|London’s Mediæval Parish Churches: Part 2 – From Cornhill to the Walbrook|
by Bill McCann
The Mediæval London skyline was dominated by church spires. There were 126 parish churches crammed into the “Square Mile” in the 12th century. By the 14th century the number had been reduced to 110. This is the second in a series of four articles which provides a brief description and history of each mediæval parish church. Where possible, the dates of foundation or the date of the first documentary reference are given. The dates of destruction, reconstruction and suppression, where appropriate, are given for each parish church. These articles are the prologue to a more comprehensive coverage of the individual parish churches which will follow later in the year.
London’s Mediæval Parish Churches: Part 2 – From Cornhill to the Walbrook
The Church was one of the most important agencies in the shaping and characterisation of mediæval London. Not only was London the seat of an important Bishopric but it also had a large number of wealthy monasteries, friaries and nunneries within the City walls or just outside. And it had more than 100 Parish Churches. The panorama of the city above shows how in 1611, the skyline was dominated by church spires.
The church also dominated daily life. Religion and provision for the afterlife were extremely important in the mediæval mind. Every facet of one’s daily routine was dominated by the need to ensure the soul’s salvation and therefore by the Church. Thus, the daily round was regulated according to the ringing of the church bells, contracts were invalid unless “God’s penny” had been paid and, of course, all oaths were sworn on the gospels.
In his Description of London, (late 12th century) FitzStephen says :
”In the Church of St. Paul is the Episcopal See … Also as concerns Christian worship, there ae both in London and the Suburbs thirteen greater Conventual churches, and a hundred and twenty-six lesser parochial”.
By the time that the Taxatio Ecclesiastica was drawn up in 1291 there were a total of 119 churches, including St Paul’s and various churches outside the walls and in Southwark. By the end of the 14th century is is estimated that there were a total of one hundred and ten Parish Churches, ninety-seven of them within the City walls and the names of these are known to us. This concentration ensured that people could belong to small tightly-knit groups and the churches themselves became an important physical focus for secular parish life. Many of the churches were substantially rebuilt during the 14th and 15th centuries, largely financed by the parishioners themselves. The Great Fire of 1666 wrought great devastation, destroying a total of eighty-nine churches. Of these only 51 were rebuilt. New churches were added in the eighteenth and nineteenth and centuries but the bombing of London in the Second World War destroyed many so that at the end of the conflict less than forty had survived. A terrorist bombing campaign in the 1990s claimed the dishonourable trophy of St Ethelburga on Bishopsgate, one of the dozen mediæval churches which had until then survived in their entirety.
The following is a list of the Mediæval parish churches whose names we know. For each is given the common name today together with the original or alternative names where applicable, the date of its original foundation if known, its location and the dates of reconstruction and/or destruction. In these four articles the churches are numbered consecutively from east to west in order to aid further reference in the detailed descriptions of individual churches which will follow in later articles.
A: Churches within the Walls
From Cornhill to the Walbrook
St Benet Fink in the early 19th century
28. St Benet Fink
Situated Threadneedle Street.>Br> First mentioned in 1216.Repaired in 1633 but destroyed in 1666. Rebuilt by Wren in 1670-81. Demolished 1842-4.
The parish was united to St Peter le Poer in 1842 and St Michael Cornhill in 1906
29. St Margaret New Fish Street.
Also St Margaret Bridge
Situated Fish Street Hill.
Destroyed by the Great Fire which started close by and not rebuilt
The parish was united to St Magnus the Martyr in 1670.
St Edmund The King And Martyr in the early 19th century
30. St Edmund The King And Martyr
Situated: Lombard Street
Founded in the 12th century. Destroyed in the Great Fire and rebuilt by Wren and Hooke in 1670-9. The spire was completed in 1708.
31. St Magnus The Martyr
also St Magnus Bridge
Situated Lower Thames Street
First mentioned in 1067. Destroyed in the Great Fire and rebuilt by Wren 1671-6. The steeple was added in 1705. The roof was replaced after a fire on 1760 and the vestries replaced in 1762.
St Clement Eastcheap in the early 19th century
32. St Clement Eastcheap
Situated: King William Street
First mentioned in the 11th century. Repaired in 1632 it was destroyed in 1666 and rebuilt by Wren in 1683-7. There was some drastic refurbishment and reorganisation of the interior in 1872. Badly damaged in 1940.
33. St Michael Crooked Lane.
Situated at what is now King William Street EC3. First mentioned in 1271 and extended in the 14th century. Destroyed in 1666 and rebuilt by Wren in 1684-9. Demolished in 1831.
The Parish was united with St Magnus the Martyr 1831.
St Michael Crooked Lane in the early 19th century
34. St Bartholomew By The Exchange
Also St Bartholomew the Little, St Bartholomew the Less First mentioned in 1150 and rebuilt in 1438. South chapel added in 1509 and rhe church was repaired in 1620. Destroyed in the Great Fire and rebuilt by Wren in 1674-9. Demolished in 1840-1.
The Parish was united with St Margaret Lothbury 1839.
35. St Martin Orgar,
Situated in Martin Lane EC4
First mentioned in the 12th century. Destroyed except for part of the nave and the Tower in the Great Fire and abandoned by the congregation. Rebuilt by French Protestants shortly afterwards. Demolished in 1820 but the tower was rebuilt in an Italianate style in 1852 and used as a rectory for St Clements.
The Parish was united with St Clement Eastcheap 1670.
St Martin Orgar in the early 19th century
36. St Nicholas Acons.
Situated between Lombard Street and Cannon Street EC4.
Built in 1084 and repaired in 1520. Destroyed in 1666 and not rebuilt
The Parish was united with St Edmund the King and Martyr 1670.
