Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

St. Mary Woolnoth (London)

St. Mary Woolnoth is one of the fascinating churches in the City of London.

It has a fine position on the corner of King William Street and Lombard Street, just off the major Bank road junction.

There was a Roman temple on the site, and it is probable that a Saxon church stood here, founded by Wulfnoth (consequently Woolnoth), who may have been the father of the powerful Earl Godwin. A church first mentioned in 1191 was replaced in 1438, and it was this church that was severely damaged in the Great Fire in 1666.

The present church was built by Nicholas Hawksmoor between 1716 and 1727, being particularly admired for its flat topped turrets. It is the only City church to have escaped the Second World War undamaged.

It was, however, in danger of demolition in the 1890s when the Underground was being constructed. But a compromise was reached whereby the booking hall for Bank Station was sited within the church`s crypt.

John Newton, the former slave trader who wrote "Amazing Grace" and "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken", was Rector here from 1779 to 1807, and there is a much visited memorial to him, while the pulpit that he used can still be found in the church.

Buried at St. Mary`s were Edward Lloyd, founder of Lloyd`s coffee house which was the forerunner of the famous underwriting centre, and Simon Eyre, founder of the nearby Leadenhall Market.

The church features in T. S. Eliot`s "The Wasteland", as does St. Magnus the Martyr.

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