Churches - Cistern at Fleet Bridge

A Dictionary of London. Originally published by H Jenkins LTD, London, 1918.

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'Churches - Cistern at Fleet Bridge', in A Dictionary of London, (London, 1918) pp. . British History Online [accessed 19 April 2024]

In this section


The origin of the word is treated under the head "Church" (q.v.).

The number of churches in London and its immediate suburbs, or within the City boundaries, has varied considerably at different times, but in early days it was extraordinarily large for the area of the City. Indeed this will be found to be the case in most old cities and towns, as for example in Exeter, and in the towns of France, etc. It is possible that many of them originated as "oratories," as explained under the article "Church," and that their elevation to the dignity of a parish church was a later development, rendered necessary by the rapid increase of population within the City.

The priests in charge of London churches are frequently called in early documents, "chaplains."

In 1174, when Fitz Stephen wrote, there were in London 13 large conventual churches and 126 smaller parochial churches, 139 in all. This seems a large number compared with the later records, and perhaps 126 is an error for 106, unless he included those in. the suburbs, Westminster, Southwark, etc.

In 1361-2 there were 109 parish churches, including St. Leonard Shoreditch and St. Mary Islington, and 6 chapels and 1 hospital church, besides the conventual churches (Lib. Cust. I. 228-30).

In 1371 there were 106 parish churches, 30 prebends of St. Paul's, and 2 chapels within the liberties (Cal. L. Bk. G. p. 282).

In 1428 again 106, including St. Augustine's Papey (ib. K. 71).

The conventual churches are not enumerated in the later lists.

In Stow's time the number of parish churches in London and the suburbs was 123.

Arnold and Fabyan, writing earlier in the century, give the numbers respectively as 154 and 168, but these would include the conventual churches, subsequently destroyed.

Probably the earliest list of the churches in London is that contained in the register of the Bishop of London, viz.: Fulk Basset's register 1241-59, in MSS. D. and C. St.. Paul's (W.D. 9, fo. 48b), but it does not include the 13 peculiars (q.v.) which were exempt from the jurisdiction of the Bishop.

In 1290 the churches are enumerated in the "Taxatio" of Pope Nicholas, together with the amounts of their contributions to the taxation (Harl. MS.).

The Liber Custumarum contains an interesting list of churches and patrons of 31 Ed. I. (I. 228-30).

Later there are the lists compiled by Arnold and Fabyan, as mentioned above in their chronicles in the early part of the 16th century, and Stow's list in 1603.

In the Fire of London, 89 churches, including St. Paul's Cathedral, were destroyed, and many of these were not rebuilt.

Since that time the number of churches in the City has steadily diminished, the sacred buildings having been demolished for the formation of new thoroughfares, the widening of existing streets, or for the erection of huge blocks of offices and warehouses, on the plea that the churches are no longer required for the reduced population of the City.

