My organist friend, Barbara Adler, suggested that on my tour of London churches, I include St. George’s Hanover Square on the itinerary. So that’s where Joan Ishibashi and I went first!

St. George’s is known because George Frideric Handel was a parishioner at this church for 35 years, although there was no mention of his playing the organ. According to a brochure we picked up, “His opinion was sought on the suitability of the organ and he was a member of the panel which auditioned candidates for the post of organist and probably supplied the theme on which candidates were required to improvise a Fugue.”

St. George’s is the home of the annual London Festival. The organ is by Richards, Fowkes & Company, installed in 2012.

St. George’s Hanover Square

It was just a short walk to the Handel House on Brook Street. Now normally you wouldn’t associate Handel with Jimi Hendrix, but the fact is that several hundred years after Handel lived here, rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix moved into the flat next door! There is a museum joining both flats furnished with period furniture.

Handel composed Messiah in this house, and died in the bedroom.

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I was surprised to learn that among Jimi Hendrix’ most played record albums was a performance of Handel’s Messiah! He also owned E. Power Biggs’ recording of pedal harpsichord music.

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We had a nice visit with one of the security guards who recognized Joan and me as Americans and remarked that her accent was “cultured,” having moved to London four years ago!

St. James’s Baptismal font

We then visited Joan’s parish, St. James’s Piccadilly, which is known as the place where poet William Blake was baptized. There is a famous story that he and his wife were caught naked in the church’s garden, and he explained they were pretending to be Adam and Eve!

We stayed for the weekly lunchtime recital which was music of Haydn and Mozart by the 33-piece chamber orchestra called Blaze Ensemble, under the direction of conductor-pianist Chris Hopkins. It was an excellent performance by quite a large group whose season consists of playing lunchtime recitals in London churches! There was a huge audience of several hundred people and the suggested donation was only £3.50! This is their 20th season.

The next visit was to St. Bartholomew’s, the oldest church in Britain dating from 1126. The church has been the site of many movies, including Robin Hood, Shakespeare in love, Sherlock Holmes, and many others.

We went to Kings Cross to buy tickets for Cambridge tomorrow and met up with Joan’s husband, Kan, for a delicious Spanish dinner in Ealing Broadway, a suburb of greater London.

I didn’t think we walked as much today because my legs felt great but when I checked my phone, it said I walked 6.8 miles; 15,928 steps and climbed 19 floors! Yikes!

About Katherine Crosier

In addition to playing the organ I am interested in documenting life's special moments through journaling, scrapbooking, photography and slideshow production. My family just groans.
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One Response to Handel-Hendrix-Haydn?

  1. Sharon Kleckner says:

    St. Bartholomew the Great is our favorite church in London. Glad you went there.

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