St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate Churchyard
The church of St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate (the fourth such structure on this site) was completed in 1729 to the designs of James Gould, although Christian worship is thought to have taken place at this site since Roman times, and remains of a Saxon church were found when the foundations of present structure were dug. It is considered one of the City of London churches, but by virtue of lying outside the City’s (now demolished) eastern walls, it is also part of London's East End. The building is aisled and galleried in the classic style, and is unique among the City churches in having its tower at the east end, with the chancel beneath. The font, pulpit and organ all date from the 18th century and the church lost only one window in the Second World War, but on 24 April 1993 it was one of the many buildings to be damaged by an IRA bomb. The Baltic Exchange bomb the year before had damaged the exterior joinery and windows, but the Bishopsgate bomb opened up the roof and left the church without any doors or windows. An extensive restoration project followed, completed in January 1997, with a new stained glass window commissioned by the Worshipful Company of Bowyers.
My location is St Botolph right by Liverpool St station.
I’d walked past it many many times in life but had never really paid much attention to it so it was nice to have a reason.
Liverpool St is always busy, there is a lot of energy, cars, buses, cranes in the sky, road works! Then this little green entrance. Any green area with tall buildings surrounding it feels like a breath of fresh air to me, especially when the sun is shining.
I arrived around noon, there were all different kinds of people from different walks of life taking a moment.
Lovers by the fountains, builders with their tops off, men and women in suits on a little lunch break and a couple playing tennis…
I also went and sat in the church, It was extremely peaceful. At first I felt like I was completely alone, I closed my eyes and took a moment to reflect and that’s when the first melodic line came to me and I sang it into the space. I then noticed a man sleeping on one of the pews, and another guy walking around reading about the history of the church…I then heard the sounds from outside creeping in...the traffic, the road works…and the line “show me a place to find peace in the city” came to me.
I sat outside in the gardens for a while, looked at the people and wrote down all of my observations. I love people watching.
Although I really did feel I had a moment of peace during my visit I was also aware of all the surrounding sounds I couldn’t completely disengage with. So it was important for me to use some dictaphone recordings of people talking, train sounds, announcements phones ringing people laughing as well as some birds that run underneath the track. In some sections of the song you don’t even really notice they are more textural and in other parts they are bit more noticeable as that’s how it felt during my visit.
Having previously been championed by the likes of Gilles Peterson, Zane Lowe and the Guardian, South London Alt-Soul explorer Tawiah returned in 2017 with her latest EP ‘Recreate’. 2018 sees the launch of her much anticipated debut album ‘Starts Again’, co-produced by Sam Beste (of critically-acclaimed ‘Hejira’) the album ventures forward into unexplored territories, seamlessly blending avant-garde musical leanings and beautifully melodic sensibilities, creating a deep, immersive and absorbing body of work. The vestiges of Tawiah’s early vocal training in church contrast subtly against the distinctive South London accent that has helped to place her firmly at the vanguard of a diverse yet notably British alternative soul movement in recent years. With collaborative credentials including the likes of Blood Orange, Cee–Lo Green, Wiley, Kindness, Cinematic Orchestra, Ghostpoet, Zed Bias; and a reputation as prodigious live performer in tow (She was personally selected by Mark Ronson to front his band whilst supporting Jay-Z on his world tour), Tawiah (along with her musical collective- turned record label Lima Limo) look set to continue blazing her own trail.