St Vedast alias Foster

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 Vedast alias Foster  (shown at southern end of “Forster lane” on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built at least as long ago as the thirteenth century, and possibly as long ago as the twelfth.  According to Wilberforce Jenkinson, “it seems to have been newly rebuilt in the beginning of the sixteenth century”, and,  “[i]n 1614, … was repaired and enlarged”.

The church was badly damaged, although not completely destroyed, in the Great Fire of 1666.  It was subsequently substantially rebuilt by the parish and by the Rebuilding Commissioners between 1669-72, incorporating parts of the surviving Medieval fabric, most notably the south wall, as revealed by recent restoration, and the tower.   It was further  remodelled by Wren between 1695-1712, when the old tower was taken down and a new one, with a spire, put up.  The spire has a distinctive obelisk-like design reminiscent of that of St Luke, Old Street, built by Hawksmoor.

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It was then  gutted by German incendiary bombs during the so-called “Second Great Fire of London” on the night of 29th December, 1940, and was marked  in magenta on the London County Council’s “Bomb Damage Map”, meaning that it was considered “seriously damaged”, but “repairable at cost”.

St Vedast alias Foster

St Vedast interior

St Vedast painted glass window

It was restored between 1953-63 by Stephen Dykes Bower, with stained glass windows by  Brian Thomas.

The richly-carved pulpit was salvaged from All Hallows Bread Street, the seventeenth-century organ from St Bartholomew-by-the-Exchange, the eighteenth-century reredos from St Christopher-le-Stocks, and, among other items, the seventeenth-century communion table from St Matthew Friday Street.

Vedast was Bishop of Arras in France in the sixth century.

 

 

St Faith under St Paul’s

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 Faith’s was originally built immediately to the north of St Paul’s Cathedral sometime in the early Medieval period.

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The church was demolished when the cathedral was extended in 1255-6, when the parishioners were given as their new place of worship the western end of the crypt, which came to be known as “St Faith of the Crypts” – as on the “Map of Medieval London” – or, more commonly, “St Faith under St Paul’s”.

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Later, during the reign of Edward VI, in 1551, the parishioners were given the by-then dissolved Jesus Chapel at the eastern end (etched by Wenceslaus Hollar in 1658).  At this time, many of them were, as Stow put it,  “stationers and others dwelling in St Paul’s churchyard, and the places near adjoining”

The church was burned down  in the Great Fire of 1666, and not rebuilt again afterwards, and the parish was merged with that of St Augustine Watling Street.

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Essentially only parish boundary markers  survive, one on St Paul’s itself and one on the wall of the Choir School in New Change, …

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… although a pump “erected by St Faith’s Parish 1819” also still stands, in St Paul’s Alley.

Faith was martyred in France in the third century.

Northwood

Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …

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Northwood Hills

Northwood was first recorded in 1435 as Northwode, in allusion to a wood to the north of Ruislip.   At this time it was a small hamlet on the north side of the road from Pinner to Rickmansworth.  Note, though, that there was evidently  at least some settlement in the area  in the earlier part of the Medieval period, though, there being a record of a manorial grange here, owned by the monks of Ruislip Priory,  in  1248.   Only ten houses were recorded  in a land survey undertaken in the post-Medieval period, in 1565, alongside several farms.  Northwood remained essentially  rural and agricultural for much  of its later history, only becoming suburban after the arrival of the railway in the late nineteenth century.  Historically part of the county of Middlesex, it was incorporated into the  London Borough of Hillingdon in the local government reorganisation of 1965.

The Grange

“The Grange”, on the site of the manorial grange, dates in part to the fifteenth century.

The Cottage

“The Cottage”, on Jacketts Lane, dates in part to the sixteenth century, as, incidentally,  do Gatehill Farm, Greenhill Farm  and Youngwood Farm.

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Northwood Church

 

 

St Ethelburga

Centre

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 Ethelburga  (not individually identified on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built in around 1250, possibly on the site of an even older, Saxon, church, and extended in 1390, and again in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

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The church was undamaged  in the  Great Fire of 1666, although nonetheless restored   in 1861-2, and again, by Ninian Comper, in 1912,  and described by Nairn in 1966 as “one of the sweetest things in the City”.

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It was severely damaged by an IRA bomb on 24th April, 1993.

Church with Gherkin in background

General view of interior

It was subsequently substantially rebuilt, and reopened as a Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, focussing on the role of faith in conflict resolution, in 2002.  The west front was rebuilt using stone from the Medieval church, the doorway along the lines of the fourteenth-century one, and the three-light window along the lines of the fifteenth-century one.

Peace Garden

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The “Peace Garden” and “The Tent” at the back were built at the same time,  to encourage inter-faith dialogue.

Ethelburga was the sister of the seventh-century Saxon Bishop Erkenwald (who “Bishopsgate” is named after).  She was also the Abbess of Barking, and founder of the church of All Hallows Barking.  Her feast day is October 11th.

 

St Edmund the King and Martyr

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 Edmund the King and Martyr on Lombard Street (not individually identified on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was probably originally built sometime in the early Medieval period  (King Edmund was murdered by the Danes in 870 for refusing to renounce his Christian faith, the Abbey of Bury St Edmund’s being built at his burial site).   It was recorded in Pope Nicholas IV’s “Taxatio Ecclesiastica” of the late thirteenth century as S. Edmundus de Grescherch, and in  Stow’s “Survay … ”  of the late sixteenth as St. Edmund King and Martyr or St. Edmund Grass Church, “because the said grass market came down so low”.

