Queenhithe Ward

Pages 173-175

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


Queenhithe Ward includes the parishes of St. Mary Somerset, St. Mary Mounthaw, St. Nicholas Olave and St. Michael Queenhithe, with parts of the parishes of St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, St. Peter Paul's Wharf, Holy Trinity the Less, St. Mary Magdalene and St. Mildred Bread Street. The principal monuments are the church of St. Nicholas Cole Abbey and the Painter Stainers' Hall.


(1) Parish Church of St. Nicholas Cole Abbey stands between Knightrider Street and Queen Victoria Street, and is a Renaissance building forming a simple apartment. The walls are faced with Portland-stone ashlar.

Church of St. Nicholas, Cole Abbey

The mediæval church was destroyed in the Great Fire, 1666, and re-built by Sir Christopher Wren, 1671–81, at a cost of £5,042 6s. 11d. The old materials were apparently re-used and 13th-century work is said to have been found, within recent years, in the S. wall.

Architectural Description—The church forms a slightly irregular oblong on plan (65 ft. by 44 ft.), with a tower-vestibule and vestry across the W. end.

The E. Elevation has a moulded plinth, rusticated angles and an entablature supporting a balustraded parapet. There are three round-headed windows in the E. wall, each having a plain key-block and a moulded cornice above resting on carved consoles. The lower part of the middle window is filled in with a stone panel. The general design of the N. and S. Walls corresponds with that of the E. end. In the N. wall are five windows uniform with those described above. The Tower stands within the church at the northwest angle and is four stages high, surmounted by a lantern and cupola. In the N. wall of the ground-stage is a square-headed door with a cornice over, resting on consoles, and above it, in the second stage, is a circular window. Between this stage and the third the entablature of the nave is continued round the N. and W. faces of the tower, the third stage having a circular window set in a square frame with a segmental pediment above and sideconsoles. The bell-chamber has a round-headed louvered opening in each face and is finished with an entablature, the cornice of which forms a pediment over each window. The angles of the tower are rusticated and capped with flaming urns. The lead-covered timber lantern has eight concave faces pierced by two ranges of lunettes, the upper round and the lower oval in form. It is capped by a deep cornice, on which rests a square turret, with a railed gallery round and a roof of ogee form, surmounted by a gilt ball and vane. In the S. Elevation (Plate 3) the eastern half is concealed by a modern building. The windows in the fifth and sixth bays and the visible portions of the blocked windows in the first and fourth are uniform with those on the N. side. Below the fifth is a square-headed doorway with a cornice above, supported on carved consoles, and below the sixth is a square-headed window, with an architrave. The W. Elevation is finished with a plain parapet and has a round-headed window in the middle, at the gallerylevel.

Interior (Plate 214). The E. wall is divided into three and the N. and S. into five bays each by pilasters of the Corinthian order, raised on high wainscoted pedestals with quarter-pilasters at the angles of the building. They support an entablature carried round the sides of the church. At the W. end are three round arches with moulded imposts and archivolts opening respectively into the tower, vestibule, and vestry and the galleries above them. The ceiling is flat and divided into panels by moulded trabeations corresponding to the bays of the church. The intersections are enriched with moulded pendants; the middle and four anglepanels each contain a rosette. In the S. wall of the tower is a round arch, opening into the vestibule, and a second, above it, opening into the gallery.

