St Botolph without Aldgate - The Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks

St Botolph without Aldgate

• St Botolph-without-Aldgate, stands at the junction of Houndsditch and Aldgate High Street. The current 18th century church is made of brick with stone quoins and window casings. The tower is square with an obelisk spire.

• The parish was united with that of Holy Trinity Minories in 1899.

• The first written record of this church appears in 1115 when it was received by the Holy Trinity Priory (recently founded by Queen Matilda) but the parochial foundations may very well be pre-1066.

• The church was rebuilt in the 16th century and then again between 1741-1744 to designs by George Dance the Elder. The interior was redecorated by J. Bentley, the architect of Westminster Cathedral and was severely bombed at intervals during the Blitz. After its restoration by Rodney Tatchell it was damaged by an inexplicable outbreak of fire in 1965, so that further restoration had to be carried out. St Botolph's was rehallowed on November 8, 1966 by the Bishop of London, in the presence of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and Sir Robert Bellinger, the Lord Mayor of London.

• The church was designated a Grade I listed building on 4 January 1950.

• The church is a short walk away from Mitre Square, the site of the murder of Catherine Eddowes by Jack the Ripper. It was often referred to as the "Church of Prostitutes" in the late Victorian period. The church is sited on an island surrounded by roadways and it was usual in these times to be suspicious of women standing on street corners. They were easy targets for the police, and to escape apprehension the prostitutes would apparently parade around the island, now occupied by the church and Aldgate tube station.

• Daniel Defoe was married in the church in 1683.

• The organ by Renatus Harris was built in the early 18th century. It has recently undergone a historical restoration by the organ builders Goetze and Gwynn. It has been restored to its 1744 specification using many of the original components. This organ has been described as the oldest church organ in the United Kingdom. Although there are older pipes and cases, this is the oldest collection of pipes in their original positions on their original wind chests. The organ was considerably enlarged several times in the 19th century and again rebuilt by Mander Organs in the 1960s having survived a World War II bomb, which lodged in the roof of the church but failed to explode. The decision to restore the instrument was taken by St Botolph’s in 2002 after which a fundraising campaign was launched.

Link: www.stbotolphs.org.uk


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