St. Michael (Cornhill)

This document is currently in draft. When it has been reviewed and proofed, it will be published on the site.

View the draft document.

Please note that it is not of publishable quality yet.

St. Michael (Cornhill)

roseAgas Map
roseList documents mentioning St. Michael (Cornhill)
The parish church of St. Michael, Cornhill is located on the southern side of Cornhill between Birchin Lane and Gracechurch Street.
St. Michael’s was the parish church of John Stow and his family and is the final resting place for Stow’s great-grandparents. Weinreb notes that, the church has a long musical tradition, and is famous for its excellent acoustics (799-800).
The first mention of St. Michael’s church is in 1055, when rectory records show that Althoneus the priest transferred patronage to the Abbot and Convent of Evesham (Harben). In 1503, the widow Elizabeth Peake gifted the patronage of the church to >the Drapers Company of London (Stow, Weinreb).
The medieval tower was rebuilt in 1421 and possessed five bells, until a sixth bell was added around 1630, by John and Isabell Whitewell, and William Rus. Stow says that this bell had the best ring of the six, and that it took six men to ring them for harmonye, sweetnes of sound & tune (196). Cornhill Ward’s armoury was kept in its steeple (Harben 409).
Stow recounts a story he heard from his father about the bell ringers encountering an ugly shapen sight on the tower of the church on a stormy St. James’1 night, which knocked them down in fear while the bells rang of their own accord. When the men came around they noticed claw marks on the stone, raysed and scrat, as if they had been so much butter, which they attributed to the devil (Stow).
The Great Fire of London in 1666 destroyed everything but the tower of St. Michael’s, which was preserved when rebuilt by Christopher Wren between 1670-72. Wren began work on a newly designed tower in 1715, but due to a lack of funds construction was suspended until 1718, when architect Nicholas Hawksmoor took over the project (Weinreb). The new tower was completed in 1722 by Hawksmoor’s own design, in imitation of the Magdalen Tower at Oxford, which extended it from 35 ft to 130 ft in height, and added six more bells. It is now a celebrated piece of neo-gothic architecture, though commonly attributed to Wren (Sugden, Weinreb).
Today, St. Michael’s remains under the patronage of the Draper’s Company, and carries on its musical tradition with many prestigious composers and organists performing within. The church website can be found here.


  1. The Feast Day of Saint James is observed on July 25th and celebrates the life of Saint James, one of Jesus’ first disciples, and patron saint of pilgrims and Spain. See Wikipedia. (KLM)


Cite this page

MLA citation

McKenna, Katie. St. Michael (Cornhill) The Map of Early Modern London, edited by Janelle Jenstad, U of Victoria, 26 Jun. 2020,

Chicago citation

McKenna, Katie. St. Michael (Cornhill) The Map of Early Modern London. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed June 26, 2020.

APA citation

McKenna, K. 2020. St. Michael (Cornhill) In J. Jenstad (Ed), The Map of Early Modern London. Victoria: University of Victoria. Retrieved from

RIS file (for RefMan, EndNote etc.)

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

A1  - McKenna, Katie
ED  - Jenstad, Janelle
T1  - St. Michael (Cornhill)
T2  - The Map of Early Modern London
PY  - 2020
DA  - 2020/06/26
CY  - Victoria
PB  - University of Victoria
LA  - English
UR  -
UR  -
ER  - 


RT Web Page
SR Electronic(1)
A1 McKenna, Katie
A6 Jenstad, Janelle
T1 St. Michael (Cornhill)
T2 The Map of Early Modern London
WP 2020
FD 2020/06/26
RD 2020/06/26
PP Victoria
PB University of Victoria
LA English
OL English

TEI citation

<bibl type="mla"><author><name ref="#MCKE4"><surname>McKenna</surname>, <forename>Katie</forename></name></author>. <title level="a">St. Michael (Cornhill)</title> <title level="m">The Map of Early Modern London</title>, edited by <editor><name ref="#JENS1"><forename>Janelle</forename> <surname>Jenstad</surname></name></editor>, <publisher>U of Victoria</publisher>, <date when="2020-06-26">26 Jun. 2020</date>, <ref target=""></ref>.</bibl>

Documents relating to St. Michael, Cornhill




Variant spellings