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St. Martin-in-the-Fields Review
One of London's best-loved and most welcoming of churches is more than just a place of worship. Named after the saint who helped beggars, St Martin's has long been a welcome sight for the homeless, who have sought soup and shelter at the church since 1914. The church is also a haven for music lovers; the internationally known Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields was founded here, and a popular program of concerts continues today. (Although the interior is a wonderful setting for a recital, beware the hard wooden benches!) The crypt is a hive of activity, with a popular café and shop, plus the London Brass-Rubbing Centre, where you can make your own life-size souvenir knight, lady, or monarch from replica tomb brasses, with metallic waxes, paper, and instructions from about £5. Also watch out for a new alfresco café set to open in summer 2013.
St. Martin's is often called the royal parish church, partly because Charles II was christened here. Originally a small medieval chapel (probably used by the monks of Westminster Abbey), the 18th century saw the church get a major revamp: completed in 1726, James Gibbs's classical temple-with-spire design also became a familiar pattern for churches in early colonial America. Though it has to compete for attention with Trafalgar Square's many prominent structures, St. Martin-in-the-Fields manages to do just fine.
- Address: Trafalgar Sq., Westminster, London, WC2N 4CC | Map It
- Phone: 020/7766–1100; 020/7839–8362 brass rubbings; 020/7766–1122 evening-concert credit-card bookings
- Cost: Free; concerts £7–£30
- Hours: Open all day for worship; sightseeing: Mon., Tue., and Fri. 8:30–1 and 2–6; Wed. 8:30–1:15 and 2–5; Thurs. 8:30–1.15 and 2–6; Sat. 9:30–6; Sun. 9:30–5
- Website: www.smitf.org
- Tube: Charing Cross, Leicester Sq.
- Location: Westminster and Royal London
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