St Botolph Bishopsgate

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. 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. 

Portion of sixteenth-century “Agas” Map/Map of early Modern London, showing St Botolph’s, immediately without Bishopsgate

St Botolph Bishopsgate was probably originally built in the  Saxon or early Medieval period. It was subsequently rebuilt in the later Medieval, at least as long ago as the thirteenth century, and again in the  sixteenth, and yet again in the early seventeenth.   In his “Survey of London” of 1598, Stow described it as a “parish church … without Bishopsgate, in a fair churchyard, adjoining the town ditch, upon the very bank thereof, … lately repaired by Sir William Allen, mayor, in the year 1571, because he was born in the parish, where he was also buried”.

Bowyers’ Window

The church was undamaged in the Great  Fire, but essentially completely rebuilt by George Dance the Elder and James Gould, in the eighteenth century,  and restored in the nineteenth and again in the twentieth, once after the Blitz, and once after an IRA bomb blast in 1993. 

The interior contains a memorial to Sir Paul Pindar,   sometime ambassador to the Ottoman Emperor, who died in 1650.  Pindar lived nearby in a splendidly-appointed house that survived until 1890. When it was demolished, its carved oak facade was salvaged, and may seen in the Victoria & Albert Museum.

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