Fittings—All of late 17th-century date unless otherwise described. Benefactors' Table: On S. wall—board with carved cornice and pediment, surmounted by flaming urn, now painted with list of Rectors. Book: chained to desk at W. end of church, copy of Thomas Comber's "A Companion to the Temple," 1686, re-bound. Candelabrum: of brass with moulded and reeded standard and two tiers of scrolled branches. Chairs: two with pierced carved backs, twisted posts, carved arms, turned and twisted rails and legs. Chest: In upper storey of tower—of oak, iron-bound, with rounded lid, three ornamental hinges and ten others in plain straps, dated in nail-heads, at each end, 1605. Communion Table and Rails. Table: In N. chapel—with carved sides and front, four panelled posts at back with carved inverted scrolls in front, table, cut down and altered and said to be from St. Mary Somerset. Rails: In chancel— with twisted balusters and carved standards, panelled angle-posts with carved caps, moulded upper and lower rails; in front of S. stalls, similar twisted balusters re-used. Doors: three, opening from church into tower, vestry and vestibule, of two folds, round-headed and panelled; panelled door between vestry and vestibule. In tower— heavy outer doors of two panelled leaves; inner door of two folds, partly glazed and with flanking pilasters supporting cornice, glazed semi-circular tympanum; in recess in W. wall and in doorway of lobby, panelled doors of two folds. Floor-slabs: Recently found under modern floor—(1) to Elizabeth, wife of Robert Ayliffe, 1714–5; (2) to Thomas Meriton, 1704; (3) to Elizabeth, wife of R . . ., 1708–9. Font: of white and black marble with black gadrooned stem of inverted baluster form, white octagonal bowl with moulded rim and carved acanthus-ornament, modern base. Cover (Plate 13), of oak, octagonal and carved with scroll-work, enriched mouldings and eight ogee-shaped ribs meeting in the middle and surmounted by a crown. Gallery: considerably altered in 1873, but the front incorporates the old panelling with pedestals enriched with panels carved in high relief; the front to the middle bay is a modern re-arrangement with a considerable projection carried on four carved brackets supported on two modern columns; the quadrant corners are modern copies of old work. The panelling below the middle bay has a round-headed doorway with enriched archivolt, carved key-block, above which is set a cartouche and swags of fruit and flowers, flanked by carved Ionic pilasters supporting an entablature; the doorways (Plate 7) in the side bays have spandrels filled with carved scroll-work, and the openings have pilasters similar to that of the middle bay. Panelling: wainscoting on all walls, three panels high with moulded capping. In vestry—two panels high with moulded capping, fireplace with carved architrave, carved scrolls at the base, entablature with pulvinated frieze, central panel and carved cornice, panelled overmantel flanked by festoons and finished with enriched cornice. Plate: includes cup of 1703. Poor-box: at W. end, plain box with half-round projecting front and standing on a panelled post. Pulpit: of oak, hexagonal with raised panel in each face with enriched mouldings, cherub-heads and swags above and festoons at sides, moulded and carved base, stem modern. Reredos: of three bays, the middle one flanked by Corinthian columns, supporting an enriched entablature and a broken segmental pediment; in the middle is a modern panel; the main entablature is continued over the side bays, which have each a panel with a moulded frame and reduced head, flanked by scrolls and enclosing a cherub-head, carved cornice and pediment above; the panel is flanked by festoons, and above it is a swag and scrolled cartouche applied to the entablature; there is a range of carved frieze-panels below the main panels of the reredos. Added decorations of foreign origin include the angels and cross in the main pediment and the Venetian mosaic in the middle panel. On the wall under the organ-gallery are two round-headed panels with the Decalogue and formerly part of this reredos. Royal Arms: Over lobby of S. doorway, formerly on reredos—Stuart arms of carved wood. Screens: on N. and S. of altar—low screens of old panelling with range of pierced and carved frieze-panels at top, re-used. Seating: modern, made up of old panelling cut down and re-used; higher churchwardens' pews, at W. end, with carved and pierced frieze-panels, moved and altered. Table: In vestry—with moulded top and turned legs, Miscellanea: In the church are various fittings, lectern, desks, candlesticks, lamps, paintings, etc., mostly Italian and presented by a former rector.


(2) Parish Church of St. Mary Somerset stood on the N. side of Upper Thames Street. The mediæval church was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 and was re-built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1686–94, at a cost of £6,579 18s. 1¼d. The body of the church was pulled down in 1871, the tower only being left standing; it is faced with Portland stone.

