Author Archives: Bob Jones - The Lost City of London

About Bob Jones - The Lost City of London

My name is Bob Jones and I am a writer on the history of London.

St Benet Gracechurch 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.

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St Benet Gracechurch, Gracechurch Street (shown at corner of “Gracyous straete” and Fen church street on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built sometime before 1291 (being recorded in Pope Nicholas IV’s “Taxatio Ecclesiastica” of that year).  The steeple was subsequently partially rebuilt in 1625.  The church was further repaired and beautified in 1630 and 1633.

Church records show that, in 1553, during Mary’s Catholic Counter-Reformation, the sum of 3s4d was paid to a plasterer to remove Biblical texts painted on the interior walls during her late brother Edward VI’s Protestant Reformation.  Later that same year, just over £1 was paid to a priest and six clerks “for singing of Te Deum and playing upon the organs, for the birth of our Prince (which was though then to be)” – a reference to one of Mary’s phantom pregnancies.

In 1642, during the Civil War, Puritans – hard-line Protestants –  took down the cross from the steeple, sold the “popish altar cloth” and “superstitious brasses”,  and paid a workman  “for defacing superstitious things in the church”.  Also at this time, the rector – Quelch – was sequestered for his loyalty.

Church of St Benet Gracechurch and Gracechurch Street, City of London, 1811.

The church burned down  in the  Great Fire of 1666, and was rebuilt by Wren in 1681-7, only to be demolished, to allow for road-widening, in 1867-8, when the parish was merged with All Hallows.

Lost Wren Churches

It  is one of the twenty-one lost Wren churches, and one of the ten lost between 1860 (“Union of Benefices Act”)  and 1900.

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A Corporation “Blue Plaque” marks  its former site.

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Its salvaged seventeenth-century pulpit survives in St Olave Hart Street.

 

St Benet Fink

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.

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St Benet Fink  (“26” on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built at least as long ago as  the thirteenth century, and subsequently rebuilt by one Robert Finke in the ?fourteenth  (note in this context that a grave-slab tentatively dated on stylistic grounds to  the late tenth or early eleventh century has been found here).

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The church burned down  in the  Great Fire of 1666, and was  rebuilt – to  an “uncommon and very effective”  decagonal design –  by Wren in 1670-5.  It was  demolished, to make way for the rebuilding of the Royal Exchange, in 1841, when the parish was merged with St Peter-le-Poer.

Lost Wren Churches

It  is one of the twenty-one lost Wren churches.

St Benet Fink

A Corporation “Blue Plaque” marks  its former site.  Some salvaged communion plate still  survives,  in the church of St Benet Fink  in Tottenham.  Salvaged paintings of Moses and Aaron, which were formerly part of the altar-piece, ended up  in Emmanuel School in Wandsworth.

 

Hackney

Another in the occasional series on historic sites on the “Capital Ring” walk …

Hackney was first recorded as Hakeneia in 1198, and is thought to take it’s name either from the Old English personal name  “Haakon” or  “Haca”, or the word  “haca”, meaning hook-shaped, and “eg”, meaning island, or area of high and dry ground surrounded by low marsh.  The church of St Augustine was built here in the Medieval period.  In the Tudor period, Hackney  became a popular location for aristocratic country houses; and in the Stuart, for alms-houses providing care for the poor, the aged, the infirm, and  “the insane (and no doubt inconvenient) relatives of the affluent”. It remained semi-rural until as recently as the nineteenth century, but is now very much a part of Inner City London.

Church of St Augustine

The church of St Augustine was originally built here sometime before 1275, possibly on the site of and older, Norman or even Saxon church.    It was subsequently rededicated to St John sometime between 1660 and 1790, and substantially demolished between 1797-98, after a  new church dedicated to St John was built nearby.  Only the tower survives.

Sutton House

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The courtier Ralph Sadleir built a house here in 1535, which still stands, on what is now Homerton High Street.    Now known as Sutton House, after Thomas Sutton, the founder of Charterhouse School, who was once thought to have lived here (but in fact did  not), it is  owned by the National Trust and open to the public.

Sadly, Brooke House, built here in the 1470s, and extended between 1578-83, had to be demolished in 1954-5 after sustaining bomb damage in 1940 and again in 1944 (although a photograph of the bombed house taken in 1941 still survives).

Alms-Houses

Aside from the Bishop Wood’s alms-houses, built in Clapton in north Hackney in 1665 (see previous post), two other sets of alms-houses were also built in Hackney in the late seventeenth century, although both have been rebuilt since.

