The first volume of the Parish of St. Helen is also the first volume
of the Survey dealing with any portion of the City of London,
although a monograph by the Survey Committee on Crosby Hall
was published as far back as 1908. That the volume on St.
Helen's Church should be placed in such a position in the series needs no
excuse when it is recalled that St. Helen's, on account of its monuments if
not from its architecture, is easily the first of the ancient Churches of the
City, while to the interest of its being one of the oldest Parish Foundations
of London it adds the history and part of the buildings of a rich Benedictine
nunnery, where for three hundred years the daughters of the merchant
princes took the veil. St. Helen's has so far been the subject of but one
monograph, written by a late vicar, the Rev. J. E. Cox, and published in
1876. Since that time much additional information, both historical and
architectural, has come to light; students of archæology have also learned
to discard much that passed current in the 19th century, and being better
equipped are able to acquire more from a closer critical study both of the
building itself and of its records.
The historical portion, dealing with the pre-Reformation period, is
entirely the work of Miss M. Reddan, who, as the author of the compressed
account of the Priory in the Victoria History of London, most kindly
consented to undertake this, the most onerous part of the literary work
of the volume.
The thanks of the Committee are due to the Rev. S. T. H. Saunders,
Rector of St. Helen's, for the kindness and help which he has ever extended
to its members during their survey of the building. Acknowledgment
should also be made to the Clerk of the Leathersellers' Company, Mr. G. F.
Sutton, F.S.A., for giving access to the records and drawings in possession
of the Company; to the Society of Antiquaries and the Merchant Taylors'
Company for permission to reproduce certain engravings and drawings
from their Libraries; to Major V. Farquharson, F.S.A., for his notes on the
funeral helm in the Church; to Mr. F. S. Eden for his description of the
ancient glass, and to Mr. G. Gordon Godfrey for his drawings of the heraldic
shields. My own personal thanks are due to Mr. Challoner Smith, F.S.A.,
to Mr. Charles Lethbridge Kingsford, F.S.A., to Mr. H. L. Hopkinson,
F.S.A., and to Mr. Philip M. Johnston, F.S.A., for freely placing at my
disposal facts and information from unpublished documents with which
I should otherwise have been unacquainted.
A. W. CLAPHAM.