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The City Churches Of Old London

June 5, 2021
by the gentle author

Discover the wonders of the City of London Churches in the company of celebrity guides (including Spitalfields’ own Dan Cruickshank) this Thursday 10th June. Click here for details.

St. Michael, Cornhill, 1912

As shabby old residents that have survived from another age, the churches speak eloquently of an earlier world when the City of London was densely populated and dozens of places of worship were required to serve all the tiny parishes crowded up beside each other. Yet in spite of the encroachment of towers around them, these intricately wrought structures stubbornly hold their own against newcomers today.

In the process of getting to know them, I acquired a literary companion – John Betjeman, who knew these churches as well as anyone and was refreshingly candid in his opinions. While grieving the loss of seven Wren designs to the German bombers in World War II, he managed to find a silver lining.”They did us a favour in blowing out much bad Victorian glass,” he declared with unapologetic prejudice.

Yet I could not but concur with his estimation of the contemporary significance of these churches when he wrote – “As the impersonal slabs of cellular offices rise higher into the sky, so do the churches which remain in the City of London today become more valuable to us. They maintain a human scale…” And that was in 1965, before most of the financial towers were built.

St Mary le Bow, Cheapside, 1910

St Augustine, Watling St, 1921 – now part of St Paul’s School

St Andrew Undershaft, St Mary Axe, c. 1910

St Mary Abchurch, c. 1910

St Margaret Patterns, Eastcheap, 1920

St Mary Woolnoth, Lombard St & Bank Tube station, c. 1920

St Stephen Walbrook, 1917

St Clement Danes, c. 1910

St Alban, Wood St, c. 1875 – only the tower remains

St Clement Danes, c. 1900

St Margaret, Lothbury, 1908

St George the Martyr, Borough, 1910

St. Katherine Coleman, Magpie Alley, c. 1910 – demolished in 1926

St. Magnus the Martyr, c. 1910

St Magnus the Martyr & the Monument from the Thames, c. 1920

St Dunstan in the East, 1910

St Dunstan in the East,  1910

St Dunstan in the West, Fleet St, c. 1910

St. Michael Paternoster Royal, 1922

St. Michael Paternoster Royal, 1922

St. Michael Paternoster Royal, 1922

St Bride, Fleet St, 1922

St Dunstan in the East, 1911

St Mary Le Strand

Images courtesy © Bishopsgate Institute

2 Responses leave one →
  1. Su C. permalink
    June 5, 2021

    I truly believe my favorite experience when we visit London is going to the old churches. Sitting and listening the to quietude filled with history gives me gooseflesh. Thank you GA for the reminder. I will be able to get back to London someday…..

  2. June 5, 2021

    Isn’t St Augustine, Watling St part of St Paul’s *Choir* School?

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