Aldersgate Ward

Pages 1-4

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in London, Volume 4, the City. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1929.

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In this section



(Unless otherwise stated the dimensions given in the Inventory are internal. Monuments with titles printed in italics are covered by an introductory sentence to which reference should be made.)


(Within and Without).

Aldersgate Ward includes the parishes of St. Botolph Aldersgate, St. Anne and St. Agnes and St. Mary Staining and parts of the parishes of St. John Zachary, St. Olave Silver Street and St. Leonard Foster Lane. The church of St. Anne and St. Agnes is the principal monument. A portion of the Roman Town-wall of the city is exposed on the S. side of St. Botolph's churchyard (see London, Vol. III, p. 91).


(1) Parish Church of St. Anne and St. Agnes stands on the N. side of St. Anne's Lane, between Noble Street and Aldersgate Street. It is a Renaissance building with the internal plan in the form of a Greek cross. The walls are of brick rendered in Roman cement, with the exception of the two lower stages of the tower, which are built of rubble. The roof is slated. The two lower stages of the tower are probably of 14th-century date, but the rest of the church, much injured by the Great Fire, was re-built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1676–87 on the old foundations, at a cost of £2448 0s. 10d.; the tower was remodelled and the upper part re-built at the same time. The exterior of the church was restored and rendered externally in cement in 1820.

Architectural Description—The church forms a slightly irregular square (54½ ft. on the N. and 52¾ ft. on the S. by 53 ft.), with a tower at the W. end flanked by a vestry and vestibule.

The E., N. and S. Elevations are each of three bays, with a round-headed window in the central bay, and similar but smaller windows in the side bays. The jambs and heads were all restored in 1820. The side windows at the E. end are both blocked, and above them the wall is finished with a wooden cornice. The centre bay is carried up higher and finished with a stone cornice and parapet.

In the N. Elevation the middle bay is carried up with a plain truncated gable, having a cornice across at half its height. The side bays on both N. and S. have hipped roofs at a lower level. At the N.W. angle is a Vestry with a plain segmental-headed window in the N. wall.

The S. Elevation (Plate 49) is the most ornate. Here the middle bay is finished with a moulded pediment, supported at either side by inverted curves springing from plain pedestals. The window in the western bay is cut short to admit of a doorway below, which is restored but has an old cherub-head keystone. At the S.W. angle is a Vestibule with a square-headed window in the S. wall.

The W. Elevation. The Tower stands a little to the S. of the centre, at the W. end. It is four stages high and surmounted by a cupola. In the W. wall of the ground-stage is a late 17th-century round-headed doorway, and in each face of the bell-chamber stage is a square-headed louvered opening with architrave and plain key-stone. The tower is finished with a cornice and plain parapet. The lead-covered cupola rests on a square base, with raking supports at the angles and a round-headed louvered opening in each face. It is capped with a cornice and roof of ogee form and surmounted by a vane bearing the letter A. The vestry on the N. of the tower projects slightly from the W. face, and the vestibule on the S. has a plain square-headed window in the W. wall.

Interior. The body of the church has an inner square formed by four Corinthian columns of wood, standing on high wainscotted bases and supporting an enriched entablature (without the frieze). This is carried back against the outer walls, on the plan of a Greek cross, and rests on Corinthian pilasters against the E. wall and on modelled brackets against the N., S. and W. walls. The ceiling of the cross is in the form of intersecting barrel-vaults, with transverse coffered bands springing from above the columns. The arms of the cross are each divided into three panels with enriched borders, and the groins at the crossing are masked by moulded ribs. The four square bays at the angles of the church have flat plaster ceilings, with a rich circular wreath of fruit and foliage, and cherub-heads in the spandrels.

Church of SS. Anne & Agnes

The tower (10 ft. by 8½ ft.) has a round-headed arch in the E. wall, opening to the church, and two smaller round-headed arches in the N. and S. walls, with small round windows above. The archway in the S. wall opens into a staircasevestibule, and that in the N. wall into a small lobby between the tower and the N. vestry. These arches are all late 17th-century, but the circular staircase at the N.W. angle dates perhaps from the 14th-century and is approached by a doorway in the lobby with a two-centred head. The 14th-century masonry of the tower extends up to the floor-level of the third stage. In the second stage, in the N. and S. walls, are the internal reveals and splays of two 14th-century windows with segmental-pointed heads. In the E. wall is a blocked square-headed doorway and in the N. wall a 14th-century doorway, from the turret-staircase, with a two-centred head.

