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GES193 - Brompton Oratory, London

One of those buildings you always pass, and think 'I wonder what it's like up there?' And then one day I happened to be passing through Brompton, and spotted the rooftoppers delight, aka, scaffolding. I tipped off a few local explorers, and GE079 came along. It's somewhat nerve racking climbing past people's windows why they sleep. You wonder whether you're going to see a face look back at you from said windows. A shot taken from the lower roof.

On the upper part of the structure, looking south. The Brompton quarter below.

The wind was battering the top of the dome covered scaffold. So it took a good 4 or 5 attempts to get a shot that wasn't too blurry. I had to ramp up the ISO. This is looking East, the main street below is Knightsbridge. 5kms away, the Shard still dominates the horizon, as does Canary Wharf over 10kms away (the top lit buildings to the right of the Shard). Harrods dominates the top end of Knightsbridge.

The amazingly laid out Victoria & Albert museum when looking West. Beyond that the towers of the Natural History museum, and behind that, the Science museum. Behind the Science museum with the tower, is Imperial College.

Sir Aston Webb's magnificent front elevation over the main entrance of the V&A, and it's octagonal tower, topped off with the Figure of Fame statue.

It's not every day one can look up at the pinnacle of a building, and think 'I was naked up there.' Now I can add Brompton Oratory to the list, along with the Heron Tower and Ritz hotel.

Just below the pinnacle of the dome, these huge scroll reliefs.

Looking at the back of the front elevation of the church.

Through an open door we found access to the Belfry. Sadly with dawn approaching, we didn't have time to investigate. A last shot of the always tranquil dawn rising over London.

And with that we quickly descended the scaffold, and disappeared into Knightsbridge. Thanks to GE079 for company as always.

TRIP 2

A few months after the initial trip, I was in the area with GE077. Our initial target was a no go, so we thought about something else to do, while we were in the area. I wanted to see the inside of the church I'd explored the outside of before. Would the door still be open? As the photo below shows, clearly yes! This is inside the main dome, below the final tower to the cross at the very top. The windows open to allow one to look down into the church. They were also surrounded by graffiti from steeplejacks going back to the 1930s.

Some of the graffiti on the top of the dome windows, I was particularly taken by the sketch of Sir Winston Churchill, dated 1956. The year after Churchill stepped down as Prime Minister at the age of 80! Although I'm fairly sure it's Churchill, another rotund bald man who enjoyed smoking cigars is associated with this church, Alfred Hitchcock. He married his wife Alma here in 1926.

Looking down through the windows at the top of the inside of the dome, down into the nave of the church.

Job done, we decided whether to push further into the bowels of the church. Here, the iron rungs set into the wall, and spiral stairs down into the church.

Down one storey from the door we'd entered by, we came across a circular path around the dome, that had branches out at each corner. Here the top of one of the internal domes. The church has numerous domes on the lower roof that are exposed.

The longer roof that leads down to the front of the church on Thurloe Place. Here there are two domes, one lower in the foreground, and one higher in the background.

We located access into the church, but thought better of going further in case of alarms. We could enter the church any time we fancied when officially open. I couldn't resist grabbing a shot of Battersea Power Station as it sat swathed in mist.

Back on the street, job done. It's nice to do the easy ones from time to time.