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Monday February 6th 2023

The Omen monastery interior, Putney, London

The OTHER church seen in The Omen

Everybody knows about the church in The Omen, right? It's All Saints Church, Fulham, on the north side of Putney Bridge – where the crazed priest is spiked by the lightning conductor.

Or maybe Guildford Cathedral, seen in longshot with young Damien throwing a major wobbly as the family car approaches the house of God. Well, its brutalist exterior is a bit fearsome.

Or perhaps even St Peter's on Laleham Road, Staines, in Surrey, which is where Ambassador Thorn (Gregory Peck) is finally thwarted as he tries to carry out the gruesome ritual involving those nasty Daggers of Megiddo.

But what of the other church?

The Archbishop's Neighbour

Remember Thorn visiting the 'Monastery of San Benedetto', where he demands the truth about Damien's real mother from the near-paralysed Father Spiletto?

True, there is a shot of an ancient monastery somewhere in the Italian countryside outside Rome, but the interior? That's right in the heart of London.

You might be a bit confused if you listened to the Director’s Commentary on the DVD, which claims that it was a deconsecrated church on the Thames Embankment and that Sir Christopher Wren is buried in the churchyard (he’s still, as far as I know, in the Crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral).

It was was a deconsecrated church, yes, but St Mary-at-Lambeth, on Lambeth Palace Road and what's more it stands alongside the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Palace.

Since being deconsecrated, the church has been converted into the Garden Museum, and there is a good reason for this.

TRADESCANT'S ARK

The grounds are the last resting place, not of the great architect Wren, but of John Tradescant (1570-1638), the first great gardener and plant-hunter in British history.

He did a lot of travelling, collecting seeds and bulbs along with all kinds of oddities, which he displayed in the Musaeum Tradescantium, in a South Lambeth building called The Ark. This was one of the first collections known as a 'Cabinet of Curiosities' and the first museum to be open to the public.

Tradescant's tomb is the centrepiece of a knot garden, planted with the flowers which he'd have grown in his London garden four centuries ago.

Another historical celeb buried here is Admiral William Bligh, the captain of HMS Bounty during the famous mutiny.

Find out more: The Omen (1976)


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