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 Margaret Lothbury (“S. Marget, Lothbur” on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built at least as long ago as the twelfth century, the first record of it being from 1181. It was recorded as “S Margareta de Lotheber'” in Pope Nicholas IV’s “Taxatio Eccesiastica” of 1291. In his “Survey of London” of 1598, Stow notes the church was subsequently rebuilt, by Robert Large, Mercer, the then-Mayor, in 1440. Stow also records a number of monuments there, including that of John Leigh (d. 1546), whose epitaph describes him as ” … to sundry countries knowne,|A worthy knight well of his prince esteemde”.
The church was burned down in the Great Fire of 1666, and rebuilt again by Wren between 1683-92 and by Hooke between 1698-1700.
The Wren-period chancel screen, tester and candelabra were salvaged from All Hallows the Great; the font, from the workshop of Grinling Gibbons, and the reredos, from St Olave Jewry; …
… and the seventeenth-century bronze sculpture by Hubert le Sueur and paintings of Moses and Aaron, from St Christopher-le-Stocks (when it was demolished in 1781).
A board listing the benefactors of the church bears the names of my eleven-times great uncle and aunt, John and Frances West, who in 1717 contracted “£5 per annum each to 3 poor persons to be elected by the Vestry”.
St Margaret of Antioch was martyred in the fourth century, after having been treacherously denounced to the authorities for her Christianity. Legend has it that she was then swallowed by a dragon, who promptly regurgitated her because she was wearing a cross. She is often depicted with a dragon.