St Peter upon Cornhill

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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 Peter  upon Cornhill (“29” on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built at least as long ago as the early  eleventh  century, the earliest written record of it being in the will of Bishop Aelfric, who died in 1038. According to local lore, the church was founded in Roman times, and, interestingly, the present incarnation lies within the footprint of the disused second – to third- century Roman Basilica, possibly at least in part adopting its form, as was common early Christian practice.    It was at least partially rebuilt in the  fifteenth century, and restored  in the early seventeenth, in 1630.  In his “Survey of London” of 1598, Stow described it as “an ancient building, … lately repaired, if not all new built”, with “the roof … and glazing … finished in the reign of Edward IV. [1442-83]”. He also recorded a number of – defaced – monuments, including “Sir William Bowyer, mayor 1543; Sir Henry Huberthorn, mayor 1546; Sir Christopher Morice, master-gunner … to Henry VIII.; [and] Edward Elrington, esquire, chief butler to Edward VI.”. The patronage was at one time held by the owner of the manor of the Leaden-Hall, but in 1411 was transferred by Sir Richard [Dick] Whittington to the Mayor and Commonalty.

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The church was burned down in the Great Fire of 1666, and subsequently rebuilt by  Wren, probably assisted by Hooke, between 1667-87, and restored in the nineteenth century.   The church’s weather-vane bears St Peter’s symbol of crossed keys (to the kingdom of heaven).  

2 thoughts on “St Peter upon Cornhill

  1. Anonymous

    These little gems of information are such a tonic in a gloomy, generally chaotic world. A church built in the remains of a Roman Basilica! Dear old London has seen everything!

    Reply

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