At Your Convenience: A Lavatorial Walking Tour
St Martin In The Fields
St. Martin in the Fields is the self-proclaimed “Church of Ever Open Toilet Doors”… if you don’t believe me pop into the ladies toilets which are down the glass entrance to the crypt and through the café.
A sign in the ladies suggests that if you are visiting the church merely to sample the facilities you might consider making a small donation in the box provided towards the £32,000 a year cost of keeping these toilets available to all.
As a general rule if you’re exploring London, churches are either brilliant because they have a strong sense of community and welcome… or else they are rubbish because they were built before the age of indoor plumbing and haven’t updated sufficiently.
The good facilities at St Martin in the Fields are actually a relatively recent addition.
"The crypt of this famous church is a strange, dark, untidy place, but stranger still is to find loos in it! The Ladies you can’t get in because the door is jammed- Let’s hope not with Toileteers who’ve been there for an age behind it. In the Gents there’s much water on the floor, 3 stalls, 2 hand-basins without soap or towels, and 4 cubicles, one with no seat, one with no paper, one with no seat or paper, one with a seat but not attached to the basin, and no chain or paper. I suspect this is all temporary because there were a lot of work men milling around, meaning playing cards and drinking tea, and one of them said he thought they were turning the place into a restaurant."
Look across the street. The National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery, Trafalgar Square… you have so many options for toilets here! I get irrationally excited about this, and never know which ones to use.
Head towards you’re right, away from the Church. You’re aiming for the Zebra crossing Just past the statue of Edith Cavell, a First World War nurse who was shot by the Germans.
Before you cross look up the street to your left. See the big round ticket booth there? That was once a ladies toilet.
On the final leg of our journey we’re going to fill in that gap between the Great Exhibition and the toilets of the modern age and talk about the subterranean toilets of London and what has become of them.