St Lawrence Jewry

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 Lawrence Jewry (“23” on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built in the Saxon  period, a large number of timbers from coffins in the churchyard having been dendrochronologically  dated  to the  late tenth to early eleventh centuries, and an admittedly much smaller number even to the seventh to ninth.   It was subsequently rebuilt in the Norman period, in 1136, and repaired in 1618.

St Lawrence Jewry 2

Interior

The church burned down in the Great Fire of 1666, and was rebuilt again, by Wren,  between 1670-87.  The font of 1620 was salvaged from Holy Trinity Minories.

Fire damage at St Lawrence Jewry, City of London, WW2

It was later  gutted by German bombing during the  Second World War – to be precise, during the “Second Great Fire of London”, on the night of 29th December, 1940 – and rebuilt yet again between 1954-57.

St Lawrence Jewry

The weather-vane in the shape of a grid-iron honours the story that Saint Lawrence was put to death in 258 by being roasted alive on one such.  The upright is in the form of a German Second World War  incendiary bomb.

St Lawrence Jewry

The grid-iron motif also features on the parish boundary markers.

The church  was described by Sir John Betjeman as “very municipal, very splendid.”  It is the official church of the City of London Corporation, and also has strong links with the  Livery Companes. The so-called “Spital Sermons”, originally given   in the priory church of St Mary Spital, are currently given in St Lawrence Jewry, and are attended by the Mayor, Aldermen, and other civic dignitaries.

 

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