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 Gregory by St Paul’s (“St Gregory” on “Map of Medieval London”) was originally built sometime before 1010, when the bones of the martyred St Edmund, King and Martyr, were brought here from East Anglia so as to be safe from Viking raiders (they were later returned). It was subsequently rebuilt after a fire in 1087, and thereafter occasionally used for services ordinarily conducted in St Paul’s when the cathedral itself was out of commission, as in 1561 (“[S]erves at Saint Gregore Chyrche be-syd Powlles … tyll Powlles be rede made”).
The church was then restored at considerable expense by its parishioners in 1631-2 and 1637, only to – controversially – demolished and rebuilt by Inigo Jones in 1641, as part of his redesign of the west front of St Paul’s (according to one source, it was Archbishop Laud who ordered its demolition). It is shown abutting the south-west tower on the above engraving.
My eleven-times Great Uncle and Aunt, John and Frances West, were married in the church in the February of 1666 (Frances’s first husband, Robert Mickell, having died of the Plague the previous year). It burned down in the Great Fire of the September of 1666, and was not rebuilt again afterwards, its parish merging with that of St Mary Magdalen Old Fish Street.
Nothing now remains of the church, whose former site is now occupied by the statue of Queen Anne in front of St Paul’s. Some church records survive, though, in the Guildhall Library.
Gregory was the Pope responsible for sending Augustine to England to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity in 597.