In Search of St Paul’s Church Fenchurch St Paul

The Parish Church of Fenchurch St Paul which features in The Nine Tailors by Dorothy. L. Sayer’s is like Ely Cathedral it dominates the fenland landscape where the novel is set.

Ely Cathedral, Ely Cambridgeshire

Ely Cathedral, Ely, Cambridgeshire

In seeking what church was the inspiration behind St Paul’s in Fenchurch St Paul a cautionary approach is needed. If you take to literally approach you could argue, as Lord Peter Wimsey and Bunter came to grief on a snowy New Year’s eve while crossing the Thirty Foot Drain at Frogs Bridge, therefore in reality if you turn left at Bedlham Bridge and traverse along the Sixteen Foot Bank you will discover that once upon a time there was an Inn called the Wheatsheaf on your right hand side, now a private dwelling.

If you continue a little further on you will find a turning to the village of Christchurch where Dorothy’s father was rector after leaving Bluntisham until his death in 1928.

Memorial To The Rev Sayers, Christchurch, Cambridgeshire,

Memorial To The Rev Sayers, Christchurch, Cambridgeshire,

“Bunter turned his torch upon the signpost and read upon the sign, Fenchurch St Paul, there was no other direction ahead, the road marched on side by side into an eternity of winter”

So it is safe to deduce that Christ Church in the village of Christchurch is a good choice but…….

The Christ Church, Christchurch, Cambridgeshire, England

Christ Church, Christchurch, Cambridgeshire.

Although as you can see it is a fine place of worship and has its own distinct charm it does not fit the description or the drawings by the Architect W. J. Redhead in the book, so we will have to look in another direction.

Hear lies the problem there are a number of good candidates, Walpole St Peters for example which was used in the 1974 TV adaptation, but still it does not quite meet all the criteria.

St Peters Church, Walpole St Peters, Norfolk, Englan

St Peters Church, Walpole St Peters, Norfolk, England

Rather than carrying on and on, perhaps if below I display a collage of pictures which could be listed as possibilities you can select your own preference.

It is more than likely that the Parish Church of Fenchurch St Paul is a composite of many or is it a church in the mind’s eye and imagination of the creator.

Web Links:

Past Offences Review of Dorothy. L. Sayers The Nine Tailors

Dorothy L Sayers, Cambridgeshire Connections

4 thoughts on “In Search of St Paul’s Church Fenchurch St Paul

  1. mmmmikkimac1

    I have to leave out the churches that are too big compared to the drawing of the church in the book and do not have spires – so that leaves St. Mary’s Bluntisham or St. Wendreda’s, March, Cambridgeshire – so for my imagination I’ll combine the two, along with the wood beams of St. Wndreda’s. The reason why I prefer books to movies – my imagination allows the story to move in a way that I can see in my minds eye – movies based on books are horrible – they cut out so much of the small details due to time constraints, budget constraints and ‘creative’ license by someone who is not always ‘that’ creative IMHO I cant imagine anyone listening to bells for nine hours let along being the ones who are doing the ringing. I do love the fact that so many of the churches in the UK and Europe have their own graveyards – more personable and historic, especially for descendants who come looking for ancestors and/or history of the area.

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