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SITE DETAILS

Fen Court City of London

Summary

Fen Court is the site of the former churchyard of St Gabriel Fenchurch, which was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 and not rebuilt, the parish then joining St Margaret Pattens, now within that of St Edmund the King and St Mary Woolnoth. A churchyard is recorded as existing in 1331 and was probably walled from the C16th. Before WWII the railed burial ground had tombs, a number of trees and a central walk. In 1960 it was laid out as a paved open space with raised beds, a few trees, seating and three C18th chest tombs remaining. It was later re-landscaped with new paving, seating and planting; in 2008 a public sculpture was unveiled by Archbishop Desmond Tutu entitled 'Gilt of Cain', which commemorates the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

Basic Details

Previous / Other name:
St Gabriel's Graveyard; St Gabriel Fenchurch Street; St Mary Fenchurch Street

Site location:
Fen Court, off Fenchurch Avenue

Postcode:
EC3M 5BA ( Google Map)

Type of site:
Square

Date(s):
C14th; 1960s

Designer(s):

Listed structures:
None

Borough:
City of London

Site ownership:
private

Site management:
private / City of London Corporation Open Spaces Department (planters)

Open to public?
Yes

Opening times:
unrestricted

Special conditions:

Facilities:
none

Events:

Public transport:
Rail: Fenchurch Street. Tube: Monument (District, Circle) / Bank (Central, DLR, Northern, Waterloo & City)

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/05/2010
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/openspaces

Further Information

Grid ref:
TQ332809

Size in hectares:
0.0522

Green Flag:
No

On EH National Register :
No

EH grade:
None

Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
No

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:
No

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:
No

Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
No

In Conservation Area:
No

Tree Preservation Order:
No

Nature Conservation Area:
No

Green Belt:
No

Metropolitan Open Land:
No

Special Policy Area:
No

Other LA designation:
None

Fen Court

Fen Court, May 2010. Photo: S Williams

Click photo to enlarge.

Fuller information

This is the site of the former churchyard of St Gabriel Fenchurch, which was destroyed by the Great Fire of London of 1666 and not rebuilt. Also known as St Mary Fenchurch Street, the church is first mentioned in 1108 and was located in the roadway of Fenchurch Street, probably so-called as at that time the area was a bog so the street name was taken from the church here. A plaque on Fenchurch Street by Parchment House records the site of the church, which may have belonged to the Cnigtengild and been given to Holy Trinity Priory at Aldgate in 1108. In 1670 the parish was united with that of St Margaret Pattens (q.v.) but when St Margaret ceased to be a parish church to become a Guild church in 1954 St Gabriel's parish was included in that of St Edmund the King and St Mary Woolnoth, Lombard Street (q.q.v.). A churchyard is recorded as existing in 1331 and was probably walled from the C16th. Prior to World War II the burial ground was not publicly open, and had railings, gates, a central walk, several trees and tombs.

In 1960, the former churchyard was laid out as a paved open space and a wall plaque records that this work was undertaken by some of the owners and occupiers of the adjoining buildings. The landscaping consisted of some planting of shrubs within raised beds, one rectangular and one circular, a few trees and tubs, seating and three C18th chest tombs, one of 1762 for Anne Cotesworth with the inscription stating that she was 'born in the parish and her nearest relatives being buried in the next vault'.

Fen Court was later re-landscaped with new paving, seating and planting, and on 4 September 2008 a public sculpture was unveiled by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Entitled 'Gilt of Cain' the work commemorates the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade in 1807 and is by sculptor Michael Visocchi who collaborated with Lemn Sissay, whose eponymous poem is engraved into the granite columns and stepped podium that comprise the sculpture. The form of the work is evocative of a pulpit or slave auctioneer's podium, the columns suggesting stems of sugar cane, a crowd or congregation. St Mary Woolnoth had a historical connection with the abolitionist movement and the rector from 1780-1807 was Revd John Newton, slave-trader turned preacher, who worked alongside William Wilberforce. The project arose at the instigation of the parish of St Mary Woolnoth and Black British Heritage and was commissioned by the City of London in partnership with The British Land Company.

Sources consulted:

George Godwin & John Britton 'The Churches of London: A history and description of the Ecclesiastical Edifices of the Metropolis, Volume II', London, 1839; Simon Bradley & Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England, London 1: The City of London', 1997 (1999 ed.); press cutting (undated, probably 1930s); London Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Care of Churches data

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