Church virtual tour: bringing one of London’s historic Wren churches to a global audience
We were honoured to be selected to produce a church virtual tour of this historic Wren building.
For over 600 years, St Magnus was the church that welcomed visitors who crossed into the City of London via the original, medieval London Bridge.
Dwarfed by the modern city, a passer-by could miss the incredible Wren gem. St Magnus is still an active place of worship and destination for enthusiasts. A church has been on the site since the 11th century. Its proximity to Pudding Lane led to its being one of the first buildings to be destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666.
The church was rebuilt by Christopher Wren, and despite the relocation of London Bridge upstream, has been one of the City of London’s key places of worship for nearly a thousand years. St Magnus features as part of the landscape in Dickens ‘Oliver Twist’ and is described by T.S. Eliot in ‘The Waste Land’. Eliot said of the church: “The interior of St. Magnus Martyr is to my mind one of the finest among Wren’s interiors.”
“Where the walls Of Magnus Martyr hold / Inexplicable splendor of Ionian white and gold.“
The 360 tour
Over a number of days, we shot 360 content for the tours. In addition to the 360 images inside and outside the church, we also produced further content for the tour including:
- Introductory video with aerial footage, ground-based video, soundtrack and voiceover
- Aerial 360 above the Thames, showing St Magnus in its City of London context
- Audio recordings of the choir to be used throughout the tour
- Videos of the mass and processions
- High resolution ‘zoomable’ images of some of the key points in the church, such as the organ gallery and high altar
- Photogrammetry: 3D model of the 4 metres long model of ‘Old London Bridge’
- Stills captured of various points of interest around the church
The church virtual tour provides an opportunity for visitors worldwide to discover much more about the church in an engaging and informative manner. They can click on the info points to read more about particular features. Clicking a magnifying glass icon takes them to a ‘zoomable’ – a very high resolution image that they can zoom right into to see the details, such as the intricate carvings on the altar, for example.
The tour allows visitors from all over the world to see inside the church in fine detail. It can be used by enthusiasts and scholars. The tour allows access even when the building itself is closed, whether because it’s out of hours, or during a prolonged shutdown as during covid. It helps visitors with accessibility requirements to view places that they couldn’t physically access, such as the organ gallery or bell tower.
St Magnus is an Anglo-Catholic church and so uses incense during the service, making this special church even more atmospheric. We shot the tours during lockdown and so decided to give a subtle smoky effect to the main church tours. You can see how we achieved this on the video to the left. Using an effect like this is simple, safe, can give great results and just requires a little additional planning.
An ever-changing resource
The 360 tour is a living resource, where the client can update the content as new information becomes available. They can add in video, audio, images and text, thus keeping the tour fresh and relevant in years to come.
Old London Bridge
St Magnus the Martyr is home to the only model of the old, medieval London Bridge. This bridge spanned the Thames and was crowded with houses, shops, a chapel, and even heads on spikes. In 1987, David Aggett, a policeman and liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Plumbers decided to create a scale model of the old bridge. Mr Aggett was recovering from a heart transplant, and filled his time by designing and creating the model. The model is incredibly detailed and features over 900 figures on a model that is 4 metres (over 13 feet) long. He donated to the model to St Magnus – it is both the church of the Plumbers Company and stood at the end of the old bridge.
St Magnus wanted to create a permanent, digital record of the model in high resolution, enabling visitors to enjoy it from afar. Thus, we undertook the photogrammetry to display the model in 3D. This involved the capture of many hundreds of images and putting them together very precisely. The final results allow people to inspect the model at close quarters – even if they’re on the other side of the world! You can view the 3D model within the tour and below.
3D Model of Old London Bridge – users can zoom in and move around to explore the model
We hope you enjoy exploring St Magnus and all its “inexplicable splendour” – click here to visit the St Magnus virtual tour.