Fittings—All of late 17th-century date unless otherwise described. Doors: To S. lobby— panelled side doors; above, a cornice with pediment; lobby surmounted by panelled attic with enriched entablature. In W. doorway—of two-panelled leaves; above, pieces of old woodwork refixed. Font (Plate 10): octagonal white-veined marble bowl with acanthus and gadrooned enrichment and carved stem, with black marble necking. Cover: of oak, octagonal with richly carved sides, ogee-shaped cupola with carved terminal. Gallery: at W. end (for organ) now removed but staircase, in S.W. vestibule, remains. It has a heavy moulded hand-rail, moulded string and turned balusters. Monument and Floor-Slabs. Monument: in body of church—on S. wall, to Sir James Drax, 1661–2, and Henry his son, reconstructed tablet formerly in St. John Zachary, with two busts and festoons. Floor-slabs: in body of church—at W. end, (1) to Stephen Hamms, 1690, and Thomasine his wife, 1696, with shield-of-arms; (2) to Thomas Gough, 1705, with shield-of-arms. Panelling: The internal walls of church and the column-bases are wainscotted in oak, the former three, the latter two panels high; walls of vestry are panelled, with moulded archi trave round fireplace. Old panelling is re-used in the screen within the tower-arch, in the lobby of the S. door, and in the low quire-screen; the last includes some pierced carved panels. Plate: includes cup and cover-paten, late 16th-century, the paten repaired 1826, cup and cover-paten of 1619, three patens of 1707 and a spoon, all the above from St. John Zachary, two cups of 1632, two flagons of 1636, a flagon of 1666 and a paten of 1707. Reredos (Plate 36): of oak, painted, central portion with fluted Corinthian pilasters at sides and two round-headed panels with enriched borders and a four-winged cherub-head in the middle spandrel; side bays are panelled with carved foliage-festoons at the top and panels below. The entablature supports a broken and scrolled pediment with a modern vase in the centre. Royal Arms: Stuart, formerly on the reredos, now on the N. wall. Table: in S.E. vestry— with turned legs in form of modified Doric columns and moulded rails. Miscellanea: Moulded rainwater-heads, including one on N. side of Tower, dated 1680. On S. wall—two brass plates, one dated 1684, recording benefactions of Drax family.


(2) Parish Church of St. Botolph, at the S. corner of Aldersgate Street and Little Britain, was re-built in 1790–91, on the site of the original church. It contains from the former building the following:—

Fittings—Brass: On W. wall—to Anne, wife successively of Robert Dun and Richard Stoney, 1611, inscription only. Communion Table: of painted oak with turned legs in the form of columns, on front rail the initials and date S.B., 1639. Monuments and Floor-slab. Monuments: On E. wall, (1) to Anne, widow of Sir John Packington, 1563, plain altar-tomb with recessed and panelled Gothic canopy with brattishing; on back wall, two kneeling figures, of man and wife with daughters behind, shield-of-arms, all incised in black and gilt to imitate brass, lower part of monument and inscription, modern. On N. wall, (2) to Elizabeth, wife of Sir Thomas Richardson, 1639, small tablet with bust in oval niche with broken pediment and shield-of-arms. On S. wall, (3) to Elizabeth (Kaye), widow of Ralph Ashton, 1662, small tablet with bust and shield-of-arms; (4) to John Micklethwaite, 1682, marble cartouche with scrolls, drapery, etc.; (5) to Richard Chiswell, 1711, his father John, his mother Margaret, his wife Sarah and five children by his first wife, large marble cartouche with drapery, cherub-heads and shield-of-arms, erected by his son Richard; (6) to Christopher Tamworth, 1624, and Frances his wife, 1637, marble tablet with painted inscription and reclining cherub. On W. wall, (7) to John Coston, 1614, Frances (Blyth) his wife, 1637, and Ann his daughter, 1621, small tablet with segmental pediment, three skulls and shield-of-arms; (8) to Mary, wife of George Buckley, 1707, and George Buckley, 1711, cartouche with scroll-work and shield-of-arms. In churchyard—(9) to Anthony Poole, 1679, flat stone, with shield-of-arms. Floor-slab: In S. porch —to Richard Chiswell, 1711, with shield-of-arms. Plate: includes a paten of 1706, given by Hannah Jones and a spoon of 1710. Miscellanea: In vestibule—moulded base of pier of 15th-century church having four engaged shafts, not in situ.

(3) The Parish Church of St. Mary Staining was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 and not re-built. The churchyard lies on the N. side of Oat Lane opposite the end of Staining Lane.

Fittings—Memorial Stones: In S. boundary wall, (1) square with inscription (re-cut in 1913) recording the destruction of the church. In W. boundary wall, S. end, (2) square, with inscription, said to have been similar, but now painted over and illegible.

(4) Parish Church of St. Olave was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1666 and not re-built. The churchyard lies at the S.E. corner of Silver Street and Noble Street.

