Kingsbury takes its name from the Old English cyning, meaning king, and burh, meaning manor.   It was first referred to, in a Saxon Charter of 1003/4, as Cyngesbyrig, at which time it was evidently  a royal possession.  The old  church of St Andrew  was founded at least as long ago as the thirteenth century (see below).  It is surrounded by the remains of an early Medieval ditch.  Settlement of the surrounding area is thought to have begun in the fourteenth century, after the Black Death of 1438-9.  The  new church,  which had stood in Marylebone  from 1845 to 1931, was relocated to Kingsbury in 1933, by which time Kingsbury was becoming  assimilated into suburbia.  Television pioneer John Logie Baird received the first combined sight and sound transmission here in 1930.  Earlier, Oliver Goldsmith wrote She Stoops to Conquer at Hyde House Farm here in 1773.

Old Church of St Andrew

General view of old church

Graveyard of old church

Detail of wall of old church highlighting flint and Roman tile used in construction

The old  church of St Andrew  was founded at least as long ago the thirteenth century, with surviving records indicating that it was administered by the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem between 1244-48.  Interestingly,  there are certain indications  that it is ultimately  of Saxon rather than Medieval origin, including the characteristically, although not diagnostically, Saxon “long-and-short” stone-work on  the quoins.  A significant amount of recycled Roman brick and tile was used in its construction.

The old church was extended and modified in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and restored after long neglect in the nineteenth and early twentieth, by which time it had become a chapel-of-ease to the newly built nearby Church of the Holy Innocents.  It was eventually closed down some years   after the new church of St Andrew was built directly adjacent to it in 1933.   In 2010, it   re-opened  for use as a Romanian Orthodox Church.

Inside the church are a thirteenth-century font, and a fourteenth-century bell  that  is the oldest still hanging anywhere in Middlesex.  Also inside are  memorials to John Shepard of Kingsbury (d. 1520), and to John Bul of Roe Green, Gentleman and Keeper of the King’s Poultry (d. 1621).



All Hallows Bread 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.


All Hallows Bread Street (reverse “5” on “sixteenth-century “Agas” Map/”Map of Early Modern London”) was originally built in the thirteenth  century, sometime before 1291, being mentioned in the “Taxatio Ecclesiastica” of Pope Nicholas IV of that year.   John Milton was christened in the church  in 1608.


The church was subsequently burned down in the Great Fire of 1666,  and rebuilt by Wren in 1681-98, only to be  demolished in 1877,  when the parish was merged with St Mary-le-Bow.


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

All Hallows Bread Street (site of)

Only a  plaque on the wall of St Mary-le-Bow and some parish boundary markers survive  at  its former site.  The salvaged pulpit also survives,  in St Vedast, Foster Lane.


All Hallows Barking

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.



All Hallows Barking (“Barkyng” on sixteenth-century “Agas” Map/Map of Early Modern London) , also known as All Hallows-by-the-Tower, was originally built by Ethelburga, Abbess of Barking and sister of Bishop Erkenwald, in the Saxon period, and considerably added to in the later Medieval and post-Medieval.

The church was   undamaged in the Great  Fire, thanks to the action of Admiral William Penn,  who ordered  his men to blow up some  surrounding buildings to create a  firebreak; although nonetheless partially rebuilt in the late nineteenth century.  Incidentally,  Penn’s son, also named William, was baptised here in 1644, and went on to found Pennsylvania in 1681.

However, it was gutted in the Blitz, when “the tower of the church acted like a chimney, drawing the flames upwards and intensifying them” and “wood blazed, stones calcinated, lead poured down walls and the bells melted”, and rebuilt again by Lord Mottistone in a “happy blend” of Ancient and Neo-Perpendicular styles, and rededicated in 1957.


A Saxon stone arch possibly as old as the late seventh century, c. 675, incorporating Roman tiles, survives in the nave, …



… together with  two Saxon stone crosses, one of 900 and the other of 1000, in the crypt, the former plain and simple, and bearing  a Saxon Runic inscription, and the latter  beautifully and intricately carved, and bearing  a symbolic depiction of Christ over beasts, a characteristic of “Dark Age” iconography (also in the crypt, incidentally, is an in situ section of Roman tessellated pavement).

