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

Allen, Thomas


St. Dunstan's in the West.


Is situated on the south side of , between and , the east front and south side projecting considerably into the street.

It is a very ancient foundation, formerly in the gift of the abbot and convent of ; who (in ) gave it to king Henry III. towards the maintenance of the house called the Rolls, for the reception of converted Jews. It was afterwards transferred to the abbot and convent of Alnwick, in Northumberland, in which patronage it continued till that religious house was suppressed by king Henry VIII. King Edward VI. granted the advowson of this church, under the name of a vicarage, to lord Dudley. The rectory and vicarage were soon after granted to sir Richard Sackvill, whose descendants alienated the impropriation to George Rivers, d Jac. I. but they kept the vicarage in their presentation till the year . About , both the impropriation and vicarage were in the heirs of Mr. Taylor, clerk of . The impropriation is valued at per ann.

This church escaped the great fire in , but has been repaired several times, at a very great expence.

It is a large building of brick and stone, of different ages, and much defaced by alteration. The plan, from the same cause, is irregular; it shews a large area, nearly square, with a small aisle on the south side, extending about half its length from west to east, and another aisle on the north side, having a square tower at the west, and a vestry at the east end, both of which additions are comprehended within the plan. The superstructure has little claims to attention. The west end abuts on passage. It has a large low arched window, having lights, made by mullions diverging into arched heads; nearer the south is a small window of lights, and, below it, a modern pointed doorway; the tower, which occupies the northern angle of this front, is in stories; the western front ranging with the main building; in each story is a


window of lights, the lower arched, the upper square-headed with weather cornices; the story is clear of the church, and the window is consequently repeated in each aspect; the elevation is finished with battlements, and, formerly, an octangular beacon turret rose above the south-east angle, which was encreased in height by a wooden turret for a bell; a few years since it was taken down to the battlements, by which the character of the tower was destroyed, and the vile taste of the parish was further displayed by the erection of a painted deal lantern on the platform of the tower, in the true carpenter's Gothic style. The south side of the church is divided in the upright into stories, the lower is ancient, the upper modern; the aisle which projects from the main building, has a modern lintelled doorway, near the mouth, to which succeeds windows with depressed pointed arches; each window is lofty, and is divided by a mullion into lights with arched heads; the piers which separate them are remarkably slender; every alternate window is now walled up; in the east end of the aisle is a smaller window open; the portion of this front eastward of the aisle had formerly windows of a similar description, and a doorway corresponding in design with the remaining in the aisle; all these particulars are walled up; the clerestory which extends over the aisle and chancel has large arched windows, in the taste which prevailed in sir Christopher Wren's time; the elevations of both the aisle and clerestory are finished with modern battlements. On the roof of the aisle, near the west end, is a large niche, which contains the famous statues of wild men, (set up in ) from which the church has derived so much popular celebrity. These colossal statues represent savages, girt round the loins with skins, and holding clubs in their hands, with which they strike the quarters on bells pendant from the roof. The niche which contains them is arched, and covered with a pediment, sustained on Ionic columns and pilasters; the statues were bronzed in the last repair of the church; beneath this niche, on a projecting beam, which is supported by a truss, carved with a well executed head, is the clock dial. The east wall is hid by shops built against it; the pointed arch of a window, which was walled up in the repair of , still remains, and the elevation is finished with battlements; in the centre of the parapet is a niche containing a statue of queen Elizabeth. On a tablet beneath is the following inscription, nearly hid by the roof of the shops:--

This statue of queen Elizabeth formerly stood on the west side of Ludgate. That gate being taken down in


, to open the street, it was given by the city to sir Francis Gosling, knt. and alderman of this ward, who caused it to be placed here.

At the last repair, the statue was painted to imitate bronze. The clerestory contains segmental arched windows, and is finished


by a large broken gable, in the style of the early part of the century. All the older portions of the church are built with stone, and the architecture is of the latest specimens of the pointed style of architecture; the clerestory is built of brick covered with compo. The north side of the church is concealed from observation; it abuts on a small burying ground, and is principally modern; at the east end of the north aisle, is a window of lights, similar to those before described.

