Friday, 19 April 2013

Other London Churches

Every church in the City, and some in the outlying areas and in Westminster, is worth a visit. Some have such a colourful history, and/or have been touched with the hand of architectural genius, that they have merited articles of their own. The others may lack such colourful backgrounds, but are nonetheless worth seeking out and appreciating, and I will list them here.

All Hallows On The Wall

Originally founded by Queen Matilda in the year 1108, and constructed on the foundations of the City's Roman wall, the present building is the first church to be designed by George Dance The Younger, who referred to it as 'my first child'. The hall attached to the east was constructed in Edwardian times to provide shelter for early morning commuters.
The exterior is simple dark brick with an ashlar-faced tower, the inside a tunnel-vault nave with simple and delicate decor. Two chandeliers, one a modern replice of the other, hang in the nave. The church is currently being used by Christian Aid, and opening times are limited.

St Andrews Holborn

First mentioned in 951, this church stood on what was once the bank of the River Fleet and is now Holborn Viaduct. It was the largest parish church rebuilt by Wren and was restored after a 1941 incendiary attack. Engineer Marc Brunel and essayist William Hazlitt were married here, and Benjamin Disraeli baptised. The church contains the tomb of philanthropist Thomas Coram (its third resting place), and a brass plaque beyond the altar records the burial of the controversial cleric Henry Sacheverell. William Marsden was prompted to found his famous hospital after finding a homeless urchin dying on the church steps.

St Andrew By The Wardrobe

Boasting one of the best names of a City church, this stood across the road from the long-demolished Baynard's Castle. The name of the church recalls the King's Wardrobe which stood next door, and from which Shakespeare's players acquired costumes for their productions in the nearby Blackfriars Theatre. Both church and Wardrobe were destroyed in 1666, and the rebuild was Wren's final church for the City. The parish was united with that of another destroyed church, St Ann Blackfriars, and masonry remnants of the great monastery can still be found close by in Ireland Yard. John Dowland, Jacobean songwriter, was buried in St Ann's churchyard in 1625 and is remembered by a wall monument at St Andrew's. Also buried at St Ann's were the artist Isaac Oliver and Oliver's daughter, Bridget Cromwell.

St Anne & St Agnes

Now home to the City's Lutheran community, this Wren/Hooke collaboration is the third known church on the site. Wartime damage almost saw it demolished, but it was saved by the persistence of a verger who insisted upon keeping the church open despite a Dangerous Building notice. It was also considered briefly as a possible residence for the Bishop of London.
The church interior, a Greek cross within a square, holds many relics from other,destroyed City churches and the churchyard is second only to St Olaves Hart Street for rusticity. Supposedly the burial place of Peter Heywood, d1640, the man who apprehended Guy Fawkes. To the rear of the church can be seen the junction of two Roman walls - the City wall and the Fortress wall.

St Bartholomew The Less

Dating from the late twelfth century, this was originally the chapel of the medieval St Bart's hospital. It became the parish church after the Dissolution, its boundaries being those of the hospital itself. The present building was first designed in wood by Dance The Younger, but rebuilt in stone a few decades later by Thomas Hardwick. The tower and vestry are survivors from the medieval building. Inigo Jones was baptised here in 1573, and in the early 1590's it hosted the burials of two poets, Thomas Watson and John Lyly. A fifteenth century brass to William Markeby, described by Stow, survives in the vestry and there is a memorial erected by Thomas Bodley (founder of the Bodleian Library) to his wife.

St Benet Paul's Wharf

The church was mentioned as far back as the year 1111, and is recalled by Shakespeare in Twelfth Night. He would have known it from his visits to the College Of Arms, just over the road. Inigo Jones was buried here in 1652, leaving £100 in his will for a sumptuous tomb which was destroyed in 1666. The attractive Dutch-style replacement church has been attributed to both Wren and Hooke, and the New Atlantis author DelaRiviere Manley was buried here in 1724, and author Jane Collier in 1755. Until recently, hemmed in by very busy roads, St Benet was used by the City's Welsh community.

St Botolphs Aldersgate

St Botolph is the patron saint of travellers, and his dedication is found at gates in the City wall: Aldersgate, Aldgate, Bishopsgate and at one time Billingsgate. This church goes back to early Norman times, the present building a 1791 rebuild by Nathaniel Wright. The oblong exterior hides interior apses at both east and west, and much graceful and well proportioned decoration. The rosettes along the ceiling of the nave conceal gas lamps, and what at first looks like a painted panel in the eastern apse turns out, upon closer inspection, to be a painted window. Wesley preached on land adjacent to the church and received the inspiration that led to the founding of Methodism. Two notable Tudor figures were buried here; the philanthropist Lady Anne Packington in 1563 and Sir William Cavendish (one of Bess of Hardwick's husband) in 1557. To the south is the burial ground, now known as Postman's Park and containing Victorian and Edwardian memorials to unsung heroes.

St Botolphs Aldgate

Dating back to Saxon times, the present building is a sturdy and imposing Dance The Elder design of 1744. Daniel Defoe was married here and wrote of the church in his Journal Of The Plague Year; Isaac Newton was a parishioner while he worked for the Royal Mint; and the philosopher Jeremy Bentham was baptised here. The traitors Thomas D'Arcy and Henry Carew, executed by Henry VIII, were interred here, as was the head of Henry Grey Marquess of Dorset. Other notable burials are Robert Armin, stage comedian and friend of Shakespeare, and the steamship pioneer William Symington.

St Botolphs Bishopsgate
Mentioned in 1212, the church was rebuilt first in 1571, then in 1728 by the elder Dance and his father-in-law James Gould. Unconventionally, they placed the tower at the east end where it dominates Bishopsgate. In 1863, the churchyard became the first in the City to be landscaped into a public garden. John Keats and the philanthropical actor Edward Alleyn were baptised here - the present font is the one at which Keats was christened. A memorial marks the burial of Sir Paul Pindar - his nearby house had a facade which is now an exhibit in the V&A Museum.

St Clements Eastcheap

Probably the original Oranges and Lemons church, despite the later pretensions of St Clements Dane, as citrus fruit was once unloaded from a nearby wharf. It was first mentioned in 1067, but the present building was created by Wren and enlarged to accommodate the congregation of fellow Great Fire victim St Martin Orgar. A modest and quiet church, no longer in Eastcheap since the Victorians created King William Street. Today, it houses the National Interpreting Service and hosts a year-round second hand book sale.

