St Mary Staining

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 Staining (“18” on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built at least as long ago as 1189, the earliest reference to it – as Ecclesia de Stainingehage – dating to that year. The patronage belonged to the Nunnery of St Mary in Clerkenwell until the dissolution of the monasteries in the early sixteenth century. In 1278, one Richard de Codeford, who was accused of robbery, sought sanctuary in the church, and fatally stabbed one of his pursuers through a hole in a window. In his “Survey of London” of 1598, Stow wrote that there remained at that time ” no monument worth the noting”. He – erroneously- attributed this to the church “being but newly built”. During the “Plague Year” of 1665, the rector, Samuel Austin, was one of the few in the City to remain at his post, and, sadly, there he died. He was succeeded by Israel Tongue, who went on to become an associate of Titus Oates, of “Popish Plot” fame.

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The  church was burned down   in the Great Fire of 1666,  and never rebuilt, the former parish uniting with that of St Michael Wood Street.   Nothing of it remains at its former site, a commemorative plaque that once stood there having been destroyed during the bombing of the Second World War. However, the churchyard survives, as a pocket garden, at the junction of Staining Lane and Oat Lane.

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