St Martin Outwich

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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 Outwich (not individually identified on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built at least as long ago as 1291, being mentioned in Pope Nicholas IV’s “Taxatio Ecclesiastica” of that year, and possibly as long ago as 1217. The church was evidently either rebuilt or extended – in the Perpendicular Gothic style – in the later Middle Ages. At that time, it was commonly known as St Martin “at the well with two buckets” (“so fastened that the drawing up of the one let down the other”). In his “Survey of London” of 1598, Stow wrote that “of late that well is turned into a pump”.

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The church survived the Great Fire of 1666.  It was subsequently damaged in another fire in 1765, and  rebuilt by Samuel P. Cockerell in 1796, only to be demolished in 1874, the former parish uniting with that of St Helen Bishopsgate.  A Corporation “Blue Plaque” marks its former site.

At this time, the tomb of one of its  benefactors, John de Oteswich, who is thought to have died in circa 1400, was relocated to St Helen Bishopsgate. 

At the same time, other Medieval remains from the church were reinterred in the City of London Cemetery in the East End, including those  of one Abigail Vaughan, who in her will had left four shillings to the parish to buy faggots to burn heretics!

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