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TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
St Mary Aldermary
The earliest Gothic Revival church in London.
Location: Watling Street, EC4M 9BW
Description: There has been a church here for over 900 years and its name is usually taken to mean that it is the oldest of the City churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Stow, in his 1598 Survey of London, mentioned various dignitaries who were benefactors or who were buried in the early church, including Richard Chaucer, vintner, a relative of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer.
In 1510, Sir Henry Keeble, a grocer and Lord Mayor, financed the building of a new church on the site. When he died in 1518, however, the tower was substantially unfinished and remained so until 1629 when two legacies enabled it to be completed.
It was badly damaged in the Great Fire of London but it partly survived - well, the foundations and parts of the walls, as well as the base of the tower, anyway. When rebuilt between 1679-82, it was under the supervision of John Oliver, one of Christopher Wren's deputies.
The church is the only surviving Wren church in the City of London built in the Gothic style. Suring World War II it escaped relatively lightly - the windows shattered and some plaster fell from the vaulting but the building itself remained intact.
John Milton, the poet, married his third wife here in this church in 1663.
The church won a City Heritage Award in 2008.