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St Dunstan-in-the-West

St Dunstan-in-the-West

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The Guild
Guild
A guild is an association of craftsmen in a particular trade. The earliest types of guild were formed as confraternities of workers. They were organized in a manner something between a trade union, a cartel, and a secret society...

 Church of St Dunstan-in-the-West is in Fleet Street
Fleet Street
Fleet Street is a street in central London, United Kingdom, named after the River Fleet, a stream that now flows underground. It was the home of the British press until the 1980s...

 in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. An octagonal-shaped building, it is dedicated to a former bishop of London and archbishop of Canterbury
Canterbury
Canterbury is a historic English cathedral city, which lies at the heart of the City of Canterbury, a district of Kent in South East England. It lies on the River Stour....

.

History


First founded between 988 and 1070 A.D., there is a possibility that a church on this site was one of the Lundenwic strand settlement churches, like St Martin's in the Fields, the first St Mary le Strand, St Clement Danes
St Clement Danes
St Clement Danes is a church in the City of Westminster, London. It is situated outside the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand. The current building was completed in 1682 by Sir Christopher Wren and it now functions as the central church of the Royal Air Force.The church is sometimes claimed to...

 and St Brides
St Bride's Church
St Bride's Church is a church in the City of London, England. The building's most recent incarnation was designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1672 on Fleet Street in the City of London, though Wren's original building was largely gutted by fire during the London Blitz in 1940. Due to its location on...

. These churches may pre-date any within the walls of the city . It is not known exactly when the original church was built, but it was possibly erected by Saint Dunstan himself, or priests who knew him well. It was first mentioned in written records in 1185. King Henry III
Henry III of England
Henry III was the son and successor of John as King of England, reigning for 56 years from 1216 until his death. His contemporaries knew him as Henry of Winchester. He was the first child king in England since the reign of Æthelred the Unready...

 gained possession of it and its endowments from Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English,...

 by 1237 and then granted these and the advowson to the 'House of Converts' i.e. of the converted Jews
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, which led to its neglect of its parochial responsibilities. This institution was eventually transformed into the Court of the Master of the Rolls
Master of the Rolls
The Keeper or Master of the Rolls and Records of the Chancery of England, known as the Master of the Rolls, is the second most senior judge in England and Wales, after the Lord Chief Justice. The Master of the Rolls is the presiding officer of the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal...

.

The Worshipful Company of Cordwainers
Worshipful Company of Cordwainers
The Worshipful Company of Cordwainers is one of the Livery Companies of the City of London. Cordwainers were workers in fine leather; the Company gets its name from "cordwain" , the white leather produced from goatskin in Cordova, Spain...

 has been associated with the church since the fifteenth century. The company holds an annual Service of Commemoration to honour two of its benefactors, John Fisher and Richard Minge, after which children were traditionally given a penny for each time they ran around the church.

The great translator of the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

, William Tyndale
William Tyndale
William Tyndale was an English scholar and translator who became a leading figure in Protestant reformism towards the end of his life. He was influenced by the work of Desiderius Erasmus, who made the Greek New Testament available in Europe, and by Martin Luther...

, was a lecturer
Lecturer
Lecturer is an academic rank. In the United Kingdom, lecturer is a position at a university or similar institution, often held by academics in their early career stages, who lead research groups and supervise research students, as well as teach...

  at the church, and sermons were given by the poet John Donne
John Donne
John Donne 31 March 1631), English poet, satirist, lawyer, and priest, is now considered the preeminent representative of the metaphysical poets. His works are notable for their strong and sensual style and include sonnets, love poetry, religious poems, Latin translations, epigrams, elegies, songs,...

. Samuel Pepys
Samuel Pepys
Samuel Pepys FRS, MP, JP, was an English naval administrator and Member of Parliament who is now most famous for the diary he kept for a decade while still a relatively young man...

 mentions the church in his diary. The church narrowly escaped the Great Fire of London
Great Fire of London
The Great Fire of London was a major conflagration that swept through the central parts of the English city of London, from Sunday, 2 September to Wednesday, 5 September 1666. The fire gutted the medieval City of London inside the old Roman City Wall...

 in 1666. The Dean of Westminster roused forty scholars from Westminster School
Westminster School
The Royal College of St. Peter in Westminster, almost always known as Westminster School, is one of Britain's leading independent schools, with the highest Oxford and Cambridge acceptance rate of any secondary school or college in Britain...

 in the middle of the night, who formed a fire brigade which extinguished the flames with buckets of water to only three doors away.

In the nineteenth century the medieval church of St Dunstan was demolished to allow the widening of Fleet Street
Fleet Street
Fleet Street is a street in central London, United Kingdom, named after the River Fleet, a stream that now flows underground. It was the home of the British press until the 1980s...

, and a new church was built on its burial ground. An Act of Parliament was obtained authorising the demolition of the church in July 1829 and trustees were appointed to carry it into effect. In December 1829 and September 1830 there were auctions of some of the materials of the old church. The first stone of the new building, to the design of John Shaw, Sr. (1776–1832), was laid in July 1831, and construction proceeded rapidly. In August 1832 the last part of the old church was left as a screen between Fleet Street and the new work was removed.

