Clements St Danes is the RAF’s central Church located right outside Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand. It is a very beautiful church that is in the centre of the road.
There have been churches on this location for over 1,000. The one before this one survived the London fire of 1666 but was rebuilt in 1681 by Sir Christopher Wren (designer of St Paul's Cathedral and the library at Trinity college). The steeple was was added in 1719.
The inside of the Church was burnt out om 10 May 1941 by incendiary bombs, leaving only the walls and tower. So in 1958 it was rebuilt and commemorates the RAF personnel who have died whilst on active service.
I wanted to make this trip because Jane was the second baby to be baptised after it reopened after the war in 1958. So it was a very personal trip.
The church is very serene as you would expect. The floor is very white and there is the RAF crest surround by the commonwealth air forces. There are also 1,000 squadron and unit badges carved in Welsh slate. The benches are on rollers so that they can be pushed in and out to accommodate the services held here.
There were a lot of donations made to this church from organisations, air forces around the world and the RAF. Some were memorials to those that have died. You can see how much this church has meant to so many.
There are books that have the names of all the men and women that have died while on active service. Book I has all the names before the RAF was in creation. Books II to IX has the names of those who died during WWII. Book X has the names of all the servicemen that have died since VJ up to today and is updated twice a year.
You will like to know that under the West Gallery, there are the names of the 16,000 USAF who died in WWII.The organ was gifted to the church by the USAF and is supposed to be the best one in London.
There is a favourite nursery rhyme written here and they celebrate it with an orange and lemon fayre:
"Oranges and Lemons" say the bells of St Clement's.
"Bull's eyes and targets" say the bells of St Margaret's.
"Pokers and tongs" say the bells of St John's.
"Pancakes and fritters" say the bells of St Peter's.
"Two sticks and an apple" say the bells of Whitechapel.
"Old Father Baldpate" say the slow bells of Aldgate.
"Maids in white aprons " say the bells of St Catherine's
"Brickbats and tiles" say the bells of St Giles'.
"Kettles and pans" say the bells of St Anne's.
"You owe me five farthings" say the bells of St Martin's.
"When will you pay me?" say the bells of Old Bailey.
"When I grow rich" say the bells of Shoreditch.
"Pray when will that be?" say the bells of Stepney.
"I'm sure I don't know" says the great bell of Bow.
Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
Chip chop, chip chop, the last man's dead.
Jane and I went again when we went down to London for the Diamond Jubilee.
All the Best!
American to Britain