St Nicholas Olave

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 Olave (“8” on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built in around 1188. It was evidently originally simply called St Nicholas, and only acquired its double dedication in 1250 after the parish church of St Olave Broad Street was given by Henry III to the Austin Friars to serve as their priory church. In his “Survey of London” of 1598, Stow described it as “a convenient church”. He also noted a number of monuments there, including those of “W. Newport, fishmonger, one of the sheriffs 1375”, “Thomas Lewen, ironmonger, one of the sheriffs 1537”, adding that “[William] Blitheman, an excellent organist of the Queen’s Chapel, lieth buried there with an epitaph, 1591”. According to Kingford’s edition of Stow’s “Survey … “, Blitheman’s epitaph read: “Of Princes’ Chapel Gentleman|Unto his dying day.|Where all took great delight to hear|Him on the organs play”.

The  church was burned down   in the Great Fire of 1666,  and never rebuilt, and the former parish was united with that of St Nicholas Cole Abbey.   Nothing  remains of it today, its former site close to the foot of Bread Street Hill currently being occupied by Senator House.

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