St Peter le Poer

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-le-Poer, also known as St Peter Broad Street (“24” on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London), was originally built at least as long ago as the twelfth century, the earliest written record of it dating to 1181. The church was incorporated into Austin Friars Priory Church, as a private chapel, in around 1265,  then separated from it again after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538 (the remaining part of the priory church then becoming the Dutch Church). It was subsequently partially rebuilt and extended  in 1615-31.  In his “Survey of London” of 1598, Stow noted that the church was “so called for a difference from another of that name” and “sometime peradventure … poor”, adding that “at this present there be many fair houses, possessed by rich merchants and other [in the parish]” (*). Stow also recorded a number of monuments in the church, including those of “Sir William Roch, mayor 1540” and “Martin Calthrope, mayor, 1588”. Also buried there was the sometime Rector, and Gresham Professor of Divinity, Richard Holdsworth, who died in 1649. In 1643, in the midst of the Civil War, Holdsworth been imprisoned in the Tower for his support of the King, Charles I (he had later been released, and allowed to attend the King in his captivity in Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight in 1647-8)

The church was undamaged in the Great Fire of 1666 (although ash from the fire settled on an open prayer book in the church, and obscured the text), but later fell into disrepair, and had to be repaired in 1716 and rebuilt in 1788-92.  It was demolished in 1907-08, when the parish was merged with St Michael Cornhill. 

Nothing now remains of it  at its former site, …

… although parish boundary markers survive on Throgmorton Avenue and Throgmorton Street.  The salvaged pulpit and font also still survive, in St Peter-le-Poer in Friern Barnet.

(*) Others believed the suffix “poor” to refer to the Augustinian Eremites rather than to the parish.

St Peter Paul’s Wharf

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 Paul’s Wharf (“S. Perer” on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built at least as long ago as the twelfth century, the first written reference to it – as “St Peter Parva [the Little]” – dating to 1170, and subsequently repaired in 1625 and again in 1655. A list of the church’s possessions drawn up in around 1180 includes a fragment of the true cross housed in a specially crafted silver-gilt crucifix.

In his “Survey of London” of 1598, Stow described it as “a small parish church”, adding that “no monuments do remain”. Later, in his diary entry for March 25th, 1649, Evelyn noted “I heard the Common Prayer (a rare thing in these days) in St Peter’s at St Paul’s Wharf”. It appears that at this time large congregations were drawn to the church to attend services of the sort recently theoretically banned under Cromwell, and indeed even to take Communion. Newcourt noted how “its galleries were hung with Turkey carpet for the accommodation of the nobility”.

The  church was burned down   in the Great Fire of 1666 and never rebuilt, the former parish uniting with that of St Benet Paul’s Wharf.   Essentially nothing now remains of the church at its former site, other than the name, which lives on in that of Peter’s Hill.  However,  some headstones were saved and transferred to St Ann Blackfriars when the churchyard was built over in 1962.

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).  

St Peter Cheap or Westcheap

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 Cheap or Westcheap, also known as St Peter Wood Street or St Peter by the Cross (“15” on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built at least as long ago as the twelfth century, the earliest record of it dating to 1196. It was subsequently partially rebuilt in 1491, at the expense of Thomas Wood, goldsmith and sheriff, and again in 1503, using moneys bequeathed by and John Shaw, sometime mayor, for “the … Church … to be bylded and made wt a flatte roofe” and also “the Stepull there to be made up in gode and conuenient manr”. In his “Survey of London” of 1598, Stow noted that among the burials in the church was that of Nicholas Farringdon, goldsmith and four-times mayor, who died in 1361. The churchwardens’ accounts, dating to 1453, contain interesting entries relating to pre-Reformation practices and items, such as provision of a room for the morrow-mass priest, a veil to be hung in the quire during Lent, and bread and wine for the singers of the Passion on Palm Sunday, not to mention “setting up the stage for the Prophets”. My twelve-times great uncle, Simon West, stationer, was a churchwarden in the early seventeenth century.

The  church was burned down   in the Great Fire of 1666,  and not rebuilt again afterwards, the former parish uniting with that of St Matthew Friday Street.   The former churchyard on Wood Street survives as a city garden, containing a venerable plane tree, in which, in Wordsworth’s poem “The Reverie of Poor Susan“, written in 1797, “hangs a thrush that sings loud”. Some parish boundary markers also survive.

