Category Archives: Churches

Unanswered Questions

From time to time I am asked a question which I think is worth mentioning – or sometimes where I actually don’t know the answer! Here are some such and in most cases some answers.

UNANSWERED (if anybody can offer answers then please leave a comment)

Where are the Rotherhithe Tunnel ventilation towers?

Was St Paul’s Shadwell rebuilt in its original style?

Where exactly was the News International print works?

Is Wapping station Art Nouveau?

Were there many churches in Limehouse?

Why is St Anne’s, Limehouse so big?

What is served at an Execution Breakfast?
This relates to the Magpie and Stump pub which stands on the street called Old Bailey opposite what was once the site of public executions. The landlord made a nice earning by providing guests with a first floor room where they could watch the action at the gallows whilst enjoying an Execution Breakfast.


ANSWERED

Where are the four Rotherhithe Tunnel ventilation shafts?

From south to north:-
1. Corner of Brunel Road and Canon Beck Road in Rotherhithe
2, Octagon Court, Rotherhithe (visible from shaft 3).
3. King Edward memorial park, Shadwell (visible from shaft 2).
4. Corner of The Highway and Heckford Street, Shadwell. This is not the original building which was demolished in 1967 for a road widening scheme.

Which churches can fly the White Ensign apart from St Anne’s Limehouse?

There are 8 other churches, the only one in London is St Martin in the Fields.

How much must a vessel pay to have Tower Bridge opened?

Not a penny, it is free.

What does the Birchin in Birchin Lane mean?

The Lane of the Barbers.

From whom did JMW Turner inherit the two cottages which became the Old Star pub?

From his Uncle Joseph Marshall, his mother’s brother, who was a butcher in Brentford in West London.

Why and when is a bale of straw hung under London bridges?

An old tradition last observed at Millennium Bridge in December 2023. It is to indicate that workers are underneath the bridge and that headroom is reduced as a result. By night a white light is used instead,

Where can one buy Lord Mayor’s honey?

Some of it is sold on City Giving Day.

Is JP Morgan an American bank?

The original JP Morgan was a British Bank formed in the mid 1800s which merged with Chase National Bank in 2000 to form JP Morgan-Chase. Today, therefore, it is American.

Did Lloyds insure the Titanic?

Yes, the policy was for £1 million and was paid out within 30 days of the sinking.

What did Judge John Jeffries die from?

He died in the Tower of London from kidney disease of which he had been a chronic sufferer.

Where were the pumps feeding the Hydraulic Ring Main?

These were found at Bankside (Southwark), City Road (near Liverpool Street station), East India Dock (Blackwall), Mansell Street (City of London/Tower Hamlets), Pimlico, Rotherhithe and Wapping Wall (Shadwell).

Is the Import Dock (West India Quay) smaller than it was?

The north wall by the Museum is original but part of the south dock has been reclaimed.

Was St Anne’s Limehouse rebuilt in its original style?

Yes

How long does the Plague virus last?

It’s a bacterium rather than a virus. In dry conditions or when exposed to sunlight it lives no longer than 72 hours. In damp dark conditions survival for up to 24 days has been recorded. No long term data seems to be available though bacteria in general cannot survive more than three years without sustenance (unless frozen when they can last for millennia – 120,000 years is the current record).

Was Mozart a freemason?

Yes, initiated into a Vienna lodge at the age of 28.

Did St Anne’s Limehouse suffer bomb damage?

It suffered minor damage during both world wars but nothing structural.

How many churches are there in the City?

I didn’t know the exact number and hazarded a guess at fifty, I was not far wrong.

What are the entry requirements and fees for Christ’s Hospital school today?

Pupils must show “academic potential”. Boarding fees are £14,000 per term though bursaries and the occasional free place are offered. Day pupil fees are £7,000 to £9,000

What was the City population in 1066?

Around 15,000.

City Churches

There fifty churches in the City. Of these seven are no longer functioning and are either in ruins or only the tower survives.

Here is the list, a * indicates an ‘extinct’ church.

All Hallows by the Tower
All Hallows on the Wall
*Christ Church Greyfriars
City Temple
Holy Sepulchre
*St Alban
St Andrew by the Wardrobe
St Andrew Holborn
St Andrew Undershaft
St Anne and St Agnes
*St Augustine
St Bartholomew the Great
St Bartholomew the less
St Benet Paul’s Wharf
St Botolph without Aldersgate
St Botolph without Aldgate
St Botolph without Bishopsgate
St Bride’s
St Clement Eastcheap
*St Dunstan in the East
St Dunstan in the West
St Edmund, King and Martyr
St Ethelburga
St Giles Cripplegate
St Helen’s Bishopsgate
St James Garlickhythe
St Katherine Cree
St Lawrence Jewry
St Magnus the Martyr
St Margaret Lothbury
St Margaret Pattens
St Martin without Ludgate
St Mary Abchurch
*St Mary Aldermanbury
St Mary Aldermary
St Mary at Hill
St Mary le Bow
St Mary Moorfields
*St Mary Somerset
St Mary Woolnorth
St Michael Cornhill
St Michael Paternoster Royal
St Nicholas Cole Abbey
St Olave Hart Street
*St Olave Old Jewry
St Paul’s Cathedral
St Peter Cornhill
St Stephen Walbrook
St Vedast Foster
Temple

50 churches in total, 43 extant, 7 in ruins or repurposed.

Nicholas Hawksmoor

1661-1736

Hawksmoor was an architect who began to work for Christopher Wren at 1680. He helped Wren with several City churches including St Paul’s cathedral.

In 1711 he was commissioned to help build around 50 churches in Greater London. Within the City his only church was St Mary Woolnoth which was completed in 1724 . Other churches included St. George-in-the-East, Wapping (1729), Christ Church, Spitalfields (1729) and St. Anne in Limehouse (1730) where you may find a Pyramid in the churchyard.

