St Andrew Holborn - The Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks

St Andrew Holborn

• St Andrew Holborn was an ancient parish that until 1767 was partly within the City of London and partly in Middlesex, England.

• In 1723 part of the Middlesex section of the parish became St George the Martyr. • The ancient parish included most of the area to the west, bordering onto St Giles in the Fields. As such it included both Lincoln’s Inn and Gray’s Inn both of which rented pews in the church.

• The church is on the north western edge of the City, within the Ward of Farringdon Without.

• Roman pottery was found on the site during excavations in the crypt. However, the first written record of the church itself is dated as 951 in a charter from Westminster Abbey, referring to it as the "old wooden church", on top of the hill above the river Fleet. The Charter's authenticity has been called into question because the date is not within the reign of the King Edgar who is granting it. It may be that this is simply a scribal error and that the date should be '959'. In the Early Middle Ages the church is referred to as St Andrew Holburnestrate and later simply as St Andrew de Holeburn.

• In 1348, John Thavie, a local armourer, “left a considerable Estate towards the support of the fabric forever”, a legacy which was invested carefully through the centuries, and still provides for the church's current upkeep. In the 15th century, the wooden church was replaced by a medieval stone one.

• The medieval St Andrew’s survived the 1666 Great Fire, saved by a last minute change in wind direction, but as it was already in a bad state of repair and it was rebuilt by Christopher Wren. In what is his largest parish church, he rebuilt from the foundations (creating the present crypt) and gave the existing medieval stone tower (the only medieval part to survive) a marble cladding.

• Thomas Coram, founder of the Foundling’s Hospital is buried here and the twelve-year old Benjamin Disraeli, was baptised in the church in1817.

• In the mid-19th Century, the Holborn Valley Improvement Scheme bought up the church's North Churchyard to make way for the Holborn Viaduct, linking Holborn with Newgate, which was opened by Queen Victoria in 1869.

• During the Blitz, on the night of May 7, 1941, the church was bombed and gutted, leaving only the exterior walls and tower. However, instead of demolition which sometimes occurred in similar cases, it was decided after a long delay that it would be restored “stone for stone and brick for brick” to Wren's original designs.

• The church re-opened in 1961 as a non-parochial Guild church intended for serving the local working rather than resident community which had declined as had the City's population as a whole.

• In January 2005 a new large icon was installed and in August 2010, St Andrew Holborn's Icon Cross became motorised, allowing the large icon of Jesus on the Cross to be raised and lowered for services.

• The church was designated a Grade I listed building on 4 January 1950.


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