Tag Archives: John Gayer

The “Lion Sermon” and the church of St Katharine Cree

exteriorinterior

Gayer plaque, St Katharine Cree

The “Lion Sermon” is given at the church of St Katharine Cree on the  Thursday nearest to this day each year, and  has been since 1643, in remembrance of the Merchant Adventurer (of the Levant Company) and later Lord Mayor of London Sir John Gayer being spared by a lion in Syria on October 16th of that year.  I attended the 371st “Lion Sermon” in the church of St Katharine Cree on  Leadenhall Street.    It was by Shami Chakrabarti, the Director of Liberty, and on the subject of, and I paraphrase,  “Freedom, and what it means in the metaphorical Lion’s Den of the modern world”.   Freedom, and the  Human Rights of Dignity, Equality and Fairness (“and the greatest of these is Equality”).  Admirable sentiments, especially resonant in a church that at the time of the Civil War in the 1640s stood for the supposed “divine” rights of the king over those of the commoner.

The church itself was originally built in the grounds of Holy Trinity Priory sometime before 1291 (being mentioned in the Taxatio Ecclesiastica of Pope Nicholas IV), and possibly around 1280, and rebuilt between  1500-4, in the Gothic style, and again between 1628-31, this time in the Renaissance style.  It was undamaged by the Great Fire of 1666, although later required to be restored  in 1878-9, and again, after being damaged by bombing in the Blitz of the Second World War, in  1956-62.   The interior contains some Gothic elements, such as the east window, in the form of an elaborately stylised Katharine Wheel, and the intricately ribbed ceiling; and some Renaissance ones, such as the Corinthian columns in the nave.  It also contains monuments to Sir Nicholas Throkmorton (d. 1570) as well as to  Sir  John Gayer (d. 1649).  The church was  consecrated in 1631 by Archbishop Laud, who went on to be executed in 1645 for his close association with the then-king, Charles I, and for his persecution of Puritans. The Father Smith organ, once played by Purcell and Handel, dates to 1686.

St Katharine Cree

Another in the  series on City of London buildings that survived the Great Fire of 1666, and that still survive to this day …

st-katharine-cree

The church of St Katharine Cree was originally built in the grounds of Holy Trinity Priory in  around 1280-1303, and rebuilt between  1500-4, in the Late Gothic style, and again between 1628-31, this time in the Renaissance  style.  It was undamaged by the Great Fire, although later requiring restoration  in 1878-79, and again, after being damaged in the Blitz, between 1956-62.

avenon-gate

The tower dates to 1500-4, the porch to 1628-31, and the gateway to the churchyard, on Mitre Street, by William Avenon, to 1631.

interior

The interior contains some Late Gothic elements, such as the east window, in the form of an elaborately stylised Katharine Wheel, and the intricately ribbed ceiling; and some Renaissance ones, such as the Corinthian columns in the nave.

throgmorton-memorial

It also contains monuments to Sir Nicholas Throkmorton (d. 1570) and Sir John Gayer (d. 1649), a marble font of around 1631, and a Father Smith  organ of 1686, once played by Handel and Purcell (as well as  some  memorial plaques and a reredos salvaged from St James Duke’s Place).

gayer-memorial

The church is the home of the “Lion Sermons”, given each year on or around  October 16th in remembrance of the aforementioned Merchant Adventurer of the Levant Company and former Mayor Sir John Gayer being spared by a lion in Syria on that day in 1643.

king-charles-saint-and-martyr

It has associations from that same Civil War period with the Royalist cause, and even contains a wooden statue of Charles I, depicted as a martyr and saint.

laud-portrait

Archbishop William Laud, who reconsecrated the church in 1631, was executed in 1645 for his support of  Charles, his High Church views, and his persecution of Puritans.