St Helen

The original parish church dates back to the eleventh century, possibly around 1010, the later Benedictine nunnery, built immediately alongside and to the left, and giving rise to an unusual  double nave, dates to around 1204, and still later embellishments to the fifteenth, sixteenth  and seventeenth centuries.

St Helen, Bishopsgate

St Helen, Bishopsgate

Porch repaired in 1633

Porch repaired in 1633

The church was undamaged by the Great Fire of 1666, although nonetheless requiring to be restored in 1893, only to be damaged by IRA bombs in 1992 and 1993,  and restored again in 1993-95.

It  is dubbed “The Westminster Abbey of the City” because of the beauty of its interior.  The alabaster effigies of Sir John de Oteswich and his wife, salvaged from the church of St Martin Outwich, date to the late fourteenth or early fifteenth century, and numerous other monuments to the fifteenth to seventeenth, including that of Sir John Crosby (d. 1476), Sir Thomas Gresham (d. 1579), and Martin Bond (d. 1643), in his military  uniform.    

The exterior is substantially surviving thirteenth- to sixteenth- century.

Helen was the mother of the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine.



Crosby memorial

Crosby memorial

Oteswich memorial

Oteswich memorial



This blog-post is part of my occasional ongoing series on all the Medieval churches (and churches with surviving Medieval features) in the City of London. Other postings in this series can be found through the following links:

All Hallows Barking         All Hallows, Staining        St Andrew Undershaft

St Ethelburga                St Katharine Cree

This series will (in due course) be completed with a final posting on St Olave.

St Helen  is visited, although not entered,  on our “Aldgate, Bishopsgate and Beyond” and  “London Wall” standard walks, and on our “Medieval London”, “Medieval City Highlights” and “Lost City Highlights” themed specials.

Further details of all our walks are available in the “Our Guided Walks” section of our web-site.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, by e-mail (, or by phone (020-8998-3051).

6 thoughts on “St Helen

  1. Pingback: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – The Mason Family Line

  2. Pingback: St Ethelburga | The Lost City of London

  3. Pingback: St Andrew Undershaft, John Stow and “The Changing of the Quill” | The Lost City of London

  4. Pingback: The Church of All Hallows Staining | The Lost City of London

  5. Pingback: The church of All Hallows by the Tower | The Lost City of London

  6. Pingback: St  Katharine Cree | The Lost City of London

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