Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Visiting John Boyega's Hometown Peckham

While in London with my son, I caught the news that John Boyega was in town visiting children at the city's hospital. I mentioned to him how funny it would be to run into the actor on the street while sight-seeing. My interest piqued, I googled Boyega to find out where his hometown was and happened upon an article talking about where Boyega was from and how he grew up.

John Boyega grew up in Peckham, which is a suburb of London. His father, Samson, is a Pentecostal preacher and trustee for a church in the area where John was raised. I was even more surprised when Boyega's father shared that "“He’s an actor, but at the same time he is a Christian. He’s very active." Being a Christian myself, I thought it would be cool to visit the church where the "Star Wars" actor was raised.

My son and I googled the address of the church and then mapped out a route on our cell phones. The rail trip to Peckham Rye Station was an eye-opening one. As we headed further out of London proper, the scenery outside the windows changed drastically. Graffiti on buildings became more prevalent and there were what appeared to be abandoned courtyards filled with piles of trash between apartment complexes. There were also stretches of community gardens planted together where they could be between the houses and duplexes.

We arrived at Peckham Rye Station and looked around in amazement at our surroundings. It reminded me of Queens, New York, which we had recently visited on our way to London. There were old brick and mortar buildings mere blocks from downtown bustling businesses. The area was filled with different types of churches, so I was glad we had a name and address for the one we were looking for.

We walked down the busy streets of Rye Lane to the address we were given. Fish markets and vegetable stores lined the busy streets on one side while other commercial businesses were found on the other. Wall of Praise Christian Centre was said to be located at 151 Rye Lane in Peckham. When we reached our destination, we didn't find what we were looking for. In it's place was Sabrina Beauty Salon.

My son and I stood staring at the sign and re-checking our coordinates over and over again. We began to ask local folks if the location had ever been a church. None of them, including the people working inside the salon remembered a church ever being there. Needless to say, we were both rather disappointed.

After looking around a while for where the church might have moved, we simply began looking around the area and taking in our surroundings. Even if we didn't find the church, we still had the opportunity to do something not every "Star Wars" fan can. We visited the hometown of one of the best parts of the new trilogy and got to see where he grew up. I'm not going to lie, I did keep hoping we would run into John Boyega walking down the street as we headed back to the rail station. I could just picture him strutting down the street in the super-fly jacket Poe Dameron gifted him in "The Force Awakens."

You can see more pictures from our trip to Peckham right here.

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