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

Allen, Thomas


St. Botolph without Aldersgate.


This church is situated on the west side of , at the south corner of . It received its name from being dedicated to St. Botolph, a Saxon monk, and its vicinity to the gate. It was anciently a rectory, the patronage of which was in the dean and canons of ; but it continued unappropriated, until the year , when Richard II. by his letters patent, dated , at Pembroke, gave license to Thomas Stanley, dean of , to appropriate the income, at that time not exceeding per annum, to his collegiate church, for the celebration of a perpetual anniversary for his deceased consort Anne, upon the day of her death, during his life; but, after his demise, the anniversary to be solemnized upon his obit for ever. In consequence of this licence, the church of St. Botolph was appropriated to that of , by a commission from the bishop of London, to his official, the dean and canons being bound to provide a sufficient maintenance for a chaplain to serve the cure; since which time it has continued a donative or curacy.

When Henry VII., in the year , annexed the collegiate church of to the convent of St. Peter, , this church also became subject to that abbey; but at the


suppression of monasteries, was granted, by Henry VIII. to his new bishop of . That bishopric, however, being dissolved on the accession of queen Mary, and the abbot and monks restored to their convent, this church reverted to its old masters; and when the monks were finally expelled, and the convent converted into a collegiate church, by authority of parliament, in the reign of queen Elizabeth, she granted the curacy to the dean and chapter, who still retain it; it is, however, subject to the bishop and archdeacon of London, to whom it pays procuration.

The antiquity of this church may be collected from the parish records; from which it appears, that a house, anciently given to the parishioners, was, in the year , demised by them, upon lease, to Richard Rothing.

It escaped the fire of London, in , but became so ruinous, that it has been since rebuilt.

The old church stood on the same site as the present, which is on the west side of , at the eastern corner of . It was a plain erection of the pointed style, much defaced by alteration. The east and north walls had been rebuilt in brick, nearly as they now appear. In the south wall were mullioned windows, of lights, with arched heads of a simple and common form. The church was made into a nave and side aisles, by pointed arches resting upon clustered columns composed of an union of small cylinders to a square pier, in the same style as those which may be seen in the few ancient parish churches still remaining in the metropolis. The nave was lighted by a clerestory of dormer windows, the structure was low, and the woodwork old. When the church was rebuilt in -, the east walls were retained, being merely heightened to accommodate the superior elevation of the new building.

The present building abuts to the east and north on the street, to the south on a burying ground, and to the west on houses; and it has nothing in its external appearance to attract attention. The eastern end has a palladian window in the centre (which, however, gives no light to the body of the church), and lateral entrances crowned with pediments. The north side has no windows, the wall being merely broken by recesses; the south side has ranges of windows of no architectural character, and the clerestory, which is scarcely seen, is covered with lead. A square tower of small dimensions and mean appearance, rises above the west end. It is doomed over with a leaden roof, on which is raised a square bell turret of wood. The interior is very elegant, and displays a profusion of tasteful architectural ornament. The plan of the church is nearly square, and it is made into a body with side aisles by


square piers, with moulded caps, and half piers attached to the extreme walls, which sustain an enriched fascia, on which the fronts of the galleries are constructed. From the capitals of the piers rise Corinthian columns, and half columns, sustaining an entablature, the enrichments of which are in the grandest style of Roman architecture: the ceiling of the body is arched, and rests upon the cornices of the entablature; it is crossed by ribs, the intermediate spaces being highly ornamented with circles, foliage, and other enrichments: between each of the ribs the ceiling is pierced laterally with semicircular windows, which range over the intercolumniations, and form a clerestory. The ceilings of the aisles are horizontal, and panelled by fascia, uniting with the main architrave above the capitals, and sustained upon trusses at the side walls. At each end of the body of the church is a semicircular niche, equal in height and breadth to the building; that at the west end is divided about the middle by a gallery sustained on columns, the capitals of a composed order; in this gallery are the organ and seats for the charity children; the ceiling, which consists of half a spherical dome, is highly enriched with panels of a square and octangular form; the eastern niche contains the altar, and windows over it filled with stained glass, by Pearson. The ceiling is similar to the western , excepting that the centre is occupied by a dove and glory. The window immediately above the altar is arched, and has the representation of a painted curtain attached to it, which appears to be drawn up to display the subject of the painting, which is

The Agony in the Garden.

The persons represented are our Saviour and angels. The side windows contain whole lengths of St. John and St. Peter, in niches. In the execution of these windows there is no great display of merit. The profusion of yellow and light-brown tints give the whole a bilious and unnatural appearance. The pulpit, on the north side of the church, appears to hang on a single pillar, which ends in a palm tree supporting the sounding-board. The reading-desk is a circular pedestal ornamented with Ionic pilasters. The expence of rebuilding the church was about The monuments from the old church, which in that building chiefly occupied the walls of the chancel, have been carefully set up in the present. They are not in the same situations as before, but occupy the piers between the windows and other portions of the building.

There are several handsome monuments in this church. In the north aisle is a plain, but neat monument, to the memory of D. Wray, esq. F. R. S. and S. A., son of sir D. Wray, knt., who died , aged .

A handsome monument of veined marble, with a relievo bust by Roubiliac, to the memory of Elizabeth Smith, who died .

A small monument to the memory of John Caston, registrar of the archiepiscopal court of Canterbury, who died .

A handsome monument in the form of a sarcophagus, on the top of which are cupids, and a relievo bust of the deceased, to the memory of Z. Foxall, esq. born , died .

Beneath the inscription are the following lines:--

Spite of the partial rules of vulgar fate,

The man who could be honest, might be great;

Such is true genius, such was this man's claim,

Each friend could praise him, and no foe could blame;

Who sought no vice his reason bade him fly,

Who lost no virtue reason taught to try;

Who blest each gift, improved each talent given,

Believed and wrought--the rest belongs to Heaven.

At the east end of the same aisle is a monument to the memory of Elizabeth, wife of sir T. Richardson, of Honington, Norfolk, who died , aged . Within an oval is a half-length effigy of this lady, dressed in the costume of the age.

In the south aisle is a similar monument to the memory of Elizabeth, widow of Ralph Ashton, of Midleton, in Lancashire, esq., who died , aged .

Also a neat monument to the memory of R. A. Cox, esq. late alderman of the ward.


[] For this notice of the old church, the author is indebted to a gentleman, from whom he has received considerable information relating to this and other ancient buildings in the metropolis, which no longer exist.

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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