All Hallows Barking (by the Tower) is a church with lots of history: the foundations date to the 11th century; from its tower Pepys viewed the effects of the Great Fire, 'the saddest sight of desolation'; and here William Penn was christened and John Quincy Adams married.
And down below in the crypt is an unlikely Antarctic artifact, the crow's-nest from Shackleton's Quest. It's a simple wooden barrel with four slender metal roped-together uprights extending from its top. The brass tablet affixed to it reads:
"Once the Crow's Nest used by Sir Ernest Shackleton on his last Antarctic expedition in the good ship Quest, now brought here by "Tubby" in quest of "siller" for Talbot House. 'Winds blow south, or winds blow north. Day come white, or night come black. Home, or rivers and mountains from home, singing all time minding no time.' Walt Whitman"I was to learn from the verger that "Tubby" was F.T.B. Clayton, the vicar (from 1920 to 1963); that "siller" is a nickname for a Scottish coin, perhaps a sixpence; and that "Talbot House" was a World War I rest and recuperation home in Flanders.
My thanks to Margot Morrell for first mentioning this site to me (and to Antony Bowring for additional information and useful contacts).