St Katharine Cree

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• St Katharine Cree is in the Aldgate ward of the City, located on near Leadenhall Market. The parish served by the church is an extremely ancient one; it existed as early as 1108, when it was served by the Augustinian Holy Trinity Priory, Aldgate, which was also known as Christ Church, which was founded by Maud, queen at the time of King Henry I. The site of the present church was originally the priory's churchyard and it is possible that the church had its origins in a cemetery chapel. The parishioners used the priory church but this proved unsatisfactory and disruptive to the priory's activities.

• The prior partially resolved the problem in 1280 with the foundation of St Katharine Cree as a separate church for the use of the parishioners. It took its name from the priory - "Cree" is a corrupted abbreviation of "Christ Church". It was initially served by a canon appointed by the prior but this did not prove satisfactory either, in 1414 the church was established as a full parish in its own right, which it has remained ever since.

• The present church dates from 1631, with only the tower (dating to 1504) retained from the previous building. It was consecrated by William Laud in his capacity as Bishop of London; his vestments and the form of service that he used in the ceremony were later held against him in his trial and conviction for heresy, when he was accused by Puritans of having displayed Catholic sympathies through his ‘bowings and cringings’. He is commemorated by a chapel in the church. The church escaped the Great Fire in 1666 and suffered only minor damage in the London Blitz of the Second World War. However, structural problems required extensive restoration in 1962. It is used today as one of the City's Guild churches.

• St Katharine Cree is regarded as one of the most significant churches of the Jacobean period, a time when church-building was at an historically low ebb. It is the only Jacobean church to have survived in London. Unfortunately, the identity of its architect is unknown. It has a handsome if somewhat inconsistent interior, with a high nave flanked by two arcades lined with Corinthian columns. The vaulted ceiling displays bosses bearing the arms of the City Livery Companies; this dates mostly from the restoration of 1962. The chancel possesses a fine rose window, reputedly modelled on the much larger rose window of Old St Paul's Cathedral (lost in the Great Fire). The stained glass, depicting a Catherine wheel is original, dating from 1630, and the font likewise dates from around 1640. Today the church is a Guild Church and has no parish, but chose some years ago to dedicate its ministry to the worlds of finance, commerce and industry.

• The Guild Vicar is also Rector of St Olave Hart Street. The church's six bells were rung in the summer of 2007 for the first time since 1880 and in November 2007 an appeal was launched to raise £60,000 to restore the bells to full ringing order. It is the only tower in the City where the bells are rung from a ground floor ringing chamber. The church was designated a Grade I listed building on 4 January 1950.

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