Venues to Visit (City)

When you’ve finished one of my tours there are several places to visit within which I am not normally able to guide. These are listed geographically from west to east. Entry is free unless a price is stated.

Although I try to keep things up to date, prices and opening times may vary from those shown here. Please leave a comment if anything is no longer accurate.

DOCTOR JOHNSON’S HOUSE
17 Gough Square, EC4A 3DE
Home of the compiler of the Great Dictionary Of The English Language
£4-£9. 11am-4pm Tuesday-Saturday. Booking not needed
www.drjohnsonshouse.org/visit.html
Chancery Lane underground

ST BRIDE’S
South side of Fleet Street at the eastern end behind the Old Bell pub, EC4Y 8AU
The Journalists’ Church with a museum in the crypt.
10am to 5pm daily (3.30pm on Saturday)
Blackfriars and St Paul’s underground. Blackfriars and City Thameslink national Rail

ST MARY ALDERMARY
Junction of Bow Lane and Cannon Street or Watling Street and Queen Victoria Street, EC4M 9BW
Best coffee venue in the City. A blitz survivor – check out the Wren ceiling.
7:30am to 4pm weekdays
Bank, Cannon Street, Mansion House underground. Cannon Street national rail.

GUILDHALL ART GALLERY
Basinghall St/Guildhall Yard EC2V 5AE
As well as the paintings you may visit the Roman Amphitheatre and also see the charter granted to the City by William the First.
10:30am to 4pm every day.
Bank underground

MITHRAEUM
12 Walbrook, London EC4N 8AA
The City’s only pagan temple.
10am-6pm Tuesday-Saturday; 12noon-5pm Sunday. Booking may be necessary but often not.
Bank, Cannon Street, Mansion House underground. Cannon Street national rail.

ST STEPHEN WALBROOK
39 Walbrook, London EC4N 8BN
A Wren masterpiece enhanced by Henry Moore.
10:30am to 3:30pm Monday-Friday
Bank, Cannon Street or Mansion House underground. Cannon Street national rail

ROYAL EXCHANGE
Cornhill/Threadneedle Street, EC3V 3LL
Sip a surprisingly reasonably priced coffee at Fortnum and Mason, enjoy the architecture, window shop for fabulous watches and jewellery at fabulous prices.
7:30am-10pm Monday-Friday
Bank or Cannon Street underground. Cannon Street national rail.


BANK OF ENGLAND MUSEUM
Bartholomew Lane, EC2R 8AH
10am-5pm Monday-Friday
Bank or Cannon Street underground. Cannon Street national rail

HORIZON 22
22 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AJ
Viewing platform atop the tallest building in the City.
Free but booking essential: horizon22.co.uk
10am-6pm daily (5pm Saturday, 4pm Sunday)
Bank or Monument Underground; Cannon Street, Fenchurch Street or Liverpool Street national rail

LEADENHALL MARKET
Gracechurch St, EC3V 1LT
Horace Jones’ wonderful 1880s building.
Open 24 hours.
Bank or Monument Underground; Fenchurch or Liverpool Street national rail

MONUMENT
Fish St Hill, EC3R 8AH
Climb to the top of Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke’s memorial to the Great Fire
£6.  9:30am-6pm daily; closed 1pm-2pm.
There may a bit of a wait as only a few people are allowed up at once. Access to the top is via a narrow spiral staircase which may not suit everybody.

themonument.org.uk/plan/buy-tickets

Monument Underground; Cannon Street or Fenchurch Street national rail

THE GARDEN AT 120
120 Fenchurch Street, EC3M 5BA
Good view of the City from the roof terrace and usually no need to queue.
Monday-Friday 10am-6:30pm; Saturday-Sunday 10am-5pm.
Tower Hill or Bank underground; Fenchurch Street national rail

ALL HALLOWS BY THE TOWER
Byward St, EC3R 5BJ
Filled with history including a Grinling Gibbons carving and a Saxon stone arch. There’s also a museum in the crypt.
10am-5pm every day
Tower Hill underground; Fenchurch Street national rail

 Free PUBLIC TOILETS may be found at All Hallows, the Art Gallery (though you need to go through Security), Mithraeum, Royal Exchange and St Mary Aldermary. For the church facilities it would be a courtesy to make a purchase from the café or leave something in the collection box.

Christopher Wren

1632-1723

We all know Wren as an architect but at the age of just 25 he was appointed professor of astronomy at Gresham College.

He studied mathematics, mechanics, medicine, meteorology and microscopy. He was a member of parliament who served three terms in the House of Commons and, despite being born a sickly child in the 1600s lived to the age of 90.

It is, however, as an architect that we best know him. in 1669, three years after the Great Fire, King Charles II appointed him Surveyor of Works and charged him with rebuilding the City.

Rebuild it, he did. Aside from other buildings, he rebuilt 52 City of London churches including St Paul’s cathedral.

He was assisted by architect and polymath Robert Hooke and worked alongside architect Nicholas Hawksmoor.

He laid the groundwork for the formation of the Royal Society of which he was later president.

Limehouse Pyramid

In the churchyard of St Anne’s Church in Limehouse, north-west of the church itself is a tall pyramid.

In the stories of Sax Rohmer this was the entrance to Dr Fu-Manchu’s opium den!

The pyramid was built by Nicholas Hawksmoor who was also the architect of the church itself.

Its purpose is unclear though Hawksmoor often incorporated pyramids in his designs and it might originally to have been intended to be part of the church roof or tower.

It does have an inscription “The Wisdom of Solomon”. This may be because Solomon’s temple features in the mysticism and ritual of Freemasonry and Hawksmoor was an early freemason.

The Pyramid features in my Docklands North Bank walk