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 Laurence Pountney (“N” of sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built at least as long ago as the mid-twelfth century, the earliest reference to it being in a charter of that date, and subsequently restored in 1631-2, when the spire was releaded, a set of five new bells was hung in a new frame, and the floors were raised and levelled. In its earlier days it went by various names, including, in Pope Nicholas IV’s “Taxatio Ecclesiastica” of 1291, “S. Laurentius Candelwikstrat”. Stow noted in his “Survey of London” of 1598 that “the … church … was increased with a chapel of Jesus by Thomas Cole … ; the which was made a college of Jesus and of Corpus Christi … by John Poultney, mayor [in 1330, 1333 and 1336], and was confirmed by Edward III., the 20th of his reign : of him was this church called St. Laurence Poultney”. Poultney or de Pulteney, Citizen and Draper, went on to die in 1349, possibly of the Black Death, and was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral.
The church burned down in the Great Fire of 1666, one eye-witness telling the Government inquiry into the fire “I saw the Fire break out from the inside of Lawrence Pountney Steeple, when there was no fire near it”, implying the possibility of arson. It was never rebuilt, the former parish uniting with that of St Mary Abchurch.
The church ground and churchyard survive, and a Corporation “Blue Plaque” marks the former site of the church.