St John Friday Street

St John the Evangelist

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 John Friday Street (“10” on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London), also known as St John the Evangelist, was originally built at the turn of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, between 1098-1108, at which time it was known as St Werburga, after a Mercian princess and Abbess of Ely.  It was subsequently rebuilt in the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries, renamed St John in 1356 (not necessarily at the same time as the rebuilding), and repaired in 1626.

Stow notes that among the monuments in the church was that of Sir Christopher Askew, Draper, Mayor of London, 1533.  Rev. George Walker was rector of the church between 1614-50, and became widely known for his Puritanical views and sermons (*).  The parish was unique in suffering no deaths during the Great Plague of 1665 – possibly at least in part because it was so small, occupying less than an acre.

The  church was burned  down in the Great Fire of 1666, and not rebuilt afterwards, the former parish merging with that of All Hallows Bread Street.

St John the Evangelist (2)

A Corporation “Blue Plaque” marks its former site.

(*) In 1636,  Walker was described by the anti-Puritanical Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud, in his yearly report to the King, Charles I, as “a disorderly and peevish man”.   And in 1638, he was briefly imprisoned for “things tending to faction and disobedience to authority”, an illegal act which became one of those with which Laud was charged at his trial in 1643.

 

 

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