A City Churches (non Wren) Walk

Additional Information


St Botolph-without-Aldgate
This is one of three churches (originally four) sited at London gates dedicated to a Benedictine monk who was a patron saint of travellers. The Saxon building, which belonged to the Knighten Guild, was gifted to the Priory of of Holy Trinity in 1115. It was enlarged in 1418 and rebuilt in the 16th century, becoming the property of the Crown after the dissolution. Over 5000 plague victims were buried in the churchyard. Having become unsafe it was demolished in 1739. The new church of 1741-4 was designed by George Dance the elder and aligned north - south. The organ by Renatus Harris was given in 1676 and the east window (a copy of Rubens 'Descent from the Cross') in 1857. The carving of King David on the south wall came from St Mary's Whitechapel. Its eight bells were cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Improvements were carried out in 1888-95 by JF Bentley. A bomb in 1941 failed to explode but the church was restored after a fire in 1965 when a baptistry was added. The batik panels depicting the Gate of Heaven were designed by Thetis Blacker in 1982. There is a bust of Sir John Cass, school benefactor, and in February a commemoration takes place in the church. A centre for the homeless is provided on the premises.

St Katherine Cree
In 1108 this was absorbed into the new Augustinian Priory of Holy Trinity and parishoners worshiped in the priory church. When this proved unsatisfactory the church of St Katherine Cree was built on part of the cemetery and from 1414 it appointed its own parson. The priory was surrendered to Henry VIII in 1532 when it was pulled down and the materials sold. The church was rebuilt in 1628-31 retaining the tower of 1504. It escaped the Great Fire and has a Father Smith organ of 1686. There is a memorial to Sir John Gayer who had a lucky escape from a lion in 1643. To commemorate this a 'Lion Sermon' is preached in mid October. There is a sundial on the south wall. The churchyard was made into a garden in 1965 and features a doorcase of 1631. This can be viewed from Mitre Street but is not open to the public.

St Andrew Undershaft
The name of this church comes from the maypole which was set up nearby until 1517. The early 12th century building with its 15th century tower (altered 1695 & 1883) was largely rebuilt in 1520-32. The communion rails were designed by Tijou in 1704. There are a number of memorials including one to John Stow, author of the Survey of London. Each year in April he is given a new quill pen by the Lord Mayor and the old one is presented as a prize for an essay on London. The building had a new roof in 1950. The church was damaged by the IRA in 1992 and lost its west window which had been moved by the Victorians. It was restored in 1996 and is now linked with St Helens Bishopsgate.

St Helens Bishopsgate
The church of a Benedictine convent was built alongside the parish church in the early 13th century and absorbed after the Dissolution. At this time the nuns were pensioned off and the other buildings sold to the Leathersellers Company. Repairs were carried out in the 1630s and the Victorian period. In 1966 new vestries, offices and a rectory were built. The Bishopsgate bombs of 1992 and 1993 did a large amount of damage and the restoration was undertaken by Quinlan Terry. There is a Shakepeare window and a fine collection of memorials. Some old choir stalls remain and in the north wall is a narrow night stair from the nun's dorter.

St Ethelburgas
This was first mentioned in 1250 and rebuilt in 1390. At 55' it is London's smallest church. Following extensive bomb damage in 1993 it was reconstructed as a Centre for Peace & Reconciliation using salvaged materials. A traditional Bedouin tent has been erected in a garden at the rear to provide a place where different faiths can meet.

St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate
This is of Saxon foundation, first mentioned in the late 12th century. It was rebuilt at the expense of the Lord Mayor in 1571-2 and escaped damage in the Great Fire. It's application to the 'Fifty New Churches' commission was turned down and it was rebuilt to the designs of George Dance the elder and James Gould in 1725-8. The organ of 1764 is by John Byfield and a  glass dome was added to the nave roof in 1821. There is a memorial chapel to the Honourable Artillery Company and features by JF Bentley (1890-2). It was restored in 1947-8 by Cachemaille Day and again in 1992-3 following bomb damage. The churchyard was made into a public garden in 1863. Edward Alleyne and John Keats were both baptised at St Botolphs.

All Hallows-on-the-Wall
This was endowed by Queen Matilda in 1108 and survived the Great Fire. It was rebuilt to the designs of George Dance the younger in 1765-7 (his first building). The north wall and vestry are on the foundations of the Roman wall. The adjacent parish hall of 1902 replaced the rectory and provided shelter for men arriving on early workmen's tickets. The church was restored after WWII damage.

The Dutch Church
The church of the Austin Friars was founded in 1253 and rebuilt in 1354. At the Dissolution (1550) the nave was given to Dutch Protestants. The building was restored in 1863-5 after fire damage but destroyed by a direct hit in 1940. The rebuilding by Arthur Bailey provided a smaller church along with offices.

St Mary Moorfields
This was built in 1899-1903 with a presbytery above. In the sanctuary are 6 marble columns from the church's predecessor in Moorfields (demolished 1900). www.stmarymoorfields.net This was built in 1899-1903 with a presbytery above. In the sanctuary are 6 marble columns from the church's predecessor in Moorfields (demolished 1900).

City of London Churches by John Betjeman
London's Churches by Elizabeth & Wayland Young
Buildings of England London 1: City of London (Pevsner)
The London Encyclopaedia by Weinreb & Hibbert
Individual church guides
Friends of City Churches


london-footprints.co.uk 2009

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