Following Biddy’s Steps

Biddy's steps, Oswald Chambers, Biddy Chambers, Bible Training College, Clapham Common, St. Paul's Cathedral, London, The Light of the World, researchFollowing Biddy’s steps took us to several spots in 2013 London.

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.

Biddy's steps, Oswald Chambers, Biddy Chambers, Bible Training College, Clapham Common, St. Paul's Cathedral, London, The Light of the World, research

A sign marks the BTC.

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?

Biddy's steps, Oswald Chambers, Biddy Chambers, Bible Training College, Clapham Common, St. Paul's Cathedral, London, The Light of the World, research

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.

St. Paul’s Cathedral

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.

Biddy's steps, Oswald Chambers, Biddy Chambers, Bible Training College, Clapham Common, St. Paul's Cathedral, London, The Light of the World, research

St. Paul’s cathedral

They stood before a painting which in 2013 hung just north of the altar.

The Light of the World” by Holman Hunt has been there since 1908.

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

From St. Paul’s we walked to St. Martin in the Fields church facing the National Art Gallery and Trafalgar Square.

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.

Had I known, I would have visited Woolwich and Muswell Hill–places where she lived during her long life.

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!

Tweetables

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

 

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