St Clement Danes
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The Strand · interesting places nearby
St Clement Danes information
Christopher Wren designed the original church here in 1682, but only the walls and a steeple added by James Gibbs in 1719 survived WWII bombing, after which the church was rebuilt as a memorial to Allied airmen. An 'island church' named after the Danes who colonized Aldwych in the 9th century, St Clement Danes today is the chapel of the Royal Air Force (RAF), and there are some 800 slate badges of different squadrons set into the pavement of the nave.
The statue in front of the church quietly and contentiously commemorates the RAF’s Sir Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris, who led the bombing raids that obliterated Dresden and killed up to 25,000 civilians during WWII. Should you pass the church at 9am, noon or 3pm, you may hear the bells chiming a distantly familiar tune. It's the 18th-century English nursery rhyme that incorporates the names of London churches starting: ‘Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St Clements’, with the soothing final lines: ‘Here comes a chopper to chop off your head/Chop, chop, chop, chop, the last man’s dead!’.