|St Olave's House||City of London|
St Olave's House is the tower of the church of St Olave Jewry, its former churchyard now a secluded railed garden. Among those buried here were Thomas Morsted, surgeon to Henry IV, V and VI and one-time Sheriff of London, and Giles Dewes, clerk of the libraries of Henry VII and Henry VIII. Following the Great Fire of 1666, the medieval church was replaced by a Wren church, itself demolished in 1892 apart from the tower, which was converted for the rectory for St Margaret Lothbury. The garden has been open to the public since the 1890s and St Olave's House is leased as offices to solicitors.
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St Olave's House Entrance Gate, May 2010. Photo: S Williams
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The former churchyard of St Olave Jewry, now a secluded railed garden, is overlooked by St Olave's House, all that remains of St Olave's Church. Old Jewry was the neighbourhood where Jews first lived after their arrival with William the Conqueror and where they stayed until expelled by Edward I; when they were re-admitted to England they chose to live elsewhere, hence this area becoming known as Old Jewry. The church was once called St Olave Upwell, probably due to a well under the east end of the church. The rectory was in the gift of the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's, later the Prior and Convent of Butley in Suffolk, until it was taken by the Crown on the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Following the Great Fire in 1666, the earlier medieval church was replaced by a new church by Sir Christopher Wren in 1671-79. By 1892, like a number of the City churches, St Olave's Church was redundant and was demolished apart from the west tower, west wall and part of the north-west wall, which were converted as the rectory for St Margaret Lothbury (q.v.). A number of the church furnishings were at that time removed to St Margaret's, including the font, reredos, communion tables and rail, and monuments to Ephraim Skinner (d.1678) and Sir Nathaniel Herne (d.1679).
No longer used for burials, the churchyard was cleared of human remains in 1888/9, and laid out as a garden. Excavations at that time provided evidence of the medieval foundations and later excavations in 1985/6 revealed previous foundations dating from C9th -C11th and Roman brick. The medieval church of St Martin Pomery had also been located near the site on Ironmonger's Lane until it too was destroyed in 1666, but not rebuilt, and the parish then joined that of St Olave. Its name may have derived either from an apple garden or 'pomary' here or there may have been a family called Pomeroy connected to the church.
St Olave's churchyard dates back to at least 1348 and among those buried here were Thomas Morsted (d.1450), surgeon to Henry IV, V and VI and one-time Sheriff of London, who built a new aisle on the north side of the church; Giles Dewes (d.1535) who was clerk of the libraries of Henry VII and Henry VIII and taught French to Prince Arthur and Lady Mary; and John Boydell (d.1804) a famous engraver and print seller who was a member of the Stationers' Company and Lord Mayor of London in 1790. Along the south side of the former churchyard runs St Olave's Court, a paved alleyway between Ironmonger Lane and Old Jewry. The garden has railings to the south and stone gate piers with gates, surmounted by the words 'ST OLAVE'S HOUSE'. A cobbled path from the entrance gate leads to the main entrance of St Olave's House with shrubs either side, and seating shaded by a few trees. St Olave's House is now leased by the London Diocesan Fund to Winter Scott Solicitors, maritime and commercial lawyers, who are responsible for maintenance of the garden.
Simon Bradley & Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England, London 1: The City of London', 1997 (1999 ed.); George Godwin & John Britton 'The Churches of London: A history and description of the Ecclesiastical Edifices of the Metropolis, Volume II', London, 1839, p135-43; London Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Care of Churches data