St. Mary Axe

The church of St. Mary Axe was a church on the west side of St. Mary Axe Street in Lime Street Ward. Stow asserts the church’s full name and dedication was S. Marie the virgine, Saint Vrsula, and the 11000. Virgins and believed that its common name, St. Mary Axe, derived from a sign near the church’s east side (Stow). However, a document written during the reign of Henry VIII suggests a different history of its name. The church, dedicated to 11,000 martyred virgins, supposedly contained the three axes that were used in their executions (Harben).
The church dates from the twelfth century and belonged to the Priory of St. Helens. St. Mary Axe was given to Spanish Protestant refugees in 1562. Three years later, with the church in disrepair and no services taking place, it was suppressed and given to the parish of St. Andrew Undershaft (Harben). Stow notes that after its suppression, the church was letten out to bee a warehouse for a Marchant (Stow).
St. Mary Axe is drawn on the Agas map near the northwest corner of St. Mary Axe Street south and east of two garden plots. Interestingly, the bell tower is drawn east of the nave. This placement is a mistake; a bell tower would never be further east than the church’s chancel. The chancel is the most sacred part of a church, where the bread and wine for communion is sanctified. No part of the church should be further east, closer to Jerusalem, than this holy place. Having a bell tower east of the chancel would also be impractical. If the church had an east window, the bell tower would block out the light, making the stained glass window dull and indistinct. The bell tower is also shown at the location of the church’s entrance. To enter through the chancel, where only the clergy are permitted, would be contrary to church practice and doctrine.


Cite this page

MLA citation

Adams, Neil. St. Mary Axe The Map of Early Modern London, Edition 6.6, edited by Janelle Jenstad, U of Victoria, 30 Jun. 2021,

Chicago citation

Adams, Neil. St. Mary Axe The Map of Early Modern London, Edition 6.6. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed June 30, 2021.

APA citation

Adams, N. 2021. St. Mary Axe In J. Jenstad (Ed), The Map of Early Modern London (Edition 6.6). Victoria: University of Victoria. Retrieved from

RIS file (for RefMan, RefWorks, EndNote etc.)

Provider: University of Victoria
Database: The Map of Early Modern London
Content: text/plain; charset="utf-8"

A1  - Adams, Neil
ED  - Jenstad, Janelle
T1  - St. Mary Axe
T2  - The Map of Early Modern London
ET  - 6.6
PY  - 2021
DA  - 2021/06/30
CY  - Victoria
PB  - University of Victoria
LA  - English
UR  -
UR  -
ER  - 

TEI citation

<bibl type="mla"><author><name ref="#ADAM4"><surname>Adams</surname>, <forename>Neil</forename></name></author>. <title level="a">St. Mary Axe</title> <title level="m">The Map of Early Modern London</title>, Edition <edition>6.6</edition>, edited by <editor><name ref="#JENS1"><forename>Janelle</forename> <surname>Jenstad</surname></name></editor>, <publisher>U of Victoria</publisher>, <date when="2021-06-30">30 Jun. 2021</date>, <ref target=""></ref>.</bibl>



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