Shaw dealt with the restricted site by designing a church with an octagonal central space. Seven of the eight sides open into arched recesses, the northern one containing the altar. The eighth side opens into a short corridor, leading beneath the organ to the lowest stage of the tower, which serves as an entrance porch. Above the recesses Shaw designed a clerestory
Clerestory
Clerestory is an architectural term that historically denoted an upper level of a Roman basilica or of the nave of a Romanesque or Gothic church, the walls of which rise above the rooflines of the lower aisles and are pierced with windows. In modern usage, clerestory refers to any high windows...

, and above that a groined ceiling. The tower is square in plan, with an octagonal lantern, resembling those of St Botolph, Boston, and St Helen's York. George Godwin Jr
George Godwin
George Godwin FRS was an influential architect, journalist, and editor of The Builder magazine.He was one of nine children of the architect George Godwin senior and trained at his father's architectural practice in Kensington where he set up in business with his brother Henry Godwin .Encouraged...

 suggested that the form of the lantern might have been immediately inspired by that of St George's church in Ramsgate ( where Shaw was architect to the docks), built in 1825 to the designs of H.E. Kendall. John Shaw Sr. died in 1833, before the church was completed, leaving it in the hands of his son John Shaw Jr
John Shaw Jr
John Shaw Junior was an English architect of the 19th century who was complimented as a designer in the "Manner of Wren". He designed buildings in the classical Jacobean fashion and designed some of London's first semi-detached homes in the area close to Chalk Farm. Shaw retired in the early...

 (1803–1870).
The communion rail is a survivor of the old church, having been carved by Grinling Gibbons
Grinling Gibbons
Grinling Gibbons was an English sculptor and wood carver known for his work in England, including St Paul's Cathedral, Blenheim Palace and Hampton Court Palace. He was born and educated in Holland where his father was a merchant...

 during the period when John Donne
John Donne
John Donne 31 March 1631), English poet, satirist, lawyer, and priest, is now considered the preeminent representative of the metaphysical poets. His works are notable for their strong and sensual style and include sonnets, love poetry, religious poems, Latin translations, epigrams, elegies, songs,...

 served as vicar (1624–1631). Some of the monuments from the medieval building were reinstituted in the new church, and a fragment of the old churchyard remains near Bream's Buildings
Fetter Lane
Fetter Lane is a street in the ward of Farringdon Without in London England. It runs from Fleet Street in the south to Holborn in the north.The earliest mention of the street is "faitereslane" in 1312. The name occurs with several spellings until it settles down about 1612. There is no agreement...

.

Apart from losing its stained glass, the church survived the London Blitz largely intact, though bombs did damage the open-work lantern tower. The building was largely restored in 1950. An appeal is underway to commission appropriate bells for the church.

The church was designated a Grade I listed building on 4 January 1950.

The church has often been associated with the legend of Sweeney Todd
Sweeney Todd
Sweeney Todd is a fictional character who first appeared as then antagonist of the Victorian penny dreadful The String of Pearls and he was later introduced as an antihero in the broadway musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and its film adaptation...

.

Monuments



On the façade is a chiming clock, with figures of giants, perhaps representing Gog and Magog
Gog and Magog
Gog and Magog are names that appear primarily in various Jewish, Christian and Muslim scriptures, as well as numerous subsequent references in other works. Their context can be either genealogical or eschatological and apocalyptic, as in Ezekiel and Revelation...

, who strike the bells with their clubs. It was installed on the previous church in 1671, perhaps commissioned to celebrate its escape from destruction by the Great Fire of 1666. It was the first public clock in London to have a minute hand. The figures of the two giants strike the hours and quarters, and turn their heads. There are numerous literary references to the clock, including in Thomas Hughes
Thomas Hughes
Thomas Hughes was an English lawyer and author. He is most famous for his novel Tom Brown's Schooldays , a semi-autobiographical work set at Rugby School, which Hughes had attended. It had a lesser-known sequel, Tom Brown at Oxford .- Biography :Hughes was the second son of John Hughes, editor of...

' Tom Brown's Schooldays
Tom Brown's Schooldays
Tom Brown's Schooldays is a novel by Thomas Hughes. The story is set at Rugby School, a public school for boys, in the 1830s; Hughes attended Rugby School from 1834 to 1842...

, Oliver Goldsmith
Oliver Goldsmith
Oliver Goldsmith was an Irish writer, poet and physician known for his novel The Vicar of Wakefield , his pastoral poem The Deserted Village , and his plays The Good-Natur'd Man and She Stoops to Conquer...

’s The Vicar of Wakefield
The Vicar of Wakefield
The Vicar of Wakefield is a novel by Irish author Oliver Goldsmith. It was written in 1761 and 1762, and published in 1766, and was one of the most popular and widely read 18th-century novels among Victorians...

, David Copperfield
David Copperfield (novel)
The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery , commonly referred to as David Copperfield, is the eighth novel by Charles Dickens, first published as a novel in 1850. Like most of his works, it originally appeared in serial...

by Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...