St Dunstan In The West

The church with the eye-catching lantern tower which now stands overlooking Fleet Street dates to 1829, its predecessor having been demolished to accommodate the widening of the street, but the dedication - to a Saxon Archbishop of Canterbury - implies that a church has stood here for much longer. A statue of Elizabeth I, the only such statue in London, was brought from the demolished Lud Gate and placed on the outside of the building; in the vestry are statues of King Lud and his sons, rescued from the same source. The interior is octagonal and richly decorated, a blend of Anglican and Romanian Orthodox styles. Buried here were Lord Baltimore, after whom Baltimore in the U.S. is named; also Thomas White the founder of Sion College and the Cavalier poets Thomas Campion and Thomas Carew.

The Dutch Church, Austin Friars

Closed in by towering office blocks north of Cornhill, this is one of the better-hidden City churches. The present building was constructed after its predecessor was flattened during the Blitz, its foundation stone laid by the 10 year old Princess Irene of Holland. The exterior is attractive Dutch-style, the interior straightforwardly modern and somewhat dull, offering no clues to the site's colourful history. Originally it was an Augustinian monastery at which Richard II's brother Edward was buried, as well as receiving the bodies of many nobles slain at the Battle of Barnet in 1471. The humanist scholar Erasmus lodged there, but disliked the wine. After Dissolution the land was briefly owned by the Marquess of Winchester before Edward VI granted it to the City's Dutch community, under whose auspices it has remained ever since!

St Ethelburga

The smallest City church, a medieval building at which Henry Hudson and his crew prayed before setting out on their unsuccessful search for the North-West Passage. Seriously damaged by the 1993 Bishopsgate bomb, it was gradually pieced back together in something of a patchwork fashion. Most of the previous fittings were destroyed or removed; the church's single aisle has been converted into an office. It is now a Centre for Reconciliation and Peace.

St James Garlickhythe

Dating back to the twelfth century, this church is named after a nearby wharf at which garlic was unloaded. Pilgrims also used to arrive here from Compostela, having visited the shrine of St James, hence the church's dedication. James' symbol of a shell can be found all over thebuilding. The present church is sometimes known as Wren's Lantern, although Hawksmoor was responsible for the tower, and it has the highest nave in the City. A bomb fell between two pillars during the Blitz, but failed to explode; in 1991, a crane toppled onto the church and landed between the same two pillars! The damage has since been repaired. Ritual processions by the Vintners' and Skinners' Companies, dating back to medieval times, still occur at St James.

St Katherine Cree

The suffix is a contraction of Christ Church, named after the Priory in the grounds of which the church was built. The original church, only a few decades old, was demolished at the Dissolution but rebuilt a century later, possibly by Inigo Jones. The tower, 'vilely snail-pointed' by the Victorians according to Betjeman, is a 1504 survivor from the earlier church. The new building was consecrated by Archbishop Laud, to whom a chapel is now dedicated. Its best monument is the tomb and effigy of Sir Nicholas Throgmorton, Elizabethan courtier and the father-in-law of Walter Raleigh. A brass in the Sanctuary commemorates John Gayer, a Lord Mayor who survived a lion attack in Africa and, in gratitude, endowed an annual 'Lion Sermon' which is still carried out. Despite interesting monuments and windows, the interior aesthetic is poor due to the conversion of both north and south aisles into offices. A small churchyard, reached from Mitre Street, contains a 1631 doorcase built in Portland stone and paid for by a goldsmith named William Avenon. The artist Holbein may have been buried here during a plague outbreak in 1543.

St Magnus Martyr

First mentioned when William I granted it to Westminster Abbey, the church's next claim to fame was its Rector in Tudor times, the Bible translator Miles Coverdale. He was originally buried at St Bartholomew By The Exchange, but when that church was demolished in 1840 for the enlarging of the Royal Exchange, he was moved here. Windows on the north were bricked up in an attempt to alleviate traffic noise from the very busy Lower Thames Street. The tower and portico stood on the footway to the old London Bridge; footings for the bridge's supports can still be seen, as can a piece of Roman wharf timber excavated nearby. Thomas Farriner, in whose bakery the Great Fire of London started, was buried here in 1670.

St Margaret Lothbury

The Banker's Church, due to its proximity to the back door of the Bank of England. It stands over the Walbrook, for a stone arch was erected over the brook in 1440 so that the church could be extended. Wren rebuilt the fire-damaged church but the tower may be the work of Hooke. Many of the fittings are survivors from demolished City churches. Lord Mayor Hugh Clopton, after whom the Clopton Bridge is named in his native Stratford-Upon-Avon, was buried here. Some memorials were transferred here from the demolished St Place Jewry.

St Margaret Pattens

Named after the wooden shoes worn to protect proper shoes from the mud of London's pre-tarmacadam streets, a pair of which were on display in the vestibule when I last visited. First mentioned in 1067, but rebuilt in Tudor times and post-Fire by Wren. Its spire, almost 200ft tall, is a local landmark and probably by Hawksmoor. One of the church's canopied pews bears the monogram CW; it is unknown whether this stands for Christopher Wren or Church Warden.

St Martin Ludgate
In legend, the burial place of King Lud and Cadwallader. The west wall of this church is actually a section of the City's Roman wall, against which the church was constructed. Although the post-Fire church was probably the work of Hoke, the spire was designed by Wren as a foil to the great Dome of St Paul's Cathedral, and from a point along Fleet Street the spire can be seen to bisect the Dome.The interior, somewhat dark, contains curious relics: bread shelves and a double-seated chair for the two churchwardens. Travel writer Samuel Purchas was buried here in 1626.

St Mary At Hill

Described by Betjeman as having 'the most gorgeous interior in the City', St Mary suffered a calamitous fire in 1988. Some fittings were destroyed; others survived but are presently in storage, hance the interior's somewhat 'empty' feel. It has suffered at least four fires in its history. The exterior is relatively plain, but boasts an eye-catching protruding clock. A Fish Harvest Festival' is held here in October, reflecting the church's historic connection with Old Billingsgate Market.

St Mary Moorfields

This replaced a RC proto-Cathedral which was demolished in 1899. The new church was built in 1903 and became the only RC church in the City when the boundary of the City was moved from the front to the rear of the building. Its entrance blends well with its neighbours but retains modest grace. The altar was originally intended as a sarcophagus for Cardinal Wiseman, whose seat was the earlier 'cathedral'.

St Mary Woolnoth

During the reign of Queen Anne, a series of new churches were constructed in the suburbs around the City, and it is here that Hawksmoor's power can be seen - at Christ Church Spitalfields, St George In The East and St Ann Limehouse - but he did manage to rebuild one City church, and that was St Mary Woolnoth. Despite this attribution, it came close to demolition when Bank station was being constructed by the Victorians. Hawksmoor's towered facade is an interesting contrast to the exteriors designed by his teacher Wren. The Elizabethan playwright Thomas Kyd was christened here; the slaver-turned-preacher John Newton, who wrote 'Amazing Grace', was Rector here and was buried here until being translated to a Home Counties church in 1893.

