All Hallows Staining, Mark Lane, Fenchurch Street

13th Century Tower of All Hallows, Staining.

The medieval church of All Hallows Staining survived the Great Fire of London, only to collapse in part just five years later. All that was left was the western end of the church and the tower. Rebuilding followed soon after in 1674-75. In the early 17th Century, John Strype, the great historian who built on the work of the London topographer John Stow, wrote that ‘This Alhallows Staining is obscurely seated lying backward from the Street, the Passage to it being through Star Alley, which hath a turning Passage into Fenchurch Street: This Alley hath old built Houses on the North side, on the South whereof is the Church…’ The 17th Century structure was demolished in 1870, leaving just the original tower. The sale of the valuable City plot on which the Church had stood raised the funds to build a new church in Bromley by Bow, such demolition of an ancient church to pay for a new one being a not uncommon practice by the ecclesiastical authorities which also saw the casual obliteration of several Wren churches.

Sketch of the tower shortly after demolition of the adjoining church.

I look at the surviving tower with mixed feelings; on the one hand it is a goodness that this little tower, dating from around 1320 in the main, though the upper portions are certainly more recent in part, has managed to survive the catastrophes around it, and on the other hand it is sad that the church, and presumably monuments within it, have been lost. Were there in fact any monuments? Certainly there were plenty of burials in the 17th Century and thereafter, and there exist receipts from the early 20th Century for the cleaning and restoration of 'one of the monuments' in the churchyard.

Next to the tower is the 13th Century crypt, or remains of it, from the demolished Lambe’s Chapel, itself once the Chapel of St James in the Wall, removed here by the Clothworkers’ Company. The good state of preservation of the tower is due to the careful efforts of that City Livery Company - three cheers for them.

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Go south along Mark Lane, then East to St Olave Hart Street // or straight north to St Andrew Undershaft // or St Katharine Cree

Another tower - St Alban's Wood Street // and St Augustine Watling Street

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