St Dionis Backchurch - The Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks

St Dionis Backchurch

• St Dionis Backchurch was a parish church in the Langborn ward of the City. Of medieval origin, it was rebuilt after the Great Fire to the designs of Christopher Wren and demolished in 1878. • The church of St Dionis was dedicated to Dionysus of Areopagite, a follower of St Paul, said to have converted the French to Christianity. He became the patron saint of France, where he is known as St Denis. The name Backchurch may have come from it standing behind other buildings, or from its position relative to the church of St Gabriel Fenchurch. It was in existence by the year 1288, when Reginald de Standen was recorded as being the rector. In 1466 the Alderman John Darby had an aisle added, in which he was buried.

• The patronage of the church once belonged to the prior and canons of Christchurch, Canterbury and later passed to the dean and chapter of Canterbury Cathedral.

• The church was destroyed in the Great Fire in 1666, and rebuilt in 1674 at a cost of £5,737. A tower, also to Wren's design, was added ten years later. The bell tower was divided into three storeys by string courses. At the top was an open parapet, and a small bell turret which had been removed by the nineteenth century. A row of shops, built against the south wall, stood between the church and Fenchurch Street.

• In 1858 it was decided that the church was in need of substantial repairs and a recommendation was made that the most economical course of action would be to demolish the whole church except for the tower and rebuild it. During the survey of the church, a fifteenth century crypt was discovered that had survived under the chancel of Wren’s church. Before any plans could be carried out however, the vestry decided that the church was no longer needed. In 1878 the parish was merged with that of All Hallows Lombard Street under the Union of Benefices Act of 1860 and the church demolished.

• The church had a peal of ten bells, cast between 1726 and 1750. They were transferred to All Hallows Lombard Street when St Dionis was demolished. • The church of St Dionis, Parsons Green was built with the proceeds of the sale of the site of the City church, and its font and pulpit survive there.


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