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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Central London

by Peter Kessler, 8 November 2009

City of London Part 5: Churches of Cripplegate & Moorgate

St Michael Bassishaw, Central London

St Michael Bassishaw was located on Basinghall Street, south of Cripplegate, in an area which was virtually flattened by the Blitz. The church was first recorded in 1196, while 'Bassishaw' is from Basing's haw, or yard. The church was rebuilt in the fifteenth century and restored in 1630, but destroyed by the Great Fire. It was rebuilt between 1675-1679 but very poorly and with brick facing instead of stone. In 1892, the church was judged unsafe and demolition followed in 1900.

St Alban Wood Street, Central London

St Alban Wood Street lies a little to the west of St Michael's. It may date back to the time of King Offa of Mercia who possibly had a palace with a chapel on the site. The church was certainly present in 930, and by the late twelfth century it was known as St Alban Wuderstrate. By 1633 it had fallen into a state of disrepair and after being inspected by Inigo Jones and Sir Henry Spiller it was deemed to be beyond help and was demolished and rebuilt the following year.

St Alban Wood Street, Central London

The Great Fire of 1666 destroyed it completely, and a Gothic rebuild by Wren's office was finished in 1685. The four elegant pinnacles on the Perpendicular tower had to be replaced in 1890. The church was burnt out again during the Blitz, along with a great swathe of the surrounding area, with only the tower surviving the destruction. Demolition followed in 1965 leaving the tower in place as a private dwelling on a traffic island in the road.

St Mary Aldermanbury, Central London

Records of St Mary Aldermanbury, on the corner of Aldermanbury and Love Lane, which leads off Wood Street, date back to 1181. The original Norman church was destroyed by the Great Fire and a Wren church of Portland stone replaced it. After being damaged during the Second World War, the ruins were shipped to Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, where the church was rebuilt in a memorial park. Its original site is now a public garden.

St Michael Wood Street, Central London

St Michael Wood Street was at the south-eastern corner of that and Gresham Street. First mentioned in 1225 it was destroyed by the Great Fire. Not scheduled to be rebuilt, pressure was applied and by 1673 a new church was unveiled on the site. In 1854 the declining population in the City led to a reorganisation of the number of churches, and St Michael's was demolished in 1897, with many bodies being moved from the churchyard to Brookwood Cemetery.

St Peter Cheap, Central London

St Peter Cheap (or Westcheap) lay on the corner of Wood Street and Cheapside ('cheap' was Saxon for market). The church was built in 1196, and Queen Elizabeth I was presented with a Bible when she passed by in 1559 during her royal progress from the Tower to Whitehall - a propaganda statement promoting the ideas of religious truth after Bloody Mary's reign. Destroyed in the Great Fire in 1666, a large, old tree now fills what was probably part of the churchyard.

St Mary Magdalen Milk Street, Central London

St Mary Magdalen Milk Street used to lay immediately to the east of St Peter's. It was a small parish church which nevertheless saw a great many important City dignitaries pass through its doors. Its date of founding is unknown, but it was the centre of Royalist support before the Civil War, something which saw its parish priest kicked out during the Commonwealth. St Mary's was destroyed by the Great Fire and was one of the unlucky ones not to be selected for rebuilding.

All Hallows Honey Lane, Central London

All Hallows Honey Lane was immediately east of St Mary's and almost directly opposite St Mary le Bow on Cheapside, on the north-west corner of Honey Lane Market (on the right here, and abutting the now-truncated Lawrence Lane). A medieval church existed here by 1279, although its parish was always small. During the Reformation the parish bore Lutheran tendencies. The church was completely destroyed by the Great Fire and was not selected to be rebuilt.

St Mary Cole Church, Central London

St Mary Cole Church lay on the corner of Poultry and the southern end of Old Jewry. Named after its first benefactor, the prosperous parish was the birthplace of Thomas Beckett, a true London cockney, and supported a grammar school. The church was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 and was not amongst those selected to be rebuilt, although its grammar school was rebuilt and survived until 1787. The last traces of the church's ruins disappeared in 1839.

St Martin Pomary, Central London

St Martin Pomary was on the upper east side of Ironmonger Lane (on the immediate left of this shot, looking south towards Poultry). The dedication derives from a Latin reference to it being 'an open space near a boundary wall'. Confidently Protestant in 1547, when it removed its cross, by 1627 much of its north wall had to be rebuilt. Unfortunately, it was among the eighty-six churches destroyed by the Great Fire in 1666, and was not selected to be rebuilt.

All photos on this page by P L Kessler.



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