The reason for the name of this church, founded in 1136, may seem obvious – it was associated with London’s Jewish community, thanks to its location on the edge of the area in which they lived (this area was centred on the street just to the south still known as Old Jewry).
What is perhaps more amazing may be the fact that the name stuck despite the expulsion of all Jews from London in 1291, the name was still used to distinguish it from other churches.
The church – named in honor of St Lawrence, a Roman era martyr who was slow grilled over a fire – was among those consumed in the Great Fire of London and rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren afterwards. This new church had the honor of being reopened by King Charles II in 1677 – it was badly damaged in the Blitz before being rebuilt by Cecil Brown to Wren’s original design.
Located just off Guildhall Yard – home of the City’s authorities – St Lawrence Jewry is the official church of the Corporation of London and as such hosts a number of special services for the Lord Mayor and Aldermen during the year. Some 11 livery companies have links with the church – among them are those of tallow chandlers, loriners, girders, haberdashers and actuaries.
Worth noting on the inside is the painting of the martyrdom of St Lawrence – this survived the Blitz along with the tower and outer walls – and the many beautiful stained glass windows, painstakingly restored after World War II. There’s also a pond, complete with fish, outside the main entrance.
WHERE: Guildhall Yard (nearest Tube stations are St Paul’s, Bank and, a little further off, Moorgate and Mansion House). WHEN: 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday; COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.stlawrencejewry.org.uk.
One thought on “10 curiously named churches of London – 8. St Lawrence Jewry”
I love the idea that St Lawrence Jewry was the official church of the Corporation of London. Imagine the members of the 11 livery companies, and their good wives, dressing up to the nines to attend special church services. The haberdashers and actuaries might have been ordinary people, but they had a special connection to be proud of.
It reminds me a bit of the guild churches in Italy where all the congregation shared the main services but each guild had its own chapel.