St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate

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St. Botolph-without-Bishopsgate
Exterior photo of St. Botolph-without-Bishopsgate
Country United Kingdom
Denomination Church of England and Antiochian Orthodox Church
Diocese London
Rector Alan McCormack

St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate is a Church of England church on the west side of Bishopsgate in the City of London, first mentioned in 1212.[1] It survived the Great Fire of London in 1666, and was rebuilt in 1724–29.


The church is on the west side of Bishopsgate near Liverpool Street station. In the Middle Ages the site was just outside the city walls near the "Bishop's Gate" after which the street is named.[2] St Botolph was a patron saint of travellers, so it was an appropriate dedication for a church near a city gate. There were three other churches of St Botolph in medieval London, at Billingsgate, Aldgate and Aldersgate.[3]

Adjoining the buildings is a substantial churchyard – running along the back of Wormwood Street, the former course of London Wall – and a former school.[4] The church is linked with the Worshipful Company of Bowyers.

Middle ages

Christian worship on this site may have Roman origins, though this is not fully proven.[citation needed]Stow, writing in 1598 only describes the church of his time as standing "in a fair churchyard, adjoining to the town ditch, upon the very bank thereof".[3] It narrowly escaped the Great Fire, the sexton's house having been partly demolished to stop the spread of the flames.[5] Writing in 1708, Hatton described it as "an old church built of brick and stone, and rendered over". By this time the Gothic church had been altered with the addition of Tuscan columns supporting the roof, and Ionic ones the galleries.[3]

Present church

The font, in which John Keats was baptised

In 1710, the parishioners petitioned parliament for permission to rebuild the church on another site, but nothing was done. In 1723 the church was found to be irreparable [5] and the parishioners petitioned again.Having obtained an act of Parliament, they set up a temporary building in the churchyard, and began to rebuild the church. The first stone was laid in 1725, and the new building was consecrated in 1728, though not completed until the next year. The designer was James Gold.[2] or Gould.[6] During construction, the foundations of the original Anglo-Saxon church were discovered.

To provide a striking frontage towards Bishopsgate, the architect placed the tower at the east end, its ground floor, with a pediment on the exterior, forming the chancel. The east end and tower are faced with stone, while the rest of the church is brick, with stone dressings.[2]

The interior is divided into nave and aisles by Composite columns, the nave being barrel vaulted. The church was soon found to be too dark, so a large west window was created, but this was largely obscured by the organ[2] installed in front of it in 1764.[5] In 1820 a lantern was added to the centre of the roof.[2]

The church was designated a Grade II* listed building on 4 January 1950.[7]

By permission of the Rector, The Orthodox Parish of Saint Botolph in London[8] worships there, part of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of the British Isles and Ireland.[9]

Baptisms, marriages and burials

The infant son of the playwright Ben Jonson is buried in the churchyard, and baptisms in this church include Edward Alleyn in 1566 and John Keats (in the present font) in 1795.[10] At one point the satirist and essayist Stephen Gosson was rector.

The woman claimed by A L Rowse to be Shakespeare's "Dark Lady", Emilia Lanier, was baptised Emilia Bassano at the church on 27 January 1569. She married Alfonso Lanier there on 18 October 1592.[11]

Church hall

Within the churchyard, the church hall is the Grade II, former Hall of the Worshipful Company of Fan Makers. It is a single storied classical red brick and Portland stone building, with niches containing painted figures of charity children.[12]

Church surroundings

Also within the area of the church is a Turkish bath designed by the architect, Harold Elphick, and opened by City of London Alderman Treloar on 5 February 1895 for Henry and James Forder Nevill who owned other Turkish baths [13] in Victorian London.


  1. Hibbert, C; Weinreb, D; Keay, J (1983 (rev 1993, 2008)). The London Encyclopaedia. London: Pan Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-4050-4924-5. Check date values in: |year= (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Godwin, George; John Britton (1839). "St Botolph's, Bishopsgate". The Churches of London: A History and Description of the Ecclesiastical Edifices of the Metropolis. London: C. Tilt. Retrieved 19 September 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Pearce, C.W. (1909). Notes on Old City Churches: their organs, organists and musical associations. London: Winthrop Rogers.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Betjeman, John (1967 (rpnt 1992)). The City of London Churches. Andover: Pitkin. ISBN 0-85372-565-9. Check date values in: |year= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Malcolm, James Peller (1803). Londinium Redivivium, or, an Ancient History and Modern Description of London. 1. London. p. 334.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Bradley, Simon; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1998). London:the City Churches. The Buildings of England. London: Penguin Books. p. 38. ISBN 0 14 071100 7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Historic England. "Details from image database (199309)". Images of England. Retrieved 24 January 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. [1]
  9. [2]
  10. Tucker, T (2006). The Visitors Guide to the City of London Churches. London: Friends of the City Churches. ISBN 0-9553945-0-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Page on Emilia Bassano by Peter Bassano, her "first cousin, twelve times removed" Accessed 7 April 2016
  12. Historic England. "Details from image database (199320)". Images of England. Retrieved 24 January 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Turkish baths in Victorian London

External links

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