Graphite and watercolour on paper
Image size: 10 x 13 3/4 inches
This drawing records the destruction that was endured by London during the Blitz. The building in the foreground is St Nicholas Cole Abbey, situated in the city of London. Whilst a church was recorded on this site from the twelfth century, this church was destroyed in the Great Fire of London so the remnants of the church that we see here is one that was built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1666. As shown here the church then suffered substantial bomb damage from the German bombs during the London Blitz in the Second World War.
On 1oth May 1941 London suffered its worst air raid during the entire Second World War, with 1,436 people killed and several major buildings destroyed or severely damaged. Among them was St Nicholas Cole Abbey. The church remained a shell until it was restored under Arthur Bailey and reconsecrated in 1962.
In the background of the scene one can see the tower of the church St. Mary Somerset. Again, this church was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 and was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren. However, the church was demolished in 1871 but by the instigation of the architect, Ewan Christian, the church tower was preserved. In this work you can see the remains of the eight Baroque pinnacles on the top of the tower. These were then completely taken down after the war due to the bomb damage that they sustained in the Blitz before they were restored by the City Corporation in 1956.
Dennis Flanders was born on 2 July 1915 and educated at Merchant Taylor’s School. While working for the interior decorator Maurice Adams, he took evening classes at the Central School and considered training as an architect. However, the sight of work by Muirhead Bone, reproduced in a shop window, in 1936, encouraged him in the direction of topographical draughtsmanship. In the following year, he began his career as a freelance artist with contributions to the Daily Telegraph. During his time with the St Paul’s Watch at the outbreak of the Second World War, Flanders produced many images of London, a large number of which are now in the possession of the Imperial War Museum. Joining the Royal Engineers in 1942, he was stationed in Ripon, so that, on demobilization, he joined the Yorkshire Post. He has also produced drawings for the Birmingham Post, The Sunday Times (1952-3) and the Illustrated London News (1956-64). In 1984 he published Dennis Flanders’ Britannia, The result of over thirty years of topographical drawing in Britain. An exhibitor at the Royal Academy and elsewhere, he was elected Master of the Art Workers’ Guild for 1975. Dennis Flanders died in 1994.