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The church was burned down in the Great Fire of 1666, and subsequently rebuilt by Wren and Hooke  between 1670-9 and 1706-7, with the tower ornamented at its  angles by flaming urns in allusion to the fire.    It has since been restored in the nineteenth century, and twice in the twentieth, following  damage sustained during the bombing of  the First  and Second World Wars.

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Fragments  of the First World War bomb are preserved in a display in the altar.

 

St Dunstan-in-the-East

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 Dunstan-in-the-East (not individually identified on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built at least  as long ago as the thirteenth century, and possibly as long ago as the turn of the eleventh and twelfth, high-quality carved stonework of this age and likely from this site having recently been discovered in nearby Harp Lane (note also in this context that Dunstan was Bishop of London and later Archbishop of Canterbury in the late tenth century).  The church  was extended in the fourteenth century, and, by the fifteenth, included a school.  It was repaired in the early seventeenth century. 

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The church was partly burned down in the Great Fire of 1666, and subsequently rebuilt by Wren, in the Gothic style, between 1695-1705, and again (nave only) by David Laing, in the Georgian Perpendicular style, between 1810-21.   According to tradition, the tower, with its  spire supported by almost miraculous   flying buttresses, was built to the design of Wren’s daughter Jane.  Washington Irving’s words could have been written for it: “Stone seems, by the cunning labour of the chisel, to have been robbed of its weight, suspended as if by magic”.

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It was gutted in the Blitz, with essentially only the  tower surviving intact.

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The surrounding ruins were made into a peaceful and beautiful city garden in 1971.

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

West Ham

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

West Ham was first recorded  in 1186 as Westhamma, from the Old English “hamme”, meaning area of dry land bounded by water, and referring to its  situation between the Rivers Lea, Roding and Thames (Ham was first recorded in 958 as Hamme).

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The church of All Saints, also known as West Ham Parish Church, was originally built – or possibly rebuilt) in around 1180, and extended in the thirteenth century, and again in the fifteenth, when the tower was added, and yet again in the sixteenth, when the chapels were added.  It was owned by Stratford Langthorne Abbey from 1334 until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538 (see previous posting on “Stratford”).

Keystone from door to Charnel House (now in church of All Saints, West Ham)

Inside the church are some relics from the dissolved abbey, including a window, in the porch, and a carved stone from the charnel house, in the tower.

St Dionis Backchurch

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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 Dionis Backchurch (“S. Denys” on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built at least as long ago as the thirteenth century, on part of the the site of Roman Basilica and Forum, and using robbed Roman building materials.  Stow described it as “lately new built in the reign of Henry VI [in the fifteenth century]”.  Pepys visited it in 1664, and noted the “very fine store of good women there is in this  church, more than I know anywhere else about us”.

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The church was burned down in the Great Fire of 1666, and subsequently rebuilt by Wren, in 1670-86, only to be demolished in 1878, when the parish was merged with All Hallows Lombard Street.

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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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The burials from the graveyard were relocated to the City of London Cemetery.

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The salvaged communion table, font and pulpit from the church survive, in that of St Dionis in Parsons Green.  A “squirt”, or fire extinguisher, from the vestry  can be seen   in the Museum of London.

Dionis or Dionysius the Areopagite, also known as Denys, is the patron saint of France, who was beheaded after attempting  to convert Paris to Christianity in the  third century.    The church on, or rather just off, Fenchurch Street dedicated to him became commonly  designated  “backchurch”; that dedicated to St Gabriel,  “forechurch”.

 

St Clement Eastcheap

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 Clement Eastcheap  (“F” on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built at least as long ago as  the eleventh century, and described by Stow at the turn of the sixteenth and seventeenth as “a small church, void of monuments”.  It was repaired and beautified in 1632.

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St Clement Eastcheap 1

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The church burned down in the Great Fire of 1666, and was subsequently rebuilt by Wren between 1683-7, and altered in 1872 and again in  1932-4.

This is probably the St Clement’s of nursery rhyme fame.

 

St Christopher-le-Stocks

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 Christopher-le-Stocks on Threadneedle Street (shown immediately to the north-east of the “Stokes” on the sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built at least as long ago as the thirteenth century, being first recorded in 1280, although at that time, before the Stocks were built, it was known simply as St Christopher.  It was subsequently at least partially rebuilt in the fifteenth century, and again in the sixteenth, Stow describing it at that time as “re-edified of new: for Richard Shore, one of the Sheriffs 1506, gave money towards the building of the steeple”.

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The church was badly damaged in the  Great Fire of 1666, and rebuilt yet again by Wren, in 1669-71, using some surviving materials. As Edward Hatton wrote, in his “New View of London” of 1708, “all the old part which the fire left, is of the Gothick Order; but the pillars within, are of the Tuscan. And the walls are of old stone, finished or rendered over”.

It was demolished in 1781, to allow for improvements to the security  of the Bank of England after the previous year’s Gordon Riots, wherepon  the parish was merged with St Margaret Lothbury.   The remains of those interred in the church and churchyard, including my eleven-times great uncle and aunt,   John and Frances West, were later removed to Nunhead Cemetery.

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

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Only   parish boundary markers survive at its former site.  Some salvaged  interior fittings survive in St Margaret Lothbury, including the bronze sculpture by Hubert le Sueur  (and the paintings of Moses and Aaron).   The salvaged reredos survives in St Vedast-alias-Foster, the pulpit in St Nicholas  in Canewdon in Essex.

A thirteenth-century gravestone, discovered during the rebuilding of the Bank in 1934, can be seen   in the Victoria and Albert Museum.