An occasional saunter through the churches of the Square Mile                                
        An occasional saunter through the churches of the Square Mile

                                 
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St Alban Wood Street

   
          St Alban Wood Street
 







                             
         
St Alban comes as a surprise when you first see it. The tall mock-gothic tower looks like something out of a fairy tale as it stands, a bizarre sentinel, sticking up in the middle of Wood Street next to the City of London Police headquarters, with tower blocks on either side and the precipitous, preposterous cliff face of London Wall beyond it to the north. One might even think that it had been transplanted here from elsewhere for a joke.

But of course that is not the case. There was a church here from at least the 9th Century, when it was granted to the Abbey of St Alban's. The medieval church was demolished at the start of the 17th Century and replaced by one said to have been designed by Inigo Jones. This in turn was destroyed thirty years later in the Great Fire, and Wren's replacement was a Gothic confection as at St Mary Aldermary, presumably at the request of the patron. The church had aisles beyond arcades, and an apse at the end of the chancel. The furnishings, entirely of the 17th Century, were unforgiveably destroyed by Gilbert Scott at the time of his restoration in the 1850s.

St Alban was itself destroyed on the night of Sunday 29th December 1940, a few hours after the congregation had left the church after morning service. Waves of German bombers laid a carpet of fire over the eastern half of the City, and this church was one of the many victims. It was not rebuilt, but the tower was kept, and just as well, for it is a splendid survival, a most curious fusion of the formality of late 17th Century architecture and the excitement of the surviving Gothic imagination. Converted into living accommodation, it turns what would be a mundane corner of the city into something rather thrilling.

                         

Simon Knott, December 2015


location: Wood Street EC2V - 2/004
status: tower only - private house
access: set in public space

St Alban Wood Street, 1907 St Alban Wood Street St Alban Wood Street

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          home   index   map   latest   e-mail   about this site   resources   small print   simonknott.co.uk   norfolkchurches.co.uk   suffolkchurches.co.uk
     
An occasional saunter through the churches of the Square Mile
                               
        An occasional saunter through the churches of the Square Mile