Another in the series on historic churches in the City of London …
By the time of the Great Fire of London in 1666, there were over a hundred parish churches and other places of Christian worship within and immediately without the walls of the City, despite a number having been closed down during the Reformation. To be precise, according to Parish Clerks’ records, there were 97 churches within the walls of the City, and 16 without, making a total of 113.
St Edmund the King and Martyr on Lombard Street (not individually identified on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was probably originally built sometime in the early Medieval period (King Edmund was murdered by the Danes in 870 for refusing to renounce his Christian faith, the Abbey of Bury St Edmund’s being built at his burial site). It was recorded in Pope Nicholas IV’s “Taxatio Ecclesiastica” of the late thirteenth century as S. Edmundus de Grescherch, and in Stow’s “Survay … ” of the late sixteenth as St. Edmund King and Martyr or St. Edmund Grass Church, “because the said grass market came down so low”.
The church was burned down in the Great Fire of 1666, and subsequently rebuilt by Wren and Hooke between 1670-9 and 1706-7, with the tower ornamented at its angles by flaming urns in allusion to the fire. It has since been restored in the nineteenth century, and twice in the twentieth, following damage sustained during the bombing of the First and Second World Wars.
Fragments of the First World War bomb are preserved in a display in the altar.