The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 4

Allen, Thomas


St. Olave's Church.


Though it cannot be ascertained at what time a church was situated on this spot, yet it is mentioned as early as the year . Part of the old church, however, falling down in , and the rest being in an unsafe condition, owing to the graves being dug too near the foundation, the parishioners applied to parliament for a power to rebuild it, which being granted, they were enabled to raise by granting annuities for lives, not exceeding in the whole; for payment of which a rate was to be made, not exceeding sixpence in the pound; -thirds to be paid by the landlord, by the tenant, to cease on the nomination of the annuities. The act contains a very proper restriction that no shall be buried in the church.

This church is a rectory, the patronage of which is in the gift of the crown.

The church is situated on the north side of the street, and with the exception of the south side, is concealed from public observation. The plan is divided into a vestibule at the west end, extending the breadth of the entire building. At the north west angle is the tower. The body of the church shews a nave and side aisles, and a small chancel. The south side has tier of windows, in each; the lower have segmental arches and key-stones, the upper are circles; the elevation finishes with a cornice; the vestibule forms an obtuse angle with this portion, and has a doorway covered with an elliptical pediment resting on consoles, over which is a circular window. The elevation is finished with an angular pediment The east front is in divisions, corresponding with the nave and aisles; in the south aisle is a doorway, as .before, surmounted by a round window. The chancel projects before the aisles, and has a large circular headed window in its eastern front, the elevation finished with a cornice. A clerestory is formed above the aisles, containing a corresponding number of semi-circular windows. The tower rises above the church in stories; in the is a round headed window, fronted by a ballustrade; in the a square pannel containing the clock dial, it is surmounted by a pediment. The elevation is finished with a cornice and ballustrade, every aspect of the elevation is uniform with that described.



The whole of the building which is visible, is faced with Portland stone, and the angles are rusticated, the north side being concealed from observation, is built with brick. The interior is made into a body and side aisles, by pedestals, of equal height with the pewing, on each side, from which rise an equal number of fluted Ionic columns, surmounted by their entablature, which is received on pilasters at its entrance, into the walls of the church. The entablature is crowned with a low attic, broken at intervals by brackets in the form of consoles, situated above the columns, and finished with a sub-cornice, which breaks over the brackets; the ceiling is a semi-circular vault, made into divisions, corresponding in size with the intercolumniations, by ribs with enriched soffites springing from the cornice over the brackets; each division is pierced laterally to admit the windows of the clerestory, and at the points of intersection are flowers, the spandrils are pannelled. The ceiling of the aisles is horizontal, and is made into square pannels, equal in width with the intercolumniations, by flying cornices received into a cornice, which finishes the side walls on the side, and the main cornice on the other. The altar occupies a semi-elliptical niche, equal in width with the nave. The wall is made into divisions by pilasters, of which are coupled, and the whole surmounted by the entablature continued from the church; in the central division is a small wainscot screen, occupying the dado of the eastern window, it is surmounted by a broken pediment in the centre of which is the pelican: it is inscribed with the decalogue. On ovals on the side divisions are the Lord's Prayer and the Belief, over which, in niches enclosed in square frontispieces, are full length statues of Moses and Aaron. The ceiling is composed of a half dome, the soffit enriched with rows of sunk pannels of an octagon form, enclosing flowers, and varying in size to accommodate the form of the cove: between the rows are small square pannels. The walls of the screen and the dome, are painted to imitate veined marble; the enrichments gilt. A gallery is erected at the west end with a ballustraded front, and also in each of the aisles. It is well contrived to avoid interfering with the main columns, behind which the fronts of the side galleries are enriched with cherubim heads, disposed in the form of consoles. The organ is situated in the western gallery; the case is oak, richly carved, and surmounted by the mitre and crown. The wall behind is ornamented with reliefs in plaister of a cherubic choir, musical instruments, &c. The pulpit is situated on the north side of the central aisle, it is poligonal in plan, and sustained on a single pillar, with swelling front: it has no sounding board. The reading desk on the opposite side is in reality a desk, and not a pulpit, as is ridiculously the fashion in most new churches. The church


is on the whole of the best imitations of the school of Wren. It closely resembles, almost to a copy, the church of St. Dionis Back-church, .

