St. Martin’s Place is one of my favorite little gateways in London. It is here, around the corner from the National Gallery, that you find the National; Portrait Gallery, a true treasure trove of fascinating stories, and true historic tales. But there is much much more. Here the noise and exhaust from the incredibly busy Charing Cross Road seems muted in the shade of tall Plane trees, and the dynamic atmosphere as one walks past the open spaces of Trafalgar Square, into the warren of alleys and Streets stretching between Soho and Covent Garden. It is in these passages, courts and places that so many book stalls give this the air of an intellectual haven, despite the density of Theatres, pubs, crass souvenir shops and fast food joints. But what gives me a magical feeling, are the to monuments, first, in the centre of St Martins Place, the grand edifice memorializing Edith Cavell is one of so many tributes that stand throughout Westminster. Take a moment to educate yourself. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edith_Cavell . This is an open space, and the benches here do well on a sunny day.
A second monument, to Sir Henry Irving, can be found around the corner, (counterclockwise around the National Gallery/National Portrait Gallery Complex), off Charing Cross Road at Irving Street, near Orange Street, http://www.theirvingsociety.org.uk/memorial.htm . This is a Shady place, and worth the walk, on rare hot summer days in London.
It is from this location that one can look north, through so many book shops, towards Seven Tottenham Court Road, and further, to Mornington Crescent, and Camden Town, beyond, or look west, towards Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.
But for the purpose of this exercise, look southeast from the Cavell memorial, for St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields Church, and the glass cylinder entry of the new plaza.
The Cylinder is the new entrance to the church’s crypt, but the Church is most worthy of a visit. Check the website… http://www2.stmartin-in-the-fields.org/page/home/home.html… and find tabs for ‘church’, ‘café’, ‘music’, ‘visiting’, ‘hiring spaces’, ‘building’, ‘Christmas appeal’, ‘Chinese’, and ‘about us’. There is also a column on the right showing each day’s schedule. This is a very ‘happening’ place.
The music of this place can not be described in words. Check the music tab on the website, then plan a visit. It is a great way to spend part of a day.