I was hunting details for a novel about Oswald and Biddy Chambers.
We began the morning in Clapham Common, looking for the beautiful building where the Chambers couple lived.
The Bible Training College
I had the address of the Bible Training College Oswald and Biddy ran, so visiting it only involved checking Google maps.
I also had a photo, so I knew what I sought.
#45 Clapham Common North hid behind a wall of thick cedar trees, but was easily recognized.
Particularly since a British Heritage Blue Plaque marked the spot.
I stared at the steps Oswald, Biddy, Kathleen and hundreds of students climbed daily from 1911-1915.
Then I climbed them myself. Standing in Biddy’s steps on the front porch, I surveyed what she saw every time she walked outside.
The building looked across the road toward sprawling Clapham Common, but even 100 years ago, the thicket blocked the street.
How often had she paused there, just as I did?
I paid close attention to the surroundings as we walked through Clapham Commons (the largest park in London), as well as the streets surrounding the Clapham Common Tube station Biddy must have used.
It’s been there for more than 100 years.
From Clapham Common we walked to St. Paul’s Cathedral.
We know Biddy and Oswald visited the cathedral from time to time and it was there Oswald proposed.
They stood before a painting which in 2013 hung just north of the altar.
Such a curious feeling to realize, within the Chambers story, I stood in Biddy’s steps facing her future.
She returned to the cathedral on November 15, 1919, as well, to remember Oswald on the second anniversary of his death.
The neighborhood around the cathedral held poignant memories for Biddy.
The WWII London blitz changed her life when bombs fell nearby.
But I didn’t know that then.
St. Martin in the Fields
Biddy’s steps often took her there post-World War I, to hear Oswald’s brother Franklin play the organ.
We’ve always visited during a concert–held daily at noon–and we sat in the pews to hear one that stormy day in 2013.
Biddy loved to visit the National Gallery–and so do I.
Biddy’s steps we missed
In 2013, I didn’t know I’d be writing Biddy’s biography Mrs. Oswald Chambers.
Fortunately, other research techniques have enabled me to walk in Biddy’s steps down those streets through the wonders of the Internet.
But I’d love to go back with a more focused itinerary another time!
Walking in Biddy Chambers’ footsteps. Click to Tweet
Biddy Chambers’ biographer walks in Biddy’s steps. Click to Tweet
Biddy and Oswald Chambers sites in London. Click to Tweet
If you’re interested in learning about the stories and amazing coincidences that occurred to me while writing Mrs. Oswald Chambers, consider signing up for my newsletter.
Every month in 2017, I’ll be telling the stories about God’s leading and my blessed–and astonished–reactions.
The next newsletter comes out March 18: In which an international novelist confronts me and I have a choice. You can sign up here.