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stations. There were also very few theatres, bookshops, hospitals, bridges or statues.”12 In 1989, 1994, 1995, 1998, and 2000 I visited St. Dunstan and All Saints Church, Stepney,


located several miles outside central London in the East End, about 2 1/2 miles east of St. Paul’s Cathedral. A picture I took of the church in 1995 follows. The church is named after St. Dunstan, one the most important churchmen in England before the Norman Conquest, who became virtually “Prime Minister” of the country. He was Bishop of Worcester and later of London and in 961 became Archbishop of Canterbury. A legend about St. Dunstan is that the Devil asked him to shoe his horse, but the saint nailed a shoe to the Devil’s hoof instead and would only let him go when he promised never to enter a place where a horseshoe was over the door. This became the origin of the lucky horseshoe. In 1998, I was able to visit the church for their 10:00 a.m. sung holy communion service. The Church is quite nice, though small, and sits in a green in the midst of neighboring homes and maintains the look of a country church even in the midst of the city. The green was what used to be the church cemetery, which no longer has many ancient tombstones and has been subsequently opened further as a public park. The churchyard was closed for burials in 1854 and most of the headstones were removed between 1885 and 1887 when the high ground around the church was dug away and the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association made the churchyard into a public garden.13


The churchyard was nearly seven acres, many of the graves


belonging to sailors. In the 1600s the churchyard had to be enlarged to make room for the victims of the Plague, of which no less than 6,583 died in the parish in eighteen months, 154 being buried in one day in September 1665. Until the early 1300s when new churches were built at Whitechapel and Bow, St. Dunstan’s served the whole of Middlesex east of the City. The present building, of Kentish rag stone, is the third on the site and is mainly 15th century, though the chancel is 200 years earlier and all is in the 13th century Perpendicular style. The church has ten bells, made locally at the world famous Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the oldest ones having been recast in 1385. They are commemorated in the rhyme:


Oranges and Lemons, say the bells of St. Clemens (St. Clement Danes) I owe you five farthings, say the bells of St. Martins (St. Martins-in-the Fields) When will you pay me, say the bells of Old Bailey (St. Sepulchres without Newgate) When I grow rich, say the bells of Shoreditch (St. Leonard Shoreditch) When will that be, say the bells of Stepney (St. Dunstan Stepney) I do not know, says the great bell of Bow (St Mary-Le-Bow Cheapside)


Bell ringer, Alan Ellis, of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, had rung all of the above bells except that for St. Dunstan’s. He says, “St. Lawrence Jewry has a ring of eight bells, St. Clement Danes and St. Dunstan have rings of 10 bells and the rest have rings of 12 bells.”14


The Rev. John Wesley preached at St. Dunstan’s in 1785. During World War II in January


1945 the top of the tower was badly damaged and all the window glass was blown out when a V2 rocket hit the northwest corner of the churchyard. A picture of the altar area of the church with myself follows that was taken in March of 1998:


12Andrew Davies, “The Map of London, From 1746 to the Present Day,” (London, 1987), B.T. Batsford Ltd., p. 7. 13Tim Ridge, “Central Stepney History Walk,” (London, 1998), Central Stepney Regeneration Board. 14 Alan Ellis, Campanologist, alan_ellis@telus.net.


© 1993 Spurgeon Family History by Dr. Gary Alan Dickey, 1546 Devonshire Avenue, Westlake Village, CA 91361 • p. 9


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