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In one of the chapels leading off the crypt is a so-called “Pluteus Stone” featuring two Peacocks drinking from the Fountain of Life, thought to have come from an Eastern Orthodox Church in the  Byzantine region, and tentatively dated to sometime in the late eleventh century   (the “East-West Schism” took place in 1054).  There is an almost identical one in the iconostasis in the church of Santa Maria dell’Assunta, otherwise known as Torcello Cathedral, on the island of Torcello in the Veneto in Italy.


Among the  many surviving – later – Medieval to post-Medieval features in the church are an undercroft  chapel   and   an altar table of stone salvaged by the Knights Templar from the thirteenth-century Crusaders’ castle at At(h)lit below Mount Carmel in the Holy Land (note also that the trials of certain Knights Templar took place in the church in 1311); …




… numerous monuments, including brasses to William Tong (d. 1389) and John Bacon (d. 1437), and a canopied tomb to John Croke (d. 1477); …


… a fine Flemish painted panelled altar-piece, known as the Tate Panel, dating to at least the fifteenth century; numerous sculptures, including a carved wooden one of St James of Compostela, dating to the fifteenth century, and a carved ivory one  of Christ salvaged from the flagship of the Spanish Armada in 1588; and the seventeenth-century tower, from which Samuel Pepys watched the Great Fire (noting in his diary entry for Wednesday 5th September, “I up to the top of Barkinge steeple, and there saw the saddest sight of desolation I ever saw”).

Also of note are the pulpit, originally from St Swithin London Stone, dating to 1678; …


… and the exquisitely intricately carved lime-wood font-cover by Grinling Gibbons, dating  to 1682.



On a macabre note, the headless bodies of Bishop John Fisher and Sir Thomas More, beheaded on nearby Tower Hill in 1535, and that of Archbishop William Laud, beheaded  in 1645, were once temporarily buried here before being moved to their  final resting places (Fisher’s and More’s in the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London).




St Alban Wood Street

The first in a 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.


The church of St Alban Wood Street (19 on sixteenth-century “Agas” Map/”Map of Early Modern London”) was originally built in the eleventh century, on the site of an eighth-century chapel believed to have been attached to the palace of the Mercian King Offa, and subsequently rebuilt by Inigo Jones in the 1630s.

It was badly damaged   in the Great Fire, and rebuilt by Wren in 1682-8, using some of the surviving structure (and further altered in 1858).


rear from Alban Highwalk

top of tower

damaged arch

It was then severely damaged  by bombing on the night of 29th December, 1940, and substantially demolished in 1955.  Only the Perpendicular Gothic tower remains today.

Alban was the first English martyr, done to death in 304.




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

Harrow ultimately takes its name from the Old English hearg, meaning place of heathen worship.   It was first referred to, in a Saxon Charter of 767, as “Gumeninga hergae”, meaning Gumen’s such.   In the Charter,   Offa, King of Mercia, granted to Stidberht, Bishop of St Albans, some 16000 acres of land lying between “Gumeninga Hergae” and Lidding Brook (?Kenton).  In 801, Offa’s successor Cenwulf confirmed the grant, but he later reclaimed the land for himself.  On Cenwulf’s death, the land passed to his son Kenelm; and after he, Kenelm,  was murdered by his half-sister Cwoenthryth, it passed to her.   But  in 825, the  Council of Colvesho compelled Cwoenthryth to surrender the land to the church once more.   The  Domesday Book of 1086 records that before the Norman Conquest the land was held by Earl Leofwin, and afterwards by Archbishop Lanfranc.  The surviving church of St Mary was built on the land in 1087; Harrow School  in 1572.  The surrounding borough  remained largely rural until the coming of the Metropolitan Railway in the late Victorian period, after which  it rapidly became suburbanised.

