St Mary-at-Hill was one of those churches I decided to pop in and visit while I was wandering around the Billingsgate area of London. The entrance is hidden away down a narrow street, handily marked by the sign below, and is far bigger inside than I’d been expecting.
The church gets its name from the rise up from the River Thames, with a church being mentioned on the site from 1177. The present church dates from 1336. It was severely damaged by the Great Fire of London in 1666 and became one of Christopher Wren’s restoration projects, though it’s likely in practice to have been his chief assistant Robert Hooke who worked on St Mary-at-Hill.
It was again damaged by fire in 1988 leading to the roof and ceiling having to be rebuilt. It’s a stunning space and one of those buildings that took my breath away as soon as I entered.
The entrance that I came through, via the street of St-Mary-at-Hill passes through the remains of the churchyard. It was closed to burials in 1846 with all human remains carefully removed to West Norwood Cemetery. The church crypt and the vaults (the domains of the wealthy) were also emptied between 1892-94.
St Mary-at-Hill also has what’s been classed as one of the ten most important organs in Britain, built in 1848 by William Hill. It does indeed look very impressive and is in regular use at the church.
You can find more photos of the church here.