City Churches | St Margaret Pattens | Look Up London

City Churches | St Margaret Pattens

If you find yourself in the City of London with a bit of spare time, it’s always worthwhile to soak up some history by popping into one of the 50-odd City churches.

This week, with some time between private tours, I did just that and think this might be a fun series so let me know if you’d enjoy that!

St Margaret Pattens

St Margaret Pattens | Look Up London

The first church dedicated to St Margaret of Antioch on Eastcheap was back in 1067.

Presumably a small wooden building, it was later replaced in the 16th century with a stone building and ‘St Margaret Pattens’ is written on the Agas map, with a church building appearing to the right.

The Agas Map (c16th – layersoflondon.org)

There is some debate over the meaning of ‘pattens’. The first spelling is ‘Patynz’ and the church’s own history account suggests it could be related to a 13th century family name or even a reference to starry decoration. More likely, it seems is John Stow’s account which attributes a link with the Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers.

What’s a Patten?

Picture the scene. It’s London in the 14th century and you’re about to leave your home for a short walk to the local church. Proudly slipping on your exquisite new brocaded shoes, you open your front door to see the thick sludgey mess of horse manure – and worse – lining the city’s streets.

So pattens were under-shoes, often with a chunky platform, helping the City elite avoid getting the worst of London’s grime on their clothes and shoes.

City Churches | St Margaret Pattens | Look Up London

The Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers were first recorded in 1379 as a trade guild producing pattens. The trade appears to have been based in nearby Rood Lane, so it makes sense that there was a close association with the local church.

Rebuilt by Wren

The current St Margaret Pattens was rebuilt by Christopher Wren between 1684-9, following the Great Fire of London in 1666.

City Churches | St Margaret Pattens | Look Up London

From the outside the church seems dwarfed by modern buildings. However, its surviving spire is an impressive 200ft, only St Bride’s on Fleet Street and St Mary-Le-Bow (as well as St Paul’s Cathedral) are taller Wren churches.

Interior Details  

St Margaret Pattens escaped The Blitz unscathed and so boasts a number of interesting internal features.

City Churches | St Margaret Pattens | Look Up London

As you enter you can find a display case of pattens (shown above) as well as another celebrating the link with the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers, also a local Eastcheap trade during the Medieval period.

City Churches | St Margaret Pattens | Look Up London

Inside the nave there are panels listing the Masters of the Pattenmakers Company from the Great Fire to the present day, cementing the links with the church.

City Churches | St Margaret Pattens | Look Up London

Today St Margaret Pattens is a Guild Church. Nothing to do with the Trade Guilds, but meaning it doesn’t have a traditional Sunday parish and rather hosts services midweek, reflecting its position in the midst of London’s financial centre.

In the main body of the church, looking back towards the West end can be admired an 18th century organ case and impressive Royal coat of arms.

City Churches | St Margaret Pattens | Look Up London

On the theme of pomp, one of the grandest memorials in the church, high on the South wall is dedicated to the former Lord Mayor and Governor of the Bank of England; Sir Peter Delmé who died in 1728.

City Churches | St Margaret Pattens | Look Up London

As well as his memorial he dedicated a sword rest to the church, a place where the Lord Mayor’s sword can be safely left while worshipping in the church.

City Churches | St Margaret Pattens | Look Up London

Prior to 1883 it was common practice that the Lord Mayor would visit a different church each Sunday so you can find a few sword rests in City Churches.

In contrast there are far plainer mentions of some of the choristers, two of whom died tragically young.

And finally, I felt that this sign held far more meaning than just an instruction for Margaret Pattens, rather it could be a fitting message for anyone entering a City Church…

City Churches | St Margaret Pattens | Look Up London

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13 Comments

  • Garry Wiles

    Reply

    I love visitng City Churches, so this post was very welcome and much enjoyed. This is a new church to me. I love the idea of doping some guided tours of City Churches, and would be a willing participant.

    June 15, 2022 at 7:37 am
  • Tony

    Reply

    Great Post, thanks Katie! As an aside at one time quite recently the administration of the city churches were looked after by Chad Varah, the originator of the Samaritans organisation,!

    June 15, 2022 at 7:58 am
  • Terry Pipe

    Reply

    I thought that the steeple of St Margaret Pattens was the third highest of Wren’s churches in the City; the tallest being St Bride’s (as you rightly say) at 226 feet, the next being St Mary-le-Bow at 224 feet and then St Margaret Pattens at 200 feet. That is what I have been telling my visitors anyway. Terry.

    June 15, 2022 at 8:40 am
  • Dave Strong

    Reply

    Thanks Katie. I spent many a lunchtime visiting the City Churches, a lot of which are kept open at certain times with the help of the Church Watchers from the Friends of City Churches. The timetable can be found here: http://www.london-city-churches.org.uk/

    June 15, 2022 at 10:29 am
  • Emmie Pollard

    Reply

    Another great post for those of us who enjoy looking up
    Thanks. There are some attractive buildings above the shops in Eastcheap. A favourite is the Camel freeze over the road from St.Margarets.

    June 15, 2022 at 11:15 am
  • Wendy Johnson

    Reply

    Pattens sound like a great idea. The forerunner of galoshes, perhaps?

    June 15, 2022 at 4:19 pm
  • Ceil

    Reply

    So many churches… So little time…. Yes, keep `em coming!

    June 15, 2022 at 9:13 pm
  • Poppi Cochran

    Reply

    Amazing post as always. Can I give a shout out to the Lost London Churches Project lostlcp.com has great walks and info.

    June 16, 2022 at 1:34 am
  • Jonathan H Davies

    Reply

    Much enjoyed. I now live in the US. So many sights that ! missed when working in London. On my rare visits back I plan to visit some of the wonders that you are showing me.

    June 27, 2022 at 10:20 am

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