St Mildred Bread Street

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 Mildred Bread Street (not shown  on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built at least as long ago as the thirteenth century, and was recorded as “S. Mildreda in Bredstret” in Pope Nicholas IV’s “Taxatio Ecclesiastica” of 1291. In his “Survey of London” of 1598, Stow recorded a number of unusually high number of early burials in the church, including those of “Lord Trenchant of St. Albans, knight, who was supposed to be either the new builder of this church, or best benefactor to the works thereof, about the year 1300”, “William Palmer, blader, a great benefactor also, 1356”, “John Shadworth, mayor, 1401, … [whose] … memorial is pulled down”, and “Stephen Bugg, gentleman: his arms be three water-bugs, 1413”. Notable later burials included those of “William Hurstwright, pewterer to the king, 1526”, “Christopher Turner, chirurgeon to King Henry VIII., 1539”, and “Ambrose Nicholas, salter, mayor 1575, … buried in John Shadworth’s vault”.

The church was severely damaged  in the Great Fire of 1666, although many of its treasures, including two silver Communion flagons presented by Sir Nicholas Crisp, an ardent supporter of Charles I, were able to be carried to safety – for a fee. It was subsequently rebuilt, using some of the surviving structure, by Wren in 1681-7.  Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin were married there in 1816.  The church was  substantially destroyed during an air raid, and subsequently demolished, in 1941. 

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It is one of the twenty-one “lost” Wren churches, and one of the four lost during the Second World War.

Only a parish boundary marker  survives at its former site  (actually, on Cannon Street).  Some interior fittings   salvaged from the church still survive, in St Anne and St Agnes. 

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