Wednesday 10 June 2009

St Botolph Without Aldersgate

Although I've visited Postman's Park many times, the Celebration last Wednesday was my first opportunity to visit its neighbouring church, St Botolph Without Aldersgate. The saint has four churches in the London: the others are at Aldgate, Billingsgate and Bishopsgate. All were built at at around the same time by the major city gates, for Botolph was patron saint of travellers.

This City church, like most, was rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1666, but its history stretches back to the eleventh century when a priory and hospital were here. St Botolph's was rebuilt in 1788 by architect Nathaniel Wright. A classical facade was added in 1831, but the exterior remains essentially simple.

By contrast, the interior is pretty stunning. It was designed by Nathaniel Evans in 1788, although later fittings and furnishings have been added.

The east end of the church includes an impressive window - not stained glass but a 'transparency' (a painting on glass). It is the only one of its kind in the city, painted by James Pearson in 1788. By contrast, the stained glass windows are all Victorian or later.

Another distinctive feature is the organ, also dating from the rebuilding and the only surviving Samuel Green organ in the City.

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