The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 3
At the south east corner of and , stands the parish church of St. Austin, called, in old records, , because it stood near the gate leading out of into church-yard.
It is a rectory, the patronage of which appears to have been always in the dean and chapter of ; for it is mentioned in their books, in the year , when Ralph de Diceto was dean.
The old church was destroyed by the fire of London, on the ruins of which the present edifice was erected. It is built of brick,
|with an ashlaring of Portland stone on the west and south fronts.|
The plan gives a nave and side aisles, with a square tower occupying the western end of the south aisle, and consequently situated within the walls of the building. The west front of the church is made in height into stories, in the lower is a lintelled doorway, surmounted by a cornice resting on consoles; in the upper story segmental arched windows, the central being distinguished by a pedimental cornice, sustained on a console at each end above the head; the wall is finished with a parapet and coping. The south side of the building has segmental arched windows, and is finished as the western elevation. The east end has windows assimilating with the western front. The northern angle is rusticated, it abuts on a narrow court, and in consequence the brick work has not been faced with stone. In the small portion of the north side of the church, which is not built against, is a single window of the same form as the others already described. The tower is not distinguished from the walls of the church, in the lower stories; in the basement story is a lintelled doorway, covered with a cornice and pediment on the south side; in the succeeding story is a circular window, and the , which is clear of the main building, has an oblong square window, bounded by an architrave on each front of the structure; the walls are finished with a cornice and parapet, the latter pierced with fanciful trellis work; at the angles are square obelisks. A leaded spire is added to the tower, in principal stories; the lower are square, with apertures in each face, lintelled in the lower story, and arched in the upper, this portion being adorned with flaming urns. The upper story consists of an ill-formed spire in the form of a balluster, the whole being finished with a vane. In the interior the division between the nave and aisles is made by Ionic columns, on each side, elevated on lofty octangular plinths; the capitals and bases are gilt, and the plinths wainscotted. The division from the west on the south side, is occupied by the tower, the angle of which engages the column on that side. The ceiling is arched in principal portions, corresponding with the division of the church into nave and aisles; in the vertical sections the central shews a semicircular arch, and the side divisions elliptical ones. The line of division is made by elliptical arches on each side of the church, which have their imposts on a portion of an architrave above the capitals of the columns and of pilasters at the extreme walls; the soffite of the central division is made into compartments corresponding with the inter-columniations, by bands enriched with guillochi, springing from above the columns. Each compartment, except the western, is pierced with a dormer window on each side, and pannelled into circular and square minor compartments. The lateral portions are groined with ribs springing from the architrave above the columns on side, and corbels attached to the walls, composed of the capital of the order
|on a cherub's head, on the other; at the points of intersection are roses, the whole greatly assimilating with the pointed style. The altar screen is a handsome composition, occupying nearly the whole of the eastern wall of the nave; it consists of a panelled stylobate, sustaining a centre and wings; the former is ornamented with pair of Corinthian columns, surmounted by an entablature broken in the centre, to let in an oval pannel filled with a painting of a cherubic choir; between the columns are the tables of the law, and the whole is surmounted by an elliptical pediment, the sweeping cornice as well as the horizontal , being enriched with modillions. On the centre of the pediment a sculptured acroterium, surmounted by the royal arms, most absurdly altered to those of George III. before the union with Ireland; the wings are surmounted with trusses in profile, and contain the creed and pater noster; the shafts of the columns are painted in imitation of lapis lazuli, the capitals lime tree, touched with gold, and the whole is ornamented with sculpture in relief of fruit and foliage in lime tree. On the cornice of the stylobate are sarcophagi in relief, with ogee fronts enriched with acanthines; the centre division shows the entire length of , and the side ones, the ends of others. A gallery occupies the portion of the west end, clear of the tower, and it is continued along the north aisle, the latter portion being sustained on iron columns. In the western portion is an organ with a gilt statue of an angel on the upper part of the case. The pulpit is hexagonal, without a sounding board; it is attached to the pillar from the east on the south side, the reading desk being affixed to the opposite . Upon the whole this church is far below the generality of the architect's works; there is a littleness in the ornaments which detracts from the merit of the building. The font is situated in a dark corner near the western entrance, it is circular in form, and carved with cherubs heads; the obscurity of its situation, added to the appropriation of the pew in which it stands, as a receptacle for rubbish, renders it scarcely visible.|
Over the west door of the south aisle is a marble tablet to the memory of Mrs. Judith Cowper. daughter of Robert Booth, esq. citizen of London. She was married to William Cowper, esq. afterwards earl Cowper, and died . The architect was sir Christopher Wren. The church was rebuilt after the fire in , and it is so inscribed on the western gallery. The expense was On a marble tablet attached to the steeple is inscribed
The organ was set up in .
The church is feet in length, in breadth, and in height, the steeple feet high. Among the parish records, Mr. Malcolm found the following:-- . The churchwardens and others drank worth of liquor at the Castle-tavern, when their accounts were audited, which
|was more than the amount charged for bread and wine for the sacrament administered that year.|
Very considerable sums were expended in the same year for repairs on the church. tons of stone, with the carriage, cost the parish
The carving of the pannels of the pews, drops for women's pews, and ornaments on pulpit, at the above period, cost
In , the grave-stones were deprived of their brazen insignia, and was paid for taking them up; the altar rails were also taken down.
In the old church was the tomb of Robert Bellesdon, mayor, .