A HIGH-TECH version of the traditional custom of beating the bounds has been developed for St Martin-in-the-Fields, London.
Instead of tapping waymarks with a stick during a progress round the parish perimeter, walkers can follow the circular route by tapping an app on their mobile. The journey takes little more than 90 minutes, but visits some of the capital’s most iconic locations, including Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace, Whitehall Gardens, and Leicester Square. It has accompanying music and an audio description for each place, with images related to the local history and things to look out for along the way.
The creator of the app, which is free, Catherine Reid Jones, said: “Walking has become very important to so many people this last year — almost a daily meditation and escape. We thought a walk around the parish boundary here would be a great way to encourage people back in to central London and St Martin’s in a way that was safe, fun, and which gave people some insight into St Martin’s, its place in history and its work today.
“Using an app meant that we could also include music relevant to the parish, giving people a taste of the sound of St Martin’s, as well as the story.
“My uncle, a vicar, used to lead the parish-boundary walk in his parish in Cumbria. It was a beautiful 30-mile loop around spectacular, rugged countryside. I just thought that the parish boundary of St Martin’s was equally spectacular, encompassing a walk along the Thames and through two royal parks, past two royal palaces . . . and through areas of central London as contrasting as St James’s and Covent Garden. It really is a fascinating walk and a great way of re-embracing central London after this awful year.”
The app guides the walker back to St Martin’s, in Trafalgar Square, where there are two ongoing exhibitions. One, “The Return to London”, in the crypt foyer, features a detailed map of the parish boundary by the artist Adam Dant, with images related to the local history and sights, some of which appear on the app.
The second, in the church courtyard, “Out of Home”, is of photos of a quiet London which were taken by six homeless people during the pandemic.
The app can be downloaded for both Apple and Android users.