St Christopher-le-Stocks

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.

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St Christopher-le-Stocks on Threadneedle Street (shown immediately to the north-east of the “Stokes” on the sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built at least as long ago as the thirteenth century, being first recorded in 1280, although at that time, before the Stocks were built, it was known simply as St Christopher.  It was subsequently at least partially rebuilt in the fifteenth century, and again in the sixteenth, Stow describing it at that time as “re-edified of new: for Richard Shore, one of the Sheriffs 1506, gave money towards the building of the steeple”.

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The church was badly damaged in the  Great Fire of 1666, and rebuilt yet again by Wren, in 1669-71, using some surviving materials. As Edward Hatton wrote, in his “New View of London” of 1708, “all the old part which the fire left, is of the Gothick Order; but the pillars within, are of the Tuscan. And the walls are of old stone, finished or rendered over”.

It was demolished in 1781, to allow for improvements to the security  of the Bank of England after the previous year’s Gordon Riots, wherepon  the parish was merged with St Margaret Lothbury.   The remains of those interred in the church and churchyard, including my eleven-times great uncle and aunt,   John and Frances West, were later removed to Nunhead Cemetery.

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It  is one of the twenty-one lost Wren churches.

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Only   parish boundary markers survive at its former site.  Some salvaged  interior fittings survive in St Margaret Lothbury, including the bronze sculpture by Hubert le Sueur  (and the paintings of Moses and Aaron).   The salvaged reredos survives in St Vedast-alias-Foster, the pulpit in St Nicholas  in Canewdon in Essex.

A thirteenth-century gravestone, discovered during the rebuilding of the Bank in 1934, can be seen   in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

 

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