St Martin Pomary

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 Martin Pomary (not individually identified on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built sometime before 1291, the earliest written record of it – as “S. Martinus Pomarius” – being in Pope Nicholas IV’s “Taxatio Ecclesiastica” of that year; and subsequently rebuilt in 1627. The church’s patronage was at least some of the time up to the Reformation with the Priory of St Bartholomew, and thereafter with the Crown. As Huelin had it in his “Vanished Churches of the City of London” of 1996, “St Martin’s was one of the places where the Reformation got off to too early a start, for in 1547, the rector and churchwardens without authority removed the images, set up the royal arms in place of the crucifix, and painted the walls with scriptural texts, ‘whereof some were perversely translated'”. For their transgressions, “they were bound over in the sum of £20 per head, and ordered to erect a new crucifix”. In his “Survey of London” of 1598, Stow described St Martin’s as a “small parish church”, adding, somewhat disparagingly, as to monuments, “none to be accounted of”. He also noted that its unusual suffix “is supposed to be of apples growing where houses are now lately built” (note in this context that pomarius is Latin for a fruiterer). Others have suggested a derivation from the family name Pomeroy.

The church was burned down   in the Great Fire of 1666,  and not rebuilt again afterwards, the former parish uniting with that of St Olave Jewry.   Only the  former churchyard survives, in the open space in front of St Olave, together with some parish boundary markers.

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