St Mark Clerkenwell - The Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks

St Mark Clerkenwell

• In 1781, the Prince Regent (later George IV) urged Parliament to provide new churches for the rapidly expanding population of London. In 1822 the Reverend Thomas Handley of the parish of Saint James, Clerkenwell, reported that “the parish contains about 36,000 inhabitants and there is not accommodation in the two parochial churches and chapel for more than one tenth that number.” Mr Handley approached the New River Company which still had ‘uncovered ground’ in the district. The ground in the centre of the new Myddelton Square the largest square in London's Clerkenwell district was subsequently donated.

• The New River company appointed it’s surveyor, William Chadwell Mylne, who had laid out the surrounding residences and school, to design the new church and stipulated that there was to be no graveyard around the Church and that the majority of the Square was to be available for the use of the residents, there are 75 houses, by 13 different builders, all constructed in a Georgian style, from 1822 to 1843.

• The church foundation stone was laid in April 1825 and the completed church was then consecrated by the Bishop of London, Dr William Howley (later Archbishop of Canterbury) on Tuesday 1st January 1828.

• The Church of St Mark cost about £16,000 to build and the west tower continues to be a handsome and important feature in townscape with commanding views across London.

• During the war a barrage balloon broke from it’s moorings and became entangled on one of the pinnacles of the tower. On 21st September 1941 a series of incendiary bombs damaged buildings across the square including the east end of the church. Much of the glass was lost in the blast and the roof partially damaged.

• A large part of the Church was closed for several years following the war damage. This necessitated repairs to the roof, removal of the wall plaster, and construction of the present columns and other steelwork to strengthen the roof. During this time the congregation continued to worship regularly in the Chapel with the occasional wedding and larger events being held in the damaged Church. Repair work, together with replacement of the window glass, allowed the Church to return to full use again in 1962 – 21 years after the initial damage!

• Some windows are unusual in having cast iron tracery, manufactured by the Ironbridge Company, and thought to be the only extant examples in London. • Today the church is a Grade II listed building.


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