St Margaret Lothbury and St Mary Woolnoth APCM 2018
All reports for the Lothbury and Woolnoth APCM can now be downloaded:
The main services of the week are our two informal lunchtime services on Wednesday at St Margaret Lothbury and on Thursday at St Mary Woolnoth. Although they last from 1250-1400 they are planned so that you may come when you can and go when you have to.
On Tuesday each week there are more traditional Holy Communion services at 1230 at St Mary Woolnoth and 1310 at St Margaret Lothbury. These usually last around 30 minutes.
A history of St Margaret Lothbury
There has been a church dedicated to St Margaret of Antioch in Lothbury, the street that runs along the north side of the Bank of England, since the 12th Century. In later centuries the parish was augmented by the incorporation of seven adjacent parishes, whose churches were lost through the Great Fire, the Second World War and the expansion of City institutions. The parish is now officially that of ‘St Margaret Lothbury and St Stephen Coleman St with St Christopher-le-Stocks, St Bartholomew-by-the-Exchange, St Olave Old Jewry, St Martin Pomeroy, St Mildred Poultry and St Mary Colechurch.’
The original church was rebuilt in 1440 at the expense of Robert Large, that year’s Lord Mayor, but destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. The current church designed by Sir Christopher Wren was completed in 1692. The tower by Robert Hooke was finished in 1700.
Among the noteworthy furnishings made for St Margaret’s are the high altar reredos, the pulpit and the baptismal font. Of the subsequent additions to the church the most splendid is the choir screen, one of only two in a Wren church, erected originally in the Church of All Hallows the Great, Thames St. in 1683-84 and moved to St Margaret’s in 1894 when that church was demolished. The pulpit sounding board is also from All Hallows.
The paintings of Moses and Aaron on either side of the high altar as well as the bust of Sir Peter Lemaire on the north wall of the nave are from St Christopher-le-Stocks, Threadneedle St. Other items, including the chapel reredos, the sword rests and several monuments, are from St Olave Old Jewry. St Margaret’s also possesses several items of plate from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries providing a link to all of the churches of its component parishes.
St Margaret’s remains a vibrant parish church in the heart of the City of London, providing a varied weekday ministry for all Christians in the area. It is the church of five livery companies (the Armourers and Brasiers, the Glovers of London, the Tylers and Bricklayers, the Tin Plate Workers alias Wire Workers and the Scientific Instrument Makers), two Ward Clubs (Broad St. and Coleman St.) and one professional institution (the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales). It is also the parish church of the Bank of England and several local firms. Each hold special services at various times in the year.
London Metropolitan Archives
40 Northampton Road, London EC1R OHB
A history of St Mary Woolnoth
On Easter Day 1727 St Mary Woolnoth of the nativity was reopened after its rebuilding by Nicholas Hawksmoor, the only Church he built in the City. The rebuilding had taken 12 years, paid for from the proceeds of the tax on sea borne coal. The then Rector was Sam Angier, appointed in 1689 at the early age of 24, who remained in office until he died here in 1752. As he stood on the steps of his brand new church, what would he have seen?
Very little; there was no open space in front of the church as there is today (King William Street was not built until 1835), and apart from Lombard Street the parish, which contained 89 houses, was an intricate maze of small lane and alleys, over which stood out the new(highly original) church tower which was all that could be seen from a distance; the passerby could admire the elaborate north wall on Lombard Street that is regarded by many as Hawsksmoor’s masterpiece. If Mr Angier walked down Lombard Street he would have come upon the open space still known as the Stocks Market, the site of the old stocks in which offenders were forced to sit, at the mercy of small boys with rotten eggs. The market was famous for flowers, fruit and vegetables; here gillyflowers, new from the Levant, were nicknamed stocks. The square was dominated by curious equestrian statue on plinth, the gift of Sir Robert Vyner, a friend of Charles II, who lived next door to the church. He bought second-hand a statue of John Sobieski, King of Poland, in the act of cutting down a Turk, and by substituting the heads of Charles II and Oliver Cromwell. Our twin Church, St Mary Woolchurch Haw, so-called from the beam that stood in the churchyard where wool was weighed in the 14th century, had not survived the Fire and was not rebuilt.
Ten years later the City Corporation bought the site of the church to erect the Mansion House, and thus was the new official residence for the Lord Mayor. The church still receives an annual payment of £10 for this.
Beyond the Wallbrook, now paved over, was Poultry ( the poultry market), and Scalding Alley, where they burnt off the feathers. Beyond Poultry, Cheapside had been opened up to make a handsome street though nobody walked much in the city if they could help it. Most of the streets were open drains, and potholes in the roads were so large that children drowned in them in wet weather. The thousand head of cattle driven in and out of Smithfield Market two or three times a week must have been a traffic hazard and ‘every years 150,000 turkeys gobbled and waddled their way along the road from Ipswich to London’. There was little or no street lighting at night; a flaring torch was maintained outside the church, paid for under a will of 1613, and the Corporation was experimenting with public lighting, burning animal fat in something like a large fry pan, but the results were not good. Anyone who could, travelled by water, and Doggett the actor had just presented his animal prize for watermen.