The principal entrance is by the door in the west front, but the in the north aisle is most used; another entrance is through a porch attached to the north side of the tower, which has a depressed pointed arch, with enriched spandrils in wood, and leads through the tower into the church; a spacious vestibule occupies the east end of the building beneath the organ gallery, and the south aisle is parted from the body of the church by glazed screens, to keep out as far as possible the noise of the street. The body of the church now shews a spacious area, nearly square, parted from the south aisle by arches with moulded archivolts, springing from clustered columns; from the north aisle, by octangular columns with heavy capitals, and from the chancel and western vestibule, by others of a similar description; in these columns and their entablatures, (the work of the early portion of the century,) the architect has aimed at the invention of a new order of architecture, and produced a deformity : a mongrel entablature, sustained on the columns where they exist, and by the arches and the wall of the church on the south side, sustains the clerestory, the ceiling of which consists of a large open panel in the centre, surrounded by a border of guillochi, and its soffit occupied by a large oval and smaller pannels; the sides of the ceiling are coved and pierced with arches over the windows, springing from an impost cornice, attached to the piers between the windows. The ceilings of the aisles and chancel are horizontal without ornament. In the latter are circular skylights. A gallery occupies the north aisle, and another corresponding with it is erected on the south side of the church. A crosses the west end; the centre projects in an elliptical sweep, and is sustained on bold cantilevers; in this part is a large organ ; the chancel is made into divisions by a pillar, which evidently marks the place where a range of pointed arches originally divided the area into aisles, and which were removed to gain greater breadth. The altar screen, which is situated against the extreme wall of the northern division of the chancel, is constructed of oak, with gilt enrichments; it consists of a central and lateral divisions, made by coupled Corinthian columns sustaining their entablature ; the lateral divisions have pilasters to correspond; over the centre is an elliptical pediment, surmounted by a square pannel containing the Hebrew name of the Deity, in an irradiation; over the decalogue is a gilt pelican; the lateral divisions are surmounted by an attic, and on the wall above are paintings of Moses


and Aaron in niches. In the north wall of the chancel, is pointed doorway, with enriched spandrils, leading into the vestry. The pulpit is affixed to the pillar in the centre of the chancel; it is hexagonal, and has a sounding board and canopy of the same form, the latter surmounted by a mitre, above which is a painting in a frame of the royal arms of his present majesty. The font is of recent construction: it is situated in a pew in the central area; it is a large and handsome basin of white marble, sustained on a pillar.

The monuments are exceedingly numerous, many very handsome specimens of ancient and modern sculpture exist among them, but the whole have been most sedulously whitewashed, in every succeeding repair, even to the total obliteration, in many instances, of the inscriptions. The oldest monument is an altar tomb on the north side of the church; the canopy was probably open to the vestry; the dado is enriched with quaterfoils, and from the ledger rises columns at the angles, sustaining an architrave cornice embattled; the form of the canopy assimilates rather with Italian than pointed architecture; this tomb was probably erected after the Reformation; all trace of the person whom it commemorated, is lost, in consequence of the parish having allowed another monument, consisting of slabs of white marble, inscribed to the memory of Mr. R. Pierson, who died , to be inserted within the open space over the altar tomb, consequently, the brass portraiture of the deceased, and the inscription, either on the wall at the back, if there was , or on the ledger of the altar, is concealed the modern appropriation of the monument has been completed by the addition of an urn to the canopy. At the east end of the north aisle is an ancient altar tomb of small dimensions, surmounted by a canopy springing from the angles of the ledger, and formed of a low elliptical arch, over which is a cornice set round with quaterfoils. On the roof of the canopy is a kneeling effigy in a long gown, in the costume of Elizabeth's reign ; this monument was probably erected to the memory of Willam Crowche, citizen and mercer, and of the common council, who died . Near it is a lady of the above period, in a niche of the Corinthian order, praying at an altar, and below her, in small niches, children; this monument commemorates Elizabeth North, wife of Roger North, esq. died , aged years. She had issue sons and a daughter, Henry, Dudley, and Mary North. A consists of a full faced bust of W. Morecroft, in a circle. In the south aisle is a fine costumic bust in a circle to the memory of C. Fetherstone, who died , aged .

Among the modern monuments, the most striking is that of alderman Hoare, originally erected on the south wall, but, at the last repair, placed against the closed up window in the eastern wall; it is


a handsome composition of white marble, consisting of a sarcophagus, surmounted by a winged boy, holding a medallion of the deceased. Sir R. Hoare, knt. was lord mayor in , and died .

Against the north side of the chancel, is another monument to the memory of sir Richard Hoare, knt. who died Jan., , aged , and his relict, dame Susannah Hoare, who died , aged .

In the north aisle is an oval tablet to the memory of H. Judkin, esq.

the honest solicitor of

Clifford's Inn


who died . This tablet was erected to his memory by his clients!

In the south side of the chancel is a small mural monument of statuary marble, possessing great merit; it consists of a slab between a male and female cariatidal statue, about eighteen inches in height, but sculptured with exceeding grace and delicacy; the inscription is entirely obliterated by the whitewash which has been tastefully applied to this and the other monuments, and which economical operation has had the effect of effacing the colour of the costume of the older ones.

From the ensuing description it will be gathered that a great want of taste has existed in this parish, from the earliest period to the last repair in ; whatever credit is due to the parochial authorities on the score of economy, there is nothing in the church to record either their antiquarian taste, or their architectural knowledge.

Some old painted glass still exists in the vestry, consisting of a finely executed portrait of queen Elizabeth, and also the effigy of St. Mathias, removed at the last repair from the walled up window in the chancel; the eastern windows of the clerestory are set off with borders of modern glass in a mosaic pattern.

This church is feet long, broad at the west end, and feet high, and the tower about feet in height.


[] The repair of this piece of mechanism in 1738, cost 110l.-Malcolm.

[] In this church was a magnificent hour glass, with a silver frame. It was destroyed in 1723 and the metal used to make two heads for the parish staves.

[] Engraved in Malcolm's Lond. Red. vol. iii . p. 456.

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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