St Martin's Le Grand French Protestant Church
used to lay next to St Botolph-without-Aldersgate (visible in the
background). The French Protestant Church of London was founded in
1550 by a Royal Charter of Edward VI, granting the freedom of worship
to Protestant Walloon and French religious refugees. Twenty-three
French churches were in existence in 1700, but this one was
demolished in 1888 and a new French Protestant church was opened
in Soho Square in 1893.
St Vedast-alias-Foster faces out onto
Cheapside, diagonally opposite to St Paul's in the south-west.
Founded in the twelfth century, Vedast (or Foster in English) was a
French saint whose cult came to England though contacts with
Augustinian monks. The original church was partially destroyed by
the Great Fire, and required a great deal of restoration between
1670-1673 by Wren, so that only small parts of the original church
survive. The bell tower was added in 1697.
In 1703 the Baroque spire was added to the
top of the bell tower, while in 1731 the organ was built by
Renatus Harris. The church was again severely damaged, this time
by firebombs during the Blitz in 1940, so more restoration work
was needed within the surviving walls. The church was united in
1956 with the parishes of thirteen other local churches, all of
which had been demolished or lost, and the restoration work was
finally concluded in 1962.
St Leonard Foster Lane was located
approximately at this side junction on Foster Lane, further down
the street from St Vedast. A church existed here from at least the
thirteenth century, serving the residents of St Martin's Le Grand,
but the Great Fire destroyed it in 1666. It was not one of those
selected for rebuilding. Instead its parish was united with that
of Christchurch Greyfriars, but its ruins were left in place and
not cleared until the early nineteenth century.
St John Zachary (which means St John [the
Baptist], the son of Zachary) was located on Gresham Street, in
between Noble Street and Staining Lane, and very close to St Anne &
St Agnes. It was first mentioned in 1181. As with a large number of
churches in this immediate area of the City, it was destroyed in the
Great Fire of 1666 and was not rebuilt. The garden which now covers
its site was first built by firewatchers during the Second World
St Mary Staining was on Oat Lane, at the
outside corner with Staining Lane. The first reference to a
church on this site is to the 'Ecclesia de Staningehage' in 1189,
and the name Staining probably derives from a family living in
Staines which held land in this area. The church was destroyed by
the Great Fire and was not rebuilt. A few gravestones were found
nearby in the 1990s and the site is now a City of London Corporation
garden which contains a historic tree.
St Olave Silver Street is on the corner of
Noble Street and London Wall. Just a pathway separated the church
from the Roman wall. The first reference to a church here is to
'St Olave de Mukewellestrate' in the twelfth century, while the
dedication of the church was to King Olaf II (1016-1028), the
first Christian king of Norway, who fought alongside Ethelred II
against the Danes in England in 1013. The church was destroyed
by the Great Fire and not rebuilt.
St Giles Cripplegate is on Fore Street
and Wood Street - both now partially submerged within the Barbican
complex. The first church here was Saxon, probably wattle and daub,
but in 1090 a Norman church was built. At some point after that it
was dedicated to St Giles, patron saint of cripples and beggars.
'Cripplegate' is from Anglo-Saxon 'cruplegate', a covered way or
tunnel which ran from the city gate to the Barbican, a fortified
watchtower on the Roman wall.
The church was enlarged and rebuilt in
the perpendicular style in 1394. A fire occurred in 1545, and the
church was restored. It escaped the Great Fire but was badly damaged
in the Cripplegate Fire of 1897. Further damage followed during the
Blitz when it suffered a direct hit on the north door in 1940. The
following December it was showered with so many incendiaries that
even the cement caught alight. All that remained was the shell and
tower, all since rebuilt.
St Alphege London Wall is close to the
former Cripplegate and right up against the wall. Thought to have
been established before 1068, it was first mentioned in 1108 and
was named for Archbishop Alphege, killed by Vikings in 1013. It was
closed and demolished at the end of the fifteenth century, and the
former priory church of St Mary's nunnery (founded before 1000)
replaced it. The dilapidated church had to be rebuilt from scratch
in 1747, and was demolished in 1923.
Nine 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. Sound file from 'Bells on Sunday'
on BBC Radio 4, 2009.