St Augustine Old Change

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• St Augustine, Watling Street was formerly located just to the east of St Paul’s Cathedral. It was destroyed in the Second World War but its remains now form part of St Paul's Cathedral Choir School.

• The foundation date is unknown, but it is first recorded circa 1148. It was destroyed in the Great Fire in 1666 but was rebuilt in the 1680s. Its distinctive tower was constructed in the 1690s and it is thought to have been designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor but it was heavily modified in 1830. The pulpit was modernised by Arthur Blomfeld in 1878.

• The entire church was destroyed in 1941. It was not rebuilt, but as part of the construction works for the new choir school (completed 1967) the tower was reconstructed along its original lines. It was incorporated into the concrete building of the choir school, creating a marked contrast between the baroque tower and the modernist school building.

• A charming story is told about the church cat, named Faith, who became quite well known after the air raid which destroyed St Augustine's. Days before she was seen moving her kitten, Panda, to a basement area. Despite being brought back several times, Faith insisted on returning Panda to her refuge. On the morning after the air raid the rector searched through the dangerous ruins for the missing animals, and eventually found Faith, frightened but safe, surrounded by smouldering rubble and debris but still guarding the kitten in the spot she had selected three days earlier. The story of her premonition and rescue eventually reached Maria Dickin, founder of the PDSA, and for her courage and devotion through the bombing and fire of the Blitz on the night in question, Faith was awarded a specially-made silver medal. Her death in 1948 was reported on four continents and she was buried near the church gate. The remains of the church were designated a Grade I listed building on 4 January 1950. The tower was restored in 1954.

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