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

Allen, Thomas

1827

St. Mildred's Church, Bread-street.

On the same side of , south of , stands the parish church of St. Mildred, so called from its dedication to St. Mildred, niece to Penda, king of Mercia, who, having devoted herself to a religious life, retired to a convent in France, from whence she returned, accompanied by virgins, and founded a monastery in the Isle of Thanet, of which she died abbess in the year . It is a rectory, founded about the year , by lord Trenchant, of St. Albans; but it had neither vestry-room nor churchyard till , when sir John Chadworth, or Shadworth, by his will gave a vestry-room and church-yard to the parishioners, and a parsonage-house to the rector.

In , on , the stone spire of this church was struck by

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lightning, and, in consequence, the spite was taken down to save the expense of repairing it.

The old church was destroyed in the conflagration of , and the present structure was erected in .

In the reign of Henry VIII. profligate priests quarrelled in this church, fought, and even shed their blood in the contest. In consequence, divine service was suspended for a month; and the priests did penance in procession through the neighbouring streets.

The advowson of this church was anciently in the prior and convent of St. Mary Overy's, in , by whom it was granted in the year , to John Oliver and others, for a term of years; at the expiration of which it came to sir Nicholas Crispe, in whose family or assigns it still continues.

The west front of this church would be the only portion exposed to view, if the parsonage, which adjoined the church, was rebuilt. The plan is rectangular, with a square tower attached to the south wall. The whole of the walls, including the tower, are of brick; the west front alone being faced with Portland stone. The building is entirely lighted by lofty and capacious windows, in each of the principal walls; the arches of which are segmental. The principal entrance is arched and surmounted with a cornice; it is situated immediately below the west window. The elevation of this part of the church is finished by a cornice, resting on the key-stone of the arch of the window, and consoles at the sides of it; above this is a lofty attic, having a pedimental cornice, and supported by false walls concaved in their exterior lines. There is also an entrance in the south wall. The tower is in stories, having windows in the western front in each story. The are arched, the circular, and the also arched. There is no stone-work in the tower; the whole, even the arches of the windows, being worked in brick. Above the parapet rises a tall spire, covered with lead; its basement is equal with the square of the tower, and is of the same form; it is diminished by means of a concavity in each side, and sustains a square pedestal pierced with openings, and surmounted by an obelisk set upon balls; still retaining the same form, the whole being finished with a vane. The deficiency of ornament apparent in the outside of this building is compensated for by the elegance of the internal decorations, which are executed in a style far exceeding what the spectator would be led to expect. It has no columns, consequently the principal part of the embellishments is confined to the roof; this is reduced in length by a small division being cut off at each of the extremities; both the portions so made are bounded by semicircular arches, partly attached to, and dying into the walls of the church, and partly sustained on imposts composed of a group of consoles, surmounted by a fascia. The soffits of the architraves of the unengaged arches are ornamented with sunk pannels, occupied by appropriate devices, the ceilings of these

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divisions are also semicircular, and pannelled into square and oblong compartments, and at the springings are the arms of the kingdoms in relief, with regal accompaniments. In consequence of this arrangement, a square centre is formed, which is covered by a dome supported on pendentives, resting on the arches before described, with the addition of others partly concealed by, and dying into the side walls. The pendentives are enriched with luxuriant foliage, and the periphery of the dome with a magnificent wreath of fruit and flowers. The entire surface is painted to imitate clouds, upon which, at intervals, are placed groups of winged boys in alto relievo, in each group. of the groups sustain the royal crown, above Roman C«s conjoined, and the remaining perform the more inglorious office of sustaining the massive chandeliers which serve to light the church. The whole design taken together is exceeding grand in the aggregate, and tasteful in its detail; and the loftiness of the ceiling adds a grace to the building, which its dimensions would not lead the spectator to expect. At the western end of the church is a gallery sustained on Ionic pillars, in which is an organ erected in the year . The christening-pew is beneath the organ, and in it is a small stone font of a circular form, standing on a pillar of a similar shape, and enriched with cherubs. The altar-screen, of carved oak, is richly decorated; it consists of a centre and wings, the former composed of Corinthian columns, and the same number of pilasters, the shafts painted to imitate lapis lazuli, and the capitals and bases gilt; the whole surmounted by an entablature and segmental pediment; the lower cornice broken, to let a circle into the tympanum, in which is painted a choir of cherubs and the Hebrew name of the Deity. The commandments and paintings of Moses and Aaron occupy pannels in the central division, and the wings have the decalogue and paternoster. The screen is also enriched with doves and other appropriate embellishments. The pulpit is hexagonal, and, with a ponderous sounding-board, is richly carved. It is attached to the northern wall of the church, and below it are the desks.

In the northern window is a large pannel containing the arms of Charles II. sculptured in alto relievo, and highly coloured. Notwithstanding of the windows is fronted by the organ, the church is remarkably light, and is evidence, among many, of the superior abilities of the eminent architect of the building, sir Christopher Wren. The basement of the tower forms a vestry-room, and is approached by a doorway in the south wall of the church. The present church was opened on the : the expense of the building being no more than

There are few monuments in this elegant church. The principal is on the south side, to the memorye of sir Thomas

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Crispe, knt., deputy lieutenant of Oxfordshire, who died, .

On the north side of the church is a tablet with the following inscription:--

The parishioners of St. Mildred, Bread-street, for the preserving of the memory of their noble benefactors, have, in gratitude, caused these inscriptions to be here affixed, A. D. 1684.

The Lord Trenchaunt of St. Alban's, knight, who was supposed to be the new builder of this church, or best benefactor to the work. about 1300.

Sir John Chadworth, or Shadworth, sometime lord mayor of London, who gave to this church a parsonage house, vestry, and church-yard, in the year 1430, was buried in a vault in this chancel.

Mr. Copinger, whose monument stood in this place before the late dreadful fire.

Mr. Thomas Langham, a good benefactor to this parish in the year 1575.

The parish church of St. John the Evangelist stood at the north east corner of , in ; but being burnt in the fire of London, it was not rebuilt. It is a rectory, founded about the same time as Allhallows, and was also in the gift of the priory of , Canterbury, till it was conveyed with that church to the archbishops of Canterbury, who still retain it. The site of the old church is now a burial place for the use of the parishioners.

The church of St. Margaret Moses stood at the south-west corner of Little , opposite to , and was thus named from being dedicated to St. Margaret, and from Moses, or Moyses, who had formerly rebuilt it; but suffering by the fire in , it was not again rebuilt.

It is a rectory, and was numbered among the most ancient foundations in the city; for in the year , it was given, by Robert Fitzwalter, to the priory of St. Faith, at Housham, or Horsham, in the county of Norfolk: which gift being confirmed to them, by a bull of Pope Alexander III. in the year , it was possessed by the prior and canons till the suppression of their convent by Edward II. as an alien priory, when this church fell to the crown, in which the patronage has continued until this day.

part of the site of this church was sold to the city, by virtue of an act of parliament, for the purpose of widening the street, between and ; and the money arising from the sale, was applied towards paving and beautifying the church of St. Mildred: the other part was reserved for a burial-place for the parish of St. Margaret.

On the north side of , is

 
 
Footnotes:

[] Malcolm, vol. ii. p. 6.

[] Son of sir Nicholas Crispe, bart. who expended upwards of 100,000l. in the service of Charles I.

[] It would have reflected great credit on all the parishes of London if they had flowed the above excellent plan; this is the only church that has such a memento of its benefactors.

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 Title Page
 Dedication
 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