The length of this church is feet, breadth feet.

The font is a neat basin of marble, and is situated on the north side of the church.

There are no monuments in this church.

The old church was a square of feet, feet high; the tower and turret feet, in which were bells. It had aisles; the pillars, arches, and windows Gothic. In it was a portrait of king Charles I. In , the bells were re-cast, and were added to them.

Eastward from the church is a quay, which in the year , by the license of Simon Swanland, mayor of London, was built by Isabel, widow of Hammond Goodchepe. Adjoining to which was

a great house of stone and timber, belonging to the abbot of St. Augustine, Canterbury, which was an ancient piece of work, seeming to be


of the


builded houses on that side of the river over against the city. It was called the Abbot's Inn of St. Augustine, in


, and was held of the earls of Warren and Surrey, as appears by a deed made in


, which,

says Stow,

I have read, and may be Englished thus:

To all, &c. John, earl of Warren, sendeth greeting: we have altogether remised, for us and our heirs, to Nicholas (Thorne) abbot of St. Augustine, and the convent, suit to our court of Southwark, which they owe to us for all that messuage and houses thereon builded, which they have of our fee in Southwark on the Thames, between the Bridge-house and the church of St. Olave's; and for this they have granted to us 5s. rent in Southwark, and have received us and our heirs in all benefices which shall be in their church for ever.

This suit of court


William Graspeis was bound to do to the earl, and to requite the convent. But previous to this,


, the abbot had purchased it of Reginald de Cornhelle, for

120 marks



The house afterwards belonged to sir Anthony St. Leger, thento Warnham St. Leger, and is now, says Stow, called St. Legerhouse, but divided into many apartments. There is now a wharf on the site, which retains the name of St. Leger, corrupted into Sellinger.


[] Although paintings of Moses and Aaron occur in most of the London churches, this, and the church of Allhallow's, Thames, described vol. iii. page 509, are the only instances of statues of their personages.

[] Described vol. iii. p. 685.

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 Title Page
CHAPTER I: Site, local divisions, and government of the City of Westminster; history of the Abbey; Coronation Ceremonies; and lists of the Abbots and Deans
CHAPTER II: Westminster Abbey, and Description of the Tombs and Monuments
CHAPTER III: History and Topography of St. Margaret's Parish
CHAPTER IV: History and Topography of St. John's Parish, Westminster
CHAPTER V: History and Topography of the parish of St. Martin's in the Fields, Westminster
CHAPTER VI: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. James, Westminster
CHAPTER VII: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Anne, Westminster
CHAPTER VIII: History and Topography of the parish of St. Paul, Covent Garden
CHAPTER IX: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Mary-le-strand
CHAPTER X: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. Clement Danes
CHAPTER XI: History and Topography of the parish of st. George, Hanover Square
CHAPTER XII: History and Topography of the Precinct of the Savoy
CHAPTER XIII: History and Topography of the Inns of Court
CHAPTER XIV: History and Topography of the Precincts of the Charter-house and Ely Place, and the Liberty of the Rolls
 CHAPTER XV: Historical Notices of the Borough of Southwark
CHAPTER XVI: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Olave, Southwark
CHAPTER XVII: History and Topography of the parish of St. John, Southwark
CHAPTER XVIII: History and Topography of the parish of St. Thomas, Southwark
CHAPTER XIX: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. George's, Southwark
CHAPTER XX: History and Topography of St. Saviour's Parish
CHAPTER XXI: History and Topography of the parist of Christ-church in the County of Surrey
 CHAPTER XXII: A List of the Principal Books, &c that have been published in Illustration of the Antiquities, History, Topography, and other subjects treated of in this Work
 Addenda et Corrigienda