St Pancras Soper Lane

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 Pancras Soper Lane, Pancras Lane (“X”  on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built at least as long ago as the thirteenth century, the oldest record of it dating to 1257. In his “Survey of London” of 1598, Stow described it as “a … small church”, but with “divers rich parishioners … , and of old time many liberal benefactors”. He also recorded a number of monuments, many of them “spoiled”, including those of “John Barens, mercer. mayor 1370”, “John Hadley, grocer, mayor 1379”, “John Stockton, mercer, mayor 1470”, “Richard Gardener, mercer, mayor 1478”, and “Robert Packenton, mercer, slain with a gun shot … as he was going to morrow mass from his house in Cheap”. Henry Machyn wrote of a wedding that took place in the church in 1561 that it was attended by a number of aldermen robed in scarlet finery, who gave as a wedding gift a hundred pairs of gloves. The Rector during the Civil War of the mid-seventeenth century, one George Ecoppe, was ejected from his post for being “a notorious Popish ceremony-monger”.

The  church was burned down   in the Great Fire of 1666 and never rebuilt, the former parish uniting with that of St Mary-le-Bow.   A Corporation “Blue Plaque” marks its former site. 

Pancras was an early Christian proselytiser martyred on the orders of the Roman Emperor Diocletian in 304.

St Olave Silver 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. 

St Olave Silver Street, London Wall (not shown  on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built at least as long ago as the twelfth century, the earliest known record of it – as “St Olave de Mukewellstrate [Monkwell Street]” – dating to 1181; and subsequently rebuilt in 1609. In his “Survey of London” of 1598, Stow described it as “a small thing, and without any noteworthy monuments”. However, it was evidently sufficiently wealthy in – pre-Reformation – Medieval times as to have had the figure of Christ on the rood decorated with silver shoes.

The  church was burned down   in the Great Fire of 1666 and never rebuilt, the former parish uniting with that of St Alban Wood Street.   Surviving parish records show that in 1665-6 the corpses of 119 people hanged at Tyburn were handed over to the nearby Barber-Surgeons’ Hall for the purposes of  dissection. 

The former churchyard survives, as a city garden. 

Silver Street disappeared during the bombing of the Second World War and subsequent redevelopment.  Shakespeare once lodged here, with a family of Huguenots.

St Olave Jewry

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 Olave Jewry, so named for its situation in the old Jewish quarter, essentially of the twelfth to thirteenth centuries, was probably originally built sometime in the  eleventh, at which time it appears to have been known as St Olave Upwell. It was added to in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.  In his “Survey of London” of 1598, Stow described it as “a proper parish church”, and added that “in this church, … the monuments of the dead remain less defaced than in many others”. The monuments included those of “T. Morsted, esquire, chirurgeon to Henry IV., V. and VI., one of the sheriffs 1436 – he built a fair aisle to the enlargement of this church, on the north side thereof, wherein he lieth buried”, “Robert Large, mercer. mayor 1440 – he gave to that church two hundred pounds”, and “Giles Dewes, servant to Henry VII. and to Henry VIII., clerk of their libraries and schoolmaster for the French tongue to Prince Arthur [Henry VIII’s elder brother] and to the Lady Mary, 1535”.

The church was burned down in the Great Fire of 1666, and subsequently rebuilt by  Wren between 1670-9. 

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It was substantially demolished sometime between 1887 and 1892 (sources differ), when the parish was merged with St Margaret Lothbury. The tower still stands, although modified from its original form in  1892 and again in 1986-7, and now serving as an office.  The topping weather-vane in the shape of a ship was salvaged from St Mildred Poultry. 

