Christ Church Greyfriar’s Cemetery

old-greyfriars-cemetary

when I started looking for more information on this photo (which I’d labeled Greyfriar’s Cemetery), all I came up with were sites on Greyfriars Bobby in Edinburgh — decidedly not the information for which I was searching. enter Google Maps … it’s amazing how much detail the site has developed over the last couple of years. search for St. Paul’s in London and ta-da! only a few hundred yards away stand the remains of Christ Church Greyfriars (also known as Christ Church Newgate, as it stands on the Newgate road).

the original, Gothic church was part of a Franciscan monastery and was built between 1307 and 1327. the monks of the monastery wore grey habits and became known as “greyfriars” for their appearance. this church contained remains from Marguerite of France (second wife to Edward I), Isabella (widow of Edward II), and the heart of Eleanor of Provence (wife of Henry III). after the Dissolution of Monasteries by Henry VIII, the church was granted to the City and suffered extensive damage, vandalism, and theft of objects. surrounding buildings, which previously belonged the monastery, were later used by students of the nearby Christ’s Hospital, and eventually the church returned to its original uses. it was the second largest church in medieval London but the structure was destroyed, along with much of the area, by the Great Fire of 1666.

the second church was designed by Sir Christopher Wren (who designed a total of 51 churches after the Great Fire, including St. Paul’s across Newgate St from this church) and completed in 1687 (though it took another 30-odd years before a steeple was placed atop the church tower). for many years, the church served as an important center for society and music in London, but the size of the parish declined significantly around the turn of the twentieth century, as the area gave way to more and more businesses and the employees of the businesses moved farther out to suburbs and the Home Counties. by 1937, there were only 77 parishioners and, following a post-war reorganization of the Church of England, the parish was merged with another.

while the parish staggered on until 1954, Wren’s church suffered devastating damage during the Blitz. on December 29, 1940, one of the worst bombing raids during the war, the Christ Church Greyfriar’s was hit, along with much of the surrounding neighborhoods. a total of 8 of Wren’s churches were damaged or destroyed that same night. the church spire, however, did emerge relatively unscathed and was disassembled in 1960 and reconstructed using modern reinforcement techniques. the spire now houses residences on  twelve levels, and the grounds that were once the nave are now a public garden and memorial.

more info here: http://christchurchtower.com/ and at wikipedia

Author: Erica

born in the midwest with wandering feet.