St Olave Hart Street
St Olave Hart Street is a
Church of England
Church of England church in the City of
London, located on the corner of Hart Street and Seething Lane near
Fenchurch Street railway station.
John Betjeman described St Olave's as "a country church in the world
of Seething Lane." The church is one of the smallest in the City
and is one of only a handful of medieval City churches that escaped
Great Fire of London
Great Fire of London in 1666. In addition to being a local
parish church, St Olave's is the Ward Church of the Tower Ward of the
City of London.
5 Peter Turner
6 Notable people associated with the church
8 See also
10 External links
The church is first recorded in the 13th century as St
Olave-towards-the-Tower, a stone building replacing the earlier
(presumably wooden) construction. It is dedicated to the patron
saint of Norway, King Olaf II of Norway, who fought alongside the
Ethelred the Unready
Ethelred the Unready against the
Danes in the Battle
of London Bridge in 1014. He was canonised after his death and the
church of St Olave's was built apparently on the site of the
battle. The Norwegian connection was reinforced during the Second
World War when King
Haakon VII of Norway
Haakon VII of Norway worshipped there while in
Saint Olave's was rebuilt in the 13th century and then again in the
15th century. The present building dates from around 1450. According
to John Stow's Survey of London (1603), a major benefactor of the
church in the late 15th century was wool merchant Richard Cely Sr. (d.
1482), who held the advowson on the church (inherited by his son,
Richard Cely, Jr.). On his death, Cely bequeathed money for making the
steeple and an altar in the church. The merchant mark of the Cely
family was carved in two of the corbels in the nave (and were extant
until the bombing of World War II). No memorial to the Celys now
remains in the church.
Saint Olave's survived the
Great Fire of London
Great Fire of London with the help of Sir
William Penn, the father of the more famous
William Penn who founded
Pennsylvania, and his men from the nearby Naval yards. He had ordered
the men to blow up the houses surrounding the church to create a fire
break. The flames came within 100 yards or so of the building,
but then the wind changed direction, saving the church and a number of
other churches on the eastern side of the City.
The church was a favourite of the diarist Samuel Pepys, whose house
and Royal Navy office were both on Seething Lane. A regular
worshipper, he referred to St. Olave's in his diary affectionately as
"our own church" In 1660, he had a gallery built on the south wall
of the church and added an outside stairway from the Royal Navy
Offices so that he could go to church without getting soaked by the
rain. The gallery is now gone but a memorial to Pepys marks the
location of the stairway's door. In 1669, when his beloved wife
Elisabeth died from fever, Pepys had a marble bust of her made by
John Bushnell and installed on the north wall of the sanctuary so that
he would be able to see her from his pew at the services. In 1703, he
was buried next to his wife in the nave.
However, it was gutted by German bombs in 1941 during the London
Blitz. and was restored in 1954, with King Haakon VII of Norway
returning to preside over the rededication ceremony, during which he
laid a stone from
Trondheim Cathedral in front of the sanctuary.
Between 1948 and 1954, when the restored St Olave's was reopened, a
prefabricated church stood on the site of All Hallows Staining. This
was known as St Olave Mark Lane. The tower of
All Hallows Staining
All Hallows Staining was
used as the chancel of the temporary church.
The church was designated a Grade I listed building on 4 January
1950. St Olave's has retained long and historic links with Trinity
House and the Clothworkers' Company.
Interior of St Olave Church
St Olave's has a modest exterior in the
Perpendicular Gothic style.
with a somewhat squat square tower of stone and brick, the latter
added in 1732. It is famous for the macabre 1658 entrance arch to the
churchyard, which is decorated with grinning skulls. The novelist
Charles Dickens was so taken with this that he included the church in
his Uncommercial Traveller, renaming it "St Ghastly Grim".
The interior of St Olave's only partially survived the wartime
bombing; much of it dates from the restoration of the 1950s. It is
nearly square, with three bays separated by columns of Purbeck
limestone supporting pointed arches. The roof is a simple oak
structure with bosses. Most of the church fittings are modern, but
there are some significant survivals, such as the monument to
Elizabeth Pepys and the pulpit, said to be the work of Grinling
Gibbons. Following the destruction of the organ in the blitz, the John
Compton Organ Company built a new instrument in the West Gallery,
fronted by a large wooden grille; this organ, and the Rectory behind,
is ingeniously structured between church and tower.
In the tower, there is a memorial with an American connection. It
honors Monkhouse Davison and Abraham Newman, the grocers of Fenchurch
Street who shipped crates of tea to
Boston in late 1773. These crates
were seized and thrown into the waters during the
Boston Tea Party,
one of the causes of the American War of Independence.
