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 Ethelburga (not individually identified on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built in around 1250, possibly on the site of an even older, Saxon, church, and extended in 1390, and again in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
The church was undamaged in the Great Fire of 1666, although nonetheless restored in 1861-2, and again, by Ninian Comper, in 1912, and described by Nairn in 1966 as “one of the sweetest things in the City”.
It was severely damaged by an IRA bomb on 24th April, 1993.
It was subsequently substantially rebuilt, and reopened as a Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, focussing on the role of faith in conflict resolution, in 2002. The west front was rebuilt using stone from the Medieval church, the doorway along the lines of the fourteenth-century one, and the three-light window along the lines of the fifteenth-century one.
The “Peace Garden” and “The Tent” at the back were built at the same time, to encourage inter-faith dialogue.
Ethelburga was the sister of the seventh-century Saxon Bishop Erkenwald (who “Bishopsgate” is named after). She was also the Abbess of Barking, and founder of the church of All Hallows Barking. Her feast day is October 11th.