Inexplicable splendour of Ionian white and gold

O City city, I can sometimes hear
Beside a public bar in Lower Thames Street,
The pleasant whining of a mandoline
And a clatter and a chatter from within
Where fishmen lounge at noon: where the walls
Of Magnus Martyr hold
Inexplicable splendour of Ionian white and gold.

T.S. Eliot
(The Wasteland – III. The Fire Sermon)

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Jack says:

    Nice to know that Fr is also an insomniac :)

  2. Bill in Texas says:

    St. Magnus Martyr is a spectacular church still — I visited there about three years ago.

  3. bear-i-tone says:

    Thank the Lord Ezra Pound was around to help Eliot clean up The Wasteland. I can’t remember the number of times he forced Eliot to re-write this section, including one time where he sent he manuscript back to Eliot with a big NO! written across the pages.

  4. AM says:

    Give me David Jones over Eliot any day.

  5. Veritas says:

    It used to be an Anglican Papalist stronghold. Does it now have women clergy?

  6. Flabellum says:

    For a taste of its current status see

  7. Bill in Texas says:

    To add to what Flabellum posted, when I was there, there were a number of places where it was stated that this church is Anglo-Catholic. I’m still not quite sure what that means. But when I entered the church, I thought I was in a Catholic church, not an Anglican establishment. The photo on the anglicanexfide site is a very good one of the interior of the church.

    I was a little taken aback during my walk around the inside to see the statue of the patron saint of the church wearing a Viking helmet, complete with horns!

  8. Chris says:

    “Anglo-Catholic” covers a wide range of opinions on many matters these days (and I speak as one). I believe St. Magnus is one of those places which “would not accept a woman as the minister who presides at or celebrates the Holy Communion or pronounces absolution” to quote the relevant Measure.

    As a building it benefits from having been re-ordered when Baroque was the height of fashion among Anglo-Catholics, which of course blends well with Wren’s building.

    Incidentally, refreshing my memory before posting, I found the “inexplicable splendour” line quoted as being from Old London Churches by E. and W. Wayland Young (1909)

  9. Andrew says:

    Yes, the parish is a classic Anglo-Catholic church. Have a look at the magnificent shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in their virtual tour:

  10. Andrew says:

    Incidentally, T.S. Eliot was the Church Warden at Saint Stephen’s, Gloucester Rd. This is also an Anglo-Catholic church well worth visiting when in London.

  11. Veritas says:

    If you want to see a good picture of the Presiding(Lady) Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the USA look in the porch of the formerly Anglo-Catholic Church of St Matthew, Westminster. The church is half-way between the Abbey and Westminster Cathedral.

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