37. St Mary Woolnoth.
Situated: Lombard Street and King William Street EC4
Said to have been founded by a Saxon prince it was first mentioned in 1273 and rebuilt in 1442. Damaged in the Great Fire it was rebuilt by Wren in1670-7. Rebuilt by Hawkesmoor in 1726-7 and ‘restored’ in 1875-6.
St Mary Woolnoth in the early 19th century
38. St Christopher le Stocks
Also St Christopher upon Cornhill and St Christopher in Bread Street.
Situated Threadneedle Street EC3.
First mentioned 1225and rebuilt in 1462.Damaged in the Great Fire and rebuilt by Wren 1670-6 incorporating much of the mediæval fabric. Demolished in 1781.
The Parish was united with St Margaret Lothbury 1781.
39. St Mary Abchurch.
Also St Mary Upchurch.
Situated Abchurch Yard, Cannon Street EC4.
Originally 12th century it was destroyed in the Great Fire. Rebuilt by Wren 1681-87. Damaged in 1940 and restored after the war.
40. St Laurence Pountney.
Situated in Laurence Pountney Lane EC4.
Also St Laurence next the Thames (1275), St Laurence Candlewigstrate (1277) and St Laurence Lundenstane (1285).
Founded in the 12th century. Converted into a college by Sir John de Poulteney in 1334. The college was dissolved by Edward VI and major repairs were carried out in 1634. Destroyed in 1666 and not rebuilt.
The Parish was united with St Mary Abchurch in 1670
41. St Margaret Lothbury.
Situated: Lothbury EC2.
First mentioned in 1197 and rebuilt in 1440. Burned down in the Great Fire and rebuilt by Wren 1686-90.
42. St Swithin London Stone.
Situated in Cannon Street EC4.
Known to have been built/rebuilt in 1420. Destroyed in 1666 and rebuilt by Wren in1677 using some of the 15th century materials. Destroyed by bombs in 1940.Br> The Parish was united with St Stephen Walbrook 1954
43. St Mary Woolchurch Haw.
Situated on the site of the mansion House EC4 (Plaque).
First mentioned in the 11th century. It was not destroyed in the Great Fire but was subsequently demolished.
The Parish was united with St Mary Woolnoth 1670.
44. All Hallows The Less.
Situated Upper Thames Street, EC4.
Also All Hallows the Little
First mentioned in 1216. Destroyed in 1666 and not rebuilt.
The Parish was united with All Hallows the Great in 1670 and subsequently with St Michael Paternoster Royal in 1893.
45. St Stephen Coleman.
Situated Coleman Street EC2.
First mentioned 1214. Destroyed in 1666 and rebuilt by Wren 1674-6. Bombed in 1940 and demolished.
The Parish was united with St Margaret Lothbury 1954
St Mildred Poultry in the early 19th century
46. St Mildred Poultry.
Situated in Poultry EC4.>Br> First recorded in 1175. Destroyed in 1666 and rebuilt by Wren 1670-6. Demolished in1872.
The Parish was united with St Olave Jewry 1871 and then St Margaret Lothbury 1886.
47. All Hallows The Great.
Also All Hallows The Hay, All Hallows in La Corderie, All Hallows in the Ropery and All Hallows the More.
Situated: Upper Thames Street EC4.
First mentioned in 1235 and Henry VI founded a Grammar School here in 1447. Rebuilt in 1627-9 but destroyed in1666. Rebuilt by Wren in 1677-83. Tower and north aisle demolished in 1876 (to make way for Queen Victoria Street) and tower and vestry rebuilt on the south side. These survived when the church was demolished in 1894 but were bombed in 1939.
The Parish was united with St Michael Paternoster Royal 1893 and with St James Garlickhythe in 1954.
All Hallows The Great in the early 19th century
48. St Mary Bothaw.
Also St Mary Boatehaw.
Situated Cannon Street EC4 (Plaque on modern Station).
Destroyed in 1666 and not rebuilt.
The Parish was united with St Swithin London Stone 1670, St Stephen Walbrook 1954.
49. St Stephen Walbrook.
Situated in Walbrook EC4.
First mentioned in1096 and moved from the west to the east bank of the Walbrook in 1429-39. Destroyed in 1666 and rebuilt by Wren 1672-9. Badly damaged in 1940 but restored.
50. St John The Baptist upon Walbrook>
Situated Walbrook EC4.
First mentioned in 1150 and repaired in 1649. Destroyed in 1666 and not rebuilt.
The Parish was united with St Antholin Budge Row 1670, St Mary Aldermary 1873 and St Mary le Bow in 1954.
St Olave Old Jewry in the early 19th century
51. St Olave Old Jewry.
Also Upwell Old Jewry. Situated: Poultry EC4
First mentioned in 1181 it was restored in 1608 and again in 1628. Destroyed in the Great Fire and rebuilt by Wren 1670-6. It Was restored in 1879 but was demolished in 1888 except for tower which was used as a rectory.
The Parish was united with St Margaret Lothbury 1886
52. St Mary Colechurch.
Situated Poultry EC4.
First mentioned 12th century. Destroyed in the Great Fire and not rebuilt
The Parish was united with St Mildred Poultry 1670, St Olave Jewry 1871, St Margaret Lothbury 1886
53. St Benet Sherehog.
Situated Bucklesbury EC4.
First mentioned 1111. Destroyed in the Great Fire and not rebuilt.
The Parish was united with St Stephen Walbrook 1670.
54. St Michael Bassishaw.
Situated Basinghall Street, EC2.
Destroyed in the Great Fire rebuilt by Wren in 1676.Demolished 1899.
The Parish was united with St Lawrence Jewry 1897
St Stephen Walbrook in the early 19th century