St Olave Silver Street

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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 Olave Silver Street, London Wall (not shown  on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built at least as long ago as the twelfth century, the earliest known record of it – as “St Olave de Mukewellstrate [Monkwell Street]” – dating to 1181; and subsequently rebuilt in 1609. In his “Survey of London” of 1598, Stow described it as “a small thing, and without any noteworthy monuments”. However, it was evidently sufficiently wealthy in – pre-Reformation – Medieval times as to have had the figure of Christ on the rood decorated with silver shoes.

The  church was burned down   in the Great Fire of 1666 and never rebuilt, the former parish uniting with that of St Alban Wood Street.   Surviving parish records show that in 1665-6 the corpses of 119 people hanged at Tyburn were handed over to the nearby Barber-Surgeons’ Hall for the purposes of  dissection. 

The former churchyard survives, as a city garden. 

Silver Street disappeared during the bombing of the Second World War and subsequent redevelopment.  Shakespeare once lodged here, with a family of Huguenots.

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