St Michael Paternoster Royal

This church goes back to at least 1219 but was famously refounded in 1409 by the wealthy merchant and oft-times Lord Mayor, Richard Whittington. It had to be completely rebuilt after both the Fire and the Blitz, and is now HQ of the Mission To Seafarers. Whittington is remembered by a stained glass window and a inscribed tile south of the altar; post-War excavations failed to recover his coffin but, curiously, did recover the skeleton of a cat! Also buried here was the Cavalier poet John Cleveland.

St Peter Cornhill

The highest church in the City, it stands on the site of the Roman Forum and somewhat fancifully claims to have been founded in AD79, although the foundation is more likely Saxon. It contains a Wren chancel screen in its original position, and the City's most upsetting church memorial - to seven young siblings who died in a house fire in 1782. The churchyard was described in Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens, who ironically noted the 'healthy' proximity of crowded graveyard to crowded neighbourhood! The churchyard is still crowded by other buildings, but has long since been an attractive public garden.

St Nicholas Cole Abbey
This never was an Abbey; the name is a mutation of 'Coldharbour'. The spire is notably surmounted by a gilded ship, brought from a demolished church. Built by Wren and restored after the Blitz, its war-blackened walls featured in the Ealing comedy Lavender Hill Mob. At the Counter-Reformation, it was the first church to celebrate Mass in Latin, and until recently was being used by Scottish Presbyterians. It has recently opened as a cafe.

St Vedast Alias Foster

Thanks to parochial amalgamations, this parish can boast the name of 'St Stephen with St Michael le Querne, St Matthew Friday Street, St Peter Cheap, St Alban Wood Street, St Olave Silver Street, St Michael Wood Street & St Mary Staining, St Anne & St Agnes and St John Zachary Gresham Street'. A cloister between the church and its rectory contains a section of Roman tessellated pavement which was excavated nearby.

St Etheldredas

This RC chapel in Holborn is all that remains of Ely Palace, the London residence of the Bishop of that see. It has an atmospheric vault, many colourful windows and statues of various London martyrs. Alexander D'Arbley, son of the novelist Fanny Burney, was Reverend here in the 1830's. The 13th-century crypt in the Palace of Westminster is almost identical to the contemporary crypt here.

St Mary le Strand

Rebuilt by the architect James Gibbs in the eighteenth century, St Mary stands in a sea of traffic at the junction of Aldwych and the Strand. Its once extensive churchyard was curtailed by the construction of its neighbour Somerset House. Father John Huddleston, who accepted Charles II's deathbed conversion to Catholicism, was buried here in 1698.

Savoy Chapel

The original Savoy Palace belonged to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and was burned down in the Peasant's Revolt of 1381; the present Duke, HM The Queen, is the current owner of the Savoy Chapel. It is all that remains of a Hospital built by Henry VII for the 'pouer, needie people'. Burial place of Gavin Douglas, Bishop of Dunkeld and poet, in 1552.

City Road Chapel

Probably the closest the Methodists have to a cathedral, this stands in an area famous for its dissenting traditions. John Wesley's House stands alongside, and the man himself occupies an eye-catching tomb in the garden to the rear. The crypts are the site of an impressive museum of Methodism, and just across the busy City Road is the famous dissenters' burial ground of Bunhill Fields, which contains figures such as Bunyan, Defoe, William Blake, Susannah Wesley, the radical Richard Price and the hymnwriter Isaac Watts.

St James Piccadilly

Commissioned by the rakish Henry Jermyn and built by Wren in the 1680's, plain brick with Portland stone dressing. Williams Blake and Pitt were baptised here, and indeed it is now the meeting-place of the Blake Society. Burials include the Dutch maritime artists Van Der Velde (Elder and Younger), the essayist and wit Dr John Arbuthnot, Dr Thomas Sydenham the populariser of laudanum, and artist Mary Beale.

St James Clerkenwell

Originally the site of a Priory of St Mary, this became the Parish church after the Dissolution and was rebuilt in its present form in 1792 by James Carr. It is a dignified old building in a somewhat untidy but vibrant area, dominating Clerkenwell Green. It could possibly claim to be the Playwright's Church if it had a mind to; Elizabethan writer George Peele was buried here and may have been followed by the Jacobean dramatists Thomas Dekker and John Webster. Also here is Henry Penton, after whom Pentonville is named.

St Mary Lambeth

Standing next to Lambeth Palace, this redundant church is now a Museum Of Garden History, which is perfectly appropriate considering the botanical connections of its famous interments: John Tradescent father & son, travellers and Royal Gardeners; Elias Ashmole, who founded Oxford's Ashmolean Museum; James Sowerby, botanical illustrator; and commander of The Bounty William Bligh, whose 1789 mission to transport breadfruit from Tahiti to Jamaica met with a minor delay. Also here is a Howard Chapel containing Elizabeth Boleyn, mother of Anne.

St Marylebone

The present church, consecrated in 1817, is the fourth to bear the name. Its outstanding feature is its splendid apse, added in 1884. Robert Browning and Charles Dickens were born in the parish and would have worshipped here; the marriage of Browning to fellow poet Elizabeth Barrett also took place here, and the church retains the entry in the Marriage Register. Baptisms include 'Bad' Lord Byron and Horatia, daughter of Emma Hamilton and Horatio Nelson. In the 'old' churchyard were buried Revd. Charles Wesley, the animal artist George Stubbs, the sculptor John Rysbrack, the codifier of whist Edmund 'according to' Hoyle, and architect James Gibbs. This ground was cleared in 2004 to make way for a subterranean school gymnasium; reburials took place at the East London Cemetery.

St Mary Aldermary

It was ten to four on a weekday afternoon when I slipped through the door of St Mary, just as its courteous and bow-tied custodian was about to lock it.

'Sorry,' I said, 'I'll come back another time.'
'Not at all,' he beamed, and gave me a guided tour. He was proud of his church, and rightly so; one needs only to glance around the interior to appreciate that there is something unique about this particular City church
It's so... gothic.
This is due to the parishioners who, after the Great Fire, asked Wren to rebuild their church to exactly the same medieval design as before. Wren obliged, even using some of the fire-scarred stonework from the old building. He also created the only parish church to use fan vaulting, the ceiling a series of saucer domes and semi circles which draw the eye to a curious feature of the chancel... it's lopsided!