Perhaps the oddest "person" said to be buried here is the "Pantomime
character" Mother Goose. Her burial was recorded by the parish
registers on 14 September 1586. A plaque on the outside
commemorates this event. The churchyard is also said to contain the
grave of one Mary Ramsay, popularly believed to be the woman who
brought the Plague to London in 1665. The parish registers have
the record of her burial, which was on 24 July 1665. Thereafter, in
the same year, the victims of the Great Plague were marked with a 'p'
after their names in the registers.
On the east side of St Olave's, there is a stained glass window
depicting Queen Elizabeth I standing with two tall bells at her feet.
She held a thanksgiving service at St Olave's on Trinity Sunday, 15
May 1554, while she was still Princess Elizabeth, to celebrate her
release from the Tower of London. She had originally given
bell-ropes of silk to the
All Hallows Staining
All Hallows Staining Church because its
bells had rung the loudest of all London bells on the day of her
freedom, but, when
All Hallows Staining
All Hallows Staining was merged with St. Olave's in
1870, the bell-ropes went with it.
On 11 May 1941, an incendiary bomb was dropped by the
Luftwaffe on the
tower of the church. The tower, along with the baptistry and other
buildings, was "burned out" and the furnishings and monuments
destroyed. The heat was so great that even the peal of the eight bells
were melted "back into bell metal". In the early 1950s, the bell metal
was recast into new bells by the same foundry that created the
original bells – the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, in 1662 and 1694.
The new bells were then hung in the rebuilt tower.
There are currently nine bells at St Olave's Hart Street consisting of
one sanctus bell and eight bells hung for full circle ringing, with
the tenor of the eight weighing 11-3-23. The bells are usually
rung for practices, which take place on Thursday evenings between
7:00pm and 8:30pm during term time, and for Sunday service between
10:15am and 11:00am on the 1st and 3rd Sundays in the month. The
bells are currently rung by the University of London Society of Change
Ringers (ULSCR) who have a healthy band consisting of past and present
members of London Universities.
An organ was built by Samual Green and finished in 1781.
Mary Hudson, William Shrubsole, John Turene — all appointed 21
The 1781 organ was destroyed in the Blitz in 1941. After the war, a
Harrison & Harrison organ was installed into the rebuilt
The memorial effigy of Peter Turner at
St Olave Hart Street
St Olave Hart Street Church in
Peter Turner was a notable physician in the 16th early 17th century
and adherent of Paracelsus, was buried in the church along with his
father William Turner, also a famed physician and naturalist. When he
died in 1614, a memorial bust was crafted and placed in the south-east
corner of the church. When the church was gutted during the Blitz, the
bust went missing. It was not seen until April 2010 when it reappeared
at a UK art auction. When it was recognised, the sale was frozen and
negotiations took place via The Art Loss Register to return the bust
to the church. It was finally returned to its original location within
St Olave's in 2011 after an absence of more than 70 years.
Notable people associated with the church
Queen Elizabeth I of England: held a thanksgiving service here in 1554
on the day of her release from the Tower of London
Sir Philip Sidney, the poet: had his daughter Elizabeth christened in
this church in 1585
Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth I's spymaster: lived across
the street from this church, and his house was mentioned several
times by the church's records as the place for baptisms, marriages and
John Lumley, 1st Baron Lumley, collector of artworks and books: "The
Lord Lumlie died here at his howse on 11 Aprill, 1609" but his body
was brought to Cheam,
Surrey for burial
Anthony Bacon: buried at this church, 1601
Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex, grandson of Sir Francis Walsingham
English Civil War
English Civil War general: baptized at the house of Sir Francis's
widow and noted in the parish registers of this church, 1590
Ann, Lady Fanshawe, memoirist: wrote in her memoirs, 'I was born in
St. Olaves, Hart Street, London, in a house that my father took of the
Lord Dingwall . . . ' on 25 March 1625 and baptized on 7 April
1625 at this church as Ann Harrison
Samuel Pepys, diarist: buried at this church, 1703 next to his wife,
Elisabeth Pepys, who predeceased him
King Haakon VII of Norway: worshipped here, 1940–1945
The pulpit, with wood carving detail
List of buildings that survived the Great Fire of London
List of churches and cathedrals of London
^ a b John Betjeman,
City of London
City of London Churches (London: Pitkin
Publishing, 1993), ISBN 978-0-85372-565-7.
^ a b c d Christopher Hibbert, Benjamin Weinreb, Julia Keay and John
Keay, The London Encyclopaedia, 3rd Revised Edition (London:
Macmillan, 2008), ISBN 978-1-4050-4924-5, pages 802-803.
^ a b St. Olave's Church Website. Retrieved on 2009-12-11.
^ Herbert Reynolds, The Churches of the
City of London
City of London (London: John
Lane the Bodley Head, 1922).
^ Alison Hanham, The Celys and Their World: An English Merchant Family
of the Fifteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
2002), ISBN 978-0-521-52012-6, pages 7 and 318.
