The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 3
St. Catherine Cree Church.
At the south-east corner of Cree-church-lane, in , stands the church of St. Catherine Cree. This church received its name from being dedicated to St. Catherine, the virgin before mentioned, and is distinguished from other churches of the same name, by the addition of Cree, or Christ, from its situation in the cemetery of the conventual church of the Holy Trinity, which was originally called Christ-church.
King Henry VIII. in his grant of the priory of the Holy Trinity to sir Thomas (afterwards lord) Audley, which will be noticed more particularly hereafter, gave this church also; the prior and canons of Christ-church having been originally, and always, patrons thereof. When lord Audley died, he, by his will, bequeathed it to the master and fellows of Magdalen college, in Cambridge, and their successors, whom he enjoined to serve the cure for ever; they leased out the impropriation to the parishioners for years; but a dispute arising between the college and the parish, at the expiration of the said lease in , about a renewal, a lease was granted to Jerome Knapp, haberdasher of London; and, in order to settle the difference, it was agreed that per annum should be raised by the parishioners in lieu of tithes, &c. out of which the officiating curate should he paid per annum, for the years, besides surplice fees, &c. and, after the expiration of that term, per annum, besides surplice fees; and this agreement was confirmed by act of parliament in the month of .
The architecture is interesting, as it exhibits an almost perfect specimen of the style which prevailed in the time of the Stuarts. It consists of the most singular mixture of Italian and pointed architecture that can be conceived. The exterior is principally in the latter style. In plan, the church shews the ancient mode of distribution into nave and aisles. The west front has, in the nave or centre division, an arched entrance beneath a large window now blocked up, but showing mullions similar in design to the eastern, to be described hereafter. The north aisle has a narrow window made into lights by a single mullion, and the south aisle is occupied by the tower, the principal part of which is more ancient than the church: in this front is a window with a pointed arch, made into lights by a mullion. The south front of the tower has an entrance, fronted by a pediment, sustained on Ionic columns; above which are narrow loop-hole windows, and the upper story has in each face a circular arched window; the elevation is finished with a parapet; a turret, formed of a peristyle of columns, in a mean Tuscan order, sustaining a cupola, is erected upon the platform. The south front of the church has in the aisle windows, nearly square in form; they are made by mullions in lights, with arched cinquefoil heads, the central higher than the others. Below the windows are large pannels of the fantastic form always met with in works of this age; and between of the windows is a sun-dial. Above this aisle is a clerestory; the windows correspond in design with those in the aisle. The elevations are finished with parapets; they were formerly, however, set off with a fan-shaped ornament, on the points of reversed arches, which were destroyed by of those tasteless improvers, who are the bane of ancient buildings. To the east wall is attached a gateway, consisting of an arch, planked with pilasters of the Ionic order, sustaining an entablature and pediment. In the tympanum of the latter is a well executed recumbent skeleton, partly covered with drapery; on a pannel beneath is the following inscription:--
It was built for an entrance to the cemetery; the space, however, immediately behind it has been wainscotted, and answers as porch to the church during divine service, and a watch-house at other times. The east wall of the church has, in the nave, a large window in the form of an upright parallelogram, made into
|principal divisions, the lower of which has lights, with arched heads, divided by upright mullions. The upper division is occupied by a large Catherine-wheel window, in allusion to the patron saint, consisting of a large circle inscribed in a square; in the centre is a smaller circle, from which diverge mullions, which are united to the outer circle by arched heads. The angles outside the large circle contain smaller ones, ornamented with quatrefoils. The window, upon the whole, is creditable to the time, and it shows that the art of construction, so beautifully and tastefully exerted in old English building, had not then quite fled the land. The aisles have windows similar to the southern front. At the north-east angle is an entrance; and the north side of the church, in its general features, resembles the southern . The basement story of the tower serves as a porch. At the interior angle, which is clear of the walls, is an immense pier, to which is attached several upright cylinders, which, with corresponding piers attached to the walls of the church, support pointed arches, sustaining the north and eastern walls of the superstructure; they are partly concealed by the belfry. The style of these remains is that of the century. The base of the columus are hid beneath the pavement; but the height of the part which is above, shows that the level of the street has not been raised so considerably as has been generally supposed. The nave and aisles are divided by arches resting upon Corinthian columns, and semi-columns attached to the extreme walls at each end of the church. The shafts of the columns are unfluted, and the soffits of the arches enriched with coffers and roses. Above the crowns of the arches is a string-course, upon which rises, by way of attic, the clerestory. To the piers, between the windows, are attached composite pilasters resting on the string-course; below which, and corresponding with the bases of the pilasters, are those brackets, so commonly seen in works of this period. The pilasters sustain a flat arched ceiling, groined in the pointed style, the rib diverging from the capitals of the pilasters, and waiting at a principal horizontal in the centre; the intersections loaded with huge bosses, ornamented with the arms of benefactors. The aisles are similarly vaulted, the ceilings resting on the principal columns on side, and brackets attached to the walls on the other. These specimens of groining are, however, in a very poor style. At the western end is a gallery, containing a fine-toned organ in a richly-carved case. The altar is adorned with a screen, composed of Corinthian pilasters, sustaining an entablature. The pulpit and desks stand in the centre of the church: they once stood against a pillar on the north side, and the pulpit is only remarkable for being, with the communion table, formed of cedar. These particulars, and all the wood-work of the church, are of a more recent period than the main building. The half columns at the east end of the church are painted in imitation of Sienna marble, with gilt capitals. The east|
| window is entirely filled with stained glass; the lower compartment has the arms of George I. between those of the city of London, above which is the prince of Wales' crest, feathers, and the motto |
, and the arms of sir James Campbell, lord mayor in ; above which is a rose, surmounted by a crown. In the middle compartment of the window, below the royal arms, is the following inscription in an oval:
The only monument worthy of particular notice, is to the memory of Sir Nicholas Throkmorton, knt. It is affixed to the pier between of the windows in the south aisle, and represents the knight in complete armour, with his head bare, and a ruff round his neck; the figure is recumbent on a mat, which is rolled up; under the head of the figure is a helmet, and at the feet is an eagle. The whole is covered with a canopy, formed of a entablature sustained on black marble columns, in a bad doric order. The metopes are charged alternately with skulls, cross-bones, and hour-glasses; on the cornice are shields of arms. A pannel at the back has the following inscription:--
This monument was preserved from the old church; the ornamental canopy, however, was no doubt added at the rebuilding of the church.
At the west end of the north aisle is an elegant marble monument by J. Bacon, R. A. to the memory of S. Thorp, who died at Madras, , aged .
The dimensions of the building are as follows: internal length feet, breadth feet, height of tower feet.
This church, it will be recollected, was erected before the civil war, the aera of destruction which has fallen upon the church. It was rendered obnoxious to the fanatics of those
|evil times, in consequence of the ceremonies which the ill-fated and pious Laud had used at the consecration, and was, in common with many other churches in the metropolis profaned by the puritans at that period, the restoration of the altar being of the crimes alleged against the martyred bishop, the fury of the sacrilegious revolutionists no doubt destroyed the original altar, and with it the remainder of the wood-work and the stained glass in the windows. This will account for the altar, screen, and pulpit being more modern than the building, having been restored after the royal government was reinstated.|
 Erected in 1662.
 It is to be regretted that a house built within a few yards of this window, the consequence of which is, that the beautiful effect of the stained glass is always totally lost.