St Andrew Undershaft, John Stow and “The Changing of the Quill”

St Andrew Undershaft with the Gherkin in the background

St Andrew Undershaft with the Gherkin in the background

The church of St Andrew Undershaft was originally  built in the twelfth century, and rebuilt in the fourteenth, and again, in the Perpendicular Gothic style, in around 1520-32.  It was undamaged both in the Great Fire of 1666 and in the Blitz of 1940-41, although the seventeenth-century stained-glass windows were destroyed by an IRA bomb in 1992.  The artist Hans Holbein was a parishioner here.

Among the many memorials inside is one to the Merchant Taylor and amateur antiquarian John Stow (d. 1605), the author of “A Survay of London” (the famous last  words of which were “And so I end, wanting time to travel further in this work”).

Stow appears with a quill-pen in his hand.  Every third year, on or around the anniversary of his death on April 5th, as part of a special service in his memory, he is ceremonially presented  with a new quill (and his old one is given to the  winner of an essay competition for local children, with London as its subject).

The most recent service took place last year at noon on 2nd April 2014, presided over by the Lord Mayor of London, Fiona Woolf.

The Changing of the Quill

The Changing of the Quill

Stow seems happy with his new quill

Stow seems happy with his new quill

Here are a few other pictures of the Church (you can click any image to see the full size photograph).

The church  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 via the “Guided Walks” section of the web-site.

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

This blog posting forms part of my occasional series on all the City of London churches with surviving Medieval features. You can find the other blog postings in the series by clicking on the links below:

All Hallows by the Tower      All Hallows Staining     St Ethelburga

St Helen        St Katharine Cree    St Olave

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