Tag Archives: Threadneedle Street

Venner’s rebellion (1661)

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On this day in 1661, the cooper Thomas Venner was hanged, drawn and quartered for high treason, for attempting, with fifty or so following so-called  “Fifth Monarchists”, to overthrow the recently restored King Charles II and seize  London in the name of “King Jesus”.  (They believed  Him about to return, in fulfilment of a prophecy in the Book of Daniel that Four Monarchies would precede the Kingdom of Christ – the Babylonian, Persian, Macedonian and Roman).

Venner and his men, many of whom were veterans of the Parliamentarian New Model Army of the Civil War,  had earlier  in the month congregated in Swan Alley, descended upon and occupied St Paul’s, accosted passers-by and asked them who they were for, and shot dead one man who answered that he was for Charles.   They had then  gone on the run, and on the rampage, for several days, with Venner personally responsible for   three murders, committed  with a halberd, on Threadneedle Street (*).    The men were finally surrounded  by  an overwhelmingly superior force of troops, according to one colourful account,  in the Helmet Tavern on Threadneedle Street and the Blue Anchor on Coleman Street, where they made a last stand,  and were either  killed or captured (after troops broke in from roof level, smashing aside the roof tiles with the butts of their muskets).   Venner himself was captured, after being wounded no fewer than nineteen times, and then tried and convicted at the Old Bailey for his crimes.

(*) A number of people killed in the  rebellion were buried in the Bedlam Burial Ground off Bishopsgate.

St Anthony’s Fire and St Anthony’s Hospital

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St Anthony’s Fire, also known as ergotism, was a disease, common in Medieval times, caused by eating – improperly-stored – cereals contaminated by an alkaloid-secreting fungus.  Its symptoms included a rash, fever and delirium (sometimes taken as evidence of bewitchment).

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St Anthony’s Hospital, or the Hospital of St Antoine de Viennois, specialising in the treatment of the disease, was founded on the site of a former synagogue on Threadneedle Street in 1242.  It was later expanded so as to incorporate, in 1429, a hospice; in 1440, a school, where  Thomas More (1478-1535) studied; and, in 1550, a chapel, where Protestant Huguenots, fleeing religious persecution in Catholic France, worshipped.  It was burned down in the  Great Fire of 1666, and subsequently rebuilt, only to be demolished in 1840.

 

Lost Wren churches – St Benet Fink

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

St Benet Fink drawingSt Benet Fink, Threadneedle Street was originally built in around 1216, burnt down  in the  Great Fire of 1666, and rebuilt by Wren in 1670-5, only to be demolished, to make way for the rebuilding of the Royal Exchange, in 1841, when the parish was merged with St Peter-le-Poer.  A Corporation “Blue Plaque” marks  its former site.  Some salvaged communion plate  still  survives,  in the church of St Benet Fink  in Tottenham.  Salvaged paintings of Moses and Aaron, which were formerly part of the altar-piece, ended up  in Emmanuel School in Wandsworth.

St Benet Fink plaque