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