Site of Spurstowe's Alms- Houses

One, on land to the west of Mare Street  in central Hackney, for six  poor widows, was built in 1666 at the behest of  Dr William Spurstowe, and rebuilt in 1819, and again in 1966, on a new site on Navarino Road.

Monger's House (rebuilt 1847)

The other, between what is now Cassland Road and Well Street Common in south Hackney, for six “poor, civil, honest” men, was built at the behest of Henry Monger in 1669, and rebuilt in 1847.

 

St Bartholomew-by-the-Exchange

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 Bartholomew-by-the-Exchange, Bartholomew Lane (shown on east side of “Bartelmew La.” on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was probably originally built in the thirteenth century, although it was first recorded in the fourteenth, in 1331, and it was subsequently rebuilt in the fifteenth, in 1438.  According to John Stow, William Capel, the Mayor  of London in 1503 and 1510, “added unto this church a proper chapel on the south side thereof, and was buried there” (in 1515).

Bank of England, St Christopher-le-Stocks and St Bartholomew-by-the-Exchange, London, c1775.

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The church was badly damaged  in the – as the Vestry minutes put it – “sadd and dreadfull” Great Fire of 1666, and rebuilt again by Wren in 1675-83, only to be demolished,  to allow for the rebuilding of the Royal Exchange and the widening of Threadneedle Street, in 1840/1.

Lost Wren Churches

It  is one of the twenty-one lost Wren churches.

St Bartholomew by the Exchange

St Bartholomew by the Exchange (1)

A Corporation “Blue Plaque” marks the site of the former church, and some markers the former parish boundaries.

The salvaged organ of 1731 survives, in St Vedast-alias-Foster; the salvaged pulpit,  in the church of St Bartholomew in Craven Hill in Tottenham (having been housed in St Bartholomew Moor Lane until that church was demolished to make way for the extension to the Metropolitan Line in 1902).

 

St Augustine Watling Street

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.

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St Augustine Watling Street, also known as St Augustine-by- St Paul’s or -St Paul’s Gate (“11” on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built at least as long ago as the twelfth century, and possibly as long ago as the eleventh, and extended in the thirteenth.  Writing at the turn of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, John Stow described it as “a fair church, and lately well repaired, wherein be monuments remaining.”  It was subsequently partially rebuilt, and “every part of it richly and very worthily beautified” in 1630–1.

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The church burned down in the Great Fire of 1666, and rebuilt by Wren between 1680-95, and further altered in the late nineteenth century.  It was later damaged by bombing on the night of 29th December, 1940, again on 11th/12th January, 1940, and yet  again on 10th/11th May, 1941, in what the Rector, Henry Ross,  described as a “Ghastly raid”, which left the “Vestry gone; tower gone [and] everything burnt out” (after which the parish was merged with St Mary-le-Bow).  After the war, the burials were removed from the  churchyard, and some of the foundations of the Medieval church came to light.

St Augustine's Watling Street

Only the restored tower survives at the site, as part of the Cathedral Choir School of St Paul’s.  The salvaged pulpit survives in the church of St Anne and St Agnes, and the – somewhat charred – Service Register in the Guildhall Library.

The dedication is to St Augustine of Canterbury, who was sent to England to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity in 597.

St Antholin Watling Street

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.

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St Antholin Watling Street, also known as St Antholin Budge Row (reversed “Z” on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built in the early twelfth century, around 1119, at which time it was known as St Anthony’s, St Anthonine’s or similar.  It was subsequently  “re-edified” at the turn of the fourteenth and fifteenth, between 1399-1410, at the expense of Thomas Knowles, the sometime Mayor of London, rebuilt again in 1513, and repaired in 1616, and a new gallery was added in 1623.

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The church burned down in the  Great Fire of 1666, and was rebuilt again by Wren in 1678-88, only to be demolished during the construction of Queen Victoria Street in 1874,  when the parish was merged with St Mary Aldermary.

Lost Wren Churches

It  is one of the twenty-one lost Wren churches, and one of the ten lost between 1860 (“Union of Benefices Act”)  and 1900.

St Antholin plaque on St Mary Aldermary

A stone tablet that marked its former site was salvaged when the site was developed to make way for Bucklersbury House, and still survives affixed to the outside wall of the church of  St Mary Aldermary.

Spire (Sydenham)

Rather remarkably, part of the spire, which had been removed and replaced in 1829, survives on the site of the house of the man who acquired it in Sydenham.

