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

Allen, Thomas


St. Sepulchre.


This church is dedicated in commemoration of our Saviour's sepulchre, or grave at Jerusalem, and vulgarly called St. Sepulchre's. It is situated at the north east corner of ; it is still a spacious building, but not so large as of old time, part of the scite of it having been formerly let out upon building leases, and for a garden plat. It is generally believed to have been founded about the year , at which time a particular devotion was paid to the holy sepulchre. And it was so decayed in the reign of Edward IV. as to require to be rebuilt. Roger, bishop of Salisbury, in the reign of Henry I. gave the patronage of this church to the prior and convent of St. Bartholomew in , who established a perpetual


vicarage in this church, and held it till their dissolution, when it fell to the crown. King James I. in the year of his reign, granted the rectory and its appurtenances, and advowson of this vicarage to Fr. Philips, &c. After which the parishioners purchased the rectory and its appurtenances, and held them in fee-farm of the crown. And the advowson of the vicarage was purchased by the president and fellows of St. John Baptist College Oxon, who continue patrons of the church.

parts of this parish lie in London, and the in Middlesex.

The present structure was much damaged by the fire of London in , but not entirely destroyed. Sir Christopher Wren found the tower and vestibules, with the exterior walls, fit for use, lie therefore only rebuilt the interior and a portion of the east, leaving the flanks with their mullioned windows perfect, and making use of the old walls as far as they went, as we have seen lie has done under similar circumstances at St. Bartholomew's St. Alban's, and St. Mary Aldermary; the tracery of the windows remained in Maitland's time (A. D. ) and from the engraving he has given of the south side of the church, it appears that the design of the filling in of the windows, resembled those in the porch still existing. In , the exterior was modernized, the pointed windows being concerted externally into circular headed ones, and an entire ashlaring of Portland stone added to the old walls, the buttresses being retained, though curtailed in their proportions. The plan gives a nave and side aisles, with a square tower at the west end of the latter, flanked by porches, the southern projecting beyond the bounds of the main building, and a chapel and additional wing attached to the north side. The east wall is not at right angles with its flanks, and although partially rebuilt, the discrepancy was allowed to remain. The tower retains most of its original features; it is built with rough stones, and rises to a considerable height above the walls of the church; in each aspect are windows in succession, the lower are pointed, of modern construction, and formed within the arch of the former ones; the in the southern front has been altered to a clock dial, the upper window consists of a double arch, which has also been modernized, the elevation finishes with a parapet: at the angles are octangular pedestals, capped with cornices and crowned with lofty obelisks of the same form, ending in vases; the tower being almost a counterpart of that of St. Christopher le Stocks. The porch is in stories, viz. the hall story, and above, used for a private dwelling-house; the entrance to the is by a pointed arch, the exterior modernized, over which is a tablet, stating that the church was repaired in ; the upper stories have dwelling-house windows;


the buttresses at the angles still remain, ending in modern obelisks topped with balls. Before the modernization of the church this front retained some remains of its former highly decorated character. The east side of the porch displays a portion of the original architecture, it contains windows separated by a buttress; the arches are gracefully formed, and are made by mouldings into upright compartments, having arched heads enclosing sweeps, with perpendicular divisions in the head of the principal arch; the upper stories are in a dwelling-house style. The south side of the church has circular headed windows, separated by buttresses; beneath the nearest the east end, is a doorway with an ill formed pointed arch, fronted by a pentice supported by columns; the elevation is finished with a cornice and parapet, in the centre is a sun dial; the roof of the church is waggon headed and covered with lead; it has an ugly appearance above this side; the east end has Palladian windows of a similar character to those so often described in Wren's churches; the vestry room attached to the north side, is lighted by Venetian windows. The north side of the church resembles the opposite in its main features; near the west end is a doorway with a modernized pointed arch; in the continuation of the wall eastward, are round-headed windows, to which succeeds the chapel; this is lighted by windows in its north front, and in the flanks. The aisle eastward of the chapel has round headed windows and entrances ( walled up) with entire circular windows above, the remainder of the wall is occupied by the vestry. The western front of the building is concealed by adjacent houses; the upper stories of the porch constitute a dwelling house for the sexton. The interior of the south porch is an interesting and beautiful specimen of the architecture of the middle of the century, the present structure being the

fair porch

built by


of the Puphams,

as recorded by Stow; it consists of divisions made by slender columns attached to the side walls, the eastern side having windows as before described; the western at present is blank; from the capitals of the before-mentioned columns, and others situated in the angles, spring the groins of the vaulted roof, they diverge and spread over the soffite in fans, the various ribs being united by arched heads enclosing sweeps, the spaces not occupied by the fans, are filled with trefoil tracery. At the points of intersection are various handsome bosses, some of which are roses and other flowers; on are angels holding shields, with the following arms: . . . a dove volant . . . in chief a bar . . . . . . a saltire . . . between daggers, the hilts downwards, a crescent for difference in chief. other bosses have the following shields: . . . a chevron . . in base a fleur de lis . . ., an emblem of the Trinity; the groins have recently been painted stone colour, and the soffites white; the doorway communicating with the church, is also pointed with a moulded architrave, bounded by a