Church of St Mary

St Mary Harrow

The church of St Mary, atop the Hill, was originally founded by the aforementioned Archbishop of Canterbury, Lanfranc, in 1087, and consecrated by his successor Anselm in 1094 (it was also visited by Thomas Becket a matter of days before his murder in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170).  The church was extended through the twelfth to fourteenth centuries; substantially rebuilt in the mid-fifteenth; and restored, by George Gilbert Scott, in 1847.

Tower with Norman doorway


Essentially only the lower part of the tower survives from the eleventh century.

General view of interior

Brass memorial to John Lyon (d. 1592) and his wife Joan

Inside the church, the fine Purbeck Marble font probably dates to the twelfth or thirteenth; the memorial to Edmund Flambard, one-time Lord of the Manor, to 1370; and that to John Lyon, the founder of neighbouring Harrow School, to 1592.

Memorial to Allegra Byron

Lord Byron, an old boy of Harrow School, penned  his poem “Lines written beneath an elm in the churchyard of Harrow” here, in 1807.  His illegitimate daughter Allegra was buried here, in 1822.

Harrow School

General view (Old Schools in centre, part of Chapel on right)

Harrow School was originally founded, by the aforementioned John Lyon, in 1572.  The oldest surviving part, the “Old Schools”, was built in 1615, and altered externally and extended, by Charles Robert Cockerell, in 1820 (one original classroom, the “Fourth Room”, still survives, its oak-panelled walls inscribed with the names of numerous famous old boys – among them not only Byron, but also Peel, Sheridan, Trollope and Churchill).  The Headmaster’s House, by Decimus Burton, was built in 1845; the Chapel, by George Gilbert Scott, in 1855;  the Library of 1863, also by George Gilbert Scott, in 1863; “Druries”, by C.F. Hayward, in 1865; and the  new Speech Room, by William Burges, in  1877 (the old Speech Room was converted into an art gallery and museum in 1976, at the same time the new dining hall was built).  The Physics Schools were built in 1971; and the Churchill Schools (Design Technology) in 1988. 

The surrounding 360-acre  grounds include a lake laid out by Lancelot “Capability” Brown in 1767, playing fields and a nine-hole golf course!

A Virtual Pilgrimage from London to Canterbury: Day Four – Faversham to Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas (a) Becket was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral on Tuesday 29th December, 1170 (by knights acting on what they had interpreted as an instruction from the  King, Henry II).  The site became an important one of pilgrimage throughout the later Middle Ages (the penitent Henry making the journey barefoot – at least from the hospital of St Nicholas in Harbledown – in 1174, the year after Thomas was made a saint).  The practice of pilgrimage ceased after the Reformation and Dissolution under Henry VIII in the sixteenth century, but may be said to have resumed in later  centuries.  Research published by the Chaucer Society in the nineteenth century suggests that the route taken by pilgrims from London to Canterbury ran more less along the line of the old Roman road of Watling Street – or its modern equivalent, the A2 – through Dartford, Rochester and Faversham (note in this context that Rochester is mentioned in the Monk’s prologue, Sittingbourne in the Wife of Bath’s prologue, and Boughton-under-Blean, which is near Faversham, in the Canon Yeoman’s prologue, in “The Canterbury Tales”).  Further research from this time suggests that the journey along this – sixty-mile or so – route would probably have taken four days, with overnight stops at each of the three aforementioned towns (where suitable accommodation was available).  I follow in the pilgrims’  tracks …

Watling Street

From Faversham,  the old Roman road of Watling Street continues to run ESE  along the northern edge of the North Downs to Canterbury (and beyond).

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From this point on, it is known as Canterbury Road.



Boughton would appear to have been founded in the Medieval period, and a number of buildings from this time still stand on The Street.

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Broughton Church (St Peter and St Paul) dates to the thirteenth century.

Boughton Hill  to the east commands fine views towards Canterbury.


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Harbledown would also appear to have been founded in the Medieval period.

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The  hospital of St Nicholas was originally built in the eleventh century, around 1084, by Archbishop Lanfranc, as a leper hospital.  In the later Middle Ages, it became an important stopping-off point for  pilgrims on their way to St Thomas’s shrine in Canterbury Cathedral, as it housed  a purported relic of the saint,  in the form of a slipper he had worn. The site is now occupied by Victorian alms-houses.

