The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 3

Allen, Thomas


St. Martin Ludgate.


At a small distance west of Stationer's-hall-court, and on the north side of , is the parochial church of St. Martin, Ludgate, so called from its dedication to St. Martin, and its vicinity to the old gate.

The patronage of this church, which is a rectory, was originally in the abbot and convent of , in whom it continued till the suppression of that monastery by Henry VIII. who erected into a bishopric, and conferred it on the new bishop. That see, however, being dissolved by Edward VI., Queen Mary, in the year , granted the advowson of this church to the bishop of London, and his successors, in whom it still remains.

The old church was destroyed by the fire of London, after which the present edifice was erected on its ruins.

The only portion of this church which is not concealed by adjacent buildings, is the south front, which ranges with the houses on the north side of . The elevation is made in breadth into divisions, and in height into stories, the central division being occupied by the tower. In the lower story are doorways, the centre has a segmental arch, and is covered with a cornice, sustained on consoles; the lateral ones are lintelled and surmounted with pediments; the upper story contains windows arched like the central doorway in each division, surmounted by horizontal cornices, resting on consoles; the elevation of the side divisions is finished with a cornice and parapet. The tower is continued above the church to the extent of story, apparently supported by large trusses, having their foundation on the coping at the side divisions, and surmounted by a spire; it is square in plan, and has a semicircular arched window in each face, with a double festoon of foliage above the heads. The walls are crowned with a cornice, surmounted by an octangular attic; the sides above the angles of the tower are smaller than the others, and are recessed; the larger sides, in imitation of the main structure, being supported by trusses carried up pedimentally from the blocking


course; upon the crown of the attic the spire commences, it is wholly covered with lead, and its foundation is bell shaped, pierced with port holes, and crowned with a circular gallery, guarded by an iron railing, within which is a temple of the same form, composed of arches, and sustaining a tall and well proportioned octangular spire, ending in a vane. The east end is built against. The north side has windows similar to that already described, and a circular window above the central . The west end resembles the north side, the central windows being walled up. The plan is a square, being increased by an attached aisle on the south side, which is separated from the church by massive piers for sustaining the steeple. The body of the church shews aisles in breadth as well as in length, occasioned by the disposition of columns in a square in the centre of the plan. To give greater height to the building, the columns are elevated on lofty octagonal plinths; the order is composite, which is carried round the walls in pilaster. A cruciform arrangement is given to the interior by means of entablatures, which cross the church from wall to wall, in the direction from north to south, and from east to west, being sustained at the points of intersection by the columns, and breaking over the intercolumniations, the plan of the ceiling, in consequence, shews the form of a Latin cross. The entablature is also applied as a crowning member to the side walls, being broken in the centre divisions or arms of the cross; the cruciform portion of the ceiling is arched, resting on the cornice as an impost; the soffite is plain, groined at the centre; at the junction of the groins are expanded flowers. The divisions at the angles of the church, not included in the cross, form oblong square pannels, the soffits without ornament. The aisle at the south side is separated from the church by well proportioned and handsome circular arches, resting on piers, ornamented with antae, and a simple impost cornice; the soffites of the arches are enriched with sunk pannels, containing roses; a gallery formerly occupied the whole of this aisle, it is now reduced in depth by glazed screens attached to the outer faces of the arches, introduced at the last repair in . The front of the gallery is a pannelled attic, and is sustained on brackets concealed within the floor: above the central arch on this side, is the royal arms, altered to those of king George III. with the motto

Fear God, honour the king,

An additional gallery at the west end, sustained on slender iron columns, contains the organ, and below it are seats for charity children. The altar screen is of oak, and is enriched with carvings in lime-tree, it is divided into portions, by Corinthian pilasters; the central division is occupied by a blank arch, breaking into an attic, surmounted by a segmental pediment. The decalogue occupies the lower part, and above it is a well sculptured mantling, within which is an oval, inscribed , DEUS; in the tympanum of the pediment, . The lateral divisions