The reason for this is that the narrow street to the east of the church runs obliquely from the main road. The east wall follows this pattern, so that one side of the chancel is longer than the other. The guide pointed out other features, such as the plasterwork which apparently is rare for Wren, and woodcarvings which were probably by the ubiquitous Grinling Gibbons. Various Lord Mayors were buried here, although Heminges and Condell were not, as erroneously attributed in a recently published work called London City Churches. The mistake is easily made, given the similarity between the words Aldermary and Aldermanbury
The foundation is old - St Mary de Eldermariechurche is mentioned as far back as 1080, and simply means 'Older Mary', to differentiate it from St Mary le Bow, a younger foundation just around the corner. Sometime around the turn of the sixteenth century, the Gothic church was built by a grocer mayor named Henry Keble, who donated the not insignificant sum of a thousand pounds for the purpose. This was the church destroyed in the Fire but rebuilt to the previous design by Wren, although many of its interior fittings were removed in 1876 when the Victorians - presumably with good intentions - attempted to 'medievalise' it. It still retains, however, a wooden swordresr and pulpit, font and font cover from the seventeenth century. The tall, thin, pinnacled tower is later than the body of the church - although surviving the Fire, it was damaged in the Great Storm of 1703.
St Mary appears to have had a fairly quiet history. Milton's third marriage took place here, and one of its rectors, Henry Gold, was sentenced by the Star Chamber and executed at Tyburn.

Other than this, the church never seems to have been tainted by any scandal, and has remained in its position near the Mansion House, waiting to surprise the unwary visitor with its Gothic splendour.

St Sepulchre

'When will you pay me, say the Bells of Old Bailey'

The City of London's largest parish church, this was dedicated to St Edmund the King at its earliest recorded mention in 1137, but later became the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or St Sepulchre-without-Newgate. This is because it sits just outside the City walls, like the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and the similarity was not lost on the Crusaders who prayed at the church before journeying to the Holy Land. Its status as the City's largest church is due to its siting - more room was available to build here than existed within the crowded confines of the walls. The benefice belonged, in 1137, to the Prior of St Bartholomews, Rahere, but he granted it to Hagno the Clerk.

This early church was rebuilt in the middle of the fifteenth century, although Stow cannot be clear if the King at the time was Henry VI or Edward IV as the Wars of the Roses were raging. Much of the medieval fabric is still visible. Although the walls, tower and vaulted porch survive from this period, the rest of the church was gutted by the Great Fire; an unfortunate circumstance, as the Fire stopped only a few yards beyond the building. Around the corner, in Giltspur Street, can be found the effigy of a slightly obese boy, marking the spot where the Fire burned itself out. The statue's portliness represents Gluttony, the sin for which many believed the City was destroyed. Rebuilt in the 1670's by architects unknown, the layout was altered twice during the nineteenth century and the roof in 1932, making St Sepulchres today a mixture of styles.

The social history of the Church is dark, thanks principally to the presence of Newgate Prison just across the road, sited where the Old Bailey now stands. A tall, dark brick wall can be seen around the corner in Amen Court, and this is the last remaining section of the Prison. Sir Thomas Malory would have heard the bells pealing as he sat in his cell during the 1480's, writing 'Le Morte D'Arthur'. However, St Sepulchre's earliest notoriety is due to its Rector in Tudor times, the celebrated John Rogers. He helped William Tyndale translate the Bible into English during the Reformation. However, at the counter-Reformation, he was tried for heresy in the church which is now Southwark Cathedral, and consequently earned the dubious distinction of being the first Protestant Martyr of Mary I's reign, being burned at Smithfield in 1555.

Condemned prisoners held at Newgate were originally transported to Tyburn, now the site of Marble Arch, and condemned highwaymen were presented with a nosegay at the Church door - but later the scaffold was erected in the wide street outside the Prison itself, large enough to hang 12 at once. The bells in the Church's tower (the bells of Old Bailey) started to peal dolefully at 8 o' clock in the morning, as the unfortunates were led to their doom. This tradition was paid for in 1605 by a Robert Dowe, who also paid for another service to be carried out the previous night. This consisted of a handbell, rung outside the condemned cells at midnight, twelve double strokes accompanied with the words:
'All you that in the condemned hold do lie, Prepare you, for tomorrow you shall die; Watch all and pray, the hour is drawing near, That you before the Almighty must appear; Examine well yourselves, in time repent, That you may not to eternal flames be sent: And when St Sepulchre's bell tomorrow tolls, The Lord above have mercy on your souls. Past twelve o' clock!'
Presumably Dowe granted this legacy in an attempt to save souls, yet one cannot help but wonder if there was a hint of pious sadism involved. This custom continued for a century and a half.

In The Rawlinson MSS exists this curious excerpt regarding a murder mystery uncovered at St Sepulchre: "Dr. Airy, Provost of Queen's College, Oxon (1599-1616), passing, with his servant, accidentally through St. Sepulchre's Church-yard: (Holborn Viaduct now almost covers this spot), where the sexton was making a grave, observing a skull to move, showed it to his servant and then to the sexton, who, taking it up, found a great toad in it; but withal observed a tenpenny nail stuck in the temple bone, whereupon the doctor presently imagined the party to have been murdered, and asked the sexton if he remembered whose skull it was. He answered it was the skull of a man who died suddenly, and had been buried twenty-two years before. The doctor told him that certainly the man was murdered, and that it was fitting to be inquired after, and so departed. The sexton thinking much upon it remembered some particular stories talked of at the death of the party, as that his wife, then alive, and married to another person, had been seen to go into his chamber with a nail and hammer, whereupon he went to a justice of the peace, and told him all the story. The wife was sent for, and witnesses were found who testified that and some other particulars. She confessed, and was hanged."

Newgate Prison was demolished in 1902, and the widening of Holborn Viaduct carried away much of the churchyard on the southern side. Today this patch of land is dominated by a memorial to the Royal Fusiliers, and a watchtower which was originally erected to prevent grave-robbing.

Through the entrance and a vestibule, the visitor comes upon an interior described by Betjeman as 'a forest of tall pillars', which suggests the size of the building. The font and organ both date to 1670, the year the church re-opened after the Fire, and the twin pulpits date to 1854.

On the north side of the church can be found a chapel, originally dedicated to St Stephen Harding. The scholar Roger Ascham, tutor to Elizabeth Tudor and Lady Jane Grey, was buried here in 1568. Henry Wood learned to play the organ in this chapel and, at the age of 14, was appointed Assistant Organist. Best known as the founder of the Promenade Concerts, Wood's ashes were interred in the Chapel in 1944 and, every year on the Last Night Of The Proms, the wreath that adorns his bust at the Albert Hall is brought here to his grave. It is now the Musician's Chapel, and a window shows images of Wood as a boy and a man. A case contains a Musician's Book Of Remembrance, and in the north are the remains of what is believed to be an Easter Sepulchre.

