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 Nicholas Acon (not individually identified on sixteenth-century Agas map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built at least as long ago as the late eleventh century, and in 1084 was given by one Godwyn to the Abbey of Malmesbury, the patronage remaining with the abbot thereof until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the early sixteenth century. In his “Survey of London” of 1598, Stow notes that “Sir John Bridges, draper, mayor 1520, newly repaired this church, … and was there buried”.
The church was burned down in the Great Fire of 1666, and never rebuilt, the former parish uniting with that of St Edmund the King. The parish registers, dating back to 1539, were salvaged from the church at the time of the fire. One entry from 1585 records the baptism of “a manchild a foundling named Nicholas Acon after our … church”.
A Corporation “Blue Plaque” marks the former site of its parsonage.
St NA is also inscribed on a fireplug at the foot of a building opposite Nicholas Passage.
St Nicholas was born in Asia Minor sometime around the turn of the third and fourth centuries, and went on to become Bishop of Myra. He is the patron saint of children, having saved the three daughters of an impoverished nobleman from being sold into slavery by giving him three bags of gold (his symbol, of three golden balls, is also adopted by pawnbrokers). He is also the patron saint of sailors, having miraculously saved a number of such in peril on the sea.
The suffix “Acon” is thought to be after Hakun, a Scandinavian benefactor. Saxon pottery was unearthed during an excavation at the site of the church in 1964.