Architectural Description—The Tower (Plate 147) adjoined the church at the S.W. angle and is of four stages, but the internal and external divisions do not correspond. The ground-stage is circular on plan internally and is roofed with a flat dome springing from a cornice and having a round bell-way in the middle. The E., S. and W. walls have each a segmental-headed doorway with moulded architrave, cherub-head keystone and a cornice; in the N. wall is a similar doorway formerly opening into the church; above each doorway is a round window with a moulded architrave, and keystone carved with a head; on each side of the N. window is a cherub-head bracket at the former ceiling-level of the church. The second stage has in the E., S. and W. walls a round-headed window with a moulded architrave and keystone carved with a man's head. The third stage has in each face a round window similar to those in the ground-stage, but with a child's head on the keystone. The bell-chamber has in each wall a round-headed window with a moulded architrave and keystone carved with a mask. The tower is finished with an entablature and plain parapet on which stand eight panelled and enriched pedestals, the pedestals at the angles support tall vases, those in the middle of the sides support lofty obelisks with enriched bands and ball-tops.

Fittings—Doors: In the S. and W. doorways— each of two folds and eight panels, late 17th-century.


(3) Parish Church of St. Michael Queenhithe, Upper Thames Street, was pulled down in 1876. The churchyard lies on the E. side of Huggin Lane.

Fittings—Bell: in gable of parish-room, dated 1686. Monuments: in churchyard, (1) to Joane, wife of Richard Howell, 1689, and Mary his sister, 1690, headstone; (2) to John Biggs, probably late 17th-century, slab. Weather-vane, on Rectory adjoining churchyard and formerly on spire of church, in form of a three-masted, full-rigged barque, late 17th-century. Other fittings were transferred to St. James Garlickhithe, and the font (since disposed of) to St. Michael Camden Town.


(4) Painter Stainers' Hall (parish of Holy Trinity the Less), 9 Little Trinity Lane and on the E. side of the street, is of two storeys. The walls are of brick and the roofs are covered with slates. The hall was re-built after the Great Fire, between the years 1668 and 1671, but has been extensively added to and altered in modern times. In 1916 the buildings N.E. of the Hall-block and the staircase were re-built and the Court Room enlarged by the removal of a partition on the W. side.

The buildings are rectangular on plan with a modern annexe to the N.; the E. end fronts on to the street with the staircase to the N.W. of it. The Court Room with the Hall above it stands E. and W. to the W. of the staircase, and on the street-front at the first-floor level is the Painted Chamber.

The E. Elevation to Little Trinity Lane has been entirely modernised with the exception of the entrance-doorway, which has Ionic side pilasters enriched with festoons of fruit and flowers and supporting an enriched entablature with a broken pediment surmounted by a carved cartouche of the company's arms. The W. and S. Elevations of the Hall and Court Room are of brick, much repaired. The S. wall of the Court Room is of different brick and greater thickness than the other walls and may be of earlier date.

Interior:—The Court Room has a projecting modern addition on the N. In the windows are the following pieces of late 17th-century glass:— the arms of, Charles II, Thomas Capper, master 1621, John Lee, warden 16—, John Lorrymar, warden 1630, John Smith, assistant 1630, Martin Hall and Francis Walsall, wardens 1628; there are also fifteen plaques of German glass with figure-subjects, and eleven others, formerly on the staircase, including one dated 1674 with a figure of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. The walls are panelled to the ceiling and at the W. end is a niche carved with brushes and palettes and a shield-of-arms above; it contains a marble bust (Plate 46) of Thomas Evans, 1687. The doorway at the W. end of the room has a carved architrave. The Hall has a modern ceiling and the walls have a panelled dado. Above the door is a carved cartouche of the Company's arms. The annexe of two bays on the N. is modern. The Painted Chamber, E. of the Hall, is a small apartment with walls covered with late 17th-century panelling. The panels bear early 18th-century paintings (Plate 215), including a portrait of Cap. Polehampton, 1713, the royal Stuart arms, arms of the city and company, classical landscapes, still life, mythological subjects and the apotheosis of Queen Anne (?).

Condition—Good, much altered.

(5) House on the S. side of Brook's Yard, is of three storeys with attics and basement; the walls are of brick and the roofs are tiled. It was built late in the 17th century and the doorway has remains of the two trusses supporting the former hood; the panelled door is original; the windows generally have original flush frames.