At St Leonard’s Churchyard in Shoreditch

Dear Readers, this magnificent church, built by George Dance the Elder in about 1740, is the one mentioned in the old song ‘Oranges and lemons’ about the bells of London ”When I grow rich, say the bells of Shoreditch’ is about this church. It’s known as ‘The Actor’s Church’ because so many Tudor actors are buried here, including James Burbage, who founded England’s first playhouse, and his actor son Richard Burbage, a leading man in many of Shakespeare’s plays. The actor Gabriel Spenser, who was killed by playwright Ben Jonson in a duel, is also buried here.

The church is right across the road from the venue for our away days, and so it was a great spot to take a walk at lunch. As an introvert I love to meet people, and to spend time with them, but hanging out with them socially en masse exhausts me, lovely as they are. So, it was good to pop over with the camera during the breaks to see what I could see.

The plane trees are truly magnificent, and it’s such a peaceful spot.

The gardens are absolutely full of pollinator-friendly plants, and there was an amazing variety of insects for such an urban spot, plus some lovely roses which filled the area with their scent.

A goldfinch was singing his head off from a nearby aerial…

And I found a shady spot where a family of wrens had just fledged.

One of the gardeners passed by with a wheelbarrow, and I told him how lovely it was.

“Thank you!” he said. “We’re all volunteers, you know”.

I said that I didn’t know, and he stopped briefly in his labours.

“I’m six years clean”, he said, “And this place has helped so much”.

“Well done!” I said. Getting off  booze or drugs is such a difficult thing, but the man looked fit and happy. Elsewhere, homeless people were sleeping on the grass, or bedding down on the church porch. Shoreditch and the area around here has always been poor, though the gentrification around here is something to see. Standing outside our Away Day venue I was regularly almost run down by young men on electric scooters, and I note that some of the two-up two-down houses round about are now over £500,000.

But still, enjoying the bees is free. Borage is always a good bet….

And look at the insects on this Achillea – on the left we have a very chunky hoverfly, but on the right it’s a tiny solitary bee. I am hoping to get an ID from my Facebook friends, so I will update here if I find out.

And hollyhocks are always such good value for pollinators. Bumblebees absolutely love them.

And this hot-lips salvia was a big favourite with the smaller common carder bumblebees

And then I spotted this solitary wasp. Note that very triangular abdomen, and the unusual pattern. I haven’t knowingly ever seen this creature before, and they are very difficult to ID to the species level, though it probably belongs to the genus Ancistrocerus, which means ‘hook-horn’ because the first joint of the antenna is bent back. Technically they are potter wasps, which means that they construct nests from mud, hidden away in cavities. It’s always great to find a new insect, and especially one as natty as this one. It just goes to show that it’s always worth stopping for a few minutes to see what’s about.

5 thoughts on “At St Leonard’s Churchyard in Shoreditch

  1. Anne

    I am once more blocked from commenting on your site, but can when viewing it in the Reader. These are lovely photographs – you certainly have an eye for insects, which add to the beauty of the flowers 🙂


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