Crossing to the south-east of the nave, a glass case on a pillar contains the very handbell that used to make condemned prisoners' last nights even more fraught. Nearby in the south aisle are the chapel of the Royal Fusiliers, whose City of London regiment still hold Remembrance Day services in the church, and a medieval piscina which appears darkened by fire damage, probably from the 1666 inferno. A brass plaque in this aisle marks the resting place of Captain John Smith, his 1631 epitaph reading 'Here lies one conquer'd who hath conquer'd kings'. Although he became President of the Council of Virginia and Admiral of New England, Smith is best known for having his life saved in 1607 by Princess Pocahontas. In recent times he has been portrayed by Mel Gibson in Disney's 'Pocahontas', and will return in 2005 as Colin Farrell in 'The New World'. A window of 1968 commemorates him, showing him surrounded by navigational instruments and above the three ships in which the pioneers crossd the Atlantic.

In essence, then, St Sepulchre retains an air of medieval grandeur and mystery above the busy thoroughfare of Holborn Viaduct. Its presence opposite the Old Bailey recalls its long association with the country's foremost bastion of justice and, although the bells are no longer rung for the guilty, their mentions by Shakespeare, Dickens and the nursery rhyme have ensured their immortality!

St Saviours, Southwark - Southwark Cathedral

Southwark began as a Roman settlement, situated at a junction of roads leading to the south bank of the Thames and the bridge into Londinium. Several London Bridges have now occupied this site, and plans are afoot to open a museum celebrating the earliest principal route into the City. The museum will be the latest among many developments over the past two decades, that have seen the South Bank from Southwark to Westminster become, after centuries in the shadow of the great City, a vivid and colourful part of the metropolis.

Perhaps because of Southwark’s lack of status in former times, its most important church has been overlooked and overshadowed by local development - it is hemmed in by roads, railways and huddled wharfside buildings. The best view is actually from the Thames’ northern bank, although its most famous historic representation sees it dominating the foreground of the famous 1614 engraving by Visscher. The earliest mention of religious activity on the site comes from the Domesday Book which mentions a ’monasterium’ of which little is known, although Saxon foundations have been recovered during archaeological exploration.

The site’s proper recorded history begins in 1106. Falling under the diocese of Winchester (which covered a huge swathe of Southern England at the time), it was refounded by the then Bishop of Winchester, William Giffard, as the Priory Church of St Marie. It became more informally known as St Marie Over-The-River (meaning over the river from the City), and later during the medieval period the name gradually truncated to St Marie Overie. It was an Augustinian foundation, but perhaps fate would have been kinder if it had been Benedictine for, on St Benedict’s Day 1212, much of it burned down - the first of several fires that were to afflict it over the centuries. Repairs in the Early English style were carried out under Winchester’s Bishop Peter Des Roches. Winchester Palace, the London residence of the Bishop, stood close by and the Bishops were to remain responsible for repairs. This Gothic Priory entertained poets such as Geoffrey Chaucer and John Gower, the first associations with poets that would extend and grow stronger in the later Elizabethan and Jacobean periods. More important structural changes occurred in 1420 when the powerful Cardinal Beaufort, a relative of royalty, heightened the tower and restored transepts and chapels.

At the Dissolution in 1539, the Priory was surrendered with little fuss. The hospital buildings to the north were refounded as St Thomas Hospital and the remainder passed to Sir Anthony Browne, Master of the King’s Horse. He appeared to have little interest in the defunct Priory other than a convenient base near London - after all, he had also inherited the more distinguished Battle Abbey - and he sublet the Priory Church to local tradesmen. Thus the former Priory of St Marie Overie became the Parish Church of St Saviour’s.

The area was seeing other changes. Winchester Diocese was doing very nicely out of leasing its riverside land in Southwark, but this land was being used for the sort of insalubrious activities associated with most of the Liberties surrounding the City. Brothels, known as ’stews’, were proliferating, prisons such as the Marshalsea were lurking nearby, and areas of public entertainment such as the Bear Garden were drawing rowdy audiences. An enterprising businessman named Philip Henslowe opened a theatre which he called The Rose. The church authorities condemned the playhouses, but were won over by charitable donations from the theatre box office. The association of St Saviours with Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre had begun, taking its place as the Actors’ Church, the South Bank equivalent of St Leonard Shoreditch and preceding the later Jacobean St Paul Covent Garden. Henslowe and his son-in-law, the great actor Edward Alleyn, became churchwardens of St Saviours and the builder of the Rose is today buried in an unmarked spot somewhere in the church precints. Much of the church’s importance during Jacobean times can be seen from a perambulation of the site, of which more later.

By 1830, the playhouses long gone, the area had once more become neglected. St Saviours was once again in disrepair, and the construction of a new London Bridge threatened its existence. Its ratepayers voted for its demolition but it was saved by the energies of the architects George Gwilt and Henry Rose, who completed major repairs which, although slated by the neo-Gothic architect Pugin, restored the fabric of the building that now stands today.

Despite the saving of Saviours, Southwark remained an unhealthy area, described grimly by Dickens and Booth. Winchester was too remote to be able to cope adequately with the area’s social problems, and responsibility was briefly passed to the Diocese of Rochester before the proposal rose for a new Diocese of Southwark. The idea received eager support and the nave was spruced up in preparation for the building’s coming change in status. 1905 saw the passing of the Bill creating the new Diocese and this surely must have been the proudest and most triumphant year of the site’s history. After facing destruction by fire, Dissolution and Regency period lethargy, St Saviours now emerged as Southwark Cathedral. It now had collegiate status and its own Bishop, the first being Bishop Talbot of Rochester. New buildings have been constructed on the Cathedral’s north side, reflecting the regeneration of the Southwark waterfront that has also seen the rebuilding of The Globe theatre and the opening of the Tate Modern. It is the building most used by the Archbishop of Canterbury to enthrone new Bishops, and is the Anglican mother church as far south as Gatwick Airport.

A tour of Southwark Cathedral takes in virtually every aspect of the site’s history, and begins at the SW door. The late Victorian nave to the visitor’s right was constructed on the foundations of the original and has roughly the same proportions. However, the real Glory of the Cathedral lies not in its capaciousness but its wealth of smaller, more personal details. Directly to the right of the entrance is a stretch of arcading, the oldest part of the building, as this is Norman work dating back to the first priory of St Marie. On the other side of the nave can be seen an arch and a doorway from the same period, and the Victorian arcading faithfully follows the pattern of this early fabric. Other notable sculpture at this west end are medieval roof boses, displayed along the wall, and a lovely canopied font. A memorial tablet here, shaped like a ship’s wheel, recalls a local and recent tragedy. On an August evening in 1991, within sight of the Cathedral, the dredger Bow Belle collided with the pleasure craft Marchioness, causing the loss of 51 lives.

