This week Barbour launched their collaboration with Alexa Chung and while the collection is cute (yes please to the check blouse and the patent trim jacket), I was looking more at the background. The location for the campaign shoot is the lovely rose garden at Christchurch Greyfriars Church, a place instantly recognisable to anyone who has stumbled across it whilst walking around the city of London. Located very near St Pauls Cathedral, the church was first established in the 1200s but burned down during the great fire of London. It was rebuilt by Christopher Wren and later destroyed for the second time during the second world war. Only the west tower remains.
In the late 80s the rose garden was established on the site with a formal layout representing the structure of the former building. Wooden structures are covered with climbing roses in summer and box hedging frames what would have been the nave and aisle. This is such a lovely spot with a wonderful sense of romance, a breathing space for city workers and tourists to sit and eat their lunchtime sandwiches on a sunny day. I love the way that some bombed out old churches in the City have been turned into secret gardens. St Dunstan in the East is another gorgeous one, a truly magical place that is well worth a visit.
One day in the early 2000s whilst walking home from lunch at Smiths of Smithfield which was a real hotspot in those days, my husband and I noticed an intriguing advert in an estate agents window. It was the west tower of Christchurch Greyfriars Church that was up for sale! Imagine living in a Wren church tower with a rose garden and a view of St Pauls. Quite something. A few years later the tower came up for sale again, this time remodelled as a super smart two bedroom apartment and the price had tripled. Every time I go past I wonder who lives there now, what it is like to wake up to the bells of St Pauls and if they ever take their morning cup of tea out into the garden. I know I would!