Tag Archives: St Alban Wood Street

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.

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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).

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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.

 

The second Great Fire of London

0 - St Paul's

On this day in 1940, an air raid by the German Luftwaffe led  to the so-called “Second Great Fire of London”. Tens of thousands of incendiary bombs were dropped, and the small individual fires that they set off soon coalesced into a great conflagration that threatened the entire city centre.  Around 200 people were killed, and damage to property was on a then unprecedented scale.  The area around St Paul’s was essentially razed to the ground, although the cathedral  itself miraculously survived essentially intact, thanks to the heroic actions of the firefighters of the St Paul’s Watch, who put out no fewer than twenty-eight individual incendiary-bomb fires inside the building.   Ten other  Wren churches were struck by bombs, namely, Christ Church Newgate Street, St Alban Wood Street, St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe, St Anne & St Agnes, St Augustine-by-St-Paul’s, St Lawrence Jewry, St Mary Aldermanbury, St Mary-le-Bow, St Stephen Coleman Street and St Vedast-alias-Foster.

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Of these, Christ Church Newgate Street and St Alban Wood Street were substantially destroyed, with only their towers  remaining intact.

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And St Mary Aldermanbury and St Stephen Coleman Street were essentially completely destroyed.

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Remarkably, St Mary Aldermanbury was rebuilt, out of salvaged material, and according to Wren’s original design, in Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, in 1966 (as a memorial to Winston Churchill, who had made his famous “Iron Curtain” speech there in 1946).