The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 3
St. Mary Magdalen.
On the north side of , at the west corner of the , stands the parish church of , ; so called from its dedication to that saint, and its ancient situation in the fish-market, the principal part of which was in that street.
This church was a vicarage, in the tenure of the canons of , in the year ; but for some ages past, it has been a rectory, in the gift of the dean and chapter of . The old edifice was destroyed by the fire of London; and the present building was erected in the year .
The elevation is ornamented with greater profusion than many
|of the churches in the metropolis. The south side is faced with stone, and has an entrance near the west end with a slightly arched headway surmounted by a cornice resting on consoles: the residue of the wall to the height of this cornice forms a lofty stylobate to the higher portion, which contains well-proportioned windows with semi-circular arched heads, having enriched key-stones, and cartouches above the jambs, which, jointly with the former, are made to sustain the cornice which is continued along the whole front, and the elevation is finished with a ballustrade. The east end is also faced with stone; it has windows, which, with the general architectural decorations, are uniform with the south side. The north and west sides are concealed by the adjacent houses; in the former is window. The tower, which is attached to the north wall of the building, has story, visible above the roof: in each face is a window with a square head, above which is a cornice and parapet, from which the elevation is continued by means of a flight of steps, on the summit of which is a neat octangular temple with a square headed opening in each face, the piers guarded with antae, and the whole surmounted with a conical roof forming a dwarf spire terminated with a ball; the whole structure is built with stone, and shews a novel and almost unique design, simple and unostentatious; harmonious in its parts, and not inelegant in its general form.
The interior is plain and neat; the plan is an oblong square, and the area is unbroken by columns; the ceiling is horizontal in the centre, forming a large oblong-square pannel, bounded by a modillion cornice; in the middle is an expanded flower formed in a circle; the remainder of the ceiling is coved, and pierced with semicircular arches above the windows, and the corresponding spaces where, owing to the attached buildings on the exterior, are no windows, the arches rest on impost cornices, to the soffites of which are attached triangular groups of palm branches, festoons, and escallops. The altar screen consists of a centre and side divisions; it is composed of veined oak, and adorned with festoons of fruit, and entwined wreaths of foliage. The central division has columns of the Corinthian order, the shafts fluted and painted in imitation of lapis lazuli as are also the pedestals and entablature, the capitals, bases, and various mouldings gilt. The central division contains the decalogue, the lateral ones, the creed, and paternoster; above the centre is an elliptical broken pediment, the tympanum occupied by a painting of a choir of cherubs; the place of the window above is occupied by a large painting of the Ascension, painted by Mr. R. Browne, , of no great merit, and in such a bad light that its beauties, if it had any, could not be seen to advantage. To the north and west sides is attached a gallery, the front of which is an attic surmounting an entablature, the pilasters carved with foliage and fruit, and the whole sustained on slender iron pillars, with composed capitals.
In the western portion is an organ erected in by subscription; and on a large tablet, against the north wall, are inscribed the names of the subscribers to the erection of the instrument. The pulpit and desks are grouped and attached to the south wall. The font, in the north-west angle of the church, is a circular basin of marble on a balluster, adorned with cherubs heads, and a shield, bearing on a lozenge a cross ermine, between bucks trippant, the colours are lost in consequence of the whole being gilt. On the south side of the church are the arms of king James II. emblazoned in colours; in the vestibule beneath the organ is preserved of the monuments from the ancient church; it is a small brass tablet affixed to the wainscot; and partly occupied by a representation of the deceased in a livery gown; over the head the date , and on the side the following inscription:
As an almost solitary relic of the monumental antiquities of ancient London it is highly valuable, and the care of it reflects great credit upon the parish. In the vestibule is also preserved a fireman's hat or helmet of leather, the form of which is the morion of the time of Elizabeth.
The church was rebuilt after the fire, and completed in , sir C Wren being the architect; the expense was The dimensions are, length feet, breadth , height .