Letter: Youth in shadow of pre-war St Paul's

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The Independent Online
Sir: I read Jonathan Glancey's 'The Second Blitz of St Paul's' (5 August) with great interest. In my youth I worked within the shadow of St Paul's, and recall with pleasure the lunchtimes my friends and I spent browsing in Nicholson's, the large draper's on the corner of Paternoster Row, and when pay-day arrived went off to purchase new clothes from its numerous departments. We saved up for special occasion presents from the jeweller's (Jones, I think), next door, where good costume jewellery and real leather handbags could be purchased at a reasonable price; we chose real leather fashion shoes from the large Dolcis stores at no more than a guinea.

On winter days we browsed through the bookshops, and regularly spent part of our lunchtime strolling in St Paul's or pausing to gaze with wonder at the painting The Light of the World. On one occasion a woman artist began copying this masterpiece, and I watched its progress with rapt attention. Always, just to sit awhile in the cathedral's peaceful atmosphere helped one to regain a sense of proportion about the busy life we led and some of its problems.

I revisited the area after its post-war 'restoration', and left feeling a sense of horror at its empty, lonely, and remote atmosphere. Mr Glancey's solution is the real one: allowing public and private enterprise to redevelop the site on a piecemeal basis, as was done in the past, to what it was before 1939.

Yours faithfully,

E. G. PHILLIPS

Denham, Buckinghamshire

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