The Metropolis

The best church names in London, and where they come from

Mike Pollitt | Tuesday 5 July, 2011 10:46

St Benet Gracechurch Or “Grass Church”, because it was next to a hay market.
St Andrew Undershaft A shaft, or maypole, was erected in front of the door.
St Andrew by the Wardrobe The great wardrobe (a storehouse for clothes) of Edward the Third stood nearby.
St Bride’s A corrupted form of St Bridget, patron saint of milkmaids.
St Ethelburga-the-Virgin-within-Bishopsgate Dedicated to Ethelburga, daughter of Ethelbert and sister of Erkenwald. A 7th century virgin.
St James Garlickhythe Stands on the hill where garlic used to be sold.
St Katherine Cree Cree is a corruption of Christ.
St Margaret Pattens Connected to the “pattens” or overshoes which parishioners would wear to stop their feet getting muddy.
St Mary Abchurch A corruption of Upchurch, as it stands at the top of a hill.
St Mary-le-bow Named for the arches, or bowes, which were a feature of the old church.
St Mary Woolnoth Perhaps after a benefactor, one Wulnoth de Walebrok, or because it used to have a beam in the churchyard for the weighing of wool.
St Michael Paternoster Royal Because it stood at the junction of Paternoster Lane and Royal Lane, which is corrupted from the colloquial La Ryole, itself corrupted from La Reole, a town in Bordeaux from where many of the wine merchants on the street got their produce. Tragically, this lane no longer exists.
St Swithin, London Stone Located next to the Roman milestone from which, it is thought, all distances out of London were calculated.

Check out our list of similarly brilliant old pub names here

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Mike Pollitt

About this writer

Mike Pollitt

Mike Pollitt is the editor of The Metropolis.


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