St Stephen Coleman Street

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• St. Stephen Coleman Street was located at the on Coleman Street a few yards up from the corner which is now Gresham Street and first mentioned in the 13th century.

• St. Stephen's was one of two City churches dedicated to St Stephen who, by tradition, suffered stoning in Jerusalem in about 35 AD.

• Coleman Street itself is named after the charcoal burners who used to live there.

• During the reign of Henry III, the church is recorded as St. Stephen in the Jewry owing to its situation in the quarter of London inhabited by many Jews.

• The earliest surviving reference to the church is to ‘the parish of St. Stephen colemanstrate’ during the reign of King John.

• Two centuries later, the church is recorded as a chapel of ease to St Olave Old Jewry. It regained parochial status in the middle of the 15th century.

• In 1431, John Sokelyng, who owned a neighbouring brewery called ‘La Cokke on the hoop’, died and left a bequest to St. Stephen’s on the condition that a mass be sung on the anniversary of his death and that of his two wives. The gift was commemorated by a cock in a hoop motif that would decorate the church until 1940 and can still be seen in parish boundary markers.

• Early in the 17th century, St. Stephen's became a Puritan stronghold. The five Members of Parliament impeached by Charles I repaired to Coleman Street in early 1642 when his troops were searching for them, and during the Commonwealth, communion was only allowed to those who passed a committee comprising the vicar and 13 parishioners – 2 of whom had signed the death warrant of Charles I.

• After its destruction in the Great Fire, the church was rebuilt on its old foundations. Work on the exterior was completed in 1677. In 1691, further funds were provided from the coal tax to build a gallery and a burial vault. Wren's church retained the plan of its mediaeval predecessor, which was in the form of an irregular quadrilateral that tapered towards the east. The walls were made from brick and rubble covered with stucco, only the south and east fronts being exposed. The main façade, at the east end, towards Coleman Street, was faced with Portland Stone and above the large round-headed window was a carving of a cock between two swags. • The tower on the north west was barely visible from the street. It had a small leaded bell lantern, on top of which was a gilded vane in the form of a cock.

• The church suffered slight damage from bombing in 1917. It was destroyed in the Blitz on 29 December 1940. The church was not rebuilt; instead its parish was combined with that of St Margaret Lothbury.

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