St Peter le Poer - The Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks

St Peter le Poer

• St Peter le Poer was a church on the west side of Broad Street in the City. Of medieval origin, it was rebuilt in 1540, and again in 1792 to a design by Jesse Gibson with a circular nave. It was demolished in 1907.

• The church, often spelt "St Peter le Poor" was in existence by the end of the twelfth century. The name was traditionally explained as a reference to the poverty of the area (although by the beginning of the nineteenth century it was one of the richest in the City). The reference is more likely to reflect its proximity to the monastery of St Augustine.

• The patronage of the church belonged to the dean and chapter of St Paul’s Cathedral.

• It was rebuilt in 1540, and enlarged on the north side in 1615. In 1630 the steeple was rebuilt, and a west gallery added. The church had a small tower in the north-west corner and a clock hung from the middle of a beam extending across the road from the church. By the late 18th century the ground level around the church had risen so much that curtains were drawn across the lower parts of the windows during services, to stop passers-by looking through them.

• The church escaped destruction in the Great Fire of 1666 but had fallen into such poor condition by 1788, that the parishioners obtained an act of parliament to demolish the old church and rebuild it. The new building, to the designs of Jesse Gibson, was consecrated on 19 November 1792.

• The original church had projected into Broad Street, but the new one was placed further back, over the old churchyard, the site of the medieval chancel becoming part of the roadway. Some of the monuments in the old church were broken up and their brass plates sold to a plumber in the Minories.

• The layout of the new church ignored convention, having the altar on the north-west side directly opposite the entrance. The nave was circular in plan, about 54 feet across, with a circular niche for the altar and a porch and vestry on the opposite side. The centre of the ceiling rose into a large lantern, with glass sides. The church was surrounded by houses, except for the east front in Broad Street.

• As late as 1884 the church received a new Henry Willis organ but, as the City’s resident population declined, it was deemed surplus to requirements and demolished in 1907, under the Union of Benefices Act 1860 and the parish was united with that of St Michael Cornhill.

• The proceeds from the sale of the site were used to build St Peter-le-Poer in Barnet, which also received the City church's font, pulpit and panelling.


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