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Gallery: Churches of Central London
by Peter Kessler, 6 December 2009
City of London Part 9: Churches of Aldgate &
St Botolph without Aldgate lies on the
eastern edge of the City, facing Aldgate High Street. Its first
written record dates to 1115 when it was received by the Augustinian
Holy Trinity Priory (which had recently been founded by Matilda,
daughter of Henry I, and which also held St Katherine Cree), but
the parish origins may date to before 1066. The church was rebuilt
in the sixteenth century and then again between 1741-1744 to
designs by George Dance the Elder.
The interior was redecorated by J F Bentley, the
architect of Westminster Cathedral. The church was united with
the parish of Holy Trinity Minories in 1899 (this former church lay
outside the City's eastern border). It was severely damaged by
bombing during the Blitz, but was restored by Rodney Tatchell.
An unexplained fire in 1965 severely damaged it again, requiring
further restoration work and it was re-consecrated on 8 November
1966 by Elizabeth II.
St Katherine Coleman lay behind
this public house, on the southern side of Fenchurch Street,
south-west from St Botolph's. St Katherine's Row (formerly Magpie
Alley) runs between the buildings. It was originally known as All
Hallows Coleman-church. It narrowly escaped the Great Fire, and was
extensively rebuilt in 1741. Never regarded as one of the more
spectacular City churches, it survived until its final service on 20
November 1926, after which it was quickly demolished.
All Hallows Staining is on Mark Lane, near
Fenchurch Street railway station. The first church here was Norman,
built before the late twelfth century, when it was named 'Staining',
or 'stone', to distinguish it from the other churches of the same
name, all of which were wooden. The current tower dates to around
1320 and is believed to be part of the second church on this site.
This building survived the Great Fire, although the adjacent
Clothworkers' Hall was razed to the ground.
In 1671 the church collapsed, probably due to the
foundations being weakened by the large number of burials in the
adjoining churchyard. Rebuilt in 1674, the church was finally pulled
down in 1870 when it was decided that the shrinking number of
parishioners warranted its closure. Between 1948-1954, a
prefabricated church was attached to the tower, which served as the
chancel, so that services for nearby St Olave's could be held while
it was being repaired.
The Parish Church of St Olave Hart Street
is just off Mark Lane, on the corner of Seething Lane. Founded in
the eleventh century, the church was dedicated to the patron saint
of Norway, St Olaf (as was St Olaf's in Tallinn and St Olave Old
Jewry in the City). The Crypt Chapel was created in the thirteenth
century, and the third church on the site was built in 1450, which
is when the current tower was erected. The gateway (seen bottom
left here) was built in 1658.
A total of 365 people were buried here during
the Great Plague of 1665, and the following year the flames of the
Great Fire came within a hundred metres (yards) before the wind
changed direction, saving many churches in the east of the City.
Samuel Pepys was laid to rest in a vault under the communion table
in 1703. The tower was hit by an enemy bomb in 1941 and the bells
destroyed, but a new ring of six was cast in 1953 and the church
was re-hallowed the following year.
All Hallows by The Tower is on Byward Street,
close to the Tower of London, and is united with St Dunstan in the East.
The Saxon Abbey of Barking founded the church in AD 675. An arch from
the original Saxon church has survived, beneath which is a Roman pavement,
discovered in 1926, revealing the surroundings when the church was built.
William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, was baptised in the church in 1644
and educated in the schoolroom (now the parish room).
In 1666 the Great Fire of London started in Pudding
Lane, about 350 metres (yards) west of the church, and All Hallows
survived through the efforts of Admiral Penn, William Penn's father.
John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the USA, was married here in
1797. In 1940 the church was bombed and only the tower and the walls
survived, but Queen Elizabeth, wife of George VI, laid a new foundation
stone in 1948 and attended the re-dedication service some nine years later.
The Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula
(St Peter in Chains) is within the walls of the Tower of London. It
was originally built in around 1272 but has been constantly
'restored' so that little is known of its earliest appearance.
Beneath one of its aisles lay the bodies of Queen Anne Boleyn
(beheaded 1536), Lady Jane Grey and her husband, Lord Guildford
Dudley (1554), Robert Devereux, earl of Essex (1600), and the duke
of Monmouth (1685).
Sound file from 'Bells on Sunday' on BBC Radio 4,