 

Walthamstow

Another in the occasional series on historic sites on the “Capital Ring” walk …

Walthamstow was first recorded in c. 1075 as Wilcumestowe, from the Old English “wilcuma”, meaning “welcoming”, and “stow”, “holy place”.   In the Medieval and post-Medieval periods, its rural location some  seven miles remote from  the City of London made it an attractive place for wealthy merchants to escape or retire to.   The area only began  to become densely built up in the nineteenth century.  It is now part of the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

 

The fifteenth-century  “Ancient House” stands there still, in the picturesque secluded enclave of Walthamstow Village, alongside  the sixteenth-century Monoux Alms-Houses, built by the sometime Master of the Drapers’ Company and Lord Mayor of London George Monoux, and the eleventh- or twelfth- century church of St Mary.

Church of St Mary

1 - General view of exterior of  church

2 - General view of interior

3 - Churchyard

The  church of St Mary was probably originally built sometime around the turn of the eleventh and twelfth centuries (it is not recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, although it is in a conveyance of 1108, indicating its then ownership by  Holy Trinity Priory in Aldgate).  It was subsequently substantially remodelled  in the thirteenth  to fourteenth centuries, when  the north and south aisles were added; in the fifteenth, when the chancel was extended, and the tower added; and in the sixteenth, when the tower was lowered, and chapels added at the east ends of aisles, by the aforementioned George Monoux and by Robert Thorne.  And it has been further much modified from the eighteenth century onwards.  The oldest parts that still survive date to the thirteenth-century rebuild.  The oldest memorial purportedly  dates  back to the fifteenth century.

There are believed to be large numbers of burials in the churchyard from both the Black Death of 1348-49 and the Great Plague of 1665.

St Ann Blackfriars

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.

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St Ann Blackfriars (not individually identified on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built, on part of the site of the dissolved Blackfriars Priory, in 1544, and demolished, by the by-then owner of much of the site, Thomas Cawarden,  in 1550.  It was subsequently refounded by Cawarden, as Stow put it, in a “lodging chamber above a stair” in a surviving building in the former Priory precinct,  in 1558, and rebuilt, after that building collapsed, in 1597 (and extended in 1613).

The church was burned down in the Great Fire of 1666, and not rebuilt again afterwards (the parish uniting with that of St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe).

Churchyard (Church Entry)

Two portions of the graveyard, which remained open  for burials until 1849, survive, one  in Church Entry, …

Churchyard with wall

… and the other, containing part of the wall of the former Blackfriars Priory, in Ireland Yard.

Vestry Hall

The nineteenth-century Vestry Hall also survives, and is cared for by the Ancient Monuments Society and the Friends of Friendless Churches.

 

St Anne and St Agnes

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.

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St Anne and St Agnes, also known as St Anne within Aldersgate  or St Anne in the Willows (shown on “S. Anne La.” – near Aldersgate – on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London), was originally built around 1150, and subsequently rebuilt, after a fire, in around 1548.

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A, St Anne and Agnes

The church was badly damaged in the Great Fire, and rebuilt by Wren ?and Hooke, using some of the surviving structure,  between 1677-87.  It was then badly damaged again by bombing on the night of 29th December, 1940, and rebuilt again in 1963-68.   It was spared demolition after the war  “partly by the intrepidity of its vergeress, who kept it open …  even when the City Surveyor had served  a Dangerous Structure Notice”.

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Many of the interior fittings   were salvaged from St Mildred Bread Street, and the pulpit from St Augustine Watling Street.

London’s Involvement in the Slave Trade

Originally posted on anti-slavery day in 2018, this now seems pertinent again …

The Lost City of London - Before the Great Fire of 1666

On Anti-Slavery Day, we explore London’s involvement in the Slave Trade …

To the City’s – and indeed the country’s – eternal shame, some of its  trade from as long ago as the late sixteenth century onwards was in enslaved persons.

Hawkins

In 1562, John Hawkins took three ships from London or Plymouth (sources differ) to Sierra Leone, where he  seized 300 Africans, “by the sword”.

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Then,  in the “Middle Passage”, he  transported them across the Atlantic to Hispaniola in the Spanish West Indies, where he sold them – as commodities – in order to purchase sugar, ginger and other goods.   And finally, he returned to London and sold his cargo to City merchants for a fortune, completing the repugnant triangle.  Hawkins’s venture  was backed by the Mayor of London, Thomas Lodge.  It was also  supported by the Queen, Elizabeth I, although apparently only after she had been – falsely –…

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