Church on the Square

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In January 1869, exactly 150 years ago, Miss Riggs joined Thomas Cook’s very first tour to Egypt and the Holy Land. Travelling overland, the journey would take three months, there and back. Miss Riggs kept a diary of her adventure and I am going to be posting from it over the coming weeks. This is day fourteen.

Sunday, 7 February
Sunday. Went to English church in the square where our hotel is, on the opposite side. Mr. Davis the clergyman. Mr. Cook arrived from Cairo where he had gone the previous Friday to see about the Nile steamers. A general assembly and confab. Arranged that we pack up and leave all superfluous luggage at this hotel as cabins are small on Nile boats – ladies’ saddles to go but not the gentlemen’s. The steamers – BENHA and BENI SWEIF engaged for us, taking 16 passengers each, so Mr. Cook asked permission to supply 2 extra places with 2 Americans – Mr. Martin and brother who wished to go up the Nile.

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The ‘English’ church was St Mark’s. It was designed around 1841–42 by visiting British architect James William Wild, who worked for a while with Egyptologist Karl Lepsius and was later ‘decorative architect’ on the magnificent Crystal Palace at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851. The church is still there today, on Alexandria’s Tahrir Square; it’s beautiful and well worth a visit. The map above comes from an article on the square written by Alexandria architect Mohamed Awad, which is well worth reading; No.3 is the St Mark’s, No.15 is the Hotel d’Europe where Miss Riggs’s party is staying.

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