Archive for September 28, 2014

St Clement Danes Church

Posted: September 28, 2014 in History, London
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St Clement Danes, Strand, London WC2R 1DH
Photo by Mikey (

St. Clement Danes Church sits on an island in one of central London’s busiest roads opposite the Royal Courts of Justice. The name is said to derive the fact that the current church is on the site of a ninth century church built by Danes who were living in London. St Clement had been a bishop of Rome, who was martyred during the reign of the Emperor Trajan by being tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea. He thus became the patron saint of Mariners and this was his connection to the Danes, who themselves were great seafarers. Records certainly record that there were two other churches on this site prior to the current building, dating from the 11th century (reputed to have been built by William the Conqueror) and the Middle Ages.

St Clement Danes
Photo by Lawrence Lew (

The current church was built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1682, although the steeple was added later in 1719. On 10 May 1941 the church was badly damaged by bombing with only the walls and the steeple left standing. At the end of the Second World War the Royal Air Force launched an appeal to restore the church and the work was completed in 1958 and the church was be consecrated as the central church of the Royal Air Force.

Its history. Of course, means that there is little historical value prior to 1940 within the church, this having been destroyed by the bombing. However, there are a number of interesting features to it. One of these are the over 800 badges of RAF squadrons and units sculpted in Welsh slate, which form part of the floor.

Clement Danes Floor (Take 3)
Photo by Mike Freeman (

The church is also a resting place for a number of books of remembrance, which record the RAF personnel killed during both world wars. One book on the south side records those who have died in RAF service since the end of World War II. This book is updated every six months. Other memorials in the church include one to the airmen of the United States air force were killed during World War II, while stationed in this country and one to the Polish squadrons, who flew as part of the RAF during the same war.

St Clement Danes Church
Photo by Maureen Barlin (

The church also contains a number of gifts from foreign governments and air forces, including a granite baptismal font, which was the gift of the Royal Norwegian air force and the altar which was a gift of the Royal Netherlands air force.


Apart from its historical significance, both in its history and in its remembrance of those airmen who have given their lives in the service of their country since the formation of the Royal flying Corps in 1911, I think I also marvel at the wonder of the restoration. It certainly doesn’t look or feel the sale you in the church, built in the 1950s.