Fittings—Memorial-stone: In boundary wall, by the entrance, square, with incised skull and cross-bones and inscription recording the destruction of the church.


(5) Goldsmiths' Hall (Parish of St. John Zachary) stands on the E. side of Foster Lane, S. of Gresham Street. The old hall, dating from after the Great Fire, was pulled down in 1829 and the existing building was finished in 1835. It contains the following fittings from the old hall:—in the entrance hall is a carved and painted wooden figure of St. Dunstan (Plate 46), from the Company's barge; on the first floor several rooms have old wood-work incorporated in modern work. These include, in the ante-room at the N. end of the W. range, some bolection-moulded panelling; in the next room to the N., similar panelling with a moulded cornice and panelled doors; in the room S.W. of the vestibule, similar panelling with an enriched cornice and architraves to the N. and E. doorways; towards the N. end of the room are fluted Corinthian columns supporting an enriched entablature; the panelling on the S. wall is divided by pilasters into three bays; on the E. wall is a carved cartouche-bracket with the date 1669; in the room, to the S. of the vestibule, is bolection-moulded panelling; the N. door is panelled and has an enriched architrave; it is flanked by fluted Corinthian columns supporting a cornice and broken pediment, with the royal arms of Queen Anne, before the Union. The small room at the W. end of the N. range has been lined with late 17th-century panelling with an enriched cornice, from East Acton Manor House; on the E. and W. walls the panelling alternates with carved Ionic pilasters; the doorway in the S. wall has an enriched architrave and a carved frieze; the overmantel (Plate 8) of the fireplace has a bolection-moulded panel with carved festoons of fruit and flowers.

(6) Ironmongers' Hall, in Shaftesbury Place. Aldersgate Street, is a modern building; Preserved in the building is an embroidered funeral-pall; it bears on the flaps the arms of the company four times repeated, two figures of the Virgin in glory and four figures of saints with the inscription, "The gift of John Gyua, late Iremongr and Elizabeth hys wyffe wythe whoo good thys cloth was made." The gift was made in 1515.

(7) Coachmakers' Hall (Parish of St. Mary Staining) stands on the E. side of Noble Street. It was re-built in 1842–3 and again in 1870, but contains from a building of 1703 the following fittings—Above the modern entrance is a carved cartouche of the Company's arms. In the hall is the original oak screen (Plate 52); it has a middle bay with an elliptical arch and flanked by coupled Corinthian columns supporting a continuous enriched entablature with a curved and broken pediment; the side bays have Corinthian pilasters. The walls of the hall have some original panelling, including four carved panels with pediments and a larger panel at the end of the room; there are also carved achievements of the royal Stuart arms and those of the Company. The fireplace in the ante-room has a moulded and carved surround, and above it a panel with a festoon of fruit and flowers. In the vestibule are two tables of benefactors with carved frames and cartouches of the Company's arms.

(8) Schoolhouse of St. Leonard Foster Lane adjoins the church of St. Vedast on the N. It is of one storey with cellars, the walls are of brick and the roofs are tiled. It was built in 1691 and the wooden gallery adjoining is probably of the same date. The W. elevation has a wooden modillioned eaves-cornice and windows with solid frames, mullion and transom; the roof is hipped at the ends and has the base of an octagonal lantern on the ridge. The wooden gallery runs along the N. wall of the church and is of two storeys, finished with a modillioned eaves-cornice and divided into bays by pilasters. The lower part of the upper stage is panelled, and the upper part is fitted with sash windows. The N. elevation of the school is blank, but has a small stone inscribed "Non Nobis 1691." The interior of the school has a panelled dado and preserved here are late 17th-century wood-carvings of the Royal Arms, repainted, and a Lion and Unicorn from the destroyed church of St. Matthew Friday Street.

Condition—Fairly good.

(9) House (Nos. 5 and 6) on the E. side of Foster Lane, 15 yds. N. of St. Vedast church, is of three storeys with attics and basement; the walls are of brick and the roofs are covered with slates. It was built late in the 17th century, but has been much altered. The front has a moulded band at the first floor level and a modern parapet. The windows of No. 5 have original flush frames.


(10) House (Nos. 13 and 14) on the N. side of Little Britain, 100 yds. W. of Aldersgate Street, is of four storeys; the walls are of brick, the front being plastered. It was built late in the 17th century, but has been much altered. The front has been entirely altered, but the back has original windows with flush frames.


(11) House (No. 11) on the E. side of Noble Street, is of three storeys with attics and cellars. The walls are of plastered brick and the roofs are tiled. It was built late in the 17th century, but has been much altered. Inside the building some of the ceiling-beams are exposed.

Condition—Fairly good.