Ambling along the south aisle of the nave, one comes across the most impressive of all memorials to a certain Mr W Shakespeare, a wonderful sculpture showing the poet in repose, with images of St Saviours, Winchester Palace and the theatres Rose and Globe behing him. Above the memorial is a stained glass window depicting characters from his plays, and a visual representation of the famous Seven Ages Of Man speech from As You Like It. Right next to it, touchingly placed, is a memorial to the actor Sam Wanamaker who contributed a great deal to the area’s current popularity by campaigning for many years for The Globe to be rebuilt. It is fitting that his memorial should be next to Shakespeare, perhaps representing the new and the old, the historic and modern Globe theatres. A plaque opposite these memorials remembers Wenceslas Hollar, the 17th century engraver. Although he was buried at St Margarets Westminster and also has a small memorial there, Hollar is commemorated here because of his engravings of Bankside and the Thames, images which were sketched in 1638 from the top of the tower.

The south transept, like its equivalent in the north, is practically a small museum of memorialarchitecture, showing varied and colourful styles of remembrance. The most impressive is a painted bust of Thomas Jones, a chaplain of St Saviours and a founder of the Royal Academy. Also commemorated in this transept are John Bingham, saddler to Elizabeth I and James I, and Isabella Gilmore, who was Head Deaconess and sister of the artist William Morris. The organ case is here and so is a blocked entrance to a now demolished chapel, notable for the Plantagenet arms of Cardinal Beaufort who constructed the chapel in 1426.

Moving into the south choir aisle, one sees the first connection to an Shakespeare-era actor: Richard Benefield, a lawyer cousin of one Robert Ben(e)field, a player whose name appears on the First Folio of the Bard’s work and also in the cast list for John Webster’s most celebrated play The Duchess of Malfi. Set in the floor here are some Roman tesserae, a reminder that the antiquary of this site matches that of the City across the river. A cenotaph tomb to the first Bishop of Southwark, Bishop Talbot, is here, and so is the proper tomb of one of the most celebrated Bishops of Winchester: Lancelot Andrewes. He was an extremely learned man, holding no less than three important Bishoprics during his life and apparently mastering twenty-one languages! He was part of the team that translated the Bible for King James’ Authorised version and is personally credited with translating the five books of Moses. A further monument here, designed by John Soane whose greatest triumph was the Bank of England, is that of Abraham Newland, the Bank’s Chief Cashier who oversaw the first issue of the one pound note.

The retrochoir, at the end of the aisle and the east end of the building, contains a series of chapels and is the oldest intact part of the building, dating to te rebuild of 1215 that followed the fire which devastated the Norman Priory. Heresy trials, presided over by Bishop Gardiner, took place here during Mary Tudor’s reign and many prominent martyrs were condemned on this spot. Even today, the retrochoir has a dark and haunting quality.

In the north choir aisle are a series of monuments that differ in style from those on the south, due to their European quality - they were locally designed by immigrants from Germany and Flanders, and of are impeccable quality - the best being to Richard Humble and John Trehearne, two of the so-called ’Bargainers’ who purchased the church for the parish. Also here is the entrance to the Harvard Chapel, named after the founder of the famous US university, John Harvard who was baptised in St Saviours in 1607.

Move into the chancel, dominated by a Great Screen dating from 1520 and containing three bands of statuary.Here on the floor are tablets commemorating three notable figures of the Southwark Playhouse heyday, all of whom were buried here.The first - and least celebrated - is Edmond Shakespeare, younger brother of the playwright and a fellow actor, who died in 1607. Next is John Fletcher, a prolific dramatist who collaborated with Shakespeare on Henry VIII and succeeded him as chief playwright of The Globe. He died in 1625, and the third slab commemorates Philip Massinger, another collaborative Jacobean playwright who had a hand in 55 plays. He succeeded Fletcher and died in 1640. One of the famous comedians of the Elizabethan stage, Will Kempe (who once Morris-danced from London to Norwich then published a pamphlet about his exploit) may also have been buried here, as he disappears from the historical record around the same time in 1603 that a record in the Burial Register mentions ’Kempe, a man’.

The north transept is a century older than the south and is also full of monuments, the most interesting being the reclining figure of Lionel Lockyer, a local quack who was buried here in 1627. The amusing epitaph praises the pills he sold, which were reputed to have contained sunlight. Judging by the size of his monument, those pills must have sold extremely well.

The windows of the north aisle commemorate historic figures who have been connected with the parish at some time. One of them, Alexander Cruden, wrote a Concordance to accompany King James Bible, and his work is still used today. He is buried somewhere in the grounds. Another, John Gower, has a tomb in this aisle: he was the earliest court poet, serving Richard II before jumping on board with Henry IV when he sensed which way the wind was blowing. He wrote a collection of verse called Confessio Amantis, which influenced his contemporary Chaucer (who dedicated his Troylus and Criseyde) to Gower, and Shakespeare who had Gower appear in the prologue of Pericles.

The door in this aisle leads to a corridor separating the church from the new buildings of its annexe. Named Lancelot’s Link in honour of Bishop Andrewes, it is paved with the names of churches in the Southwark Diocese. At the east end of the Link, and very easy to miss, is an archaeological display, showing a trench dug by the side of the church’s north-eastern corner. This trench falls through the ages, showing road surfaces of the last few centuries, a 17th century kiln, the foundations of the Saxon minster and, right at the bottom, the surface of the Roman road that led to London Bridge. Two thousand years of history in a single pit.

The visitor to Southwark has a choice after leaving the church. Head east, across the road to visit the dark attractions of the London Dungeon. Or head west, through ancient Southwark, still atmospheric despite the tourist revival. The replica of Golden Hinde is here, the Clink Prison museum, the grey remains of Winchester Palace, the rebuilt glory of the Globe and the towering walls of Tate Modern - the area that saw the first performances of some of the greatest literature of the Renaissance. Even the old name, St Saviours Southwark, hisses with sibilants that an alliterative poet would appreciate. No more is it a decaying, half-forgotten edifice in an untidy and unhealthy area. A true example of resilience and antiquity, St Saviours has emerged from centuries of uncertainty to become the great survivor in one of the most vibrant areas of London.

St Mary Le Bow

'I do not know, say the Great bells of Bow'

The bells of Bow are indeed famous, and not just because of the song. They are the bells that called back Dick Whittington, they were used during the Second World War by the BBC as a signal for those secretly listening abroad, and legend tells that any born within their sound is a Cockney. A more recent theory suggests that the expression 'within the sound of Bow Bells' may actually refer to the area between this church and Bow Church in the East End. Given the fact that Cockneys are associated with East London, this theory may well be correct.

