Tag Archives: St Olave Jewry

Saint Olav(e)

On this day in 1030, the Norwegian King Olav II was killed fighting the Danish Vikings at the Battle of Stiklestad.  A year later, he was canonised by the  English Bishop of Selsey, Grimkell or Grimketel (the local canonisation was later confirmed by Pope Alexander III in 1164).

2 - Nidaros Cathedral (Trondheim).JPG

In the later Middle Ages, Olav’s tomb, in the most northerly cathedral in Christendom, in Nidaros [Trondheim], became an important pilgrimage site, and the centre of a widespread “cult of Olav”.

5 - Relief of St Olav, church of St Olave Hart Street

Interestingly, a  number of churches in and around the City of London are  dedicated to St Olav(e),  including  St Olave Hart Street (pictured, above) …

5 - Memento mori, St Olave Silver Street.JPG

… St Nicholas Olave, St Olave Jewry and St Olave Silver Street (pictured, above) in the City …

4 - Mosaic of St Olave, site of former church of St Olave Southwark

… St Olave in Southwark …

P1260248 - Copy.JPG

P1260253 - Copy.JPG

…  and St Olave in Rotherhithe.

This is because, in 1014, Olav Haraldsson, as he then was, was an ally of the Saxon English, under Ethelred “The Unready”, in their fight against the against the Viking Danish, under Cnut, and he helped relieve  Saxon London from Viking occupation  (albeit only temporarily).

According to the “Olaf Sagas”, he destroyed the Saxon incarnation of London Bridge, and the Viking army assembled on it poised to attack, by pulling it down with ropes tied to his long-boats.

The  court poet Ottar Svarte wrote, in the eleventh century, and Snorri Sturluson rewrote, in the thirteenth:

“London Bridge is broken down.

Gold is won, and bright renown.

Shields resounding, war-horns sounding,

Hild is shouting in the din!

Arrows singing, mail-coats ringing-

Odin makes our Olaf win!”

Many believe this to be the origin of the much-loved nursery-rhyme “London Bridge is falling down”.

 

St Mildred Poultry

St Mildred PoultryAnother in the occasional series on churches built by Wren after the Great Fire of 1666 that have been lost  since …

St Mildred Poultry was originally built at least as long ago as the twelfth century, around 1175, and is possibly even of Saxon origin, bearing in mind that Mildred or Mildthryth, the daughter of one saint, the sister of two, and one herself, was born  in Mercia, in 694.  It was burnt  down in the Great Fire of 1666, and rebuilt by Wren in 1671-4, only to be demolished  in 1872, when the parish was merged with St Olave Jewry.

St Mildred Poultry plaque

St Mildred Poultry plaque

The weather-vane in the shape of a ship salvaged from St Mildred still survives, on top of St Olave Jewry.  Some salvaged furniture also survives, in the church of St Paul in Goswell Road.  A Corporation “Blue Plaque” marks the  former site of St Mildred.