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Inventory Site Record

Abchurch Yard (City of London)

Brief Description

Abchurch Yard is the former churchyard of St Mary Abchurch. First references to the church here date from the C12th and the churchyard existed by 1218, the remains of which lie to the south of the building. Formerly an enclosed burial ground, the Bishop of London allowed it to be opened up as a paved space 'for the convenience of the neighbourhood' and an engraving of 1838 shows that it was cobbled with posts on at least two sides dividing it from Abchurch Lane, the church separated by low railings and small gate to the south door. In 1877 the paving design of circular patterns in decorative stones and cobbles was laid out.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
St Mary Abchurch Churchyard
Site location:
Abchurch Lane/Abchurch Yard
Postcode:
EC4N 7BA
What 3 Words:
wakes.jolly.card
Type of site:
Square
Borough:
City of London
Open to public?
Yes
Opening times:
unrestricted. Church: Mon-Thur 10.30am-3pm; Fri 10.30am-12noon
Special conditions:
Facilities:
none
Events:
Public transport:
Tube: Monument (District, Circle) / Bank (Central, DLR, Northern, Waterloo & City); Cannon Street (District, Circle)
Research updated:
01/06/2010
Last minor changes:
19/07/2023

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/openspaces

Full Site Description

St Mary Abchurch is possibly so-called after a benefactor called Abbe or Abbo, or the name may be a corruption of Upchurch, for its site was once on rising land. The first reference to the church is in the C12th, to 'Robert, the priest of Habechirck' and the church was originally a daughter chapel of St Mary Overie, now Southwark Cathedral (q.v.). The churchyard existed by 1218. A c.C14th vaulted chamber, probably the undercroft of a chapel, was discovered beneath the churchyard after the church was bombed in World War II. In 1395 Simon de Wychecombe founded a chantry here by license from Richard II of which the Rector and Churchwardens of St Mary were patrons, who in 1437 with the agreement of the parishioners granted a license to two chaplains of the chantry to build a house in the west part of the churchyard. St Mary Abchurch was badly damaged in the Great Fire and rebuilt by Wren in 1681- 1686 who may have moved the tower from south-west to its north-west position. Wren's dome has fine painting by William Snow representing the Name of God in Hebrew with seated figures of the Virtues, restored in 1946-53 and again in 1994/5, and the church has fine carvings by Grinling Gibbons. After the Great Fire, the parish of St Mary united with that of St Lawrence Pountney (q.v.), which was destroyed and not rebuilt. Among the monuments in the church is that of Sir Patience Ward, Lord Mayor in 1681, buried here in 1696. The church suffered bomb damage and was restored in 1945-57.

The remains of the churchyard lie to the south of the building. Formerly enclosed as a burial ground, the Bishop of London allowed it to be opened up as a paved space 'for the convenience of the neighbourhood' (Godwin) and an engraving of 1838 shows that it was cobbled with posts on at least two sides dividing it from Abchurch Lane, the church separated by low railings and small gate to the south door. In 1877 paving design by Edward I'Anson, who also carried out works in the church, was laid out which consists of circular patterns in decorative paving stones and cobbles. Today this layout remains, with seats along the church wall and rows of bollards on three sides.

Sources consulted:

B. Cherry and N. Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England, London Vol. l: The Cities of London and Westminster', London, 1985; George Godwin & John Britton 'The Churches of London: A history and description of the Ecclesiastical Edifices of the Metropolis, Volume II', London, 1839; Simon Bradley & Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England, London 1: The City of London', 1997 (1999 ed.); Philip Norman, 'The London City Churches, Their Use, Their Preservation and Their Extended Use', The London Society, (1920s); London Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Care of Churches data

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ327809 (533747,180941)
Size in hectares:
0.0325
Site ownership:
Diocese of London
Site management:
City of London Corporation Dept. of Technical Services
Date(s):
C12, C14, 1681-6; 1877
Designer(s):
Edward I'Anson (1877 paving of churchyard)
Listed structures:
LBI: St Mary Abchurch
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

No
Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

No
Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

No

Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
No
In Conservation Area:
Yes
Conservation Area name:
Abchurch Yard
Tree Preservation Order:
No
Nature Conservation Area:
No
Green Belt:
No
Metropolitan Open Land:
No
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:
Strategic View - Consultation Area
Photos

Abchurch Yard

St Mary Abchurch, June 2010. Photo: S. Williams

Abchurch Yard, June 2010. Photo: S. Williams
2010
Engraving of St Mary Abchurch, c.1838 reproduced from Godwin, 'The Churches of London' Vol II, 1839
1838

Click a photo to enlarge.

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