The Bank of England was not yet built, and it’s affairs were conducted from the house of Sir John Houblon ( whose father, the Huguenot refugee, James Houblon, ’eminent for his plainness and piety’, was buried in St Mary Woolnoth). Further round, Mr Angier would have seen Wren’s Royal Exchange, a superb building facing Cornhill with Gresham’s eight-foot grasshopper on the weather vane (it is still there). The Royal Exchange Assurance, with its Fire brigade, had just been established and in this year, the year. Of George II’s Coronation, it acquired its Royal Charter (£30,000). Across from the Royal Exchange was “The Oxford Arms’, a booksellers set up but Thomas Guy, where he laid the foundations of the fortune which enabled him as an old man to found and endow the hospital south of river named after him. This remained his headquarters and private residence for most of his life and indeed he died there on 27 December 1724.
Between Cornhill and Lombard Street was the fascinating area known as Change (only Change Alley remains), where the new coffee houses were doing excellent business.
The Fashion was started by Pasqua Rosee, who opened the first coffee house in St Michael’s Alley in 1652 (‘that sooty drink’ said the vintners and hinted darkly at its effects on the male). Baker’s coffee house sold ‘original gowns’ and Garraway’s sold tea at prices from 15/- to 60/- a pound. Jonathan’s, famous for its gambling in the days of the South Sea Bubble, eventually became Stock Exchange. No 16 Lombard Street was Edward Lloyd’s coffee house, particularly interested in marine insurance, which later became the Corporation of Lloyds (Edward Lloyd attended a Vestry Meeting at St Mary Woolnoth in 1691). Patrons of these coffee houses could read the newspapers or weekly Tatler and Spectator, or discuss the proposals to tax tea, coffee and chocolate, not to mention tobacco and wine, which were indignantly thrown out in 1733. There were plenty of pubs, if you preferred a pub, as many people did: beer and gin drinking was often the only anodyne against the pain and suffering which may otherwise have been intolerable. Depression and suicide were known as the English disease; prisons were full, not of offenders, who dealt with summarily, but with debtors who could not pay up; the infant mortality rate over London as a whole was running at 75% (a little better in Lombard Street); the prospect of having a leg off or even a tooth out without an anaesthetic must have been terrifying.
Lombard Street had been the home of banking ever since Edward I had expelled the Jews from Old Jewry in 1290, and the new bankers from Italy, who represented the Pope and collected his dues, were bankrupted in their turn by Edward III.Charles II ruined Sir Robert Vyner and also Edward Blackwell, the goldsmith at the sign of the grasshopper. James Martin was to buy the freehold in 1741 and so found Martins Bank (which Barclays took over but the sign of the grasshopper is still there). The house next door, known as the Unicorn, bought for £170 in 1702, was quite a size; the ground floor over the cellular contained the shop and drawing-room, parlour and kitchen, the two best bedrooms on the second floor, four garret chambers, and a small turret room above that.
Two famous Inns were still there – The Pope’s Head ( still commemorated in Pope’s Head Alley opposite the church) and The Cardinal’s Hat, once owned but the church itself, given it in 1942 to pay for ‘a chaplain expert in singing and playing the organ and teaching of children ‘. It is mentioned in the church accounts of 1544, when the then Rector asked the Churchwardens to buy him a new surplice, which they were legally bound to do, but they ‘told him to find it himself’. They then had a ‘recreation’ at The Cardinal’s Hat for atonement between the parson and parishioners’. The parish paid 3/- for this atonement ( the surplice might have been cheaper). By 1700 it was renamed The Swan in the Hoop and Vestry Meetings were held there frequently. The vestry was the instrument of local government , and the Churchwardens were constantly paying Mr Hawksmoor or the carpenters and twenty workmen, to erect the bells, or repair the parish pump and (fire) engine.
Immediately behind the church was the Post Office, established there by Sir Robert Vyner. It took over his house after his death, as a hostel for postal clerks. Sherborne Lane ran past the rectory and branched into St Swithin’s Lane, where the young John Stanley was born in 1713. He lost his sight in an accident at the age of two, but learnt the organ from John a Reading (on the instrument built by a Father Schmidt in 1685) and went onto become one of the best known organists in Europe.
‘Prayers are daily at 10 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon during the Winter, and at 4 in the afternoon during the Summer half year’. The Goldsmith’s sermon was preached on St Martin’s Day (to commemorate Sir Martin Bowes) and there was a preparation sermon on the Friday preceding every first Sunday in the month. The Rector and the Lecturer, Doctor James Finlay, were obviously kept busy, quite apart from a steady flow of baptisms, marriages and funerals. Indeed the Rector had to certify that the deceased had been buried in woollen shroud, to encourage the wool trade (women had to wear flannel next to the skin, for the same reason).