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The parish church of St Michael and All Angels was originally built in the twelfth century, around 1160, and extended in the thirteenth.

St Dunstan’s


The church of St Dunstan, immediately outside the city walls of Canterbury, dates back to the eleventh century.


Canterbury would appear to have been founded in pre-Roman times, by the Celtic Cantiaci.   In Roman times it was known as Durovernum Cantiacorum, and was evidently sufficiently large and important to have had its own amphitheatre, built in the first century, city walls, built in the third century (as a defence against Saxon raids), and places of Christian worship, built in the fourth century (the Roman Empire became Christianised under the Emperorship of Constantine in 312).  In Saxon/Jutish times it became known as Cantwarabyrig, and was the power base of the Kings of Kent, including, in the late sixth to early seventh centuries, Ethelbert.  Ethelbert was the first of the Kentish Kings to be converted to Christianity, by Augustine, the emissary of Pope Gregory the Great, in 597.  It was he who built the first Cathedral and Abbey here.


It was the first Norman King, William I who began work on the Castle, in around 1070, and his successor Henry I who completed it, between 1100-35.


The West Gate was built by the Master Mason Henry Yevele in 1380 (i.e., at the same time that the Cathedral was rebuilt: see below).  Yevele was the Master Mason to three successive kings, Edward III, Richard II and Henry IV, between c. 1360-1400, during which time he either built or rebuilt large parts  of Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster (including Westminster Hall and the Jewel Tower) in London

Canterbury Cathedral

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The first Canterbury Cathedral was built by Ethelbert in 602.  It was sacked by the Vikings in 1011, during the course of a raid that cost 8000 Saxon lives, and then destroyed by fire in 1067.  A new Cathedral was built for Lanfranc between 1070-77, although aside from the crypt little of this building survives.  The quire was rebuilt between 1175-84.  The nave was rebuilt between 1377-1405, in the Perpendicular Gothic style, the Great Cloister between 1397-1414, and the south-west and Bell Henry towers in 1424-59 and 1498 respectively (Lanfranc’s old north-west tower was replaced by a new one, mirroring that to the south-west, in 1832-40).  The nave  is strongly reminiscent of that of Southwark Cathedral, built at around the same time, following a fire in 1390.


Canterbury  Cathedral first became a place of pilgrimage after the murder – by the Vikings – of the then Archbishop, Alfege, in 1012, becoming even more important as such after the murder of then then Archbishop, Thomas Becket in 1170.  The shrine to St Thomas, as he became, was despoiled on the orders of Henry VIII in 1538, and there was further iconoclasm by the Puritans in 1642-48 (i.e., during the Civil War).

Other Places of Interest in Canterbury



Eastbridge Pilgrims’ Hospital on the High Street was originally founded, to provide hospitality to pilgrims, in 1190.


The Greyfriars Chapel, the only surviving part of the former Franciscan  Friary, in Greyfriars Gardens, dates to 1267.



Canterbury  Abbey was originally built – just outside the city walls to the east – by Ethelbert in the seventh century, i.e., at the same time as the Cathedral.  It was rededicated to St Augustine by Archbishop Dunstan in the tenth century (having previously been dedicated to SS Peter and Paul).  It was damaged by an earthquake in 1382, and repaired, only to be dissolved by Henry VIII in 1538.  Though now largely in ruins, it remains an impressive site.  It is also an important one, being the burial place of Augustine, Ethelbert and a number of other Saxon Kings and Bishops (including Mellitus, who founded St Paul’s in London).


St Martin’s – also just outside the city walls to the east – has a claim to being the oldest surviving church in the English-speaking world.  According to the Venerable Bede, it was originally founded in late Roman times.  It was then refounded by  the Kentish King Ethelbert’s Queen, Bertha of Kent in Saxon times, in around 580 (i.e., before the main Christianisation of the Saxons under Ethelbert in 597). And extended in the later Middle Ages.

