St Augustine Watling Street

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St Augustine, Watling Street was an Anglican church which stood just to the east of St Paul's Cathedral in the City of London. First recorded in the 12th century, it was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666 and rebuilt to the designs of Christopher Wren. This building was destroyed by bombing during the Second World War, and its remains now form part of St Paul's Cathedral Choir School.


Medieval church

The church stood on the north side of Watling Street, at the corner with Old Change.<ref name=daniell/> According to Richard Newcourt, the dedication was to St Augustine of Canterbury, rather than St Augustine of Hippo.<ref name=daniell/> The earliest recorded mentioned of the church is from 1148. In 1252–3 Alexander le Cordwaner made a grant of land on the north side for its enlargement.<ref name=lamas/> John Stow, writing at the end of the 16th century called St Augustine's " a fair church," adding that it had been "lately well repaired." The church was partly rebuilt, and "in every part of it richly and very worthily beautified" in 1630–1, at a cost to the parishioners of £1,200.<ref name=daniell/> The foundations of the northern half of the medieval church were revealed when burials were removed in 1965. The archaeological evidence indicated that the 12th-century church was about Template:Convert long, the thirteenth century extension Template:Convert long and Template:Convert wide.<ref name=lamas>Template:Cite journal</ref>

The medieval building was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666.<ref name=daniell>Template:Cite book</ref>

Rebuilding after the fire

After the fire the parish was united with that of St Faith's, whose congregation had previously worshipped in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral.<ref name=daniell/> St. Augustine's was rebuilt to a design by Christopher Wren; the foundations, revealed by the excavations of 1965, were mostly of re-used stones set in mortar.<ref name=lamas/> The new church opened in September, 1683, but the steeple was not finished until 1695.<ref name=daniell/>

The interior was about Template:Convert long<ref name=daniell/> – shorter than the medieval building <ref name=lamas/> – Template:Convert wide and Template:Convert high. The nave was divided from the aisles by an arcade supported on Corinthian columns with unusually high bases.<ref name=daniell/> The naves and aisles were barrel vaulted, the nave vault being pierced by three skylights on each side. There were galleries on the north side, and at the west end, but the latter was taken down when the organ was moved to the south side. The walls were originally panelled to a height of Template:Convert, but this was later considerably reduced.<ref name=daniell/> The reredos had Corinthian columns and the pulpit was of carved oak. The pulpit was modernised by Arthur Blomfield in 1878.<ref name="Kent">Template:Cite book</ref>

Rectors of the church included John Douglas, later Bishop of Carlisle, from 1764 to 1787, and Richard Harris Barham, author of the Ingoldsby Legends, from 1842 until his death in 1845.<ref name=daniell/>


The church was destroyed by bombing in 1941. It was not rebuilt, but the tower was restored in 1954. and later incorporated into a new choir school for St Paul's Cathedral, completed in 1967.

The remains of the church were designated a Grade I listed building on 4 January 1950.

Faith, the church cat

The church cat, named Faith, became quite well known after the air raid which destroyed St Augustine's.Template:Citation needed Days before she was seen moving her kitten, Panda, to a basement area. Despite being brought back several times, Faith insisted on returning Panda to her refuge. On the morning after the air raid the rector searched through the dangerous ruins for the missing animals, and eventually found Faith, surrounded by smouldering rubble and debris but still guarding the kitten in the spot she had selected three days earlier. The story of her premonition and rescue eventually reached Maria Dickin, founder of the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals, and for her courage and devotion Faith was awarded a specially-made silver medal. Her death in 1948 was reported on four continents.Template:Citation needed



See also


  • List of Christopher Wren churches in London
  • List of churches rebuilt after the Great Fire but since demolished

External links

Template:Churches in the City of London

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