The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 3
St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury.
Between and , on the west side, and in the broadest part of , stands the parish church of St. Mary, with the church-yard in front of the street; a very ancient foundation, and formerly part of the possessions of the dean and chapter of , in the time of Ralph de Diceto. Before the fire of London there was a cloister adjoining to it. But
|it appears at all times to have been no otherwise than a donative or curacy; with this difference, that it was then in the patronage of the dean and chapter of , and by them afterwards appropriated to the hospital of Elsing-spital; but now in the choice and nomination of the parishioners, who have enjoyed the impropriation in fee-farm, ever since the dissolution of that hospital.|
The old church being destroyed by the fire of London in , the present structure was finished years after.
The church is situated on the west side of the street. The plan gives a body and side aisles, with a square tower at the west end, partly within the wall of the church. It is built of brick, with an ashlaring of stone on the south and east fronts; the south side has a doorway near the west end; the opening is lintelled, and surmounted by an elliptical pediment, resting on consoles; immediately over the lintel is a square pannel, in the centre of which is a small semicircular niche, containing a gilt statue of the Virgin Mary, with our Saviour in her arms, about inches in height: at sight it might be taken for an ancient statue, which by some means had escaped the iconoclastic influence of Protestant bigotry, it has, however, no claims to high antiquity; it formerly ornamented an iron gateway before the south entrance, and was, to the credit of the parish, preserved and set up in its present situation, when that gateway was altered. Above the doorway is a circular window, to the westward of it is a small window lighting the baptistery. To the cast of the entrance are lofty windows with semicircular heads; the elevation is finished with a fascia surmounted by a parapet; the angles are rusticated; on the parapet are vases. The east front is more ornamental; it is also faced with stone, and is in divisions; in the centre is a large window made in height into portions, by uprights of stone, united by an arch, and crossed by a transom at the springing of the main arch. To the sides of the window are attached trusses in relief, ornamented with foliage, and giving a breadth and pyramidal form to the frontispiece. The elevation is finished with a pediment, having an oval aperture in the tympanum. The side divisions have each a doorway, with a semicircular arched head, covered by an angular pediment, and above an oval window surrounded by a wreath; the parapet rises pedimentally to the centre. The north side, in its general feature corresponds with the south, it is hid from view, and consequently less ornamental. The tower is in principal stories; the lower is lighted by small circular-headed windows, the upper by oblong square ones; the elevation finishes with a block cornice and parapet. Above the platform is a turret of wood in stories ; the lower contains the dial, the upper have arched openings fronted by ballustrades, the whole being finished with a dwarf spire sustaining a vane.
The interior is marked rather by chasteness and simplicity than by the extent or splendour of its ornament; the body and aisles are
| separated by columns and attached semicolumns on each side of the nave. The order is composite; the columns have no bases, and are set on octangular plinths of equal height with the pewing; the shafts are plain, an architrave and cornice rest upon the columns ; the latter is enriched with modillions, and serves as an impost to the ceiling, which is arched above the nave; the soffit is plain, a portion at the east and west end is distinguished by bands enriched with coffers and roses, and the centre is pierced laterally with semicircular windows, on each side, the arched form of which occasions this division of the centre to be groined; at the points of intersection is an expanded flower. The ceiling of the aisles is horizontal, pannelled by architraves. The wood work is very plain; the altar screen consists of Corinthian pilasters sustaining an entablature and elliptical pediment broken to let in the royal arms; the pilasters and some other portions are painted in imitation of lapis lazuli with gilt capitals and mouldings. Over the decalogue is a fine painting of |
by old Franks, presented to the church by Mr. Whitchurch, clerk to the brewers company. At the west end of the church is a gallery containing an organ, both of which were erected in . The pulpit and desks are grouped in the centre of the nave, and have consequently an unseemly appearance; they are all more modern than the church, and possess no claims to merit. The eastern doorways are fronted by plain porches.
The font, situated in the south east angle of the building, is composed of stone, painted to imitate marble. On the cover is inscribed
The church was built by sir Christopher Wren, in , at the expense of The dimensions are, length feet, breadth , height , steeple feet.
Among the register of burials is the following: , George, lord Jefferys, baron of Wem, died the ; buried in a vault tinder the communion table, .
This was the infamous judge Jeffreys.
Over a door in the north wall, is a handsome Corinthian monument, with niches in the intercolumniations. These contain busts, in full bottomed wigs and furred gowns, of Richard Chandler, who died , aged , and John, his brother, , aged .
On the left side of the altar is a pedestal, on brackets, over which, on a gun, is seated a beautiful female figure, with her hands crossed, behind her is a broken rostral column, to the memory of John Smith, lieutenant, R. N- who was drowned off Staten isle, in America, , aged . This monument is by