Jacobite Symbolism inside St Mary Le Strand Church by Victoria Von Conrad

Local Hidden Histories by Victoria von Conrad

Heritage, Public Space

Now: A final year history student at King’s College London whose research interests involve an exploration of our relationship with the past, I seek to continue my research into cultural heritage conservation and public education. Curating a collection with Hexology in St Mary Le Strand has demonstrated what’s at stake and what can be gained from a wider platform of ‘history authors’. 

When I first moved to London from the U.S., I was completely ignorant of the fact that history was in far more places than just the British Museum. The area around my campus at King’s became my new local area as a student, and over time, I had the opportunity to explore and discover its many layers. This palimpsest of one of the oldest places in a global city opened my eyes to a wider history of the many lives that shaped the area I call my new home. 

My studies helped me develop a sensitivity to the subjectivity, importance and power of historical narrative. I came to learn that things we think we know are in reality multifaceted. Places or buildings we have assumptions of are but one story. The Strand and especially its icon, St Mary Le Strand Church is more than just the opening scene in ‘Chariots of Fire’ and a home to King’s Students. 100s of years of people have shaped this place, and those hidden histories are part of a mosaic that comprises my local London. 

Perhaps unbeknownst to many, St Mary Le Strand is the product of the architect James Gibbs who himself is the product of his historical context of the early 18th century featuring uprisings following the Act of Union in 1707. Gibbs writes his own stories and meanings into the decoration of the church, but these hidden histories and meanings in the symbolism are not obvious. The collection I curated on Jacobite Symbolism in St Mary Le Strand serves as an impetus to reflect and give a second glance to these kinds of symbols, their meanings, and the stories we think we know. This collection made with the power of Hexology is a case study in diversifying the kinds of histories that can be told by more authors. On a wider scale, I hope my collection encourages others to explore the many lives that have helped shape the space one finds oneself in. As an international student at King’s, working on this collection has opened my eyes to recognizing the palimpsest of history and memory we walk past every day. 

I believe projects that help bring the world of cultural heritage and history to everyday settings can forge a sense of community across time and space by reflecting on the lives of those who stood where you are standing today. 

Hexology does something unique: it gives history, heritage and culture a new framework of expression which offers every visitor the agency to explore stories of the past and create their own layers of meaning and memory. 

It’s an invitation to approach our mundane surroundings with a newfound curiosity.

About Victoria Von Conrad & her St Mary Le Strand Jacobite Symbolism Collection

Historian Victoria Von Conrad dares you to investigate the symbols within St Mary Le Strand Church, that connect it to the 18th Century Jacobite Rebellion and Secret Societies.

It’s a Da Vinci Code inside!

To view Victoria’s Jacobite Symbolism collection in Hexology open this link on your phone.

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