St James Garlickhythe monuments

St James Garlickhythe.

The church of St James Garlick Hill, or St James Garlickhythe, is just next to Upper Thames Street. According to Stow, the London historian writing in 1600 or thereabouts, the distinctive name was because at one time garlic was usually sold on the river bank near the church. He of course saw the pre-Fire church, which was full of monuments of sheriffs and Mayors going back to the 14th Century. The earliest monument was of Robert Gabetre ? Mayor of Newcastle upon Tyle, d. 1310, and Stow gives a full description of the effigy of a certain Richard Lions, beheaded by Wat Tyler in 1381:

‘His picture on his grave stone verie faire and large, is with his haire rounded by his eares, and curled, a little beard forked, a gowne girt to him downe to his feete, of branched Damaske wrought with the likenes of flowers, a large purse on his right side, hanging in a belt from his left shoulder, a plaine whoode about his necke, covering his shoulders, and hanging backe behind him.’

The church and its monuments were swept away by the Great Fire, and Christopher Wren built the new church from 1676, opening it in 1682, before it was entirely complete. It suffered war damage, and was restored in the 1950s-60s by Lockhart Smith and Alexander Gale.

The steeple.

The church as we see it today is not large – Wren followed the original medieval plan – being 75 ft in length. The tower, just short of 100ft tall, higher if viewed from Upper Thames Street, is rather plain up to the top, where it becomes much more decorative, narrowing through three stages, the first with pairs of Ionic pillars at each corner, and a variety of pinnacles. Lower down projects a clock, with a small figure of St James upon it, of modern manufacture.

Seagrave Chamberlain, d.1675, Peter Jones, d.1694, and detail, and James Jurin, d.1750

The interior, with much dark wood, has a certain atmosphere, and of interest to these pages, several monuments, 17th through to early 19th century, plus a couple of later things. We note them in date order:

Outside, the churchyard has been pared away almost entirely, but in the little remaining space, stands a modern group of The Barge Master and Swan Marker, of the Vintners’ Company, rather sketchy in the drapes, but with a carefully delineated face. If you like swan sculpture, see this page.

The Barge Master and Swan Marker statue, modern.

With thanks to the church authorities for kind permission to include pictures of some of the monuments; their website is at this address.

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