sweeping cornice; above the point is a small niche with a trefoil head, containing a minute seated effigy holding an open book, the leaves turned towards the spectator, on the base the city arms; the internal mouldings of the street entrance correspond with the opposite doorway, and above the arch is also a niche, sustained on a bird with expanded wings; it contains a male effigy, also seated, with a flowing beard. The whole of this curious remnant of the once beautiful architecture of the church, is in excellent preservation. On the east side is an entrance to the vault. Between the porch and tower is a small vestibule. The tower stands on lofty arches, the western, which formed a window, is most perfect; it has columns sustaining an architrave still remaining; within the lateral arches, others of a round headed form sustained on semi-columns of the Tuscan order, have been constructed. The north porch has nothing remarkable, a continuous passage is formed from south to north, through the basement story of the tower, and from which the church is approached. Another spacious vestibule, occupies the space below the organ gallery. The body of the church is divided into a nave and aisles by Tuscan columns on each side, besides semi-columns attached to the extreme walls, they are all raised on octangular plinths the height of the pewing, and are of large dimensions. The columns sustain an architrave cornice enriched with acanthus and olive leaves set upright, and alternating with each other; the intercolumniations which are wide, are determined without reference to the number or situation of the windows, in consequence of the pillars not standing on the sites of the former ones. A division between the nave and chancel is made at the column from the west, and the divisions comprehended in the former are covered with a waggon-headed ceiling closed at the east end by a window divided into compartments by uprights; the ceiling is made into divisions corresponding with the intercolumniations by bands. The soffite is enriched with square moulded pannels, with roses at every angle; and the bands, with sunk pannels, containing roses, and the ceiling, is pierced by small arched windows on each side. The ceilings of the aisles and chancel are horizontal pannelled into compartments by architraves; the soffits of all are plain, except that which is immediately over the altar, which is enriched. The north wall opposite to the and intercolumniations from the west is broken, and insulated column and engaged semi-columns, introduced into its place, forming a communication between the chapel and the aisle of the church. A large gallery occupies the whole of the aisles, except the extreme eastern division, on each side, and it is continued in a sweeping direction across the west end, which portion is sustained on composite columns. The fronts of the side galleries retire behind the main columns; they are pannelled, and each


pannel filled with carving in relief, the occupying the central intercolumniation, having the cypher C. R. and C«s conjoined and crowned with imperial crowns between olive branches; the other pannels are filled with foliage; the supports of the gallery have an awkward and unsightly appearance, owing to the girders not being inserted into the walls of the church, occasioned by the distribution of the columns, which being set at greater intervals than the former ones, do not always come opposite to the solids of the external walls. The altar screen is composed of oak; it is made into divisions by columns and pilasters of the Corinthian order fluted, and surmounted by an entablature; over the central division is an elliptical pediment surmounted by a lofty attic; on the cornice reclines angels holding palm branches, and a celestial crown. In the tympanum of the pediment are cherubic heads in relief; and the attic contains a painting of a choir of cherubs chaunting the praises of the sacred Trinity, the whole is enriched with carvings of foliage; the mouldings, capitals, and other enrichments gilt; the window over the altar is glazed with stained glass in compartments. The pulpit and desks are grouped on the south side of the central aisle, and are not remarkable for decoration; the former has a plain mahogany sounding board. In the western portion of the gallery is a large organ in a splendid case enriched with a profusion of caring, statues of angels, &c. greatly resembling in its decorations the organ of the cathedral ; it is built on the same construction as that of St. Lawrence Jewry, and the trumpet stop is considered the finest in London. It is undergoing a thorough repair at the present time. On the wall of the church, over the organ, are the arms of king Charles II.

The chapel is fitted up with a desk and seats as a morning prayer chapel and baptistery. The font is a large and handsome poligonal basin of veined marble sustained on a circular pedestal of grey marble; the canopy of oak, with gilt enrichments, has an inscription recording that it was the gift of the parish in . At the east end of the chapel, the place for the altar remains; the dado and a portion of the jambs of the eastern window having been cut away to let in the screen.

There are many very elegant modern monuments; the only ancient worthy of notice is a mural monument to the memory of E. Arris, esq. alderman, and Mary his wife; they were married years, and had children. He died , aged ; she lied , aged . The bustos of the deceased are in circles painted in natural colours.

This church was repaired after the fire, in , sir Christopher

Wren being the architect. The dimensions are, length, exclusive of the passage at west end, feet; breadth, omitting the chapel,

feet; height of nave ; of tower and pinnacles .



A solemn exhortation was formerly given from the church-yard to the prisoners, appointed to die at Tyburn, in their way from Newgate. Mr. Robert Dow, merchant taylor, who died in , left yearly for ever, that the bellman should deliver from the wall to the unhappy criminals, as they went by in the cart, a most pious and awful admonition; and also another, in the prison of Newgate, on the night before they suffered.

In this church was buried captain John Smith, of the greatest adventurers of the age in which he lived. He was governor of Virginia, of which he wrote a very curious history. He died in .


[] Described page 201.

[] Ibid page 467

[] Ibid page 426.

[] Engraved at page 246.

[] It is accurately engraved in the Gent's Mag. vol. lxxxiv pt. ii page 577.

[] Described at page 371.

[] June, 1828.

[] Which are read here four times a week at half past six in the morning.

[] Printed at length in Pennant's London. This practice has been long discontinued; but the bellman of St. Sepulchre's attends in Newgate to toll the bell on the morning of the execution.

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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