There are now within the City area 52 Churches, including St. Paul's Cathedral and Austinfriars, now the Dutch church, viz.: Allhallows Barking ; Allhallows, Lombard Street ; Allhallows, London Wall ; Austinfriars (Dutch church); Christchurch, Newgate Street; St. Alban, Wood Street; St. Alphage, London Wall; St. Andrew, Holborn; St. Andrew Undershaft; St. Andrew by the Wardrobe; St. Anne and St. Agnes; St. Augustine, Watling Street; St. Bartholomew the Great; St. Bartholomew the Less; St. Botolph Aldersgate; St. Botolph, Aldgate; St. Botolph Bishopsgate; St. Bride, Fleet Street; St. Clement, Eastcheap; St. Dunstan in the East; St. Dunstan in the West; St. Edmund the King and Martyr; St. Ethelburga; St. Giles, Cripplegate; St. Helen; St. James, Garlickhithe; St. Katherine Colman; St. Katherine Cree; St. Lawrence Jewry; St. Magnus the Martyr; St. Margaret, Lothbury; St. Margaret Pattens; St. Martin, Ludgate; St. Mary Abchurch; St. Mary, Aldermanbury; St. Mary Aldermary; St. Mary le Bow; St. Mary at Hill; St. Mary Woolnoth; St. Michael, Cornhill; St. Michael Paternoster Royal; St. Mildred, Bread Street; St. Nicholas Coleabbey; St. Olave, Hart Street; St. Peter, Cornhill; St. Sepulchre; St. Stephen, Coleman Street; St. Stephen Walbrook; St. Swithin, London Stone; St. Vedast, Foster Lane; St. Paul's Cathedral; Temple Church. But the names and boundaries of the old parishes are still preserved, and include, in addition to the above the following : Allhallows, Bread Street; *All hallows, Honey Lane; Allhallows, Staining; Allhallows the Great; *Allhallows the Less; *Holy Trinity the Less; *St. Andrew, Hubbard; *St. Ann, Blackfriars; St. Antholin; St. Bartholomew by the Exchange; St. Benet Fink; St. Benet Gracechurch; St. Benet, Paul's Wharf; *St. Benet Sherehog; *St. Botolph, Billingsgate; St. Christopher le Stocks; St. Dionis, Backchurch; *St. Faith under St. Paul's; *St. Gabriel Fenchurch; *St. Gregory by St. Paul's; St. James, Duke's Place; *St. John, Walbrook; *St. John the Evangelist, Friday Street; *St. John Zachary; *St. Lawrence Pountney; *St. Leonard, Eastcheap; *St. Leonard, Foster Lane; *St. Margaret Moses; *St. Margaret, New Fish Street; *St. Martin Orgars; St. Martin Outwich; *St. Martin Pomary; *St. Martin, Vintry; *St. Mary Bothaw; *St. Mary Colechurch; *St. Mary Magdalen, Milk Street; St. Mary Magdalen, Old Fish Street; *St. Mary Mounthaw; St. Mary Somerset; *St. Mary Staining; *St. Mary Woolchurchhaw; St. Matthew, Friday Street; St. Michael, Bassishaw; St. Michael, Crooked Lane; St. Michael, Queenhithe; *St. Michael le Querne; St. Michael, Wood Street; St. Mildred, Poultry; *St. Nicholas Acons; *St. Nicholas Olave; St. Olave Jewry; *St. Olave, Silver Street; *St. Pancras, Soper Lane; *St. Peter, Paul's Wharf; St. Peter le Poor; *St. Peter, Westcheap; *St. Thomas Apostle; making the total number of churches 109, and of parishes 106.

Of these churches and parishes St. Anne Blackfriars, and St. James' Duke's Place are of comparatively modern origin, having been established after the dissolution of the monasteries to provide churches for the inhabitants of the precincts of the Blackfriars and of the Priory of Holy Trinity, respectively. Holy Trinity, Minories, was also made a church and parish after the suppression of the Abbey of Minoresses there, but it is not included in the foregoing list, the church is no longer used for Divine worship, and the parish has been reunited to that of St. Botolph Aldgate. Christ Church, Newgate Street, absorbed the old parishes of St. Audoen and St. Nicholas ad macellas.

It will be observed that these figures correspond very closely with those given in the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries, and the number of parishes would seem to have undergone very little variation during the intervening period. The distinctive change consists in the number of churches destroyed or removed since the 16th century.

Considerable changes would seem to have taken place during the 12th-13th centuries, if FitzStephen's figures are to be accepted as accurate, unless, as suggested above, his figures include the churches in the suburbs. One church at least was removed during this period, namely the church of St. Olave, Broad Street, for the erection of the Austin-friars monastery in the 13th century, while in the 12th century the parish of Holy Trinity, Aldgate, absorbed three or four of the older parishes into one.

* Destroyed in the fire 1666 and not rebuilt

Churches, Dedications

It is well to bear in mind the following facts with reference to the dedications of churches. Their consecration was formalised into a definite ceremony in the time of Constantine the Great (d. 337), and the custom of distinguishing them by special names then became universal, although evidences of the custom exist nearly a century earlier. Founders of churches desired to place their foundations under the protection of some saint, and worshippers in these churches in later times added in gratitude after the name of the saint, the name of the founder, to keep it in perpetual remembrance. The rebuilding of a church was sometimes made the occasion, at the re-consecration, of a change of name, so that in 816 Archbishop Wulfred ordered that on or by every Altar an inscription should be set up recording its dedication name. If this canon had been observed many original dedications might have been preserved, but it appears to have been greatly neglected. In early times the designation "Saint" seems to have been bestowed on individuals of conspicuous holiness by the Christian community to which he or she belonged, and not necessarily by the Pope or even by a bishop in the first instance. This accounts for the large number of more or less obscure persons so distinguished in ecclesiastical nomenclature. It appears from the letters of St. Cyprian that this practice was open to abuse, and that the bishops considered it necessary to use caution in order to guard against the recognition of undeserving persons. It was not until the 12th century that the Pope reserved to himself the right to add to the roll of saints and that a regular form of procedure was established in the Roman Courts to test and to pronounce on the title of persons to the public esteem of the church, 1170. The earliest instance of the issue of a solemn decree of canonisation is by Ulric, Bishop of Augsburg, 993.

