St Andrew Undershaft

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St Andrew Undershaft is a Church of England church in the City of London, the historic nucleus and modern financial centre of London. It is located on St. Mary Axe, within the Aldgate ward, and is a rare example of a City church that survived both the Great Fire of London and the Blitz.

The present building was constructed in 1532 but a church has existed on the site since the 12th century. Today, St Andrew Undershaft is administered from the nearby St Helen's Bishopsgate church.


The first church on the site, which today is bordered by St. Mary Axe and Leadenhall Street, was built in medieval times, being recorded in 1147. It was rebuilt in the 14th century and again in 1532; this third incarnation of the building survives today. It is in the Perpendicular style with its entrance located at the base of its off-centre tower. The interior is divided into six bays, with many of the original fittings that survived Victorian renovation. Formerly, St Andrew Undershaft had one of London's few surviving large stained-glass windows, installed in the 17th century, but this was destroyed in the Baltic Exchange bombing in 1992.

The church's curious name derives from the shaft of the maypole that was traditionally set up each year opposite the church. The custom continued each spring until 1517, when student riots put an end to it, but the maypole itself survived until 1547 when it was seized by a mob and destroyed as a "pagan idol".

St Andrew Undershaft is now administered from the nearby church of St Helen's Bishopsgate. St Andrew Undershaft was designated a Grade I listed building on 4 January 1950.


The organ was installed in 1696 by Renatus Harris. A swell was added in 1750 by John Byfield. There have been other restorations and enhancements by George Pike England in 1810-11 and 1826. Further work was carried out by William Hill, Speechly and J. W. Walker & Sons, and Rushworth and Dreaper. A specification of the organ can be found on the National Pipe Organ Register.

The organ is of such historic significance that it has been awarded a Grade I historic organ certificate by the British Institute of Organ Studies.


  • William Goodgroome, 1696
  • Philip Hart, 1720-1749
  • John Worgan, 1749-1790
  • Miss Mary Allen, 1790-1836
  • Richard Limpus, 1847
  • William Rea, 1847-1858
  • Miss Elizabeth Stirling, 1858-1880 (became Mrs F. A. Bridges)
  • C. F. Frye, 1880-1886
  • W. M. Wait, 1887-1891
  • Herbert George Preston, 1891-1912
  • William A.S. Ballard, 1913-1921

Notable people associated with the church

  • John Stow, author of the Survey of London: buried in 1605. The pen held in the hand of his alabaster monument is renewed annually by the Lord Mayor of London.
  • Hugh Hamersley, Lord Mayor of London in 1627, whose memorial is in St Andrew Undershaft.
  • Hans Holbein the Younger, a former parishioner of St Andrew Undershaft.
  • Frederick George Blomfield, rector of St Andrew Undershaft (1853-1879), son of Charles James Blomfield (Bishop of London) and father of Dorothy Gurney (poet and hymnwriter).
  • John Lawrence Toole, comedian who was born and christened in St Andrew Undershaft.
  • Fabian Stedman the father of church bellringing was buried in St Andrew Undershaft.



See also


  • List of churches in London

External links

Template:Commons category Template:Churches in the City of London