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

Allen, Thomas


St. Vedast.


This church is situated on the east side of , and is so called from St. Vedast, alias Foster, bishop of Arras, in Artois. It is a rectory, founded in or before the year , when Walter de London was presented thereunto by the prior and convent of the church of Canterbury. It was rebuilt in the year . And in the chancel end was lengthened by the addition of feet of ground, given by the Sadler's company out of their own court. In process of time the patronage was transferred to the archbishop of Canterbury; and it has been a peculiar of that see ever since the year . This church suffered much in the great fire of London: yet it was afterwards repaired for the most part upon the old walls: and the steeple stood till the year , when it was found in such a weak condition that the parishioners had it taken down and rebuilt, at their own charge, entirely of stone.

The plan of this church shews a nave with an aisle attached to the south side, and a square tower at the west end of the latter. The west front abuts on the footpath; it has an entrance, with a segmental arch, the upper part occupied by a curious sculpture in alto relievo, being intended to personify Religion and Charity. In the centre of the group is an altar between seated females, the on the right is Religion, with a torch in hand and the sacred volume in the other, which she is in the act of contemplating. On the other side is Charity fostering naked infants. In the back ground are seen the walls and towers of a city, below which are several persons distributing bread and clothing to objects of charity. Above this doorway is a large square headed window, divided into compartments by uprights and a transom stone, between lofty round headed windows, the keystones sculptured with cherubic heads; the elevation is finished with a cornice and parapet. The tower, which ranges with the front, has an arched window to correspond in the lower story, above this is a circular window; the succeeding story, which is clear of the main building, has a circular


headed window in each aspect; the elevation of the tower finishes with a Doric entablature, surmounted with a blocking course, and above this commences a spire, square in plan, and made in elevation into stories, forming an ornamented obelisk of a perfectly original design. The pyramidal form is began by buttresses of considerable projection, which are attached to the angles, the uprights having inclined directions. The story has, in each aspect, an oval opening, surmounted by another of a square form; the plan of this story is square externally, and cylindrical within; the buttress are ornamented with grouped Corinthian pilasters, sustaining an entablature ; the story is circular in its outer as well as inner features, it only differs from the preceding story in the diminution occasioned by the declension of the elevation, and in having only the square opening in the sides; the buttresses are ornamented with antae, sustaining an architrave and cornice. The story is solid, and consists of a plain obelisk, crowned with a vane; trusses are added at the angles of its base, to prevent any abruptness taking place at the division of the story, and preserve entire the pyramidal principle which forms the beauty of this simple but tasteful design. The west front is the only portion open to public observation, the residue being concealed by adjacent buildings. In the north side are semicircular headed windows, with a tier of smaller ones, and segment arched heads above. The east end is a copy of the western, except that the northern window is partially concealed by an adjacent building. There is also a window with a semicircular head at the west end of the aisle, and another near the west end. A clerestory, assimilating with the upper range of windows on the north side, is formed in the wall of the south side of the church, which rises above the aisle. The interior is approached by the western entrance; the nave and aisle are divided by arches resting upon columns and semicolumns of the Tuscan order, which occupy all the aisle except the division which is filled with the tower ; the archivolts consist of a plain architrave, with a cherub's head carved on the keystone; the shafts of the columns are painted in imitation of sienna, the archivolts of veined marble. The ceiling of the body of the church is coved, having a large horizontal pannel in the form of a parallellogram in the middle; the covings spring from an acanthine cornice, by way of impost, which is broken between the clerestorial windows, above which the ceiling is pierced with arches; the central pannel is surrounded with a fine wreath of foliage in alto relievo, and contains a large oval enclosed within a circular wreath and smaller compartments; the ceiling of the aisle is horizontal, pannelled by architraves into compartments. A gallery occupies all the portion of the west end which is northward of the tower, it contains a large organ. The altar screen is composed of oak: it is a splendid but chaste composition, composed of a principal and attic orders; the former is Corinthian, and consists of columns resting on a


panelled stylobate, and sustaining their entablature; the central intercolumniation, which is double the width of the lateral ones, is surmounted by a half rising elliptical pediment, which is broken to let in a large circle, painted with an irradiation encircling the words


and surrounded by a choir of children in the character of angels, singing and blowing trumpets, beautifully carved in alto relievo in limetree; this composition breaks into the attic, which is surmounted over the centre by an angular pediment, the attic pilasters are enriched with relievi, and the pannels of the side compartments contain mitres. In the central intercolumniation of the principal order are the tables of the law, surmounted by a pelican in her nest, with expanded wings; the side compartments contain the apostle's creed and Lord's prayer; the inscriptions are in the old black letter, with large flowering initial letters; besides the carving already described, the screen is richly ornamented with relievi of wheat ears, grapes, and other fruits, foliage, &c. in Gibbons' richest style. Above the window over the altar is the descent of the Holy-Ghost, surrounded with an irradiation and gilt cherubic heads. The pulpit and desks are grouped together on the north side of the church, at a short distance from the altar rails. The former is hexagonal, enriched with carvings in oak, and has a large handsome sounding board of the same form. The font is situated in a pew in the centre aisle, near the entrance, it is an oval basin of white marble, sustained on a column. The central east window contains the arms of king Charles II., in stained glass. Against the north wall is a tablet, recording the history of the present church, as follows :--

This church was rebuilt Anno Domini


. Repaired and beautified










; Francis Wollaston, L. L. B. rector, Ric. Jennings, James Pearsall, churchwardens of St. Vedast; Rob. Brown, Leny Smith, church-wardens of St. Michael le Quern.

Surmounted with the royal arms in alto relievo.

There are various monuments.

On the north side of the chancel, and over the vestry door, is a neat monument, consisting of Corinthian pilasters supporting a broken pediment, with weeping boys, &c. to the memory of Mary Wakefield, , aged .

In the south aisle is a handsome monument, consisting of columns of the Corinthian order, supporting an arched pediment,


on which is seated boys, with a coronet, the other with a wreath, supporting a shield. To the memory of Mary, wife of John Davenport, daughter of John Hacket, bishop of Litchfield and Coventry, . Near this is a similar to the memory of sir John Johnson, knt. and alderman, , aged .

The old church was repaired after the fire, and the present was not built until ; the architect was sir Christopher Wren. The expense to the nation was The length of the church is feet, the breadth , and the height feet. In the vestry is a plan of the parish, made in .


[] Some authors say, that Vedast and Foster are two distinct saints; and that the original church was dedicated to St. Foster; and when rebuilt, it was dedicated to St. Vedast. Others deny that there ever was a saint called Foster, but that this Foster was the builder of the lane, and gave name to it, as his own property; from whence the church was called St. Vedast, Foster-lane, or in Foster-lane.

[] The frequent recurrence of grapes and wheat ears, and the Pelican, in the works of Grinlin Gibbons, render it necessary to observe, that they are not mere fanciful decorations, but have an higher meaning; the former are emblematic of the sacramental elements, the latter of the sacrifice of our Saviour, beautifully represented by the bird being in the act of feeding her young with her blood; this was a favourite device of bishop Fox, and may be seen on his splendid mausoleum at Winchester, which is, perhaps, the oldest example extant.

[] It is proper to observe, on the smallness of this amount, that in most instances the parishes had to provide a portion of the expense of the building, and the ornamenting of the church depended mainly on the liberality and wealth of the inhabitants; this explanation will account for the low estimate in the present instance, when compared with the building, the sum above given being the quota of the government fund appropriated to the parish, but which could have been scarce one half of the actual expenditure.

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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