Londina Illustrata. Graphic and Historical Memorials of Monasteries, Churches, Chapels, Schools, Charitable Foundations, Palaces, Halls, Courts, Processions, Places of Early Amusement, and Modern Present Theatres, in the Cities and Suburbs of London and Westminster, Volume 1
THE history of these structures is so connected, that an account of their several foundations is requisite.
St. Alphage, Archbishop of Canterbury, was of very honourable parentage; and having spent his younger years in the monastery of Deerhurst, in the county of Gloucester, he afterwards became Prior of Glastonbury, which he resigned for the purpose of abiding by a life of stricter discipline at Bath, which was at that period looked upon as an extraordinary circumstance, considering the dignity of his lineage. In this retreat he was joined by other devotees, who elected him their abbot. In the year he was appointed Bishop of Winchester; and having continued in that see for the space of years, he was, in , raised to the archbishopric of Canterbury, where he conducted himself as became his sacred station till , when the Danish invaders of England, having been disappointed of a tribute they had demanded, spoiled and burnt the city and church of Canterbury, and spared only every person, both of clergy and laity. Having seized the virtuous metropolitan, they imprisoned him for the space of months, and inflicted several torments on him, in their camp near Greenwich; and being enraged on account of his inability to pay the ransom which they had demanded, they murdered him on the spot. The citizens of London purchased the body at a great price. The corpse was buried in ; but when Canute the Great sat on the English throne, years afterwards, he caused the body to be taken up and conveyed to Canterbury, where it was interred with great solemnity. Alphage was afterwards canonized, and the , the day on which he was supposed to have been martyred, appointed for his festival. On the spot where he was murdered at Greenwich, a church was consecrated, the site of the present structure; and that of which we are about to give a history and description, was erected to his memory in the city of London.