13 April 2014

#SundayTraveler: Saint Martin-in-the-Fields Church, London

When we travel, we try not to pick up "tourist junk" too often. Instead, we've started a pattern of purchasing prints from the places we visit to hang on the wall and remember the trip each time we look up. On our recent trip to London we realized that we already had a print from Mark's trip as a child, so I came up with another idea - making a brass rubbing at St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church to take home and frame instead.

The church is situated on Trafalgar Square and is well known for it's amazing acoustics and it's reputation as the "Church of the Ever Open Door." As an acoustical space, concerts are held regularly and music holds a very important place in worship services, but despite it's reputation as a place of high culture with it's importance on music, the church is also well known for it's programs to help the homeless.

View of St. Martin in the Fields from Trafalgar Square

The sanctuary of the church


What's easier to miss is the London Brass Rubbing Center in the church's crypt, accessible from an entrance outside of the church. In Victorian England, visitors to churches would often use paper and wax crayon to make a tracing of brass plaques at churches and historic sites all over the UK to keep as souvenirs of their visit. After a while, the frequent "rubbings" proved damaging to the brass, and replicas were created and placed at different centers to allow visitors to continue the tradition without compromising the historic landmarks. Today, the London Brass Rubbing Center keeps that tradition alive.

London Brass Rubbing Centre Image from LondonTown.com
Brass rubbing options. Image courtesy of London Town


The staff lets you pick out which brass you would like, then sets up your paper and gives you a quick tutorial on the best way to proceed. You can easily make a beautiful rubbing with one color of crayon, but braver souls will be able to choose multiple colors. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures while we were doing our own rubbings - apparently I was too excited about the process to document it - but we choose two small pieces (figuring that was as long as Little Man would stay interested) with a single color crayon. We're pretty happy with the results, and I'm in the process of looking for suitable frames.

Close up of my rubbing.

Little Man shows off his rubbing - the Elephant and Castle design.


The London Brass Rubbing Center is open 7 days a week. See here for opening hours. Rubbings start at £4.50 for the smallest and the price increases with the size of the rubbings. Some of the rubbings available are nearly 6 feet tall. For the smallest rubbings, I would recommend at least 45 minutes to make sure you do a good job. And if you're worried about transporting your rubbings home, you can purchase a poster tube for 95 pence that will protect your rubbings for the rest of your day about town and the trip home.

Today's post is linked up with Chasing the Donkey and friends for the #SundayTraveler linkup. Check out the other great posts this week!

28 comments:

  1. That's a great souvenir idea. I have a rubbing from Angkor Wat from 20 years ago (I didn't do it myself, it was a "souvenir" available to buy) which hangs above my bed even now. It's one of my favourite travel keepsakes. #SundayTraveler

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  2. I have lived in London, but never visited this church, made a note for my next visit already!

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  3. Like Marysia...I also call London my second home but have never been to this church. Sometimes we forget to see what's right in front of us.

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  4. How interesting! I think my aunt and grandma would love doing this summer!

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  5. Margherita Ragg13 April, 2014 15:02

    Such a cool place! Glad to hear you love London, St Martins is an amazing church!

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  6. Oh how cool is that rubbing centre? That looks like so much fun! You do such a neat job of always finding little man great activities - I really love that. Big thanks for linking up with us again.

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  7. I have heard of Saint Martin in the Fields, but only as it pertains to music. I didn't even know for sure that it was a church, although I suspected it. How wonderful that it has other great features like the program for the homeless. My kids would really enjoy this brass rubbing center. It sounds like a great hands-on souvenir of a trip.

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  8. frankaboutcroatia13 April, 2014 22:50

    What an interesting tradition! Am I being ignorant, or this is pretty unique? Little man did great with the Elephant and Castle design.

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  9. This is the most boring piece of shït blog I have ever seen in my life. Fûck this blog it's creator and it's readers. Thank you

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  10. You again? What the fûck? Do you scour the internet for boring shît and then contribute equally boring shît?

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  11. Damn you look good bîtch you can visit my cöck anytime

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  12. Thanks! I was pretty proud of myself for thinking of it ;)
    I imagine your rubbing from Angkor Wat is beautiful!

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  13. It's a neat place and well worth the time!

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  14. That's very true - There were things in Chicago that I never did or went to see for much the same reason. It's a good reminder to go out and make the most of your surroundings!

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  15. It's a really nice activity - and there's a cafe in the crypt, too, so you can have a snack or a drink while you do it =)

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  16. Thanks! I'm really glad we made the trip there!

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  17. Aw, thanks! He's just about always enjoyed my ideas, too, which is good to know. Now that he's a bit older and has a longer attention span, we've really been able to do some neat things with him. =)

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  18. It's a very interesting place - and it's worth reading the history on their website. And the rubbing center is just a good, relaxing time, especially when you've been exploring all day =)

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  19. It seems to be rather unique. I spoke to one of the women that worked there and she felt like they were the last place left in London to do rubbings. She wasn't 100% certain, but she said there had been more places in the city but that they have slowly all shut down in recent years. I really don't know how popular this is outside of England, though. It'd be worth finding other places!
    Little Man is pretty proud of his design, but I have to admit he had a bit of help =)

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  20. What a wonderful crafty souvenir to bring home with you! I would love to make something like this. We also buy photos or frame our own photos from travels to hang on the wall, and this would be such a unique piece of artwork to have!

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  21. Oh wow, this is cool! I didn't know about the rubbings. I did visit the church because my mother had seen the cafe in the crypt on a TV show and wanted me to go visit it but it was a bit of a letdown. I wish I had known about the rubbing centre though. Seems like fun and a cool souvenir!

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  22. Ashley Hubbard15 April, 2014 21:27

    I'd never heard of this but that rubbing center is pretty awesome! I hope I do as well traveling with kids one day as you seem to. Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler

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  23. I didn't know about the rubbings! I have been to the church, though - it's beautiful.

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  24. Thanks! It was fun to do and I think they came out rather good. You can also buy rubbings that have already been done up (if you don't have the time to do one yourself), which is a nice unique option, too. =)

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  25. The crypt and cafe are kind of cool, but I do think the rubbing center makes it worth the trip into the crypt. It was a nice way to take a break from walking, too! =)

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  26. Aww, thanks! I will admit, the Little Man is pretty good at traveling, but we do need to think about the activities we plan so he isn't bored out of his mind. This one worked pretty well though. =)

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  27. The church is gorgeous, too! A very neat place to visit all around.

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  28. I was also really surprised at how inexpensive it is. I didn't peak at the prices on the 6-footers, but I imagine you would need a whole day to do it well!

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