Above: View looking south in St Martin’s Lane (Click on image to enlarge to 1024×640).
St Martin’s Lane is an ancient street that runs N-S, connecting with Trafalgar Square at its NE corner. Before the square was laid out, St Martin’s Lane ran even further south to form a junction on the north side of the Strand. The lane derived its name from being beside the elegant church that is seen in the centre of the view – St Martin in the Fields. However, it’s a long time since the church was surrounded by fields. There were some fields remaining until Tudor times but they have all been built over since then. Within walking distance to the north of this church is another with a similar name – St Giles in the Fields – which also refers to a rural setting which was still evident in Tudor times. Both churches still have churchyards and St Giles also has trees growing around it although it is unlikely that any of them are much older than about 100-150 years.
Walking down St Martin’s Lane, towards Trafalgar Square, is always a pleasure on a sunny afternoon. In the distance is the church which catches the late sunshine of the day. Its grand spire stands out against the sky along with the slightly quirky tower on the London Coliseum – a theatre which is now ‘home’ to the English National Opera.
The architecture of St Martin’s Lane is mainly Victorian and Edwardian with a few modern buildings to be seen. The lane is one of the few ancient thoroughfares in this part of London – along with the Strand and the street called Long Acre. The awkward street layout at the southern end of the lane is mainly due to the formation of Charing Cross Road during the 19th century.