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When our Rector told us that St Bride?s had been designated as one of the nation?s greatest institutions to be included in this event, I think we all agreed that our church was only receiving the recognition it deserved.
This information was coupled with a request for volunteer guides to show the visitors round. In a subtle manner this was made easier to consider when it was revealed that Trevor Turner was to make copies of his own notes available to contenders for the job.
In my own case I was able to supplement this information by dipping into Dewi Morgan?s ?Phoenix of Fleet Street? and also recalling some of my conversations over the years with late Guildsman Herbert Smart. My earlier years spent in nearby Fleet Lane were also a help. I felt reasonably confident of presenting a good story, consoling myself by thinking ?it will be alright on the day.?
I still approached my first encounter, which turned out to be a very large party, with trepidation. Following a shaky introduction I launched into a story, and after a while realised from the attention I was receiving, feigned or otherwise, that I did, however marginally, know more about St Bride?s than they! When I finally ran out of words they departed seemingly pleased.
A quick comparison of notes with two of the other guides enabled the three of us to knock off some of the rough edges and agree that we were each giving a creditable account of the history of our church.
Deflation in my case was however just around the corner in the shape of a burley eagle-eyed chap who had spotted the charred wood on the altar in the crypt. For the life of me I could not remember how it had occurred and he was obviously expecting some sort of tale of derring-do from the 1940?s. This sent me scurrying to James Irving who quickly reminded me of the occasion in the 1990?s when a disaffected person had tried to set fire to the crypt.
The Charnel House which had been the subject of a feature in ?The Times? during the Spring was found to be the main attraction, although curiously several people found themselves quite unable to look at our collection of bones when invited.
The String of Pearls programme was brought to a dramatic conclusion at Evensong on Sunday 29th September when the version for organ of William Walton?s ?Crown Imperial? was played with almost pyrotechnic effect by our Director of Music, Robert Jones, the choir having previously performed two other works by the same composer.