Faith in the City of London

Discover the vibrant world of worship and the breadth of faiths regularly practising in the Square Mile in this photo essay by Niki Gorick.

Faith in the City of London (2020) by Niki GorickCity of London Corporation

"Faith and money-making do not immediately strike one as easy bedfellows and yet why does the Square Mile, London’s financial centre, have over forty churches and places of worship squeezed in between its towers of commerce?

This unexpected concentration of both global businesses and churches intrigued me. Are these places of worship still functioning or are they are now just ancient buildings visited by a few tourists? What are contemporary clergy up to and how do they relate to the transitory, financial community surrounding them?...

Clerical line-up (2020) by Niki GorickCity of London Corporation

...Curious, I started photographing the day-to-day workings of these beautiful buildings and discovered a hidden and surprisingly vibrant world of worship, stretching out into many different faiths. The book Faith in the City of London is the result of over 200 visits to most of the City’s places of worship, as well as outside spiritual events. It has been a real privilege to have gained such access and I now have a completely different perspective on the City of London. Despite its reputation as a financially obsessed powerhouse, it has been fascinating to realise that it is also home to a whole host of spiritual goings-on and charismatic clergy."

Niki Gorick

Clerical line-up

Over four hundred clergy arrive to parade through Paternoster Square into St. Paul’s Cathedral for Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London’s farewell celebrations.

Hundreds of clergy recording themselves on their mobile phones under Temple Bar was an unexpected sight on Paternoster Square, better known as the location for London’s Stock Exchange.

The light returns - St Bartholomew the Great (2020) by Niki GorickCity of London Corporation

The light returns

The first fire of Easter is lit in St. Bartholomew the Great’s cloister before the Paschal Candle is carried through for the First
Mass.

Founded as a priory in the the 12th century, St. Bartholomew the Great is unusual in that it celebrates the Resurrection of Christ on the evening of Holy Saturday, rather than early on Easter Sunday morning.

Friday Mass - St Mary Moorfields (2020) by Niki GorickCity of London Corporation

Friday Mass

Father Chris Vipers prepares the Eucharist at the high altar in St. Mary
Moorfields, the only Roman Catholic church within The Square Mile.

Once illegal and secretly practised in small chapels, Roman Catholic worship now thrives at St. Mary Moorfields, catering mainly to non-resident City workers who often attend daily.

Celebratory cut - All Hallows by the Tower (2020) by Niki GorickCity of London Corporation

Celebratory Cut

The highly popular
Revd. Bertrand Olivier celebrates his 10 year anniversary as vicar of All
Hallows by the Tower. He is now Dean and Rector of Montreal’s Christ Church Anglican Cathedral.

Despite being a low residential area, some City churches, such as All Hallows by the Tower, are still parish churches, with regular services and a loyal following.

Interfaith dialogue - Bishop of London (2020) by Niki GorickCity of London Corporation

Interfaith dialogue

The first woman Anglican Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, chats with His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, at her St. Paul’s Cathedral installation service in May 2018.

As an ex-nurse, Bishop Sarah brings a down-to-earth determination to reimagine the Church of England’s shape and ministry in London. For her, the church does not have the luxury of remaining unchanged and she emphasises building relationships and making the church more reflective and relevant to the surrounding community.

Called to prayer - Muslim worship (2020) by Niki GorickCity of London Corporation

Called to prayer

No mosque within the
City means that Muslim Friday Prayers are held in hired rooms, such as in the Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers’ livery hall.  Workers from nearby offices stream in to fill
two floors of these grand staterooms near Guildhall.

Demand is high for Friday prayers and other locations that are regularly hired within the Square Mile include rooms at the Dutch Church Austin Friars and the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries.

By the sword - St. Stephen Walbrook (2020) by Niki GorickCity of London Corporation

By the sword

Service of Investiture by The Grand Priory of Knights Templar at St. Stephen Walbrook.

The Grand Chaplain-General looks on as The Grand Prior uses his sword to dub the latest knight into the Supreme Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem “in the name of God, Saint Michael and Saint George’. This is an ancient Christian society continuing the traditions of The Knights Templar and devoted to charitable works.

To the right of the image you can see the unusual circular altar of St. Stephen Walbrook, commissioned from sculptor Henry Moore.