The church dates from 1087, and was originally called St Mary New Church, to differentiate it from the nearby Aldermary. Its Norman crypt dates from this time and is the source of its present name. 'Bows' are the arches in the vaulted crypt and the ecclesiastic court, known as the Court of Arches, is held here. The history of the Church is somewhat chequered. Stow writes of 'divers accidents' which caused the church to be 'more famous than any other parish church'.

St Mary's brushes with infamy began early. In 1090 a tempest lifted the roof and dropped it into the street, causing fatalities. In 1196 a seditious tailor named William Fitz Osbert, along with several accomplices, barricaded himself into the steeple. He fortified his position with munitions and victuals, but the steeple was stormed and he was captured, later hanged at Smithfield. In 1271 part of this steeple collapsed, causing more fatalities. Thirteen years later, a goldsmith named Laurence Ducket sought sanctuary in the church after wounding a Ralph Crepin. Unfortunately, the angry Crepin and some of his friends violated the ancient law by entering the church and dispatching the unfortunate Ducket. This crime led to sixteen men being hanged, drawn and quartered, and one woman - apparently the cause of the mischief - being burned at the stake. For a while the church was interdicted, its doors and windows ritually stopped up with thorns.

It was open again by 1331, when festivities were held in Cheapside to commemorate the birth of the man later known as the Black Prince. A balcony was constructed outside the church for the comfort of Queen Phillippa and her ladies in waiting. Somewhat predictably, given the building's history, the balcony collapsed. The Queen was injured but survived
In 1469 it was ordained that the bells should be rung nightly at 9 o' clock, and local apprentices wrote a poem to the Clerk of the church: 'Clarke of the Bow bell with the yellow lockes, for thy late ringing thy head shall have knocks'. The Clerke responded ' Children of Cheap, hold you all still, for you shall have the Bow bell rung at your will'.

Wren rebuilt the tower and steeple following the Great Fire, and he must have done a good job as it hasn't collapsed since, not even after wartime bombing which left little but the tower and the crypt. The postwar rebuild was by Laurence King.

I visited St Mary in the company of Pete G. The churchyard is paved, and contains a statue of parishioner John Smith (of Pocahontas fame). Milton is commemorated by a plaque, as he was born in adjacent Bread Street.

The interior is bright and colourful, lots of white and gold, but also greeen and pale blue in the ceiling. The crypt is a famous vegetarian cafe and the pulpit has been used for lunchtime 'dialogues'. Trevor McDonald, Jeffrey Archer and Dame Diana Rigg have all been 'on the spot' here. Noticeable are a throne for the Bishop of London, a bust of Admiral Phillip who was born nearby and founded Australia, and the carved heads above the aisle supports which are of fairly recent benefactors. On Sundays, the church is used by the St Thomas Syrian Orthodox Church.

Not by Cockneys!

Temple Church

The Knights Templar were an order of warrior monks who were founded in Jerusalem following the First Crusade, their headquarters on the site of Solomon's Temple. They built smaller Temples in many of Europe's capital cities, their original London site being at High Holborn. As the Order expanded, they moved to a new site between the Thames and Fleet Street. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem was a circular building raised over the supposed site of Christs's tomb, and Templar churches followed this design. The London church was consecrated in 1185 by Heraclius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, in the presence of King Henry II. The Marshal family, Earls of Pembroke, were benefactors and several generations were buried in the church, including the 1st Earl who was instrumental in the negotiations that led to Magna Carta. Another effigy visible is that of the East Anglian magnate, Geoffrey de Mandeville.

Henry III favoured the Templars and decided that his mausoleum would be at the church. A large choir was built for this purpose, and consecrated inHenry's presence on Ascension Day 1240. However, upon the King's death in 1272, it was discovered that he had changed his Will, and he was consequently interred at Westminster Abbey.

In 1307, after machinations between the Pope and Philip IV of France, the Knights Templar were suppressed. Edward II took control of the church and gave it to that other crusading Order, the Knights Hospitaller. In turn, the Hospitallers rented the Temple to a pair of lawyer colleges who needed a base in London. Later becoming known as the Inner and Middle Temple, these groups use the church as their chapel to this day. The Hospitallers, in turn, were abolished by Henry VIII and the building became a 'royal peculiar', i.e. a church under direct control of the monarch. The King himself appointed a priest, who was known as 'Master of the Temple'.

In 1585, the second Master died and his deputy Walter Travers was passed over for promotion because of his Calvinist views. Richard Hooker of Exeter College Oxford was appointed instead, but the aggrieved Travers had his day: Hooker would preach on Sunday mornings and Travers would contradict him in the afternoon sermon! This became known as the 'Battle of the Pulpit'.

In 1608, James I granted a Royal Charter to the two Inns of Court, giving them perpetual use of the Temple so long as they kept up its maintenance; this Charter is still in force today. The jurist, antiquarian and legal writer John Selden, whose library occupies the 'Selden End' of the Bodleian Library, was buried in the church in 1654.

Although it escaped the Great Fire, the church was restored by Wren who also designed the reredos. An organ was installed for the first time and, between 1729 and 1814, both Inns of Court appointed their own organists who played on alternate Sundays. An 1841 restoration by Smirke and Burton saw the building being decorated in Victorian Gothic style, Wren's reredos being removed and a singing choir of men and boys introduced. The round church received a 'pepperpot' roof.
Incendiary bombs wrought havoc on 10th May 1941, destroying all the wood in the church. Restoration by Walter and Emil Godfrey was slow, the choir rededicated in 1954 and the round church in 1958. By good fortune, the Wren reredos - removed over a century before - was able to be restored to the church after spending the intervening years in a museum in County Durham.

Temple Church can be reached from an alley leading from Fleet Street, opposite the lantern-towered church of St Dunstan In The West and below Prince Henry's Room, currently in use as a Samuel Pepys museum. The alley opens into an open plaza, surrounded by the buildings of the Inns of Court, towering over the church. The churchyard is paved but still contains a handful of Crusader tombs and, in a quiet corner, a tomb bearing the simple epitaph 'Here lies Oliver Goldsmith'. A friend of Samuel Johnson and part of the same intellectual circle, Goldsmith was a poet (The Deserted Village), a novelist (The Vicar of Wakefield) and a playwright (She Stoops To Conquer). The nearby barristers' Chambers called Goldsmith Building boasts, at its entrance, a list of tenants including one 'Horace Rumpole'. On the other side of the church, in the plaza, is a column topped by a model of two knights sharing a horse - the symbol of the Knights Templar.

