Paternoster Square

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Exit St Paul's Tube Station, London, United Kingdom

Paternoster Square London Reviews

wabat wabat
160 reviews
Paternoster Square – lost opportunity Feb 10, 2017
As squares go, standing in it, this one is a pretty ugly one surrounded by rather ugly modern buildings including the London Stock Exchange. I like to see grass and or other forms of greenery – even if the square is in the centre of London as this one is. The square is actually privately owned (with public right of way) by the Mitsubishi Estate Co so this may explain the preference for concrete which, I imagine, is cheaper to maintain than grass and plants.

That said, it does look much better when viewed from above. My main picture attached is taken from the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral. The Square itself does also allow for some interesting shots of St Paul’s.

The square takes its name from the medieval Paternoster Row where clergy from St Paul’s Cathedral would ambulate, rosaries in hand, reciting the Pater Noster or Lord’s Prayer.

Paternoster Row, centre of the London publishing trade. was pretty much wiped by the 1666 fire of London and then again by aerial bombardment during World War II. Post World War II it lay undeveloped until 1967 but that development proved rather unpopular. Lord Mayor, Robert Finch described it thus in 2004 - "The old Paternoster Square was typical: ghastly, monolithic constructions without definition or character’.

I rather think the Mayor’s description is equally apt for the new Square.

For me the most interesting aspect of the square (though arguably not part of it at all) is the Temple Bar – see my separate review – the St Paul’s side, entrance to/ exit from the square.

The main feature within the square is the 23m tall Paternoster Square Column. This is a Corinthian column of Portland stone (matching the Temple Bar) topped by a gold leaf covered flaming copper urn which lights up at night. The column, in addition to being reasonably aesthetically pleasing, also serves as a ventilation shaft for an underground car park and a service road that runs beneath the square.

The Square has but a single sculpture entitled Shepherd and Sheep – by Dame Elizabeth Frink (originally unveiled by Yehudi Menhuin in 1975 and retained from the previous Square development).

This sculpture reminds one of the days when this square was the site of Newgate Meat Market until the Central Meat Market at Smithfield opened in 1868.

I am unsure as to why the shepherd is naked and un-endowed (in contrast to the front sheep (ram)!). As Frink was much better known for her well-endowed subjects perhaps she was somewhat influenced by the clergy of neighbouring St Paul’s in this instance.

Certainly have a wander through the square while you are in the area but nothing there to hold you too long.
Paternoster Square from St Paul's
Paternoster Square - Column and St…
Paternoster Square - Column and St…
Paternoster Square - Shepherd and…
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AdamR3723 says:
It's an ugly square but interesting.
Posted on: Feb 20, 2017
wabat says:
Got to agree with you there Ingo.
Posted on: Feb 11, 2017
german_eagle says:
Too much concrete for my taste.
Posted on: Feb 11, 2017
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wabat wabat
160 reviews
St Faith's Water Pump Feb 10, 2017
Between Paternoster Square and St Paul’s Cathedral, behind a fence, you will find this water pump inscribed thus:

“Erected by St Faith’s Parish 1819”

This got me wondering as I was not familiar with St Faith’s Parish – though to be fair, I am far from an expert on the parishes of London! On delving deeper I have ascertained the following but still not resolved why the pump was installed (clean water source for residents/visitors I imagine - was it common for churches to erect such pumps? Why was it erected by St Faith's as opposed to St Paul's or St Augustine's?). I would love to hear from anyone with information.

St Faith’s, as a church, has not existed since 1256 when it was demolished to make way for an extension to the Old St Paul’s Cathedral.

While the church disappeared the parish continued to exist – now called the Parish of St Faith under St Paul’s - and the parishioners, mostly booksellers in Paternoster Row, still held certain rights - such as special pews and burial rights – and used an area of the cathedral in the west crypt under St Paul’s Quire and later the Jesus Chapel.

After the Great Fire of 1666 when all vestige’s of the church under St Paul’s (together with a vast volume of books moved in under the Cathedral for protection against the fire) were lost with the cathedral itself, the parish was combined with St Augustine’s Watling Street which itself joined to St Mary-le-Bow in 1954.

When St Paul’s was rebuilt, post the Great Fire (the current St Paul’s), a chapel close the foundations of the original St Faith’s was dedicated to St Faith and as such St Faith Parishioners retained a link with St Paul’s. There are certainly records of St Faith burials in the cathedral in the 1800’s - post the date on the water pump. The Chapel of St Faith, in 1960 became the spiritual Home to the Order of the British Empire.

Where the pump fits in I am really not sure but it was previously situated nearby in St Paul’s Graveyard close to St Paul’s Cross and was moved to its current location in 1973. Very intriguing.
St Faith's Water Pump
St Faith's Water Pump
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AdamR3723 AdamR3723
151 reviews
'Paternoster' sculpture Feb 20, 2017
My late mother was a sculptor. While she was active in this pursuit, she rubbed shoulders with many well-known British sculptors such as Anthony Caro and William Turnbull. The sculptor, who she knew best and was also a close personal friend, was Elizabeth Frink. Frink used to come to our house for dinner, and I remember meeting her on these occasions. This is one of the reasons that I have a special feeling for her work. However, you did not need to know Frink personally to appreciate her artistic skills.

'Paternoster' in Paternoster Square is a particularly fine example of Frink's work. It depicts a shepherd leading his sheep. It was completed in 1975, and unveiled by the famous violinist Yehudi Menuhin, for whom I once opened a door (in Highgate School) to allow him through!
"Paternoster" by Elizabeth Frink
"Paternoster" by Elizabeth Frink
"Paternoster" by Elizabeth Frink
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wabat says:
Knowing the sculptor is a great added dimension when it comes to admiring this piece.
Posted on: Feb 20, 2017

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