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Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of Central London

by Peter Kessler, 6 December 2009

 

 

City of London Part 10: Churches of Tower Hill & Eastcheap

St Dunstan in the East

St Dunstan in the East is located on the corner of St Dunstan's Lane and Idol Lane, between Great Tower Street and Lower Thames Street. The original Gothic Norman church was built around 1100. This was severely damaged in the Great Fire of London in 1666, but rather than completely rebuild it, it was decided to patch it up and Christopher Wren added a sturdy steeple to the tower. Unusually, Wren matched the steeple to the Gothic design of the church.

St Dunstan in the East

However, by 1817 the church was in a very poor state of repair and was rebuilt by David Laing, assisted by William Tite, retaining Wren's steeple. The church was severely damaged by enemy action in 1941 and this time not rebuilt. Only the tower and some elements of the walls still stand while the rest of the floor space was converted into one of the most attractive small gardens in London, which was opened in 1971. The parish was united with that of All Hallows by The Tower.

St Magnus the Martyr

St Magnus the Martyr is a little to the west of St Dunstan's, along Lower Thames Street, opposite Pudding Lane (starting point of the Great Fire) and Fish Street Hill. The first stone church here was built before 1067, and dedicated to St Magnus, possibly the one who became a martyr in AD 276 in Roman Caesarea. It was pulled down and a new larger one built in 1234 on a new plot of land, close to the unloading bays for medieval ships which couldn't pass under London Bridge.

St Magnus the Martyr

During the fourteenth century the Pope was the church's patron. The medieval church was repaired in the seventeenth century and then completely rebuilt after the Great Fire started just a hundred metres or so to the north. Another fire in 1760 destroyed the roof, at which point the tower was opened up on either side for the widening of London Bridge, allowing the resurrection of the ancient footpath which led to the first London Bridge, straight through the tower.

St Michael Crooked Lane

St Michael Crooked Lane lay north of St Magnus on what is now the north side of Monument Street (on the righthand side here, looking west), where it meets King William Street. The first church was probably Norman, and was recorded in the 1200s, but this was destroyed by the Great Fire and was one of those rebuilt by Wren in 1687. When London Bridge was widened in 1831, the church was too close to the old road, so it had to be demolished for the sake of progress.

St Margaret New Fish Street

St Margaret New Fish Street's former site now lies next to the Monument to the Great Fire, at the junction between Fish Street and Monument Street. Also known as St Margaret Bridge Street or St Margaret Fish Street Hill, it received many gifts from pilgrims as they passed by on their way to London Bridge. The church was the first to be destroyed by the fire, and was one of the thirty-five churches not to be selected for rebuilding. Its parish was united to that of St Magnus.

St Leonard Eastcheap

The site of St Leonard Eastcheap now lies on the corner of Eastcheap (Anglo-Saxon for 'east market', as opposed to Westcheap, or Cheapside as it is now), and Fish Street Hill. The Monument can be seen half way down the hill, with the site of St Margaret's on this side of it. St Leonard's was originally built by one William Melker, and was also known as St Leonard Milke Church. It was substantially renovated in 1618 and destroyed by the Great Fire.

St George Botolph Lane

St George Botolph Lane sat on the north-east corner of Eastcheap and Pudding Lane, one street west of St Leonard's. It was founded in the twelfth century, and was the only City church dedicated to St George of Cappadocia, patron saint of England from the fourteenth century. It underwent renovation in 1360 and 1627, and after the Great Fire it was rebuilt in 1671-1677 with rubble from St Paul's. The last service was in 1890, and the dilapidated church was demolished in 1904.

St Andrew Hubbard

St Andrew Hubbard was situated on the land between the northern end of Botolph Lane (shown here) and Love Lane (to the left of the shot), facing onto Eastcheap. This is just one street west of St George's, in the area known as Little Eastcheap. The church took its name from Hubert, a medieval benefactor, and was apparently a busy parish which was rife with rats. Destroyed in the Great Fire it was not rebuilt. Instead, the King's Weigh House was erected on its site.

St Botolph Billingsgate

St Botolph Billingsgate was on the south-eastern corner of Botolph Lane, between Botolph's Wharf and Cock's Key (now facing onto Monument Street). The Norman church was built before 1181 and destroyed by the Great Fire. It was initially selected to be rebuilt until it was realised that part of the site was required so that Thames Street could be widened and a passage maintained to Botolph's Wharf. The work was cancelled and only the entrance posts survive today.

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