A lovely post by Russell Davies this week on the subject of church architecture brought to mind two things.
The first was a little church I visited last year in the walled medieval town of Brouage in western France. The town is beautifully built and very pretty with lovely old cobbled streets, reflecting its importance as a salt trading centre in the 16th Century.

The church in the town is nothing special from the outside, nor is the seating or interior architecture anything to write home about. But there is a south-facing stained glass window behind the altar that is just stunning. Very simple, very clean design, but breathtaking for all that.

(Sorry about the crummy photography, click to enlarge)

Churches during services are not very peaceful places. But an empty church, particularly one with such a striking feature as this, is a marvellous place to catch a few moments of down time. Brouage is cut off from the sea now, but is close enough that there is still a faint tang on the air and this church was a lovely spot to sit and breathe for a few minutes in the midst of a busy family holiday. Russell similarly uses churches as waiting places when he is early for appointments in London. Splendid idea Russell.

The second thing that came to mind as I read Russell’s post was a visit many years ago to St Paul’s cathedral in London. I came across Christopher Wren’s tombstone – he is interred beneath St Paul’s – and the inscription caused me to grin:

Lector, Si Monumentum Requiris, Circumspice
Translation: Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you

No fancy words about what he accomplished in his life – just look up and turn around …