Records suggest there was first mention of a church on this site in 1136. The first recorded Vicar was John Lawrence in 1180. The name of the Church is derived from the that part of the City occupied by the Jews after the Norman invasion and for the period between 1066 and 1290. During the reign of Edward 1st of England (known as Longshanks due to his height) AD 1272-1307 there was a building on the site.
Plans by Christopher Wren (1632-1723) in 1667 after the Great Fire showed only the east face of the building being decorated as this was the Street through which the Kings and
Queens passed to get to the Guildhall from the river. The east wall of the building is not perpendicular to the rest of the building which is shown by the reveals of the two windows in the east wall.
The Spire is not square to the tower, and there are two views as to why this might be. Did Wren want the Spire to be facing the Nave or was it to face the orientation of
Gresham Street on the west front? The St Lawrence Jewry fountain is now installed at St Pauls.
Those pictured in the stained glass are St Catherine, St Paul, Thomas Moore (who delivered major lectures at the Church) Mary Magdalene, St Michael, St Lawrence and William Grocyn a 14th Century Scholar who taught Greek.
The painting behind the altar shows the story of Saint Lawrence AD 225-258. After the death of Sixtus, the prefect of
Rome demanded that turn over the riches of the Church. Ambrose is the earliest source for the tale that Lawrence asked for three days to gather together the wealth. Lawrence worked swiftly to distribute as much Church property to the poor as possible, so as to prevent its being seized by the prefect. On the third day, at the head of a small delegation, he presented himself to the prefect, and when ordered to give up the treasures of the Church, he presented the poor, the crippled, the blind and the suffering, and said that these were the true treasures of the Church. One account records him declaring to the prefect, "The Church is truly rich, far richer than your emperor." This act of defiance led directly to his martyrdom. According to lore, among the treasure of the Roman church entrusted to Lawrence for safe-keeping was the Holy Chalice, the cup from which Jesus and the Apostles drank at the Last Supper. Lawrence Lawrence was able to spirit this away to Huesca, in present day Aragon, with a letter and a supposed inventory, where it lay hidden and unregarded for centuries. Today the Holy Grail is venerated in a special chapel in the Catholic Cathedral of Valencia, . Spain
The Sir Christopher Wren church was gutted by fire during the Blitz and was completely restored and re-consecrated in 1957. The Commonwealth Chapel windows show the crests of the eight Commonwealth countries in 1954. The Church is owned by the City Corporation and the Rector is appointed by them and not the Church.
Those attending were welcomed by the Rector David Parrott who gave a brief talk about the Chuch and its history and artifacts. We were invited to view the six secret corners of the building, the Organ loft, the Tower, the Vault, the Boiler room, the Gallery and the Vicarage. The Vicarage stand on the North side of the building and if you look up from Guildhall Yard you can see the net curtains of the Sitting room and at roof level is the terrace (with a personalised view of the Gherkin) where we were royally entertained. The Rector says it is the 2nd best Council flat in
(after the Mansion House). London
The members of the Company and their guests enjoyed a few glasses of wine and canapés on the terrace whilst trying to dodge the shower under the brollies.
Michael Wilkey – Renter Warden