October 16th – The “Lion Sermon” took place yesterday (Thursday 15th) in the church of St Katharine Cree today, as it has on the Thursday closest to October 16th every year since 1643, in remembrance of the Merchant Adventurer (of the Levant Company) and later Lord Mayor of London Sir John Gayer being spared by a lion in Syria on this day in that year.
The church itself was originally built in the grounds of Holy Trinity Priory sometime before 1291 (being mentioned in the Taxatio Ecclesiastica of Pope Nicholas IV), and possibly around 1280, and rebuilt between 1500-4, in the Gothic style, and again between 1628-31, this time in the Renaissance style. It was undamaged by the Great Fire of 1666, although later required to be restored in 1878-9, and again, after being damaged by bombing in the Blitz of the Second World War, in 1956-62.
The interior contains some Gothic elements, such as the east window, in the form of an elaborately stylised Katharine Wheel, and the intricately ribbed ceiling; and some Renaissance ones, such as the Corinthian columns in the nave. It also contains monuments to Sir Nicholas Throkmorton (d. 1570) as well as to Sir John Gayer (d. 1649). The church has associations from the Civil War period with the Royalist cause, and even contains a wooden statue of Charles I, depicted as a martyr and saint. Archbishop William Laud, who reconsecrated the church in 1631, was executed in 1645 for his support of Charles, his High Church views, and his persecution of Puritans. The Father Smith organ, once played by Purcell and Handel, dates to 1686.
It is visited, although generally not entered, on our “London Wall” and “Aldgate, Bishopsgate and beyond” standard walks, and on our “Medieval”, “Tudor and Stuart” and “Lost City Highlights” themed specials.
Further details of all our walks are available in the “Guided Walks” section of this web-site.