History of All Hallows Staining

One of the best things about the City of London is the jarring clash between old and new.

All Hallows Staining | Look Up London

Personally I love finding a Medieval relic amidst glass towers of offices. However, I do appreciate these juxtapositions often cause alarm.

One such clash is the lone tower of All Hallows Staining. I took this photograph back in 2020 when writing this blog about the City’s lone church towers.

All Hallows Staining | Look Up London

Currently there’s a huge development underway around it (it’s set to get a rather striking new neighbour in the form of a 50 Fenchurch Street by Eric Parry, more on that later). So while it’s looking very lonely at the moment I thought it was worth delving into its history.

All Hallows Staining | Look Up London

History of All Hallows, Staining

A church was first recorded in the late 12th century and the name staining refers to being made of stone. 

Image Credit: www.layersoflondon.org ‘Agas’ Map 16th century

All Hallows was a popular church name in the City of London and there was once 8 with that dedication.

If you’re curious (because I certainly was!) They were:

All Hallows by-the-Tower (still standing), All Hallows on-the-wall (still standing), All Hallows the Great (demolished 1894), All Hallows the Less (destroyed in the Great Fire and not rebuilt), All Hallows Honey Lane (destroyed in the Great Fire and not rebuilt, All Hallows Bread Street (demolished 1878), All Hallows Lombard Street (demolished but moved to Twickenham in 1937).

Often with old buildings in London there is no ‘one’ date to which you can attribute the building.

If you’re looking for the really old parts (12th-13th century) there are some pointed arches within the walls as well as the lowest double cinquefoil window on the west wall.

All Hallows Staining | Look Up London

There’s more 14th century stonework and a 15th century stair turret which can be seen along the left hand side in the photo above.

The Medieval church did actually survive the Great Fire, only to tragically collapse a few years afterwards in 1671.

It was rebuilt in 1674 and the image below records its appearance. You can spot the same windows and side turret.

In 1870 the church was earmarked for demolition but thankfully the Clothworkers’ Company stepped in to partially save it.

The Clothworkers had a vested interest because their hall has been based nearby on Mincing Lane since 1528. It’s been rebuilt five times and a new hall will make up part of the plans for 50 Fenchurch Street.

As well as saving the church tower, the Clothworkers’ also gave it a new neighbour.

Lambe’s Chapel

What became known as Lambe’s Chapel was originally built in the 12th century, a tiny chapel called St James in the wall, close to Monkwell Street.

The name Lambe comes from William Lambe who lived next to this chapel and was a wealthy 16th century cloth merchant.

Image Credit: Public Domain (effigy of William Lambe in St James’s Church, Islington)

As well as growing his own wealth he gave to numerous philanthropic causes in the City and beyond. 

It’s this Lambe that gives us Lamb’s Conduit Street (and the Lamb pub!) in Holborn thanks to him providing a system of piped fresh water which fed the Charterhouse and created a public pump.

In 1543 William Lambe purchased the chapel. Given that he was Master of the Clothworkers’ Company 1569-1570, its this connection that prompted their intervention in the 19th century.

The Chapel was demolished and rebuilt in 1825 then moved to an underground location here in 1872-3. You can see an illustration of the chapel from the 19th century here.

50 Fenchurch Street

Work is currently underway on the site for 50 Fenchurch Street, a 36-storey office block designed by Eric Parry.

In the computer-generated image below 50 Fenchurch Street has the green ‘hanging garden’ and I’ve highlighted the tiny tower of All Hallows Staining with a yellow arrow.

Lambe’s Chapel and the tower of All Hallows Staining will be saved and while people may baulk at the plans, the architects state their ‘aspiration of providing public access to the interior’ which would be fantastic as currently both Lambe’s Chapel and the tower are not open to the public.

So here’s hoping that the developers can be held to account on this and provide a space for a new appreciation of these historic survivors.

Related Blog Post

One of the 48 City Churches you can visit and admire is St Margaret Lothbury, a stunning survivor! Read about it here.

City Churches | St Margaret Lothbury | Look Up London

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