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Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of Central London

by Peter Kessler, 3 January 2010

 

 

City of London Part 16: Churches of Queenhithe & Cheapside

St Nicholas Olave

St Nicholas Olave stood either here, on the south side of Queen Victoria Street, or on the lower west side of Bread Street, opposite, both a short way east of St Nicholas Cole Abbey. Its dedication was for the former St Olave Bread Street, which was removed by the Augustinian Friars for the erection of their monastic buildings in the thirteenth century, and which parish was merged to that of St Nicholas. The church existed before 1242, and was destroyed in the Great Fire.

St Matthew Friday Street

St Matthew Friday Street stood on the corner of Friday Street (on the right here), immediately alongside Bread Street, looking out on Queen Victoria Street. The dedication probably originates from fishmongers selling their wares on the street (Friday being a traditional day for fish sales). The church was first mentioned in the thirteenth century, and had strong ties with dissenters in the 1700s. Destroyed by the Great Fire and rebuilt by 1685, it was demolished in 1885.

St Margaret Moses

St Margaret Moses was on Bread Street, situated on the north-south street between Queen Victoria Street and Cannon Street. The church was first mentioned in the twelfth century, along with a good many churches in the area. Its dedication originates from a wealthy benefactor in its early days who was called Moyses. The Protestant martyr, John Roberts, was the priest in 1550. Destroyed by the Great Fire, the church was not selected to be rebuilt.

Holy Trinity the Less

Holy Trinity the Less used to lay a little further east along Queen Victoria Street, at the junction with Cannon Street on the south-eastern corner. It was first mentioned in 1266, and was rebuilt in 1606, only to be destroyed by the Great Fire. The site was later used as the entrance to Mansion House Underground Station when the line was opened on 3 July 1871 by the Metropolitan District Railway, but this construction meant the destruction of the surviving churchyard.

St Thomas the Apostle

St Thomas the Apostle was located a little way to the east of Holy Trinity, on the north-western corner of Great St Thomas Apostle (on the left here) and the north-south Queen Street. The church was first mentioned in the twelfth century, which is when a great many local churches must have been built, and was firmly in the Royalist camp during the English Civil War. In 1666 the church was completely destroyed by the Great Fire and was not selected to be rebuilt.

St Antholin Budge Row

St Antholin Budge Row was on Budge Row, opposite Sise Lane, on the southern side of Queen Victoria Street. From there it overlooked St Benet Sherehog and many other churches close to what is now the Bank of England. The church was first recorded in 1119 and was rebuilt in the 1400s. Destroyed by the Great Fire, Wren rebuilt it by 1684. It was demolished in 1874, and by 2008 the site was covered by a sixties office block which itself was scheduled for demolition.

The Guild Church of St Mary Aldermary

The Guild Church of St Mary Aldermary lies on a corner of land between Watling Street, Queen Victoria Street, and Bow Lane (which was formerly known as Cordwainer Street). Its dedication is usually taken to mean that it was the earliest of the City churches to be dedicated to St Mary ('aldermary' meaning 'elder Mary'). In 1510, Sir Henry Keeble, a grocer and lord mayor, financed the building of a new church on the site, one of the largest and finest in the City.

The Guild Church of St Mary Aldermary

When Keeble died in 1518 the tower was substantially unfinished and remained so until 1629 when two legacies enabled it to be completed. The church was destroyed by the Great Fire, although the foundations and parts of the walls, as well as the base of the tower, remained intact. It was rebuilt on the same foundations between 1679-1682 by Christopher Wren's office, the only one in the Gothic style in order to keep it as close to the old church's style as possible.

St Mary le Bow

St Mary le Bow lies on Cheapside, opposite the site of All Hallows Honey Lane, in a jump north of the location of St Mary Aldermary. The site of St Benet Sherehog, now 1 Poultry, can be seen in the distance. Most of the church building is hidden behind modern shops and an office, with only the tower fully visible. The church was founded in or around 1080 as the London headquarters of the archbishops of Canterbury, but the medieval building partially collapsed three times.

St Mary le Bow

The Norman church of circa 1081 may have replaced a building of Saxon origin. This was heavily damaged by a tornado in 1091, and the rebuilt church was destroyed by fire in 1196. The tower collapsed onto the street in 1271, and rebuilding was not completed until 1512. In 1666 the church was completely destroyed in the Great Fire. Rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren, it was destroyed once more in 1941 but was again rebuilt and re-consecrated in 1964.

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