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 Benet Paul’s Wharf (shown at southern end of “Paules chayne” on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London), also known as St Benet Hythe, was originally built in around 1111. It stood a short distance to the east of the Blackfriars Theatre, and Shakespeare would have known it well. It is thought to be the church mentioned by the Clown, addressing the Duke, in “Twelfth Night“, written in 1601, as follows: “The Bells of St Bennet, Sir, may put you in mind – one, two, three”. Elias Ashmole was married in the church in 1638. Inigo Jones was buried here in 1652.
The church burned down in the Great Fire of 1666, and was subsequently rebuilt by Hooke, under Wren, between 1678-84, still standing in something close to its rebuilt state, with many interior fittings attributed to Grinling Gibbons, who had a workshop here.
It was mercifully spared from demolition in 1879, when an Act of Parliament made it the Metropolitan Welsh Church of the City and Diocese of London (Sunday services at 11:00am and 3:30pm).
There is a – nineteenth-century – memorial to Inigo Jones in the interior.