Visitors enter the church through the south door, with the round church to the left and the large choir to the right. Easily missed, next to the Visitor Desk, is a glass panel in the floor, protecting and displaying the sunken gravestone of Selden.
The round church resembles a Chapter House, with alcoves and a seating mantle. Between the alcoves can be found humorous gargoyles, and above is a triforium. The medieval effigies, most with the crossed legs that signify their Crusader status, were laid out here during the 1841 restoration.
The dark marble of the church's columns contrast pleasantly with the lighter hues of the walls and the fan-vaulted ceiling. Pews and pupit are plain, but the stained glass windows above Wren's reredos are a riot of colour, and are flanked by similar windows. As well as religious symbolism, the windows also contain plenty of Templar references: the two needy knights sharing a horse; images of Pegasus (whose inclusion alludes to a manuscript in which the former symbol was misinterpreted as the winged horse of Greek legend); a portarayal of the church, complete with the pepperpot roof not restored after 1941; images of Crusaders with the motto 'Beausean'. The window was a 1954 gift from the Glazier's Company, and was designed by Carl Edwards.
Two intriguing effigies can be found in the choir. The first is the ornate effigy of Edmund Plowden, a benefactor of the Middle Temple described as having 'great gravity, knowledge and integrity'. The other effigy is that of an unknown bishop, traditionally that of Heraclius, but more probably a Bishop of Carlisle who died while visiting.

Today the church is popular with visitors, due to its history, architecture, and more recently its brief inclusion in Dan Brown's popular conspiracy novel 'The Da Vinci Code'. The strong connection with the legal industry remains, and members of the Inns of Court continue to wed in the church and have their children baptised there. As a comparison to another well-known Templar site, this is no Rosslyn, but enough exists to intrigue the casual visitor or conspiracy theorist!

St Mary Aldermanbury

It was in December 2003, on a cold but thankfully dry day, that I adjourned to the London Guildhall and spent a couple of hours browsing its fascinating Library with my companion, top TTFF mover and shaker Pete G.

Lunch was a visit to a sandwich shop just across the road, where a ciabatta and a fruit salad were purchased, and I decided where we should sit and eat our grub. A spot to the west of the Guildhall, the small garden that holds the remains of St Mary Aldermanbury.

Ruined churches are not unusual in the City, the Blitz saw to that, but unlike the nearby St Albans Wood Street and other notables such as Christ Church Newgate Street and St-Dunstan-In-The-East, St Mary lacks a dominating tower or standing exterior walls.In fact, it is quite the opposite - the remains are sunken in comparison to the surrounding landscaped churchyard. Low stonework, only a few courses high, trace the shape of the building and the bases of the columns that once supported the roof can be seen. One would be forgiven for feeling a little sadness at the loss of what was a lovely Wren church, but the fact is that St Mary has not been lost. It has simply been moved!

Of which more later, for St Mary's history goes back long before the enemy aircraft changed its destiny. Stow provided an explanation for the name of the street: 'this street took the name of Alderman's bury, or court... but now called the Guildhall; which hall of old time stood on the east side of the same street... I myself have seen the ruins of the old hall in Aldermanbury Street'.
He described the pre-Great Fire church as fair, with a cloister in which was displayed a 'shankbone' of a man, some twentyeight inches in length. Among the burials he lists is that of Dame Mary Gresham, wife to the important City figure Sir John, and mother of the even more important Sir Thomas.

Other than Stow's description, little seems to be known of the medieval church, which was one of many victims of the Great Fire. Two of Shakespeare's fellow actors, John Heminge and Henry Condell, lived in the parish and were buried in the churchyard. Their names may be unfamiliar to most but, in fact, it is due to the diligent efforts of these two that English Literature is the most respected in the world for, without them, the name of Shakespeare would hardly be known.
A bust of the Bard is displayed in the churchyard, and an inscription on the plinth describes the achievement of his two friends and fellow actors: 'To the memory of John Heminge and Henry Condell, fellow actors and personal friends of Shakespeare. They lived many years in this parish and are buried here. To their disinterested affection the world owes all that it calls Shakespeare. They alone collected his dramatic writings, regardless of pecuniary cost, and without the hope of any profit gave them to the world. They thus merited the gratitude of mankind.'
These publishings are known as the First Folio and are probably the most influential works in literature. As a fan of Shakespeare, I can only second the sentiments of the inscription.

Wren designed the church that rose from the ashes of the Great Fire and, when the building was still young, it hosted another burial - this one done quietly and with a minimum of fanfare, for the deceased in question was anything but popular.
Judge George Jeffries, known to history as the Hanging Judge, rose to prominence as a crony of the Duke of York, later James II. Following the failed uprising that culminated in the Battle of Sedgemoor in 1685, Jeffries was sent to the West Country to deal with the captured rebels. His trials, known as the Bloody Assizes, are still spoken of with a sense of horror today. Somewhere in the number of three hundred were hanged, drawn and quartered, and many more were transported. Mercy was not a concept that Jeffries included in his thinking.
Naturally, this made him tremendously unpopular with the common folk, but his friendship with James saw his power continuing to grow, and his attaining the position of Lord Chancellor All this ended suddenly with the Glorious Revolution. William and Mary landed, James fled to France, and Jeffries - believing his life in danger of lynch mob justice ( a probably correct suspicion), sought sanctuary in the Tower of London. He never left it alive. Placed under arrest and charged with treason, he died unlamented in 1689. Three years later, he was moved from his grave in the Tower and quietly dumped in St Mary. Today, no monument marks his presence.

Wren's church was burned out in the Blitz and, after the War finished, it was one of the churches that received a new lease of life. However, it was not rebuilt on the site. Its stones were labelled in strict order, then packed up and exported to Missouri!
In 1946, Winston Churchill had visited the States and made a speech at Westminster College in Fulton. It was decided to rebuild the church of St Mary on the campus as a Churchill memorial. The rebuilding took place under the care of architect
Eris Lytle, who actually visited London to study Wren's work for himself before refitting the interior of the church.

St Mary Aldermanbury survives today, a Wren church on a college campus in the USA. Its exterior, of 7,000 Portland stones, looks much the same as it did when it occupied its site near the London Guildhall. Its interior is bright and welcoming - Lytle obviously appreciated Wren's love of sun-filled churches with clear glass. The site in London that it occupied for centuries is a garden, easily missed as it sits below the level of the Guildhall, and looking at first glance like it has been excavated out of the earth by archaeologists. I sat there on a cold December afternoon and found amusement in the fact that Pete, the TTFF resident expert on Dorchester, sat eating a ciabatta above the bones of Dorset's most infamous scourge, and I looked across at the bust of the Bard and gave quiet thanks, as I always do when I pass this spot, to his friends John and Henry.

Later, Pete and I visited St Mary le Bow, but that's a different story!