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Inventory Site Record

St Vedast alias Foster Churchyard (City of London)

Brief Description

St Vedast was a C6th French Bishop of Arras, the name anglicised as Foster. The church may have received its dedication as a result of being on Foster Lane. There has been a church here since 1100; a late C15th/early C16th chapel was replaced in the early C17th by a new church, itself damaged in the Great Fire of 1666 and rebuilt first by the parish and then by Wren probably using the old walls. The church was later damaged in WWII. St Vedast's had a small burial ground on the north side of the church and the remains of the churchyard is now a secluded courtyard garden, with a number of commemorative plaques set into the walls and a small relief sculpture by Jacob Epstein.

Practical Information
Site location:
Foster Lane/Cheapside
Postcode:
EC2V 6HH
What 3 Words:
cloak.format.short
Type of site:
Public Gardens
Borough:
City of London
Open to public?
Yes
Opening times:
As church: Mon-Fri 8am-6pm
Special conditions:
Facilities:
Events:
Public transport:
Tube: St Paul's (Central)
Research updated:
01/03/2015
Last minor changes:
19/07/2023

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.vedast.net

Full Site Description

A church has been on the site since 1100, with first mention of a rector in c.1291. St Vedast or Vedastus was a C6th Bishop of Arras, and 'Foster' being an Anglicisation of 'Vedastus', the church here may have received this dedication as a result of its situation on Foster Lane and it was also known as St Foster's Church (Stow). In the late C15th/early C16th Henry Coote of the Goldsmiths' Company and a Sheriff of London, built a chapel called St Dunstan's here but in the early C17th a new church was built, but was damaged in the Great Fire of 1666 and rebuilt first by the parish in 1672 and later by Wren in 1694-98 probably using the old walls as the recorded cost was not great. The spire was added in 1709-1712, 'the most Baroque of all the City church steeples' (Pevsner), possibly by Hawksmoor. After the Fire the parish was added to by that of St Michael Le Querne whose C12th church had been destroyed, and which was formerly on the north side of Paternoster Row, its churchyard the burial place of John Leland (d.1552), a celebrated antiquary and librarian to Henry VIII. In the 1880s the parish of St Matthew Friday Street was added to that of St Vedast when St Matthew's was demolished.

St Vedast's had a small burial ground on the north side of the church and among those buried here were William Trist 'Selerer to the King' (d.1425). In 1836 a stone coffin hollowed to receive the body, and other remains, were discovered in a vault beneath the burial ground when workmen were excavating for a drain; such coffins were used at an early date in Britain. St Vedast was gutted during the Blitz in WWII and the post-war restoration was undertaken by Stephen Dykes Bower who remained faithful to Wren's original conception whilst also collecting fittings from other Wren City churches to replace those that had been sadly lost. Today to the north of the church is the Rectory, No. 4 Foster Lane of 1960, and a passage between this and the church leads to a paved courtyard with wall fountain. This faces the present Church Hall, which was built in 1691 as the school-house for St Leonard Foster Lane, a church which was not rebuilt after the Fire of 1666 and whose burial ground is now within Postman's Park (q.v.).

The remains of the churchyard is now a garden of rest, a paved area with a central tree and seating along two sides; a number of commemorative plaques are set into the walls. A relief sculpture by Jacob Epstein of 1936 depicts the head of Canon Mortlock, who gave the eulogy at Epstein's funeral in 1959. The Saddlers' Company, whose Hall courtyard garden (q.v.) abuts the church wall to the east, is associated with St Vedast's. St Vedast's is a sister church to St Botolph without Bishopsgate (q.v.).

Sources consulted:

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:
TQ322812 (532200,181280)
Size in hectares:
0.0095
Site ownership:
Diocese of London
Site management:
Church
Date(s):
C12th onwards
Designer(s):
Listed structures:
LBI: St Vedast's Church. LBII: St Vedast's Rectory
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:
No
Tree Preservation Order:
No
Nature Conservation Area:
No
Green Belt:
No
Metropolitan Open Land:
No
Special Policy Area:
No
Other LA designation:
Strategic View - Consultation Area
Photos

St Vedast alias Foster Churchyard

St Vedast alias Foster Churchyard, June 2010. Photo: S Williams

St Vedast alias Foster Churchyard, June 2010. Photo: S Williams
2010
St Vedast alias Foster Churchyard, June 2010. Photo: S Williams
2010
Engraving of St Vedast's Foster Lane, 1838 reproduced from Godwin, 'The Churches of London' Vol II, 1839
1838

Click a photo to enlarge.

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