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Chelsea Old Church, the Chelsea Pensioners Hospital, The Temple “Free” Church, with its neighbor Wren’s St. Andrews, Guy’s Hospital, and seven other hospitals. To restore Christchurch and have a memorial is a very worthwhile project honoring all of those lost during WW2. Most young people have no idea of the actual horrors that ordinary citizens endured every day and should be educated about this.
This is a wonderful project. There is something deeply moving and appropriate in the idea that London citizens who lost their lives in the Second World War would be honored at a London church that lost its own life alongside them.
I first came to know Christ Church Greyfriars in 1998, when I was a correspondent for the Washington Post, working on an article about the Wren churches. In subsequent research for a book that I was writing, I was astonished to discover how much history and heritage the centuries have packed into this one place. Yet today hardly anyone knows there was a huge medieval church here that was a focus of the religious civil and social life of London. Knowledge of the great Wren church that followed is equally scant, including its loss in one of the fiercest raids of the war on the night of 29 December 1940.
I watched with interest as the church regained its original footprint through the Merrill Lynch development. It would seem right to now take the next step and put back the glorious east wall that was taken in the name of traffic circulation. There would be created an ideal place in which today’s citizens would recall the church and the wartime sacrifices of their forebears. Citizens gave up their lives in the streets and buildings around Christ Church. Others committed remarkable acts of bravery. With the church ablaze that night in 1940, a postal worker ran inside to recover one of the few fittings that survive, the top of the baptismal font (now to be found at St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate, a short walk away). Walking by the church today, you’d hardly know that any of this had happened. Let’s change that!
An interesting musical footnote for this section: from 1929 to 1932, Christ Church’s organist was the composer and performer William Lloyd Webber, father of Andrew and Julian. Felix Mendelssohn is said to have performed Bach’s A minor fugue in 1837. Records also show Samuel Wesley as having performed there.
Just thought I would leave a link to my blog pertaining to WW2 written in a diary by my great grandmother Ruby Thompson
I love that there is a chain of historical sites with Christ Church Greyfriars one of the links. Also and close to my heart is the fact that visitors and pedestrians would have the unique experience of briefly passing through a sacred space as part of an everyday route since a pavement already passes through the site.
I cannot see any good reason why this project should not be approved and go from strength to strength. I look forward to the day I can walk through, pause a moment in the gardens and think of all those who died, and then walk on into the wonderful City of London. Remembering as I go all those who bravely defended the city for us.
This very worthwhile project has been meticulously researched, historically linked and well proposed. I totally agree that this would be a wonderful opportunity to pay tribute to all those who lost their lives, both civilians and soldiers. The proposed site and design would provide a fitting memorial. As someone who lives on the fringes of the city and spends much time walking and discovering the history of the city this project would be a welcome addition to commemorate those who gave their lives in WWII.
At present the Christ Church, which is a historical treasure, is abandoned and is not treated with the dignity it deserves.
Reviving the Church to its formal glory and creating a memorial will harmoniously blend the historical heritage to the modern adjacent buildings. It will complement the mix of modern and historical features in London. It will give a pause in time, a little heaven of peace and sacred space for people to relax and contemplate the selfless courage and sacrifices that the Londoners made, for the better of humanity today. It is a must.
What a wonderful project and I wish you the best of luck with making it happen. While we hear a great deal of the spirit and the bravery of the Londoners during the war, I don’t think there is an awareness of the suffering of the civilian population in wartime. This would provide a place to reflect and remember their stories.
The Citizens’s Memorial is truly a wonderful proposal. A place to reflect and and remember those brave souls who defended our city and the democracy we can enjoy today. Also a place that we can reflect and appreciate Sir Christopher Wren’s amazing contribution to our history and heritage. I don’t believe there is anything quite like this in The City Of London that should it be approved would protect our heritage, honour our dead and honour the work of our most celebrated architect. Let’s unite to save our heritage. Wishing you every success with your proposal.
A National Memorial to honour those 28,000 civilians who died in London during WW2 is long overdue. Those brave souls defied the terrifying nightly bombings in order to keep this great city functioning. Christ Church Greyfriars also suffered in the war and looks sad and neglected . The proposed plan would transform the site into a place of beauty for quiet contemplation and enhance the environment. What better time, what better place for the creation of the Missing Memorial. Barbican resident City of London
I couldn’t agree more with all that has already been said. This beautiful monument seems to address so much in so many different ways – both past and present – and at the same time manages to remain very simple in design and concept. It demonstrates the desolation of war and conflict and the way healing and peace can rise from the rubble of lives lost and torn apart. Establishing a safe haven to reflect on this would not only honour all those who lost their lives but also support the living in their present day struggle to find peace. I hope you succeed with this project.
It makes a lot of sense to have a memorial dedicated to the hardship that the citizens of London had to endure during the war as there are no significant existing memorials anywhere in the city to commemorate both the time and endurance of thousands that had to bear a brutal and long conflict that affected so many millions. I think the funds being proposed are negligible considering the purpose and symbolism. I have personally met Mr. Heron, whose passion for this project is sincere and genuine, and his vision will certainly make the entire area a memorial to peacetime and fruitful reflection of the realities of war and its consequent long-term affects.
