St George Botolph Lane - The Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks

St George Botolph Lane

• St. George Botolph Lane was a church off Eastcheap, in the ward of Billingsgate in the City. The rear of the church overlooked Pudding Lane, where the fire of London started. It was first recorded in the twelfth century, and destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. It was one of the 51 churches rebuilt by the office of Sir Christopher Wren. The church was demolished in 1904.

• It was the only church in the City dedicated to St George of Cappadocia, the patron saint of England. St Botolph was the Anglo-Saxon patron saint of travellers; consequently churches dedicated to him were usually located at city gates. There are still three churches in the City dedicated to St. Botolph (none by Wren) – St Botolph's Aldgate, St Botolph Aldersgate and St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate. Botolph Lane, on which St. George’s stood, was named after a fourth – St. Botolph Billingsgate, which was destroyed in the Great Fire in 1666 and not rebuilt.

• The earliest surviving reference to St. George’s is in a deed dated 1180, as "St. George's in Estehepe". Other early records refer to the church as "S. George the Martyr near Estchep," "St. George Buttolph" and "Seynt George in Podynge lane,"

• St. George’s underwent renovation in 1360 and 1627. According to John Stow, writing during the reign of Elizabeth I, the church had escaped the depredations of Tudor looting since its monuments ‘were well preserved from spoil’. Adam Bamme, Mayor of London who died in office on 6 June 1397 (and from whom Richard Whittington took over), was buried in St George Botolph Lane.

• After the Fire, the parish was combined with that of St Botolph Billingsgate. Rebuilding commenced in 1671, using rubble from old St. Paul’s Cathedral. Stone was recovered from St. Botolph’s for use in the walls, it was finished in 1676.

• The most famous character associated with the church was Lord Mayor and MP for the City William Beckford. The sword rest used during his 1770 mayoral visit has the inscription "Sacred to the memory of that real patriot the Right Hon. William Beckford, twice Lord Mayor of London: whose incessant spirited efforts to serve his country hastened his dissolution." It is now in St Mary-at-Hill.

• The church’s proximity to Billingsgate fish market prompted James Peller Malcolm to write "The narrow streets and alleys and their wet slippery footways will not bear description or invite unnecessary visits".

• St. George Botolph Lane fell into decay during the second half of the 19th century. The last service was held in 1890, and in May 1900 a letter to The Times reported that not only had the church been condemned as structurally unsafe, but the accumulation of human remains in the vault had become a health hazard. The church was closed in 1901 and demolished in 1904, the parish being combined with that of nearby St. Mary-at-Hill. Many bodies were disinterred from the churchyard and reburied at Brookwood Cemetery. The site of the church is now occupied by Richard Seifert’s Farryner House of 1973. The churchyard gates survive in Lovat Lane.

• The unique feature of the church was that it was built on a stylobate. The site was originally low lying and sloped down the hill toward the Thames, so the level was raised by Wren and made even by the construction of a platform.


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