have the creed and paternoster, and are ornamented by gilt urns, the capitals and mouldings being also gilt. The pulpit is hexagonal without a sounding board, and is affixed to the north west column; there is some handsome wood work about the church; the central entrance is fronted by a porch, enriched with Corinthian pilasters and carving in lime-tree. The south west entrance is also fronted by a porch of the Ionic order, with a pediment richly sculptured with angels holding festoons and a crown. The door case to the vestry has Ionic pilasters. The partition which still partially divides the chancel from the nave in the churches of the metropolis, is here ornamented with vases containing flowers, instead of the lion and unicorn, which are introduced in almost every other instance; in several other parts of the church are carvings of foliage in relief in lime tree. The font is an elegant circular basin of statuary marble, enriched with mouldings and sustained on a pillar of the same material. The cover in profile shews conjoined ogees, it is ribbed and much resembles a canopy of the pointed style, and is painted to imitate veined marble. The Greek inscription on this font has attracted much notice, partly from the circumstance of its being a palindrome, and partly from its frequent use in the church from the earliest ages. The inscription is (Lord) wash my sin and not my face only,) it will be readily perceived that this Greek inscription reads either backward or forward. This monostich appears to have been adopted from the Greek church. It is, or was to be seen, on the font of the basilica of St. Sophia at Constantinople. In this country its occurrence is frequent, in particular on the covers of the fonts at Dulwich College, and Worlingworth church Suffolk, a festive basin at Trinity College Cambridge, on the font at Harlow in Essex, and at Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, and in France on a marble benitier in the church of Notre Dame, and the fonts of St. Stephen d«Egres at Paris, and in that of St. Menin's Abbey near Orleans. Beneath this inscription, is the following, in English,


, The Gift of Thomas Morley, Esq. born in the Parish.

The walls of the church and the ceiling are tinted with a warm hue, far preferable to the naked whitewash so often met with. The beadle's staff is surmounted with a model in silver of the old gate.

This church was finished in , by sir Christopher Wren, at an expense of The dimensions being, length, feet; breadth, ; height, ; and height of steeple, feet.


[] Both the ancient and modem Greek languages are rich in Palindromes; it is singular, that in the English, one is only known to exist, which was composed by Taylor the water poet, as follows; Lewd I did live, evil did I dwell.

[] Malcolm, Lond. red. vol. iv. Page 357. Gent's. Mag. xcv. part ii. pp. 2, 194, 392. New Monthly Mag. 1821 vol. ii. p. 170.

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 Title Page
 CHAPTER I: The site, extent, buildings, population, commerce, and a view of the progressive increase of London
 CHAPTER II: List of the parishes and churches in London, with their incumbents, &c
CHAPTER III: History and Topography of Aldersgate Ward
CHAPTER IV: History and Topography of Aldgate Ward
CHAPTER V: History and Topography of Bassishaw Ward
CHAPTER VI: History and Topography of Billingsgate Ward
CHAPTER VII: History and Topography of Bishopsgate Ward, Without and Within
CHAPTER VIII: History and Topography of Bread-street Ward
CHAPTER IX: History and Topography of Bridge Ward Within
CHAPTER X: History and Topography of Broad-street Ward
CHAPTER XI: History and Topography of Candlewick Ward
CHAPTER XII: History and Topography of Castle Baynard Ward
CHAPTER XIII: History and Topography of Cheap Ward
CHAPTER XIV: History and Topography of Coleman-street Ward
CHAPTER XV: History and Topography of Cordwainer's-street Ward
CHAPTER XVI: History and Topography of Cornhill Ward
CHAPTER XVII: History and Topography of Cripplegate Ward Within
CHAPTER XVIII: History and Topography of Cripplegate Yard Without
CHAPTER XIX: History and Topography of Dowgate Yard
CHAPTER XX: History and Topography of Farringdom Ward Within
CHAPTER XXI: History and Topography of Farringdon Ward Without
CHAPTER XXII: History and Topography of Langbourn Ward
CHAPTER XXIII: History and Topography of Lime-street Ward
CHAPTER XXIV: History and Topogrpahy of Portsoken Ward
CHAPTER XXV: History and Topography of Queenhithe Ward
CHAPTER XXVI: History and Topography of Tower Ward
CHAPTER XXVII: History and Topography of Vintry Ward
CHAPTER XXVIII: History and Topography of Wallbrook Ward