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I had thought you could only get your stamps once you were in the main routes. It never occurred to male that you could get stamps in your home country. That is until I “met” a guy in a camino forum who told me about the Guinness factory in Dublin, that still honours the tradition of stamping pilgrims credential, where pilgrims used to gather there before sailing to Spain. It’s a nice idea, so I thought to look for where in London this was still being done.

Thank goodness for Google and the Internet. (Really, what would we go without it?) I found St James Garlickyhyde located on Garlic Hill near Mansion House in London. I thought, “Why not?” I ordered my pilgrim passport through the mail, and upon receipt, off I went to search the church out.

When I first heard the name of the church, I thought it was a very strange name. Obviously it had something to do with garlic. I just wasn’t sure if St James loved garlic. As it turns out, he had no such exotic tastes. It simply means the church near where garlic is sold. That’s what “Hyde” means.

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The exterior of the church at the bottom of Garlic Hill. Before the embankment was built, it would have backed straight into a muddy river.

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When I entered the church, I felt very shy. There were 2 old gentlemen looking after the church that day. They are volunteers. They welcomed me and asked me to feel free to look around. I then asked whether they would stamp my credential. Actually, I probably mumbled something about pilgrimage and camino without making much sense for the man looked at me strangely. Then the other man understood, and said, “I know where the stamp is.”

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I was fascinated to see the shell. I guess I had not expected to see it outside of Spain. To be honest, I’m not sure what I expected.

The church was built by Sir Christopher Wren after the great fire of London. You may recall my previous post where there is a blue plague marking the house he used to live in Hampton. Wren must have travelled a lot all over the place because he built a great many churches including St Paul’s Cathedral. The church had big windows up high to bring in as much light as possible. The pulpit and choir stalls come from a different church that has now been pulled down. The church survived the blitz in World War II but sustained much damage in the 1970s when a crane fell through the roof