St Botolph's Aldgate
|St Botolph's Aldgate|
|St Botolph without Aldgate and Holy Trinity Minories|
St Botolph's Aldgate
|Denomination||Church of England|
|Previous denomination||Roman Catholic|
|Churchmanship||Liberal / Modern Catholic|
|Functional status||Parish church|
|Heritage designation||Grade I listed building|
|Architect(s)||George Dance the Elder|
|Architectural type||Georgian architecture|
|Years built||1115; 16th century; 1741|
|Parish||St Botolph without Aldgate|
|Deanery||City of London|
|Episcopal area||Two Cities (London and Westminster)|
|Bishop(s)||Bishop of London|
The full name of the church is St Botolph without Aldgate and Holy Trinity Minories and it is sometimes known simply as Aldgate Church. The ecclesiastical parish was united with that of the Church of Holy Trinity, Minories, in 1899.
Position and dedication
The church was one of four in medieval London dedicated to Saint Botolph or Botwulf, a 7th-century East Anglian saint, each of which stood by one of the gates to the City. The other three were near neighbour St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate, St Botolph's, Aldersgate in the west and St Botolph's, Billingsgate by the riverside (this church was destroyed by the Great Fire and not rebuilt).
The earliest known written record of the church dates from 1115, when it was received by the Holy Trinity Priory (recently founded by Matilda, wife of Henry I) but the parochial foundations may very well date from before 1066.
The church was rebuilt in the 16th century at the cost of the priors of the Holy Trinity, and renovated in 1621. It escaped the Great Fire of London, and was described at the beginning of the 18th century as "an old church, built of Brick, Rubble and Stone, rendered over, and ... of the Gothick order". The building, as it stood at that time, was 78-foot long (24 m) and 53-foot wide (16 m). There was a tower, about 100-foot tall (30 m), with six bells.
St Botolph's was completely rebuilt between 1741 and 1744, to a design by George Dance the Elder. The exterior is of brick with projecting quoins, stone windows surrounds and a stone cornice. The tower, also of brick, has rusticated quoins, and a stone spire. The interior of the building is divided into nave and aisles by four widely spaced piers supporting a flat ceiling. There are galleries along three sides. The church is lit by two rows of windows in each side wall, one above and one below the gallery. The monuments from the old building were preserved, and reinstalled in the new church.
St Botolph's was often referred to as the "Church of Prostitutes" in the late Victorian period. The church is sited on an island surrounded by roadways and it was usual in these times to be suspicious of women standing on street corners. They were easy targets for the police, and to escape arrest the prostitutes would parade around the island, now occupied by the church and Aldgate tube station.
The parish was united with that of Holy Trinity, Minories when it closed in 1899. St Botolph's inherited from that church a preserved head, reputed to be that of Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, who had been executed for treason by Queen Mary I in 1554.
During an archaeological investigation of the crypt in 1990, a preserved head, reputed to be that of Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, who had been executed for treason by Queen Mary I in 1554, was rediscovered and buried in the churchyard.
The organ by Renatus Harris was built in the early 18th century. It has undergone a historical restoration by the organ builders Goetze and Gwynn, and been returned to its 1744 specification using many of the original components. The organ has been described as the oldest church organ in the United Kingdom. Although there are older pipes and cases, this is the oldest collection of pipes in their original positions on their original wind chests. Because of its historic importance, the organ was filmed and recorded for the documentary The Elusive English Organ.
Donated by Thomas Whiting in 1676, it was built between 1702 and 1704. It was enhanced for the new church (the current building) by Harris' son-in-law, John Byfield, in 1740. The organ was considerably enlarged several times in the 19th century and again rebuilt by Mander Organs in the 1960s. The decision to restore the instrument was taken by St Botolph’s in 2002 after which a fundraising campaign was launched. The restoration, which took nine months, was carried out under the consultancy of Ian Bell and the workshops of Goetze and Gwynn in Welbeck, Nottinghamshire. The instrument was reinstalled in May 2006.
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