The History Collective is intended to provide a community for historians of all backgrounds to discuss a variety of topics that run the gamut from formal research to history in popular culture. Furthermore, we have very different interests; Jason Sager is an early modernist and Gwenith Cross studies twentieth century medical history. Given these rather divergent approaches to history, how does one choose a logo to represent the Collective? The answer to that question is the point of today’s blog post. The background image in the History Collective logo is one Gwenith photographed on a visit to St Dunstan in the East in London. Its long, and at times dramatic, history seemed appropriate inspiration for the History Collective.
St Dunstan in the East, located in the heart of London, was first constructed in 1100. It underwent renovations in both 1391 and 1631, but was then severely damaged in the Great Fire of London in 1666. The church was not torn down and rebuilt after the fire, but it was repaired including a new steeple and tower designed by Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723). That alone is enough to give the church a noteworthy history, but in 1941 it was severely damaged during the Blitz.
Instead of either rebuilding the church or tearing it down, it was decided to keep the church open as a public garden. Just steps away from the Tower of London, St Dunstan in the East is an oasis in the city. The property and gardens are cared for, and yet the lichen growing on the remaining walls creates the feeling of something abandoned and isolated. It is not what you expect in the bustle of the city.
So, at nearly 1000 years old, burned by the Fire of London, designed in Part by Christopher Wren, and damaged during the Blitz, St Dunstan in the East bears the marks of London’s history. All of that history comes together in St Dunstan in the East Church Garden. It seemed a rather appropriate image for the diversity of the History Collective.