The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 3
St. Edmund the King.
A plain substantial building of stone, on the north side of , dedicated to the holy Saxon king Edmund, murdered by the Danes in , because he would not renounce the Christian faith. And though the history of its foundation has not been handed down with any certainty, there are several circumstances to create a belief that it was originally built under the Saxon heptarchy, and was then called St. Edmund Grass-church, from its vicinity to the Grass-market. The plan is a parallellogram, which, contrary to all the other churches built by the same architect, is placed north and south. At the south end is a tower, comprehended within the plan, and, at the north end, a chancel. The south front, which is the only portion visible, ranges with the houses, and even this is partly hid by a shop and watch-house, which are built against it. This part of the church is made in breadth into divisions, and the elevation is finished with a cornice and parapet, having a pediment in the centre, and vases at the exterior angles. In the basement story is a lintelled doorway, surmounted by a cornice, resting on consoles in the centre, between windows of the same form in the side divisions; above these are lofty windows with arched heads, surmounted by cornices in the style of the doorway. The tower, which rises from the conclusion of the central division, has lofty story above the church, pierced with an arched window in each face, divided into compartments, by a cruciform mullion of stone; above these windows is a cornice and parapet, at the angles of which are vases, and, on the centre of the coping, pine-apples; at each side of the tower, a false wall, having a concave coping, rises from the attic in the manner of a gable; all the angles of the front are rusticated. The spire, which is covered with lead, rises from within the parapet, in octangular stories, ornamented with vases; the lower has a window in each face, above this story it takes the form of an obelisk, and ends in an octangular pedestal, sustaining a vane. The interior is approached by a
| vestibule formed in the basement story of the tower; it has no aisles or columns; the side walls have no windows, but in the place of them are arched recesses, reaching from the floor of the church nearly to the ceiling, which relieve the monotony which the naked walls would otherwise create. The north end (answering to the east in other churches) has a chancel in the centre, recessed, and in the wall at each side of the recess, is an arched window. A larger window of the same form occupies the north wall of the chancel, and the flanks have smaller windows. The ceiling of the church is horizontal, coved at the sides, which latter portion springs from a simple impost cornice, and ends in a wreath of laurel leaves. For the purpose of giving additional light, a square lantern is constructed in the centre of the ceiling, which is entirely glazed ; still the church is deficient in this necessary qualification, which is principally owing to the deviation from the usual arrangement. The chancel is ceiled in the form of a half dome. The tower is flanked by galleries, coeval with the main building, which occupy the recesses formed by the projection of the former into the church; the fronts are pannelled and enriched with foliage; an additional gallery is attached to the tower by concealed brackets, and contains the organ, and at the sides of this, and above the original galleries, have been added, in , additional ones for children. The altar screen occupies the dado of the north window of the chancel; it is an highly ornamented composition of oak; besides the customary inscriptions, it has paintings of Moses and Aaron, and sculpture in relief, representing palm branches, &c.; on a pannel above the decalogue |
The centre is surmounted by an elliptical pediment, in the tympanum of which are sceptres in saltire, surmounted by a royal crown, allusive to the regal saint to whom the church is dedicated. The windows of the chancel have their jambs and soffits painted in imitation of pannels, inclosing roses, and below the side windows are (west)
In the principal window is a large painting in glass of the arms of queen Anne, with an inscription, stating that it was
The queen's motto
is beneath the arms, and the whole is accompanied by roses and thistles, in commemoration of the Union. The soffit of the chancel ceiling is painted with an irradiation enclosing the Hebrew name of the Deity. The pulpit is hexagonal, and, with the reading desk is situated at the west side of the middle aisle, having been removed, in , from the east side of the church ; the sounding-board is suspended from the ceiling. The wood work is rather ornamental; the principal pews are heightened by a dwarf screen of trellis work in oak. The font, situated in a ballustrade against the west wall of the church, is an octagonal basin of white marble; the cover is a handsome composition of carved oak, ornamented with small statues of saints.
The only monument worthy of notice, is dean Milles' on the east side of the church; it is a pyramid of white marble, ornamented with a relief of a statue of Hope leaning on an urn. The inscription is as follows:
In memory of Jeremiah Milles, D.D. dean of Exeter. rector o those united parishes, and president of the Society of Antiquaries, who died , aged years.
Beneath is an inscription to the memory of Edith his wife, who died , aged , and Harriet his daughter, died . .
This church was rebuilt by sir Christopher Wren, after the great fire, and finished in . The expense was The dimensions are, length feet, breadth , height of church .