St Pancras Soper Lane

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 Pancras Soper Lane, Pancras Lane (“X”  on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built at least as long ago as the thirteenth century, the oldest record of it dating to 1257. In his “Survey of London” of 1598, Stow described it as “a … small church”, but with “divers rich parishioners … , and of old time many liberal benefactors”. He also recorded a number of monuments, many of them “spoiled”, including those of “John Barens, mercer. mayor 1370”, “John Hadley, grocer, mayor 1379”, “John Stockton, mercer, mayor 1470”, “Richard Gardener, mercer, mayor 1478”, and “Robert Packenton, mercer, slain with a gun shot … as he was going to morrow mass from his house in Cheap”. Henry Machyn wrote of a wedding that took place in the church in 1561 that it was attended by a number of aldermen robed in scarlet finery, who gave as a wedding gift a hundred pairs of gloves. The Rector during the Civil War of the mid-seventeenth century, one George Ecoppe, was ejected from his post for being “a notorious Popish ceremony-monger”.

The  church was burned down   in the Great Fire of 1666 and never rebuilt, the former parish uniting with that of St Mary-le-Bow.   A Corporation “Blue Plaque” marks its former site. 

Pancras was an early Christian proselytiser martyred on the orders of the Roman Emperor Diocletian in 304.

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