St. Andrew Undershaft
St. Andrew Undershaft stands at the southeast corner of St. Mary Axe Street in Aldgate Ward. Built sometime before the twelfth century, it was refurbished in 1520. Stow asserts that the Tudor rebuild saw the church "roofed with timber and seeled, also the whole South side of the Church was glased" (Stow). The church must have been a marvellous site upon its completion; even Stow called it " faire and beautifull"(Stow). The church still stands on the same site today, surviving both the Great Fire and the Blitz, in World War II.
The church of St. Andrew Undershaft is the final resting place of John Stow. A memorial near his grave, paid for by his wife, still exists today (Beer). The memorial shows him sitting at a desk, quill in hand (Dixon).
Stow notes that the church is named Undershaft "because that of old time, euerie yeare on May day in the morning it was vsed, that an high or long shaft, or May-pole, was set vp there, in the midst of the streete before the south doore of the sayd Church, which shaft when it was set on ende, and fixed in the ground, was higher then the Church steeple (Stow)." Henry Harben, however, disagrees. He suggests that the church was named after a permanent object near the church: the "hillock or artificial knob in the middle of the street opposite the church containing a socket in which the shaft was set up" (Harben).
St. Andrew Undershaft is easily identifiable on the Agas map. It is a church with a large bell tower and is identified by the label "S. Andrewe Vnder Shafte."
Beer, Barrett L.
Stow [Stowe], John (1524/5–1605).Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H.C.G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2004. Web.
- Dixon, Henry. John Stow Memorial. London, 1880. Photograph. British Library. Web. Open.
- Harben, Henry. A Dictionary of London. London: Henry Jenkins, 1918. Print. Rpt. British History Online. Web. [Harben’s Dictionary is organized alphabetically. One can also do keyword searches for words that occur within entries.
- Stow, John. A Survey of London. Reprinted from the Text of 1603. Ed. Charles Lethbridge Kingsford. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1908. Print. Rpt. British History Online. Web. Subscr. [Kingsford edition, courtesy of The Centre for Metropolitan History. Articles written 2011 or later cite from this searchable transcription. In the in-text parenthetical reference (Stow; BHO), click on BHO to go directly to the page containing the quotation or source.]
This project is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
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