Pagan roots - St Bartholomew the Great (2020) by Niki GorickCity of London Corporation

Pagan roots

Services within such ancient City churches as St. Bartholomew the Great can still evoke the pagan rites from which much of faith today originates. This photograph was taken during the Easter Vigil service when the only sound was the Rector singing the Exsultet text of the Resurrection and the only light was from the candles of the congregation.

Oh when the saints go marching in - St Katharine Cree (2020) by Niki GorickCity of London Corporation

Oh when the saints go marching in 

A jazz band leads the the Lloyd’s Choir and congregation into the garden for a celebration supper after the St. James Day service at St. Katharine Cree. 

Oh when the saints go marching in - St Katharine Cree (2020) by Niki GorickCity of London Corporation

Lloyd’s Choir was founded in 1922, has its roots in Lloyd's of London and the insurance market where many of its members work, and now draws singers from across the City's financial community.

Palm Sunday parade (2020) by Niki GorickCity of London Corporation

Palm Sunday parade

A little help from holy water outside St. Vedast-alias-Foster, as the procession makes its way through the streets of the City from St. Giles’ Cripplegate to St. Paul’s Cathedral. 

Every year, two donkeys arrive from Norfolk to lead the mile and a half procession that ends in their scaling the steps outside St. Paul’s Cathedral and receiving a blessing.

Cathedral synagogue (2020) by Niki GorickCity of London Corporation

Cathedral Synagogue 

Bevis Marks is the only synagogue in Europe that has held regular services for over 300 years and continues to host major ceremonial services for Anglo-Jewry, as well as family celebrations. Here, Rabbi Morris leads a blessing before the Ark and Torah scrolls during a wedding.  

Cathedral synagogue (2020) by Niki GorickCity of London Corporation

This ancient synagogue has simple, yet symbolic ornamentation, including seven many-branched candelabras representing the days of the week and ten large brass candlesticks symbolising the Ten Commandments.

Livery wedding (2020) by Niki GorickCity of London Corporation

Livery wedding 

Ushers from The Worshipful Company of Watermen and Lightermen pose with Revd. Bertrand Olivier and the groom’s mother after a colourful marriage service at All Hallows by the Tower. Every year, rowers compete in the world’s oldest boat race on the River Thames, with the winners entitled to wear the Doggett’s Coat and Badge, the watermen’s traditional red coat with a silver badge featuring the word ‘Liberty’ and the royal House of Hanover’s horse emblem. 

Finding Salvation (2020) by Niki GorickCity of London Corporation

Finding Salvation 

In the Salvation Army’s ultra-modern International Headquarters, staff hold morning prayers in a chapel filled with light reflected in through a ‘sky wall’ of glass panels. This chapel is the spiritual heart of 101 Queen Victoria Street, built in 2004 at no cost to the Salvation Army to house 150 staff overseeing the Christian charity’s work in over 130 countries.

Romanian Orthodoxy (2020) by Niki GorickCity of London Corporation

Romanian Orthodoxy

St. Dunstan-in-the-West has been the spiritual home of the Romanian community in London for over 50 years, with Sunday services attended by up to 400 people.

Romanian Orthodoxy (2020) by Niki GorickCity of London Corporation

Worship is centred on the distinctive Catapeteasma, the richly carved altar carefully transferred from a Romanian monastery and installed at St. Dunstan-in-the-West in 1966.

Egg rolling anyone? (2020) by Niki GorickCity of London Corporation

Egg rolling anyone? 

After an early morning Easter service in St Bride’s Church, the whole congregation is outside ready for another great tradition of egg rolling down Fleet Street. The Revd. Canon Dr. Alison Joyce leads the competition to roll the furthest down this main thoroughfare, buses and taxis permitting. Everyone then returns to the church for a celebratory hot breakfast.

Niki Gorick portrait (2020) by Niki GorickCity of London Corporation

About Niki Gorick

As a British fine art photographer specialising in images of London and Londoners for over 20 years, Niki Gorick has established a reputation for capturing the true character of the city. Niki’s enthusiasm for creating images led to a career spanning theatre photography, journalism, television camerawork and script writing. In Canada, Hong Kong and Scotland, as well as London, where she now lives and works.

Her photographs have been exhibited throughout London, including at the Barbican and the National Maritime Museum, and are in both private and corporate collections.

Credits: Story

Published by the City of London Corporation with permission from the artist, Niki Gorick. All images and text © Niki Gorick 2020.

Taken from the book 'Faith In The City of London'. Published by Unicorn Publishing.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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