St Michael Queenhithe

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 Michael  Queenhithe (“6”  on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London), also known as St Michael Thames Street, was originally built in the twelfth century.  It was recorded as “S. Michalis ad Ripam” – meaning, “on the river” – in Pope NIcholas IV’s “Taxatio Eccesiastica” of 1291. In his “Survey of London” of 1598, Stow described it as a “convenient church”. He also noted that “all the monuments therein are defaced”. These included that of “Stephen Spillman, gentleman, of that family in Norfolk, sometime mercer, chamberlain of London, then one of the sheriffs, and alderman in the year 1404, deceasing without issue”, who “amongst others … founded a chantry, and was buried in the choir”, and “Richard Gray, ironmonger, one of the sheriffs 1515”. In 1642, at the outbreak of the Civil War, the rector, John Hill, was ejected from his post for his support of the Royalist cause (London was a Parliamentarian city).

The church was burned down in the Great Fire of 1666, and subsequently rebuilt by Wren in 1676-86, only to be demolished     in 1876, when the parish was merged with St James Garlickhythe. 

It is one of the twenty-one “lost” Wren churches, and one of the ten lost between 1860 (“Union of Benefices Act”) and 1900.

Essentially nothing now remains of it  on its former site, although there  is a parish boundary marker in  Little Trinity Lane.  The salvaged font survives, in the church of St Michael in Camden Town, the choir stalls and pulpit in St James Garlickhythe, and the weather-vane in the shape of a ship on top of St Nicholas Cole Abbey. 

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