What a wonderful & inspirational idea! The creation of a sanctuary of natural peace, within a part restoration of an historic church in the heart of frenetic London. This is a loving intention of healing grace, to make sacred once again this heart with so many connections to our past, and further to dedicate it to the memory of souls who lost their lives in violence. It is a project worthy of all the help and support it needs. A potent and appropriate statement for the times.
Good to read the background history of the remains of Christ Church and I wish you success with this worthwhile project.
Was interested to see: “The friary was dissolved in 1538 during the English Reformation. It had included a university and a library, founded in 1429 by Richard Whittington, Lord Mayor of London, and is said to have equalled Oxford in importance and status at the time”.
That Christs Hospital school was once part of Grey Friars further attests to the tradition of education connected with this site.
Perhaps an important aspect of remembering citizens killed in WW2 could be the reinstatement of an education establishment that researches the effects of conflict on civilians and ways to protect civilians from the long term effects of the devastation caused by war.
Education can be the best memorial and creates an enduring connection between the dead and the living. Thank you for the education provided so far.
Thank you for the link to this fascinating website, I have found the content enlightening and the comments of fellow commentators interesting. For me, the questions are simple.
Should we allow the continued decimation of buildings and sites of architectural and historical interest in pursuit of “progress”, as was previously allowed for the widening of the road on this neglected site, permitting the ignorant masses to be able to move ever faster past their heritage. Of course we should not.
Should we, as a proud nation continue to ignore those 62,000 (1) UK citizens who lost their lives without ever stepping onto foreign soils, allowing them to rot and decay much like the fine structure at Grey Friars? Of course we should not.
Whilst there are small localised commemorative sites around this land, a national memorial utilising a scar of war in the centre of our proud capital city would be both fitting for the relic itself, and for the fallen citizens of this country.
“Lest we shall forget”, lets ensure we make that as difficult as possible. To ensure we follow through this campaign to its proper end, the resurrection of a great building and a fitting memorial to those that died defending a way of life we should treat as sacred.
(1) I.C.B. Dear, editor, The Oxford Companion to World War II (British Commonwealth)
Would be delighted to see the great building rise again! Was wondering if any of the old demolished fabric is available for part of the reconstruction? Probably Not. As has been said: ‘ it is a must! ’
This is a really excellent and imaginative scheme, which accomplishes many improvements to the world in one project! I was brought to it via the recently published article in Barbican Life.
Peter Bradshaw Wilson (no relation to M Wilson above!)
Posted June 27, 2014 at 10:05 pm
As a newbie to London (I only moved here in Feb) I have been taking the opportunity of seeking out the treasures of the city, both the well known and those that are hidden in plain site but with an amazing story. While it may be common knowledge in around the city that this was a Wren Church (though possibly not) I was only made aware when I read a friends copy of Barbican Life (spring 2014).
My thoughts regarding this are mainly summed up by the phrase “Doh!” Is it me or are there many things that should and could happen in London, that are “no brainers” that still seem to take an awful lot longer than they do.
Firstly, whether or not the church is used as a memorial for those lost, the church should be restored and maintained in its own right. Also there should of course be a memorial to those civilians lost in the war. The idea of putting the two together is both a practical and beautiful sentiment.
I would be interested in understanding more what blocks (aside money which is always one) there are in the way of this, is it simply approval that is needed or are there legitimate concerns and consequences to the proposal. Also, and I may not have read the piece as carefully as I should, are there any time scales to this? It is mentioned that the proposal has the backing of a number of prominent individuals both from public and private areas of the business, government and COL. I’m unclear as to the impact of his endorsement, but could the Mayor be approached about the proposal to see if his backing would raise its profile?
My final comment (for the moment) would be regarding funding, with the location of the site and the already established link to funding from the surrounding businesses this must be an obvious avenue to consider. Its proximity to the banks would mean that a great many number of the people who would benefit and use it would be from this arena. However, consideration must be made regarding, however subtle, an advertising opportunity this becomes. It would I feel, be a great shame, if allocation was made for the all to often seen “This would not have been possible without the financial support of …..” If this is truly a monument for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice then I feel it is not too large a burden to ask those willing to contribute to forgo a permanent reminder of their good deed.
Janine & Richard Rothwell. We live in France and while in London we heard about the Citizens’ Memorial project. We think it is an excellent idea to have a space dedicated to the memory of those ordinary Londoners who lost their lives during the war. The designer has produced an impressive scheme for creating an area where a partially restored ruin of a neglected Wren church would be the framework for an open space for reflection: a wonderful idea.
This proposal is a very powerful one. I have walked round the site and can see that there is pressing need for some improvement, as although the garden is lovely now, it is very dominated by traffic noise and fumes. It would be far more effective as a sheltered haven from London traffic. The remains of the church are not shown to advantage in the current arrangement.
As one of many people who recognise the traditional role finance from wealthy institutions has played in making our cities beautiful, it would be very fitting for this project to be approved, so that the businesses that gain so much from their location in the City of London, could be offered such an inspirational way to give something of permanent value to all London citizens.
I will look forward to hearing how this project moves forward in the coming months.
London Remembers has found 39 memorials in London to civilians killed by acts of war, or terrorism. This diversity is great but the sheer quantity supports the claim that a single all-encompassing memorial is also needed.
Here’s the London Remembers page showing all those memorials: http://bit.ly/10UXr6u (forgot this on previous comment).