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Gallery: Churches of Central London
by Peter Kessler, 3 January 2010
City of London Part 18: Churches of Blackfriars
St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe is on
Queen Victoria Street, roughly 120 metres (yards) west of St Benet
Paul's Wharf, whose style this rebuilt church resembles. It dates
back to the thirteenth century when it was associated with Castle
Baynard, a royal residence that was lost in the Great Fire of 1666.
The dedication originates with Edward III, who moved his state robes
and other effects from the Tower of London to a large building close
by to house the Great Wardrobe.
The church was burned down during the Great Fire.
Rebuilt by Wren, this was the last of the many church reconstructions
in the City to be handled by his office. Bombed during the Blitz, its
Wren interior was destroyed. Reconstruction work was carried out within
Wren's walls, but the church remained out of use until 1961, by which
time it had received a replacement pulpit from St Matthew Friday Street,
which had been built in the same period.
St Anne Blackfriars lay on the
north side of Ireland Yard, amid a maze of small streets off St
Andrew's Hill. The site was originally home to the medieval
Dominican Priory of Black Friars, which stood here until it
was dissolved in 1538. The parish church of St Anne Blackfriars was
built by public subscription, utilising the ruins of the priory and
being located on the site of part of the preaching nave in the old
priory church. The replacement church was consecrated in 1597.
The Blackfriars name remained in use to describe
the immediate area, while the church was a Puritan stronghold during
the English Civil War. Just two decades later the church was
destroyed by the Great Fire of 1666, and was not amongst those which
were selected to be rebuilt. Its parish was united with that of St
Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe. Its churchyard remained in use until 1849,
when all the City's churchyards were closed down, and is now a small
The Guild Church of St Martin-within-Ludgate
lies on the northern side of Ludgate Hill, opposite the entrance to
Pilgrim Street. There was a medieval church here from 1174 which was
rebuilt in 1437. The tower was struck by lightning in 1561. In 1643
William Penn, whose son founded Pennsylvania, USA, was married in
the church. The Great Fire gutted the church, and rebuilding was
handled by Wren. Most of the work was completed by 1684, and the
rest in 1703.
At the same time it was rebuilt, the church was
set back from the old site as the opportunity was taken to widen
Ludgate Hill. The Ludgate itself was demolished in 1760. Major
rebuilding on the church took place in 1894, raising the floor level
at the east end to create the chancel area. In 1941 an incendiary
bomb damaged the roof, but St Martin's received the least damage of
all the city churches in the war. A major renewal of the fabric,
spire and roofs was completed in 1990.
City Temple is a United Reformed Church
located on the southern side of Holborn Viaduct, north-west of St
Martin's along St Bride Street and Shoe Lane. The traditional date
of founding for the first church on the site is 1640, although some
evidence suggests that it could have been as early as the 1560s.
City Temple was built on Holborn Viaduct in 1874 (shortly after
completion of the viaduct itself in 1869), and developed as a
classic city-centre 'preaching station'.
City Temple was destroyed by enemy action on
16 April 1941. The lord mayor of London at the time, Alderman Sir
Stephen Howard unveiled a stone dedicated to the rebuilding of the
City Temple on 16 April 1955. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother,
unveiled a stone dedicated to the rededication of the City Temple on
30 October 1958, which is when it became available again for
worship. The Temple now also serves as a conference centre with a
St Andrew Holborn neighbours City Temple
on its western side. It has been a site of worship for at least a
millennium but when the crypt was excavated in 2001, Roman remains
were found. The church was first mentioned in AD 951 as being on top
of the hill above the River Fleet. There is a medieval spring in the
crypt, which emanates from the Fleet (though not usually open to the
public). In 1348 local armourer John Thavie left his estate to the
church, which still supports it.
The wooden church was replaced by a medieval
stone one in the fifteenth century, of which only the tower now
remains. In 1666 the church was only saved from the Great Fire at
the last minute when the wind changed direction. However, as it was
already in a bad state of repair, Wren decided to rebuild it anyway.
The north churchyard was lost in the 1860s to Holborn Viaduct, and
on 7 May 1941 the church was bombed and gutted. It was rebuilt stone
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