JOURNALIST AND BROADCASTER GEORGINA GODWIN ASKS “AMBULATOR” ABOUT THE IDEA BEHIND 1711 WALK
GG: Is this an original idea?
A: Nobody’s told me that it isn’t. I know there are people who make a point of visiting all of the Hawksmoor churches. But this walk covers a much wider geographical area.
GG: How did you have the idea?
A: I used to work in the City. Just before I left that job, a colleague and I spent a month of lunch times visiting all of the surviving Wren churches. For some time, I’ve had the idea of visiting all of the Queen Anne Churches on foot in a single day. But it was only when I found myself in the freezing cold outside St Alfege on the first Sunday morning of 2011 that it struck me that this was the year to do it. Then it became a question of finding the date on which Queen Anne gave royal assent to the Act (not entirely straightforward). Serendipitously, the 300th anniversary turned out to fall not just on a summer Sunday but on Whit Sunday, the Feast of Pentecost.
GG: What’s so special about 1711 Walk?
A: I particularly like the way in which it brings together such disparate parts of London: Deptford and Mayfair, for example. It connects East and West, links the naval, commercial, financial and political centres of 18th century London. Not to mention that it’s also an extraordinary architectural tour of some of London’s finest Baroque buildings.
GG: Is it an organised walk?
A: Absolutely not. At the risk of appearing in Pseuds’ Corner, I like to think of it as “London’s first Pop-Up Baroque Church Crawl”.
GG: What do you mean by “Pop-Up”?
A: 1711 Walk is a route, not an organised event. There will be no signposts on Sunday 12th June, no marshals in “Hi Vis” vests”. I’ll be walking the entire 1711 Walk route and will be delighted if others choose to mark the date by doing the same. The term “Pop-Up” is intended to signify that the 300th anniversary gives those interested in the Queen Anne Churches a special opportunity to support those churches in a spontaneous and creative way. If, for example, individuals want to walk just part of the route or to walk in costume, that’s fine. Buy the Guide and it will get you round on 12th June, but I’d regard it as an introduction, a provocation to its recipients to go on to make their own explorations of the geography of 18th century London.
GG: What do you hope to achieve?
A: Apart from enjoying the walk, I’m hoping to promote interest in the Queen Anne Churches as a group and to encourage our generation of Londoners to follow its forebears by contributing to the cost of maintaining what they paid to build.
GG: Are you acting on behalf of the Queen Anne Churches?
A: No, this is a purely personal venture. There is, though, nothing to stop the individual churches from buying copies of the Guide and organising groups of walkers to raise money for their own restoration and maintenance appeals.
GG: How can people get involved if they wish to support an individual church?
A: Those with some attachment to a particular church (including those no longer in use as places of worship) can contact that church to ask about any plans which it may have to organise a group of walkers on Sunday 12th June (or indeed at any other time).
GG: What about those who have no particular attachment to any individual church?
A: This is where the National Churches Trust comes in. The Trust has been advocating the conservation of places of worship of historic value for the use and enjoyment of future generations since its original inception in 1953 as The Historic Churches Preservation Trust. It’s the leading independent charity promoting and supporting churches, chapels and meeting houses throughout the United Kingdom, not only as places of worship, but as social, cultural and educational resources for their local communities. I‘m delighted that it has agreed to create the National Churches Trust 1711 Fund to enable people with no particularly loyalty to support 9 of the Queen Anne Churches as a group.
GG: Is it possible to donate online to the 1711 Fund?
A: Yes. The National Churches Trust has set up a dedicated JustGiving page. Those who wish to support the National Churches Trust 1711 Fund can either donate via that page or follow a link from it to set up their own individual or group page.
“AMBULATOR”, the originator of 1711 Walk, is a barrister in independent practice. He read History at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, formerly worked in the City of London as an investment manager and is now a member of a commercial chancery set in Lincoln’s Inn.