St Leonard Eastcheap

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 Leonard Eastcheap

St Leonard Eastcheap (not shown  on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built in around  1214,  and subsequently partially rebuilt in 1584, and completely  rebuilt after a fire in 1618.  In his “Survey of London” of 1598, John Stow records it as St Leonard Milk Church, “so termed of one William Melker, an especial builder thereof”, whose name appears in the Calendar of Wills towards the end of the thirtenth century.  Stow  also records in the church monuments to various members of the Dogget family, including “William Dogget, vintner, one of the sheriffs 1380”.

The church burned down in the Great Fire of 1666, and was not rebuilt again afterwards, the former  parish uniting with that of St Benet Gracechurch.

St Leonard Eastcheap (2)

A Corporation “Blue Plaque” marks its former site.

Leonard of Lienard of Noblac (d. 559) was a Frankish noble in the court of Clovis I, the founder of the Merovingian dynasty.  Along with the king, he  was converted to Christianity by St Remigius, Bishop of Reims, in 496.  He then declined the offer of a bishopric, and instead became a monk, at Micy, near Orleans, and later a hermit, in the forests of Limousin, and went on to found his own monastery at Noblac, near Limoges.  He is the patron saint of prisoners, reputedly having had the power to miraculously free any who invoked his name.  His cult became widespread in Europe in the twelfth century.



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