St Mary Aldermanbury

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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 Mary Aldermanbury (“20” on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built at least as long ago as 1181 (and possibly even in earlier, Saxon times). It was subsequently restored and extended, by the former Mayor, William Eastfield, in 1438. John Heminge and Henry Condell, who were fellow actors and personal friends of Shakespeare’s, were parishioners at the turn of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It was they who, after Shakespeare’s death, “collected his dramatic writings regardless of pecuniary loss and without the hope of any profit gave them to the world” (in the so-called “First Folio” of 1623).

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The church was burned down in the Great Fire of 1666, and rebuilt by Wren in 1671-5.

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It was further modified in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, only to be gutted by incendiary bombing on the night of 29th December, 1940, after which the parish was merged with St Vedast-alias-Foster. It is one of the twenty-one “lost” Wren churches.

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Only the foundations remain at the site today, together with a city garden created in 1966. 

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Much of the building material salvaged from the church survives, in the   remarkable recent reconstruction, true to Wren’s design,  in the grounds of Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri (where Winston Churchill made his famous “iron curtain” speech).

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