, and a poem by William Cowper
William Cowper
William Cowper was an English poet and hymnodist. One of the most popular poets of his time, Cowper changed the direction of 18th century nature poetry by writing of everyday life and scenes of the English countryside. In many ways, he was one of the forerunners of Romantic poetry...

. In 1828, when the medieval church was demolished, the clock was removed by Francis Seymour-Conway, 3rd Marquess of Hertford
Francis Seymour-Conway, 3rd Marquess of Hertford
Francis Charles Seymour-Conway, 3rd Marquess of Hertford KG, GCH PC , styled Viscount Beauchamp between 1793 and 1794 and Earl of Yarmouth between 1794 and 1822, was a British Tory politician and art collector....

 to his mansion in Regent's Park
Regent's Park
Regent's Park is one of the Royal Parks of London. It is in the north-western part of central London, partly in the City of Westminster and partly in the London Borough of Camden...

, which later became the St Dunstan's College for the Blind It was returned by Lord Rothermere in 1935 to mark the Jubilee
Silver Jubilee
A Silver Jubilee is a celebration held to mark a 25th anniversary. The anniversary celebrations can be of a wedding anniversary, ruling anniversary or anything that has completed a 25 year mark...

 of King George V.

Above the entrance to the old parochial school in 1766, is a statue of Queen Elizabeth I, taken from the old Ludgate
Ludgate
Ludgate was the westernmost gate in London Wall. The name survives in Ludgate Hill, an eastward continuation of Fleet Street, and Ludgate Circus.-Etymology:...

 which was demolished at that time. This statue dating from 1586, and hence contemporary with its subject, is thought to be the oldest outdoor statue in London. In the porch below are three statues of ancient Britons also from the gate, probably meant to represent King Lud and his two sons.

Adjacent to Queen Elizabeth is a bust of Lord Northcliffe, the newspaper proprietor; co-founder of the Daily Mail
Daily Mail
The Daily Mail is a British daily middle-market tabloid newspaper owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust. First published in 1896 by Lord Northcliffe, it is the United Kingdom's second biggest-selling daily newspaper after The Sun. Its sister paper The Mail on Sunday was launched in 1982...

,
and the Daily Mirror. Next to Lord Northcliffe is a memorial tablet to James Louis Garvin
James Louis Garvin
For the basketball player, see James Garvin James Louis Garvin , was an influential British journalist, editor, and author...

, another pioneering British journalist.

Romanian Orthodox chapel


St Dunstan-in-the-West is the only church in England to share its building with the Romanian Orthodox community. The chapel to the left of the main altar is closed off by an iconostasis
Iconostasis
In Eastern Christianity an iconostasis is a wall of icons and religious paintings, separating the nave from the sanctuary in a church. Iconostasis also refers to a portable icon stand that can be placed anywhere within a church...

 formerly from Antim monastery in Bucharest
Bucharest
Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country, at , and lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River....

, dedicated in 1966.

Noted associations


The church has associations with many famous people:
  • Izaak Walton
    Izaak Walton
    Izaak Walton was an English writer. Best known as the author of The Compleat Angler, he also wrote a number of short biographies which have been collected under the title of Walton's Lives.-Biography:...

     was a sidesman here.
  • The poet John Donne
    John Donne
    John Donne 31 March 1631), English poet, satirist, lawyer, and priest, is now considered the preeminent representative of the metaphysical poets. His works are notable for their strong and sensual style and include sonnets, love poetry, religious poems, Latin translations, epigrams, elegies, songs,...

     held the benefice here from 1624–1631, while he was Dean of St. Paul’s.
  • William Tyndale
    William Tyndale
    William Tyndale was an English scholar and translator who became a leading figure in Protestant reformism towards the end of his life. He was influenced by the work of Desiderius Erasmus, who made the Greek New Testament available in Europe, and by Martin Luther...

    , who pioneered the translation of the Bible
    Bible
    The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

     into English
    English language
    English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

    , was a lecturer.
  • Lord Baltimore
    Cæcilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore
    Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, 1st Proprietor and 1st Proprietary Governor of Maryland, 9th Proprietary Governor of Newfoundland , was an English peer who was the first proprietor of the Province of Maryland. He received the proprietorship after the death of his father, George Calvert, the...

    , who founded Maryland
    Maryland
    Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

    , was buried here in 1632; as was his son.
  • The diarist Samuel Pepys
    Samuel Pepys
    Samuel Pepys FRS, MP, JP, was an English naval administrator and Member of Parliament who is now most famous for the diary he kept for a decade while still a relatively young man...

    , was a regular worshipper.
  • John Calvert, Master of the Worshipful Company of Turners
    Worshipful Company of Turners
    The Worshipful Company of Turners is one of the Livery Companies of the City of London. The Guild of Turners, or operators of the lathe, the predecessor of the Company, existed in 1310. In 1435, it received the power to oversee and regulate turners in the City of London; it retained the power until...

    , the pre-eminent ivory carver of the early nineteenth century.

See also



External links