St Andrew by the Wardrobe

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• First mentioned around 1170, St. Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe was almost certainly founded considerably earlier. When King Edward III moved his state robes and other effects from the Tower of London to a large building close by, St Andrew’s became better known for its connection with the Great Wardrobe. The name stayed to specify its location although the King’s store room is now only remembered in Wardrobe Place. It was from this association that the church acquired its unique name.

• The church was lost in the Great Fire of London in 1666. Of the 51 churches designed by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire, St. Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe is among the simplest of his designs; it was rebuilt in 1695.

• The church was again destroyed during the Blitz; only the tower and walls survived. It was rebuilt and rededicated in 1961.

• The patronage of St Andrew's was originally held by the family of Fitzwalter which probably came from the holding by Robert Fitzwalter of the office of Constable of Baynard's Castle and in 1417 it was held by Thomas, 5th Baron Berkley.

• William Shakespeare was a member of this parish for about fifteen years while he was working at the Blackfriars Theatre nearby, and later he bought a house within the parish, in Ireland Yard. In tribute to its most distinguished resident, the modern St Andrew’s now features a memorial to Shakespeare in the west gallery, carved in oak and limewood. There is also a matching memorial to one of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, the famous lutenist, singer and composer John Dowland (1562-1626) who was buried in the churchyard of St Ann’s, Blackfriars. St Ann’s was not rebuilt after the Great Fire and its parish was afterwards merged with St Andrew’s.

• St. Andrew's is situated on a terrace overlooking the street, its plain red-brick exterior contrasting with the stone buildings on either side. The original interior fittings were mostly destroyed during the war, and many of the church's features were procured from other destroyed London churches.

• The weathervane on the steeple comes from St Michael Bassishaw (which was demolished in 1900). A replacement pulpit came from the church of St Matthew Friday Street, the font and cover also came from here. Among other treasures are a figure of St Andrew, dated around 1600, which stands on the north side of the sanctuary, and an unusual figure of St Ann, mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is shown holding the Virgin Mary, who in turn holds the Christ child. This statue, which is probably north Italian, dates to around 1500.

• The church was designated a Grade I listed building on 4 January 1950. A number of City Livery Companies have links with St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe and some of their banners are displayed in the church (Mercers, Apothecaries, Parish Clerks & Blacksmiths).

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