Frequent instances of double dedications occur in London and elsewhere, and these may arise in four ways : (1) From the original intention of the founder, who may have desired for special reasons to place his church under the particular guardianship of more than one saint. (2) The natural tendency above mentioned to associate the founder's name with that of the saint whom he had himself chosen. (3) The practice of re-dedicating churches under some new name and making use of both of the old and of the new dedications. (4) The union or consolidation of two previously distinct parishes.

After the Reformation in the time of Henry VIII., there were many changes in dedications, the tendency being to restrict dedications to the Apostles of our Lord, to the Blessed Trinity, or to the Blessed Saviour. The dedications of many churches to St. Thomas of Canterbury were changed at that time to St. Thomas the Apostle.

The dedications chosen for churches in London in early times are attributable to three influences, Saxon, Danish, French ; such names as St. Ethelburga, St. Etheldreda suggest Saxon influence. St. Olave, St. Magnus, seem to be attributable to Danish influence. St. Mary Magdalene, St. Stephen, St. Vedast to the Norman Conquest, introducing French influence.

Another interesting fact calls for attention in connection with the dedications of churches in early times to the Holy Trinity. Several instances occur of the dedication of churches to the Holy Trinity and to our Saviour Christ, so that the designations are used interchangeably to denote the same church. Thus the Priory of Holy Trinity, Aldgate, is frequently referred to as Christ Church Priory. Christ Church, Canterbury Cathedral, is also designated the church of the Holy Trinity. Christ Church in Hampshire was originally dedicated to the Holy Trinity, but being rebuilt by Flambard, temp. Wm. II., was rededicated to "Our Saviour Christ."

Churches, Endowments

In studying old deeds and records it is desirable to note the meaning of the following terms employed in the making of endowments : "Dare et concedare," usual form of gift. "Beneficium"=endowment. "Parochia"=parochial endowment. "Taxatio"= assigned endowment, i.e. assignment of share in existing endowments. "Persona," "personatus" one who administers ecclesiastical property without having any cure of souls. "Capellana, capellaria"=in 11th and 12th centuries the share of ecclesiastical revenues appertaining to the cure of souls. Called in the 13th century the "Attalagium" or" Vicarage." The holder, apart from the administration of other ecclesiastical revenues, was called in the 11th century "Capellanus." In the 13th century "Vicarius." When the "persona" combines in his own person the office of administration of tithes with the "Capellaria," the united office or entirety of the church is called "Rectoria"=Rectory.

The emoluments of ancient minsters consisted of "church-shot," "alms-fee," or "plough alms" ; offerings at the high altar, burial dues. None of these were included in the emoluments of the private oratories, which under the name of "churches" were the subject of gifts, consisting of offerings at altars, gifts of produce, of fruits, etc., either large or small tithes, but not the great tithes, although by the 13th century the term "church" is often used to connote the great tithes.

In the 11th and 12th centuries the tithes were always mentioned as distinct from and not as included in the term "church." At the time of the Conquest they were in most places in the hands of laymen.

The early idea of making gifts for ecclesiastical purposes was that they were made to God and the saints for the benefit of the poor and sick, but not specially or primarily for the benefit of the clergy. In the Roman church in later times, revenues were divided into four portions, one for the bishop, one for the clergy, one for repairs of the fabric, one for the poor ; in England the division was usually into three, one for the clergy, and two-thirds for the parson to be expended in charity, a see-due being paid to the bishop.

In early ecclesiastical deeds the following terms frequently occur : Census=head rent to the original owner. Portio=share (of ecclesiastical officers). Pensio=fixed rent charge.

