ST MARY AXE was a medieval parish in the
City of London
City of London whose name
survives as that of the street which it formerly occupied. The Church
of St Mary
Axe was demolished in 1561 and its parish united with that
St Andrew Undershaft
St Andrew Undershaft , which is situated on the corner of St Mary
Leadenhall Street . The site of the former church is now
occupied by Fitzwilliam House, a fact acknowledged by a blue plaque on
the building's façade. Nearby parishes include the medieval Great St
Helen\'s (1210) and St Ethelburga (14th century).
The street name may derive from a combination of the church dedicated
to the Virgin Mary and a neighbouring tavern which prominently
displayed a sign with an image of an axe , or simply from the church
name itself, which may have come from the axes used by the Worshipful
Company of Skinners , who were patrons. The sign of an axe is reported
to have been present over the east end of the church.
The street St Mary
Axe is now most notable for the
Baltic Exchange at
No. 38, and the "Gherkin" at No. 30, a distinctively shaped skyscraper
built on the site of the former buildings of the
Baltic Exchange and
the UK Chamber of Shipping (destroyed by an IRA bomb in 1992). The
street originates as a turn off
Houndsditch at its northern end, with
traffic flowing one-way southbound, and it originates at its southern
end as a turn off Leadenhall Street, with traffic flowing one-way
northbound. Both one-way portions of St Mary
Axe converge at Bevis
Marks , where traffic is forced westward into
Camomile Street .
Number 70 St Mary
Axe appears in several novels by the British author
Tom Holt as the address of a firm of sorcerers headed by J. W. Wells.
This is itself a reference to
Gilbert and Sullivan
Gilbert and Sullivan 's
The Sorcerer .
In the song "My Name Is John Wellington Wells", the lyric renders his
address as "Number Seventy Simmery Axe"; this reflects the fact that
some Londoners pronounce the street's name as "S'M'ry Axe" rather than
enunciating it fully.
* Ann Saunders, The Art and Architecture of London: An Illustrated
Guide (Oxford: Phaidon, 1984), 80.
* ^ John Strype, A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster,
1720, based on the original (1598) by
* ^ The Gentleman\'s Magazine, Vol. 193 (1853), p. 49
Coordinates : 51°30′52″N 0°04′52″W / 51.5144°N