City of London

Shoreditch Parish Church, City of London

This is the site of one of the most ancient of London’s churches, dating back to the Saxon period. The first definite mention of it is in the 12th Century, but it is implied that it is already quite old by that time. Parts of the 12th Century church do still survive, although they are now buried amongst later modifications.

The church became associated with the first theatres in London – the very first “The Theatre” was founded in 1576 by John Burbage who is buried in the church, as is his son, Richard, one of the leading men in Shakespeare’s plays during the playwright’s lifetime.

In 1716 the tower of the church partially collapsed and it was decided to rebuild the church in Palladian style. The church was designed by George Dance the Elder, the architect of Mansion House, and it has a mixture of styles from the Doric frontage to the Wren-style steeple.

St. Leonard’s was the first church in London to be lit with gaslight, in 1816. Odd survivors in the churchyard are the parish stocks and whipping post and the parish pump, one of the few to survive removal after the Typhoid epidemics were laid firmly at the door of the dodgy London water supply.

This is the "Bells of Shoreditch" in the Oranges and Lemons Rhyme.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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