St Olave Hart Street

Memorial to Elizabeth Pepys (d. 1669)
Memorial to Samuel Pepys (d. 1703)

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 Olave Hart Street (“A”  on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was probably originally built in wood in the eleventh century, sometime after the canonisation of St Olave in 1031, and subsequently rebuilt in stone in the late twelfth to early thirteenth century, and again in the mid-fifteenth, around 1450, and extended in the sixteenth to seventeenth.  In his “Survey of London” of 1598, Stow described it as “a proper church”, and recorded there a number of memorials, including those of “Richard Cely [d. 1482] and Robert Cely, fellmongers, principal builders and benefactors” and of “Sir Richard Haddon, mercer, mayor 1522”. In 1703, after Stow’s time, the naval administrator and diarist Samuel Pepys was buried under the altar of the church. There is a memorial to him on the south side, opposite one of his long-suffering wife Elizabeth, whose expression suggests that she is “admonishing her wayward husband”. My eleven-times great uncle, John West, clothworker and scrivener, knew Pepys, was one of the signatories to his will and codicil, and attended his funeral in St Olave’s. He was bequeathed a gold ring in the will.

The church was undamaged  in the Great Fire of 1666,   thanks to the action of Admiral William Penn, who ordered his men to blow up the surrounding houses to create a fire break. It was later damaged by bombing on the last night of the Blitz, 10th/11th  May,  1941,   and rebuilt again between 1951-4.   Some of the surviving external walls date to the thirteenth- to fifteenth- centuries, and the tower to the fifteenth.

In the interior, the crypt survives from the thirteenth century, …

Memorial to Piero Capponi, Florentine merchant and supposed spy, who died of the plague in 1583
Radcliffe memorial (1585)
Andrew Bayninge memorial (1610)
Paul Bayninge memorial (1614)
Deane memorial (1608)
Turner memorial (1614)

… as do a number of memorials from the sixteenth and seventeenth.  Some of the interior fittings were salvaged from All Hallows Staining, St Benet Gracechurch and St Katharine Coleman.

The gateway  to the churchyard is especially memorable   for its “ghastly grim” adornment of skulls and cross-bones, from a design by Hendrik de Keyser.  It dates to 1658.

St Nicholas Olave

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 Nicholas Olave (“8” on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was originally built in around 1188. It was evidently originally simply called St Nicholas, and only acquired its double dedication in 1250 after the parish church of St Olave Broad Street was given by Henry III to the Austin Friars to serve as their priory church. In his “Survey of London” of 1598, Stow described it as “a convenient church”. He also noted a number of monuments there, including those of “W. Newport, fishmonger, one of the sheriffs 1375”, “Thomas Lewen, ironmonger, one of the sheriffs 1537”, adding that “[William] Blitheman, an excellent organist of the Queen’s Chapel, lieth buried there with an epitaph, 1591”. According to Kingford’s edition of Stow’s “Survey … “, Blitheman’s epitaph read: “Of Princes’ Chapel Gentleman|Unto his dying day.|Where all took great delight to hear|Him on the organs play”.

The  church was burned down   in the Great Fire of 1666,  and never rebuilt, and the former parish was united with that of St Nicholas Cole Abbey.   Nothing  remains of it today, its former site close to the foot of Bread Street Hill currently being occupied by Senator House.

St Nicholas Cole Abbey

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 Nicholas Cole Abbey (“12”  on sixteenth-century “Agas” map/Map of Early Modern London) was probably originally built in the twelfth century, in around 1130, repaired and extended in the fourteenth, in 1377, when the tower was added, and further modified in the seventeenth, in 1628, when battlements were added to the tower. In his “Survey of London” of 1598, Stow described it as “a proper church, somewhat ancient”, with a “steeple or tall tower … of a later building: to wit, the 1st of Richard II., when it was meant the whole old church should have been new built, as appeareth by the arching begun on the east side … , under the which, … the arms of one Buckland … are cut in stone, … whereby it appeareth that he was the builder of the steeple and repairer of the residue”. Stow also noted that among those buried in the church was “Walter Turke, fishmonger, mayor 1349”.

The church was burned down in the Great Fire of 1666, and subsequently rebuilt by Wren between 1671-81, and modified in 1873, and again in 1928-31. It was then gutted  by bombing in  1941, and rebuilt again  in 1961-62.  

The leaded hexagonal spire inset with porthole-like windows is  a most distinctive feature of the City skyline.   The topping weather-vane in the shape of a ship was salvaged from St Michael  Queenhithe.   Nicholas is the patron saint of mariners and fishermen (and of those wrongly condemned).