History Files


Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Central London

by Peter Kessler, 8 November 2009

City of London Part 2: Churches of St Paul's & Newgate

St Augustine's Church Watling Street, London

St Augustine Watling Street lies to the immediate east of St Paul's, the only church to survive in the cathedral's shadow. The first record of its existence dates to 1148 but this building, probably a Norman construction, was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1666, a common story for a great many churches in the City of London. In the 1680s the current version was erected, with the tower following in the 1690s, probably to a design by Nicholas Hawksmoor.

St Augustine's Church Watling Street, London

The altar piece in the new church building came with Corinthian columns and the pulpit was of carved oak. The tower was heavily updated in 1830, while the pulpit was modernised in 1878. The church was completely destroyed by enemy bombing in 1941. St Paul's Cathedral Choir School was built on the ruins, being completed in 1967, while the tower was reconstructed in its original Baroque style and attached to the modernist block behind it.

St Faith under St Paul's Church, London

St Faith under St Paul's also sat in the shadow of St Paul's, now approximately on the corner of Cheapside and New Change. The entire church was removed in 1255 to allow for Old St Paul's to be expanded to the east. From then until Edward VI's reign (1547-1553) parishioners worshipped at the end of the west crypt under St Paul's Quire. Then they transferred to the Jesus Chapel, masked by a screen. After the Great Fire, they joined St Augustine Watling Street.

St Michael-le-Querne Church, London

St Michael-le-Querne was situated alongside St Faith's on Cheapside. The dedication, 'le-Querne', derives from an eleventh century reference to it being near a place 'where corn is sold', which would have been on Cheapside itself ('cheap' was the Saxon word for market). It was rebuilt in 1430 and in 1617 refurbished to make it more pleasing to the eye. Destroyed in the Great Fire, the church was one of the relatively small number never rebuilt.

Christchurch Greyfriars, London

Christchurch Greyfriars is on Newgate Street. It was built between 1306-1327 in the Gothic style at the eastern end of the monastery grounds of the Grey Friars or Franciscan monks (below), which explains its name. It was also known as Christ Church Newgate, as that entrance into the city lay alongside the monastery. Christ's Hospital replaced the monastery after the Dissolution in 1538 and the church was gifted to the city, which abused and defaced the building.

Christchurch Greyfriars, London

The Great Fire destroyed the original church - one of the largest in the country - but it was included in the list of those to be replaced. The design was handled by Christopher Wren and the replacement was smaller, although part of the old foundations were re-used. This church was again destroyed, this time by enemy bombing in the Second World War, and was not rebuilt. Its ruins were preserved and the nave is now a public garden laid out in the church's floor plan.

St Nicholas Shambles Church, London

St Nicholas Shambles was on Edward Street, close by Christchurch Greyfriars. It was a medieval church which was first referred to as St Nicholas de Westrnacekaria. In 1253, Walter de Cantilupe, bishop of Worcester, granted indulgences its parishioners, but during the Dissolution in 1538 the church was demolished and the parish united with St Sepulchre-without-Newgate. In 1975 the site was excavated, with a large number of important finds being made.

St Audoen within Newgate Church, London

St Audoen within Newgate is hard to locate precisely. It was on a corner opposite Grey Friars Monastery at the top of Warwick Lane, as shown here looking south-east towards St Paul's (with the site of Grey Friars behind the camera). Another medieval London church, it was first mentioned as 'Parochia sancti Audoeni'. It was demolished during the Dissolution and the parish united with those of St Nicholas Shambles and St Sepulchre-without-Newgate.

Greyfriars Monastery, Newgate, London

Greyfriars Monastery lay opposite St Audoen's and had Christchurch Greyfriars in its grounds. Nine Franciscans landed at Dover in 1224 and were gifted some land and houses close to Newgate in 1225, bordering on a lane so filthy from the blood of slaughtered animals that it was called Stinking Lane. Part of this was absorbed into the grounds as the monastery quickly expanded, making it extremely rich and powerful, until the Dissolution of 1538 saw it closed down.

Christ's Hospital, Newgate, London

Christ's Hospital was created in Greyfriars in 1552 by Edward VI, although the site had been used by the City for the relief of the poor and destitute since 1538. The king, the bishop of London, and the Lord Mayor created three Royal Hospitals, and this was the one dedicated to the education of poor children. By the 1560s it was sending pupils to Oxford and Cambridge. A new site was proposed in 1877, and the school at Newgate was finally closed in 1902.

Eight photos on this page by P L Kessler, and one kindly contributed by Stuart Smith via the 'History Files: Churches of the British Isles' Flickr group.



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