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 Andrew Undershaft

   
          St Andrew Undershaft

 






                             
         
This late Gothic church, completed right on the eve of the Reformation, must be one of the most photographed churches in the City. People come to snap the Gherkin or the Leadenhall building, and quickly notice they can get St Andrew Undershaft in as well. This juxtaposition of the old and the new is very pleasing, and the internet is awash with photographs of it. This does disguise the fact, however, that St Andrew is actually quite a big building, dwarfed as it is by the leading lights of London's better-known skyscrapers crowding around it.

The church famously gets its epithet from the maypole which was on the green beside it before being destroyed by rabid protestants in 1547. The mad gothick at the top of the tower dates from the 1880s and was the work of one Chatfeild Clarke. Whatever was he thinking of? Rhineland castles, probably, which just goes to show what you get when you have an over-enthusiastic architect and a client with more money than taste.

As with near neighbours St Helen's Bishopsgate and St Ethelburga, this church survived both the Great Fire and the firestorm of the Blitz. Unlike its neighbours, it only suffered minor damage from the massive terrorist bombs of 1992 and 1993, and so this is one of the City's few reasonably intact medieval churches.

I'm still to get inside this church. On the last two occasions I visited it was under refurbishment for the use of the busy evangelical congregation up the road at St Helen's Bishopsgate. I suspect that we won't get a repeat of Quinlan Terry's attempt to turn that church into an operating theatre after the IRA bombs, but I look forward to finding out - watch this space.

                         

Simon Knott, December 2015


location: St Mary Axe EC3A 8EP - 3/007
status: redundant - used by St Helen's
access: keyholder via
St Helen's church office

St Andrew Undershaft St Andrew Undershaft St Andrew Undershaft St Andrew Undershaft

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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