From gothic arches and white Greek columns to post-war modernist architecture, Poplar is studded with stunning churches.
If you take a walk around Poplar, you might notice there are a lot of churches, some within a stone’s throw of each other and all with a fascinating history.
All Saints’ church invited the nuns of the popular BBC series Call the Midwife to Poplar, and St Anne’s Church Limehouse has a seven-metre tall pyramid in its churchyard — and nobody knows why it’s there.
Poplar’s oldest churches were built for the area’s growing seafaring population, and the nautical theme remains. St Anne’s Church Limehouse still flies a white ensign, a flag normally reserved for navy ships, and Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest offers accommodation to seafarers and ex servicemen.
In contrast to St Anne’s grand white stone and the Seamen’s Rest’s Victorian lettering, both Trinity Chapel and St Mary & Joseph churches are stocky and modern. Both churches were destroyed during the extensive bombing Poplar suffered in World War II, and rebuilt as part of the ‘Living Architecture’ exhibition for the Festival of Britain in 1951.
They were designed as part of the Lansbury Estate, a model neighbourhood of post-war city planning. The formidable architecture of St Mary & St Joseph Roman Catholic Church is celebrated — it came tenth in a 2013 competition for the best modern churches in Britain — and the timeless architecture of Poplar’s historic churches still astounds.
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