The revenues were once held in shares by the parson and the vicar, and these offices were frequently sub-divided, so that there were often several parsons and several vicars in one place. This subdivision was forbidden by the Third Lateran Council, 1179, which also forbade laymen to hold tithes. In a few places the plurality survived-in every collegiate church the parsonship was held in shares in this way, the cure of souls not belonging to anyone in particular. This led to much neglect and abuse. The tithes were granted in early times by lay benefactors to religious houses, and later they probably also granted praedial tithes of heir lands within the parishes to the parish churches.

Churchhead Street, Rosemary Lane

See Cartwright Street.


See Botolph (St.) Billingsgate Churchyard.

Churchyard Alley

In Jewin Street.

Mentioned 1678 (H. MSS. Com. 11th Rep. II. 57).

No later mention.

Churchyard Alley

East out of Shoe Lane to St. Andrew Holborn Churchyard, in Farringdon Ward Without (O. and M. 1677-Boyle, 1799).

First mention : 1660 (L. and P. Chas. II. I. 344).

The site has been cleared and rebuilt.

Churchyard Alley

North out of Harp Alley, west of St. Bridget's Churchyard, in Farringdon Ward Without (O. and M. 1677-Elmes, 1831).

Seems to be called "Church Alley" (Strype, ed. 1755 to Boyle, 1799).

So named from its contiguity to the lower churchyard of St. Bride's parish.

Removed for the formation of St. Bride Street, etc.

Churchyard Alley

South out of Thames Street at 119, west of Old London Bridge (Elmes, 1831). In Bridge Ward Within.

First mention : 1591 (End. Ch. Rep. St. Michael's par. Crooked Lane, 1903, p. 11) ; and 1594 (Ct. H.W. II. 720).

Probably identical with "Churchhawlane" (q.v.), formerly called "Steveneslane" or "Stepheneslane."

Removed c. 1831 for the formation of the approaches to the New London Bridge, the site being now occupied by Adelaide Place (q.v.).

Perhaps named from the new churchyard of St. Magnus the Martyr, not far distant.

See le Hole.

"Church-hawe : Hawe"=O.E. haza, an enclosure=a churchyard (N.E.D.).

Churchyard Alley

See Dunstan's (St.) Alley, Great Tower Street.

Churchyard Alley

North out of Chick Lane to St. Sepulchre's Churchyard, in Farringdon Ward Without (O. and M. 1677-Boyle, 1799).

The site is now covered by Charterhouse Street.

Churchyard Alley

West out of Fetter Lane on the north side of St. Dunstan's Churchyard, in Farringdon Ward Without, and north to Cursitor's Alley (O. and M. 1677, and Boyle, 1799).

First mention : 1632 (L. and P. Chas. I. V. 463).

Called : "Church Side Alley," 1669 (L. and P. Chas. II. 1668-9, p. 373).

Site rebuilt for business purposes.

Churchyard Alley

See Cartwright Street.

Churchyard Alley Hole

At the south end of Churchyard Alley adjoining the Water Works on the west side of Old London Bridge (Rocque, 1746).

A wharf or stairs on the river in Bridge Ward Within.

Perhaps this wharf or quay may be identified with one designated in early times as "le Hole" (q.v.), which seems to have been near the new churchyard of St. Magnus. If so, this would explain the subsequent designation, "Churchyard Alley Hole."

Churchyard Alley, Clement's Lane

See Church Court.

Churchyard Court

East out of Inner Temple Lane. On the north side of the Temple Church, in Farringdon Ward Without (L.C.C. List, 1912).

Goldsmith's grave is on the north side.

First mention : Lond. Guide, 1758.

The Chambers were erected in 1608 against the church, but pulled down when Goldsmith Building was erected (Middle Temple Records, p. 33).

Now called Goldsmith Buildings (q.v.).


See Chick Lane, West Smithfield.

Circus (The)

West out of the Minories, at the southern end. In Portsoken Ward (P.O. Directory).

Earliest mention : Horwood, 1799.

It occupies the site of smaller streets and alleys, as "Preston's Yard," etc.

Circus Place

North out of London Wall to Finsbury Circus, between Salisbury House and London Wall Buildings (P.O. Directory). In Coleman Street Ward.

First mention : O.S. 1848-51.

Cistern at Fleet Bridge

Made in 1478 by the inhabitants of Fleet Street at their own charges for the receipt of the waste water (S. 17 and 394).

See Conduit at Fleet Bridge.