A Virtual Pilgrimage from London to Canterbury: Day Three – Rochester to Faversham


Watling Street

From Rochester,  the old Roman road of Watling Street continues to run ESE  along the northern edge of the North Downs to Faversham (and beyond).    There is an alternative pedestrian route from Chatham to Sittingbourne by way of Gillingham and Upchurch.


Rainham Church

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Rainham was evidently founded in Saxon times,  being mentioned in a charter of 811.  Rainham Church (St Margaret of Antioch) was originally built at least as long ago as Norman times, and subsequently rebuilt in the Gothic style in the later Medieval (thirteenth through fifteenth centuries).  It contains some fine Medieval wall paintings.


Newington was founded in Roman times, and refounded in Saxon times, its name translating from Old English as “new town”.

Newington Church

Newington Church (St Mary the Virgin) was originally built in the  eleventh century.

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Newington Manor dates back to the fifteenth.

Key Street

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Key Street was a small village, originally founded in the Medieval period, that has been essentially entirely lost to redevelopment.


Sittingbourne was probably originally founded in pre-Roman times, and grew considerably in size  after the Roman conquest, on account of its proximity to the main road of Watling Street, and also to an important  port  on the Swale (Milton Regis).  It then grew further in the Middle Ages, again on account of its proximity to Watling Street, which had by then become the main pilgrimage route from London to Canterbury.

Sittingbourne Church

By the thirteenth century Sittingbourne Church (St Michael) had been built, as had no fewer than thirteen hostelries on the High Street, to serve the needs of passing pilgrims.

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The surviving  Red Lion dates back in part to  the fifteenth century.


Luddenham was probably originally founded in Saxon times, and is mentioned – albeit as Cildresham – in the Norman Domesday Book of 1086, at which time the manor was owned by Odo, Bishop of Bayeux and Earl of Kent.

Luddenham Church

Luddenham Church (St Mary) was originally built in the twelfth century.

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Luddenham Court Farm dates in part to  the fifteenth.

Stone Chapel

Roman mausoleum

Stone Chapel (also known as Our Lady of Elwarton) is a ruined Saxon to Medieval church on the outskirts of Ospringe.  Uniquely in England, it incorporates into its design an older Roman mausoleum that may originally have stood outside the Roman settlement of Durolevum.


Ospringe, now essentially part of Faversham, was once an entirely  separate settlement, probably dating back to the Saxon period (being mentioned in the Norman Domesday Book of 1086).  Sir John Pulteney, who went on to become the Lord Mayor of London in 1330-1331 and 1333, was once the Lord of the Manor of Ospringe.

Ospringe Church

Ospringe Church (St Peter and St Paul) dates back in part to the Norman period.


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The Maison Dieu, a religious house and charitable hospital and hostel open to  passing pilgrims, dates back to the thirteenth century (it was commissioned by Henry III in 1234).


Faversham is thought to have been originally  founded in pre-Roman times, and may have been the site of the “lost” settlement of Durolevum, mentioned in the Antonine Itinerary, in Roman times.  It was known as Favreshant in Saxon times.

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Faversham Church, also known as St Mary of Charity, was originally built at least as long ago as the late eleventh century, although it was subsequently substantially rebuilt, with a distinctive corona spire, with flying buttresses,  in the late eighteenth.


The interior still contains some Medieval work, including fifteenth-century carved wooden stalls and misericords salvaged from nearby Faversham Abbey  when it was dissolved in the sixteenth, and a fourteenth-century  painted stone column depicting  scenes from the life of Jesus (including, at the  top, the Crucifixion).

At least according to legend, the church also contains the remains of King Stephen and his Queen, Matilda, also salvaged  from Faversham Abbey – by way of Faversham Creek, where they were deposited when the abbey was dissolved!

Faversham Abbey Gatehouse

The Medieval gate-house and adjoining guest-house (Arden’s House) of the aforementioned Faversham Abbey   also survive, on Abbey Street.

Abbey Street

Abbey Street itself has been described as “the finest medieval street in southeast England”.