St. Martin Essay

2466 words - 10 pages

If you walk along Charing Cross Road from Tottenham Court Road you will come across an area called Trafalgar Square, which is a well-known public space and tourist attraction in Central London. The Square is situated in the city of Westminster and at its center is Nelson’s column, which is surrounded by four lion statues at its base. In the area there are a number of commemorative statues and sculptures within the Square. Just as you reach the square on the left is a church called St. Martin in the Fields. James Gibbs built the church from 1722-1724, in honor of Saint Martin of Tours. It directly faces Trafalgar Square and is separated from the square by Charing Cross Road. The church stands tall and is surrounded by several businesses, restaurants, and tourist attractions in the area. It is hard to get a good look at the entire building from the street because of its large scale and long width. Its portico is rather demanding because it is very large and is among one of the first things you notice as you approach the building. There is constant traffic up and down Charing Cross, which draws a lot of attention to the church. St. Martin-in-the-Fields plays a huge role in the importance of Trafalgar Square. The building gives off a very overpowering feeling as you walk up the steps to its entrance. In a demanding place like Trafalgar Square, St. Martin in the Fields church is able to stand on its own to draw attention of many to its doors.
The church originally stood in the fields and was given the name St. Martin-in-the-Fields as a way of distinguishing it from the number of churches in the City of London with the same dedication. The church was dedicated to Saint Martin who was England’s patron saint. He was born in Hungary in the year 316 A.D and after a career as a soldier, he gave up the army and took holy orders (McMaster 6). St. Martin became well known for his great faith, benevolence and strong personality, he was ultimately made Bishop of Tours in 371 A.D. He was a relished symbol in England and several churches were dedicated to him. In honor of his memory, his name became a sign of adoration in England, which can be seen by the number of churches named after him.
Some of the earliest information on the church dates back to 1222 over a dispute between the Abbot of Westminster and the Bishop of London over who had sole control over the church. The Archbishop decided in favor of Westminster so the monks of Westminster Abbey began to use the church for their own personal use. In 1542, Henry VIII rebuilt the church to keep plague victims from the area from having to pass through his Palace of Whitehall. At this time in history, the church isolated between the cities of Westminster and London so it was a good place to keep the plague victims away from the rest of society. In 1606, James granted an acre of land for a new churchyard. The building was enlarged eastwards, increasing the length of the church by about half its original size...

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