St Mary Aldermanbury (City of London)
St Mary Aldermanbury may derive its name from the Aldermans' Berry or Court Hall, which stood nearby, or from a family by the name of Aldermanbir associated with the church. There was a church by at least 1181 and a churchyard by c1250. The old church was largely destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 and rebuilt by Christopher Wren. Following WWII bomb damage, the church and churchyard site was acquired by the Corporation of London with residual land from Wood Street Police Station, and laid out as public gardens. The footings of the C15th church, over which Wren had built, remain in the lawn in the east of the garden. To the west is a monument to John Heminge and Henry Condell, fellow actors of Shakespeare, after whose death in 1616 they collected his works and published them at their own personal expense.
- Site location:
- Love Lane/Aldermanbury
- EC2V 7HP
- Type of site:
- Public Gardens
- City of London
- Open to public?
- Opening times:
Has taken part in Open Garden Squares Weekend 5 times, most recently in 2014.
- Special conditions:
- Public transport:
- Tube: Moorgate (Hammersmith & City, Circle, Northern, Metropolitan). Rail: Moorgate. Bus: 100
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/05/2010
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/openspaces
Full Site Description
St Mary Aldermanbury may derive its name from the Aldermans' Berry or Court Hall, now the Guildhall, which stood nearby, although it may be connected to the fact that at one time a family by the name of Aldermanbir was associated with the church. A church existed here by at least 1181 and a churchyard by c1250 at which time it belonged to the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's, who in 1331 gave it to the Elsing Spital or hospital, with whom it remained until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. To the south of the former churchyard, Love Lane has existed since at least the C14th. The church was partially rebuilt in the early C15th. It was here that John Milton married his second wife Katherine Woodcocke on 12 November 1656 and the Presbyterian Edmund Calamy was minister from 1639 to the Restoration. The old church was destroyed apart from the base of its tower in the Great Fire of 1666 and rebuilt by Christopher Wren in 1671-75. Prior to the Great Fire the burial ground was surrounded by a cloister in which, according to John Stow, hung an enormous shank bone 28.5 inches in length, supposedly that of a man. A vestry room was built over part of the churchyard in 1665.
Among those buried here were Judge Jeffreys and members of his family. Jeffreys, who 'often boasted that he had hanged more men than all the judges of England since the time of William the Conqueror' (Godwin), died in the Tower following his capture after the Revolution of 1688 while trying to flee the country dressed as a seaman; he was first buried in the Tower and his remains brought to St Mary in 1693.
Following World War II bomb damage, the site of the church and its churchyard was acquired by the Corporation of London with residual land from Wood Street Police Station, and was laid out as public gardens. The 1437 footings of the earlier church, over which Wren had built, remain in the lawn in the eastern part of the garden. In 1965-9, the remains of the fabric of Wren's building were removed to Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, USA and restored as a memorial to Winston Churchill. A plaque in the garden was placed there by Westminster College and gives the history of the church. Within the gardens are areas of lawn, flower and shrub beds, a variety of trees and an ornamental box hedged knot garden, with seating areas and a raised paved area surrounded by hedging. This has a bust of Shakespeare by Charles Allen on a granite plinth, around which are inscriptions explaining its history. The monument was 'given to the nation' by Charles Clement Walker of Shropshire in 1896 in memory of John Heminge and Henry Condell, fellow actors of Shakespeare who lived in the parish and were buried at St Mary's. It is due to them that Shakespeare's works have been handed down; after his death in 1616 they collected his works and published them in 1623 at their own personal expense. Heminge lived in the parish for 42 years and 13 of his 14 children were baptised at the church. He died in 1630 and was buried here, as was his wife. Condell lived in the parish for 30 years and 8 of his 9 children were baptised here; 6 of them were also buried here, as was Condell (d.1627) and his wife.
On the boundary with Love Lane a planter in the form of a large wicker basket was presented to the Corporation of London on 13 February 2001 by John Robinson, Past Prime Warden of the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers in memory of his father and mother, the former also a Prime Warden. Made of live and dried willow, it was constructed by Mary Butcher and students at the City Lit (no longer in place in May 2010).
B Plummer and D Shewan, 'City Gardens', London, 1992; Simon Bradley & Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England, London 1: The City of London', 1997 (1999 ed.); George Godwin & John Britton 'The Churches of London: A history and description of the Ecclesiastical Edifices of the Metropolis, Volume I', London, 1838; 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:
- TQ323814 (532400,181450)
- Size in hectares:
- Site ownership:
- City of London Corporation
- Site management:
- Open Spaces Dept.
- C12th; 1960s
- Listed structures:
- LBII: footings to former St Mary's Church; Monument to Heminge & Condell in former churchyard
- On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:
- Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:
- Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:
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:
- In Conservation Area:
- Tree Preservation Order:
- Nature Conservation Area:
- Green Belt:
- Metropolitan Open Land:
- Special Policy Area:
- Other LA designation:
- Strategic View - Consultation Area. City Walkway Network
St Mary Aldermanbury, Garden on Footings of C15th Church, April 2006. Photo: S Williams
Click photo to enlarge.