St Mary at Hill, between Eastcheap and Lower Thames Street, and its monuments

St Mary at Hill, showing the clock.

The church lies just just east of London Bridge, going along Lower Thames St, then up the little cobbled side street which is called St Mary at Hill towards Eastcheap; an alternative entrance is from Lovat Lane. The only indication of the church, with its flat front to the street and tower set back, is the protruding clock; and more conspicuous is the tower of St Margaret Pattens framed against the top of the street across Eastcheap.

St Mary at Hill is a work of Christopher Wren dating from 1677, and he incorporated part of the walls of the pre-Fire edifice on the site. The tower was also kept, but replaced later by Gwilt - it is not visible from the street, in the view above, but can be seen from the little churchyard. The mason for the church, who was also a statuary, was the eminent Joshua Marshall, who carried out work for Wren on a variety of his churches.

We enter through a gate to the little square of what remains of the churchyard, wherein is the entrance to the church. The yard, the last remnant of the burial ground, was closed in 1846, as noted on a panel. A few broken monuments are against the church wall, with dates between 1701 and 1880.

One of several monuments in the yard, to Sarah Slater Vickers, d.1831.

Inside, the church is effectively a large and largely empty hall, with stacked chairs for use in meetings etc, but looking somewhat bare, though it does make it easy to admire the architectural features. The arched ceiling is decorated with a variety of minor stylised flowers and leaf fronds and light patterning in a Frenchified manner. There is much dark woodwork around the vast altar which reaches to the ceiling, with carving including the Royal coat of arms with unicorn and lion above the clock, and lots of panels of fruits etc. Over one side door is another version of the coat of arms. Some plainer panelling up to about 5ft runs around part of the rest of the interior. Some of the 17th Century woodwork needed replacement in the 19th Century, in a competent, sympathetic style that is hard to tell from the original. The glass is mainly plain, with a bit of modern colour.

And of primary interest to these pages, we have in the main body of the church and the entrance lobby a crop of wall monuments, including a bust, a serious cartouche or two, and some more minor things. Notable monuments, then, in date order from the 17th and 18th Century, and one from the 19th Century, include:

There are a few other notable monuments in the porch:

Outside in St Mary at Hill street, we may note that just up the road and opposite, on a wall is an old arch, decorated with vermiculation, and wide pillars showing rope and floral designs – it looks to be one segment of a line of arches.

Just down the street from the Church is firstly a door with a pediment containing a much painted skull and crossbones, seemingly wearing a raised visor. And near the bottom is a small building housing the Company Of Watermen and Lightermen, classical, one bay wide with arched windows pilasters, and high relief designs of two-tailed mermaids, and dolphins, all in a medievalised style. A rather good pedimental bearded head is above the ground floor window.

The carved arch.

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South and West along Lower Thames St to St Magnus the Martyr // East to St Dunstan in the East (ruin) // or to All Hallows Barking

City Churches // Christopher Wren // London sculpture // Sculptors // Introduction to church monuments

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