^ Winn (2007), p. 10
^ Samuel Pepys, author, and Robert Latham and William Matthews,
editors, The Shorter Pepys (Berkeley, California: University of
California Press, 1985), page 665. On 5 September 1666, Pepys wrote,
"But going to the fire, I find by the blowing up of houses and the
great help given by the workmen out of the King's yard sent up by Sir
W. Pen, there is a good stop given to it . . . "
^ Claire Thomalin, Pepys: the Unequalled Self (London: Viking, 2002),
^ Bannerman (1916), p. 208.
Samuel Pepys is not in this book because
it stops the list of burials at 1700, three years before his death.
^ a b Winn (2007), p. 11
^ Gerald Cobb, The Old Churches of London (London: B. T. Batsford
^ Historic England. "Details from image database (199509)". Images of
England. Retrieved 23 January 2009.
^ Simon Bradley and Nikolaus Pevsner, London: the City Churches (New
Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), ISBN 0-300-09655-0.
^ Charles Dickens, "Chapter XXIII: The City of the Absent", The
Uncommercial Traveller (New York City: Hurd and Houghton, 1869), page
^ Tony Tucker, "The Visitors Guide to the
City of London
City of London Churches"
(London: Friends of the City Churches, 2006),
^ Bannerman (1916), p. 120
^ Cambridgeshire Collection – History On The Net
^ Bannerman (1916), p. 200. Mary was, according to the registers, "ye
first reported to dye of ye plague in this push since this visitac'on,
p.: new ch. y'd.".
^ Rev. Alfred Povah, The Annals of the Parishes of St. Olave Hart
Street and All Hallows Staining, in the
City of London
City of London (London:
Blades, East & Blades and Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent Co.,
Ltd., 1894), pages 305–306.
^ Hunt (1967), p. 42
^ Hunt (1967), pp. 41–42
^ Love, Dickon. "Church Bells of the
City of London
City of London – ST OLAVE, Hart
Street". Retrieved 21 February 2012.
^ "University of London Society of Change Ringers". Retrieved 21
^ a b c Dawe, Donovan (1983). Organists of the City of London,
1666-1850: a record of one thousand organists with an annotated index.
D. Dawe. p. 62. ISBN 978-0-9509064-0-9.
^ "Peter Turner returns to St Olave's after 70 years in exile".
Sanctuary in the City. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
^ "Turner effigy reinstalled in St Olave's". Sanctuary in the City.
Retrieved 9 June 2014.
^ Bannerman (1916), p. 12
^ "St. Olave's Churchyard Needs You", St Olave's & St Katherine
Cree: Churches with London at heart, retrieved 13 January 2014.
^ Bannerman (1916), pp. 14, 15, 17, 117, 128, 129, 251, 252, 254,
^ Bannerman (1916), p. 141
^ Bannerman (1916), p. 132: "Mr. Anthonye Bacon, buried in the
chanc'll within the vallt."
^ Bannerman (1916), p. 14. Robert, Lord Hereford, was baptized on 22
January 1590. In that year, the New Year did not begin until March so
he was actually born in 1591.
^ Ann Lady Fanshawe, The Memoirs of Ann Lady Fanshawe, Wife of the
Right Honble. Sir Richard Fanshawe, Bart., 1600–72, Reprinted from
the Original Manuscript in the Possession of Mr. Evelyn John Fanshawe
of Parsloes, with Four Photogravure Portraits & Twenty-Nine Other
Reproductions (London: John Lane the Bodley Head, 1907), page 17.
^ Bannerman (1916), p. 36
Bannerman, W. Bruce (1916). The Registers of St. Olave, Hart Street,
London, 1563–1700. The Publications of the Harleian Society,
Registers. XLVI. London: Roworth and Co.
Hunt, Percival (1967).
Samuel Pepys in the Diary. Pittsburgh, PA:
University of Pittsburgh Press.
Winn, Christopher (2007). I Never Knew That About London. New York,
NY: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-1-250-00151-1.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to St Olave Hart Street.
Official website of St. Olave's Hart Street Church
Rev. Alfred Povah, The Annals of the Parishes of St. Olave Hart Street
and All Hallows Staining, in the
City of London
City of London (London: Blades, East
& Blades and Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent Co., Ltd., 1894)
A[lfred]. E[rnest]. Daniell, "pages St. Olave Hart Street", London
City Churches (Westminster: Archibald Constable and Co., 1895),
Philip Norman, F.S.A., "St. Olave's Hart Street", Transactions of the
St. Paul's Ecclesiological Society, Volume V (London: Harrison &
Sons, 1905), pp. 93–98
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Coordinates: 51°30′39.04″N 0°4′46.88″W / 51.5108444°N
0.0796889°W / 51.5