When a thousand pound bomb hit St James’s Church Piccadilly on the night of 14th October 1940, almost 72 years ago, followed by incendiaries which burnt out the interior of the church, a banker was dining a few hundred yards away at Wiltons Oyster Bar in King Street. Wiltons’ website reports:
The license was taken over in 1930 by Mrs Bessie Leal until 1942 (sic), mid-war, when Olaf Hambro, who happened to be eating oysters alone at the bar as a bomb landed on St James’s Church, Piccadilly, asked for the restaurant to be added to his bill as Mrs Leal folded her tea towel and apron and declared Wiltons closed.
Wiltons — still owned by the Hambro banking family — and St James’s Church survived: the Church with no permanent roof until the 1950s and without a spire until the 1960s. The current spire is made of steel, plastic and fibreglass, the restoration money having run out.
Pathé newsreel reports captured the aftermath of the bombing, the church smouldering and being played with water (click the two following images for video launch pages)…
…and the dedication of the Garden of Remembrance in 1946:
The area round Piccadilly Market and St James’s Church, courtesy of Apple Maps (and a kind friend with an iPad who knows how to screengrab). But where are the people and traffic? It’s like London after a Triffid attack….
I bought a kaleidoscope from your stand at Piccadilly Market a couple of years ago. I’m a children’s author and my retro-style adventure story, “The Bother in Burmeon” was published earlier this year. It’s a time-slip story in which the young hero goes back to 1962 via a mysterious kaleidoscope (it’s silver in the book). I bought the kaleidoscope to use as a prop for school visits (where it has been much admired!) and to use in the book trailer which we’ve now finished…
If you do manage to construct a time-travel kaleidoscope, I’d love to know!
Piccadilly Circus Circus comes to Piccadilly! The men in yellow jackets were out in force on Piccadilly this morning, preparing for tomorrow’s central London extravaganza.
Regent’s Street and Piccadilly will be transformed into a ‘pedestrianised paradise’ with tightrope artists, circus trapeze, aerial dance and bungees, BMX bike tricks and street dance, a Latin circus, a Moroccan circus and much more.
Over the course of tomorrow afternoon and evening there will be 143 performances of 48 different acts by 33 companies across 15 spaces, with 247 performers! Details here.
Travel from Piccadilly Circus towards Fortnum’s and The Ritz and there, on your left, poking through the railings of St James’s Church, is a vine. It arches over one of the best stalls on Piccadilly Market — De Angeli Design (Bespoke Leathercraft/Made to Measure Belts) — bathing it in a soft green light.
It is unknown what the grapes taste like, or if they have ever been pressed, bottled, and drunk. Châteaux Vapeurs D’Autobus anyone?
Piccadilly Market saw two RAF flypasts in June, first for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and again on 28 June to commemorate the unveiling of the Green Park memorial to the 55,573 men of Bomber Command who died fighting during WWII.
Both photos were taken by the quick-witted Kate Coulter of Coulter Fossils, who has a habit of getting the shot while everyone else is standing around going “oooh, maybe I should take a picture”.
Piccadilly had Royal visitors on Monday 4 June as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, sat down with locals, bigwigs, bodyguards, traders, shoppers and tourists at a street party just outside Piccadilly Market to celebrate the occasion. St James’s Church can be seen in the background. Though the market was closed, some stallholders took their wares out on to Piccadilly for the day.
Piccadilly Market was pleased to welcome the ‘money saving expert’ through its gates yesterday. Martin Lewis, part of the Lorraine Kelly morning tv show, shares product and service deals and offers on everything and anything to help the consumer pay less. Piccadilly Market was the perfect setting for this show, as we offer great deals on unique arts and crafts gifts, helping consumers pay less whilst getting something original!
Royal Wedding is approaching fast and we at Piccadilly Market could think of no better way to celebrate than with a calorific-terrific ‘Cakes and Sweets’ Market …
This special and sweet event will be held in our beautiful church garden, in the heart of Piccadilly, and will offer you handmade sweets of all persuasions… from traditional English cakes and delicious French patisseries, to scrumptious fudge and Vegan cupcakes. We will also be featuring beautiful, quirky tea sets by talented London designer Ali Miller.
This day has been organised in conjunction with the wonderful ‘Shepherds Markets’ whose motto is ‘growing communities through good food’; they have also started up an excellent food Market in our courtyard on Mondays- I encourage you to try it!
Come and enjoy a delicious outdoor afternoon tea on Wed 27th April …..and find a unique arts and crafts gift for a loved one (be that yourself!).