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Gallery: Churches of Central London
by Peter Kessler, 3 January 2010
City of London Part 17: Churches of Cheapside &
St John the Evangelist Friday Street was
on a narrow lane behind St Mary le Bow. Also known as St Werburgh
Friday Street, the church was one of the smallest in the City, and
probably dated to the twelfth century. Destroyed by the Great Fire
in 1666, a public house and hotel was build on the site shortly
after 1666, and was occupied by successive lord mayors of London
until 1753, when it was sold to become Williamson's Hotel (now
Williamson's Tavern), off Bow Lane.
All Hallows Bread Street stood on the
south-eastern corner of Bread Street and Watling
Street, a stone's throw to the west of St John's. It was first
recorded in 1227, but may have had Saxon origins. The dedication is
for the street on which there was a bread market. The church was
enlarged in 1350, and its stone steeple struck by lightening in
1559. Destroyed by the Great Fire, it was rebuilt by Wren in 1698,
but demolished in 1878 as the City's population dropped off.
St Mildred Bread Street was on the
north-western corner of the junction of Watling Street and Bread
Street, diagonally opposite to All Hallows. St Mildred the Virgin
was the seventh century daughter of Merewalh, king of the
Herefordshire Saxons. The church was founded in the thirteenth
century. In 1428, a vestry and court yard were bequeathed to it, and
in 1628 a stained glass montage was added. All was destroyed by the
Great Fire of London.
The church was rebuilt by Wren in 1683, with a
tower on the south side attached by a short lobby. In 1932 a bust of
Arthur Philip, first governor of New South Wales, was unveiled on
the west wall. Enemy action over London during 1941 saw the church
destroyed again, but the bronze bust and plates were salvaged from
the ruins. The monument was re-erected further down Watling Street,
a few metres west, and unveiled on 8 May 1968. The church's site
was sold in 1954.
St Gregory by St Paul's was a little
further west, on the south side of St Paul's Churchyard and, as the
dedication suggests, opposite the cathedral. Carter Lane bordered it
on the other side. The first mention of the church comes from the
eleventh century, and the building was renovated in 1647 by Inigo
Jones, following a petition by its parishioners. It was destroyed by
the Great Fire and was one of almost half the City's total number of
churches not to be rebuilt.
St Peter (on) Paul's Wharf used
to lay near the junction between Peter's Hill and Knightrider
Street, approximately where Knightrider Court now sits on Peter's
Hill. The church was first mentioned in the twelfth century as St
Peter the Little, or Less. In 1430 Robert Frankeleyn gave land on
Thames Street as a churchyard. The church defiantly continued to use
the Book of Common Prayer during the English Civil War, but was
destroyed by the Great Fire and not rebuilt.
St Mary Magdalen Old Fish Street
was a few metres west of St Peter's, on the corner of Old Fish
Street and Old Change (now best viewed from this point looking east
on Knightrider Street from Goldmine Street). The area was entirely
redeveloped after 1945. The church was first recorded in the twelfth
century, but was destroyed by the Great Fire and rebuilt by Wren. A
fire in an adjacent warehouse in 1886 damaged the roof, and the
church was demolished in 1893.
The Salvation Army International Headquarters
stands on the southern side of Queen Victoria Street, opposite the
entrance to Distaff Lane, and alongside St Peter's Hill. The site
was first used by the Army in 1881, when it replaced their Christian
Mission Headquarters on Whitechapel Road. The building was gutted by
fire during the Blitz, but following its rebuilding, it was opened
by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, in 1963. This brand new
building was opened in 2004.
The Guild Church of St Benet Paul's Wharf
is sixty metres west of the Salvation Army HQ, standing on the
south-eastern corner of the junction of Queen Victoria Street and
White Lion Hill. Dedicated to St Benedict, a church existed here
from AD 1111. The name was abbreviated to St Benet in common
usage (or 'Bene't' in writing) and formally changed in the early
nineteenth century. Paul's Wharf had been the main landing stage for
this part of the City since the Roman period.
The church was destroyed by the Great Fire, along
with nearby Castle Baynard. Between 1681-1687 it was rebuilt by
Wren and has remained virtually unchanged since then,
being fortunate to escape any damage during the Second World War.
In 1879, when the church's future was uncertain due to the depopulation
of the City, it became the London base of the Metropolitan Welsh
Church (Uwcheglwys San Bened), but closed in 2008 due to