So you’re in London for business? Or maybe a conference? That means you may only have an afternoon or just a few hours free to do something interesting. History enthusiasts should try out the ancient art of brass rubbing at St Martin in the Fields. It's also an opportunity to walk around the legendary Trafalgar Square.
For Travelers Who Like: History, crafts and architecture.
Where to Go: The nearest Tube station is either Leicester Square on the Northern or Piccadilly line. Or you can take the Circle, District or Bakerloo line to Embankment.
What Makes It Special: Trafalgar Square, located in the City of Westminster in Central London, is one of the most famous landmarks in London. The square was named to commemorate the British Navy's victory in the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar, one of the skirmishes in the Napoleonic Wars. The square, the site of annual Christmas celebrations and several political demonstrations, features several monuments, including Nelson's Column. The four seven-ton lions that mark Nelson's Column honor Admiral Horatio Nelson who died in the Battle of Trafalgar. Interestingly, the Nazi SS had a plan to move Nelson's Column to Berlin, Germany upon a successful invasion of Britain.
Although most visitors to London have heard of Trafalgar Square, few people know about Saint Martin in the Fields, the stunning church in the corner of Trafalgar Square. We love this church because it is absolutely beautiful and has a rich history. The current building, which is an English Anglican Church, dates back to the 1700's; but there has been a church in one form or another on the very same site since medieval times. History buffs will adore the interesting interior which as a barrel vaulted ceiling decorated with stucco cherubs, clouds, and shells. The outside of this beautiful church has been featured in movies like "Notting Hill".
Stop and try your hand at Brass Rubbing for a fun craft.
Must Try: Brass Rubbing was a fashionable Victorian-era tradition. Visitors would trace over the brass monuments that decorated the church and marked burial places of notables like furniture designer Thomas Chippendale. Today visitors can rub the church's collection of 100 brass replicas of Medieval knights, fire-breathing dragons, damsels-in-distress, and even William Shakespeare that have been accumulated from churches and cathedrals from all over the UK.
Brass rubbing is done by tracing over brass monuments with a waxy crayon on paper to make a historical memento. Once the church realized that brass rubbing caused damage to the original brass pieces, it had sets of replicas created so that the tradition could continue.