St Martin Ludgate

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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. 

St Martin Ludgate (“14” on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built at least as long ago as the twelfth century   (Geoffrey of Monmouth claimed that it  was founded in the  seventh, and St Martin died in the fourth). It was subsequently rebuilt and extended in the fifteenth, and repaired, after sustaining damage in a storm – in which “ye steple was torne … and diuers great stones casten down” – in the sixteenth, in 1561.   In his “Survey of London” of 1598, Stow noted that “in the year 1437, John Michael, mayor, and the commonalty, granted to William Downe, parson of St Martin’s at Ludgate, a parcel of ground, … to … build their steeple upon”. He also recorded a number of monuments in the interior of the church, including those of “William Sevenoake, mayor, 1418” and “Stephen Peacock, mayor, 1533 [actually, 1532]”.

The church was burned down in the Great Fire of 1666, and rebuilt by Wren and Hooke between 1677-86.  It was then restored in 1894, only to be damaged by bombing in the Second World War, and restored again in the post-war period,  and yet again in 1990.   The west wall is part of the Medieval City Wall.  Some of the interior fittings were salvaged from St Mary Magdalen Old Fish Street, including a plaque of 1586, and a sword-rest.  William Penn Senior married Margaret Jasper, the daughter of a Dutch merchant, here in 1643.  Their son William Junior, baptised in All Hallows Barking in 1644, went on to found Pennsylvania in 1681.

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