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Inventory Site Record

St Peter's Cornhill (City of London)

Brief Description

Although the first written reference to St Peter Cornhill is in 1040, there is a legend that the church was founded in AD179 by Lucius, first Christian King of Britain. A Roman wall passed beneath the north-east corner of the church. Destroyed in the Great Fire, the present church was built by Wren in 1677-84. There was a churchyard by 1231 to the south of the church, which was mentioned by Charles Dickens in 'Our Mutual Friend', who described the graves 'conveniently and healthfully elevated above the living'. The churchyard is now laid out as public gardens with a raised area of grass, trees and shrubbery on either side of the path from the entrance on St Peter's Alley. Surmounted on the Victorian wrought iron gates is a small figure of St Peter. The garden was re-landscaped in 1997.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
St Peter-upon-Cornhill
Site location:
Cornhill/Gracechurch Street/St Peter's Alley
Postcode:
EC3V 3PD
What 3 Words:
rises.traded.tools
Type of site:
Public Gardens
Borough:
City of London
Open to public?
Yes
Opening times:
unrestricted. Church open by arrangement with St Helen's Bishopsgate
Special conditions:
Facilities:
Events:
Public transport:
Tube: Bank (Central, DLR, Northern, Waterloo & City) / Monument (Circle, District)
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

Although the first written reference to St Peter's is in 1040, there is a legend that the church was founded in AD 179 by Lucius, first Christian King of Britain and a brass plaque to this effect was set up in the church in the reign of Edward IV (1461-83) when the church was rebuilt. However, John Stow wrote in 1598 that the church though ancient, was 'not so ancient as fame reporteth'. Notwithstanding, this history gave it protection from demolition or being united with any other Church by 2 Acts of Parliament. A Roman wall passed beneath the north-east corner of the church. Attached to the church from c1447 was one of the City's four grammar schools and there was later a library known to be have been used by the Tudor antiquary John Leland. The church was destroyed in the Great Fire and the present church rebuilt by Wren in 1677-84, the interior restored in 1872 by J D Wyatt although it still has the organ from the earlier church, on which Felix Mendelssohn played. The spire has weathervane in the shape of a huge key.

The churchyard was here by 1231 and lies to the south of the church and provides the best view of Wren's church. Charles Dickens mentions the churchyard in 'Our Mutual Friend', describing the graves 'conveniently and healthfully elevated above the living'. It is now a raised garden on either side of the south door and is enclosed on three sides by modern buildings, and entered through Victorian wrought iron gates surmounted on which is a small figure of St Peter, painted gold. The garden was re-landscaped in 1997, with areas of paving and grass are two tall plane trees and the headstones have been set into the wall of the church, and there are modern urns, flower displays and seats.

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); history board on site; London Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Care of Churches data

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ329811 (533000,181090)
Size in hectares:
0.0367
Site ownership:
Diocese of London
Site management:
City of London Corporation Open Spaces Dept.
Date(s):
C11th; 1677-81, 1872, 1997
Designer(s):
Listed structures:
LBI: St Peter Cornhill. LBII: Gateway to churchyard on St Peter's Alley
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:
Bank
Tree Preservation Order:
No
Nature Conservation Area:
No
Green Belt:
No
Metropolitan Open Land:
No
Special Policy Area:
No
Other LA designation:
None
Photos

St Peter's Cornhill

St Peter's Cornhill, June 2010. Photo: S Williams

St Peter's Cornhill, June 2010. Photo: S Williams
2010
St Peter's Cornhill, June 2010. Photo: S Williams
2010
St Peter's Cornhill, Figure of St Peter on Gateway, June 2010. Photo: S Williams
2010
Engraving of St Peter's Cornhill, c1839 reproduced from Godwin, 'The Churches of London' Vol II, 1839
1839
Engraving of St Peter's Cornhill in 1817 reproduced from Mrs Basil Holmes, 'The London Burial Grounds', 1896
1817

Click a photo to enlarge.

Please note the Inventory and its content are provided for your general information only and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy.