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which date from 1561 and are now in the Guildhall Library; two oil paintings of previous vicars, one of which, of Dr William Nicholls, is under the tower; the church’s silverware and vestments; and the 19th century lectern, which you can see in the chancel, a memorial to Bishop Andrewes. These had been stored away in the muniment room, which was separated from the main body of the church by only a few feet but escaped all the incendiary bombs. St Giles has thus risen from the ashes at least three times in its thousand year history a veritable Phoenix in its own right. The current church was restored in the mid 1960s to the 1545 restoration plans.

The current furniture, including the pews, the altar and the font in the northeast corner of the church all come from St. Luke’s Church, Old Street, the parish of St Luke’s having amalgamated with St. Giles. The old choir stalls have been removed to the south isle of the church and replaced by the present light oak furniture, donated amongst others by the Barbers’, Salters’ and Gardeners’ Companies. St. Luke’s was opened in 1733 and designed by John James, though the obelisk spire, a most unusual feature for an Anglican church, west tower and flanking staircase wings were by Nicholas Hawksmoor. Unfortunately, it had been built on marshy ground. The wood underpinning its foundations began to rot and subsidence occurred. In 1959, The church was closed by the Church of England Diocese of London in 1964 after subsidence made it unsafe and it lay empty. The roof was removed two years later for safety reasons and the shell became a dramatic ruin for 40 years, overgrown with trees, despite being a Grade I listed building. After several controversial proposals to redevelop offices inside the retained walls, it was converted by the St Luke Centre Management Company for the London Symphony Orchestra as a concert hall, rehearsal, recording space and educational resource.

Having lost most if its contents in the Blitz, St. Giles' was lucky to find

replacements from the other half of the current parish – perhaps most notably the Grand Organ the original structure of which dates back to the 18th Century.

The magnificent East window in St Giles is new and was designed by the Nicholson Studios and follows the pattern of the mediaeval window of which traces came to light as the result of war damage. The design incorporates many figures of historical significance to the church, for example the instruments of the crucifixion at the top

The figure in red in the lower frame, to the right of St. George, is Bishop Lancelot Andrewes, the church’s most famous vicar who was born in the parish of All Hallow’s, Barking, in 1551. He was educated at the Coopers’ Company’s School, Merchant Taylors’ School and Pembroke College, Cambridge, of which he eventually became Master. The Vicar of St. Giles’ from 1588 to1604, he became successively Bishop of Chichester, of Ely and of Winchester. An eminent scholar, he contributed a large share to the translation of the 1611 Bible which

1626, he was buried in Southwark Cathedral. Next to Bishop Andrewes is St. Anselm, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury when the first stone church was built on this spot in 1090 in the reign of William Rufus. Of that stone church nothing remains except a few stones in the tower. Alongside is St. Alphage, and he is in the window because the church of St. Alphage, now a ruin which can be seen from the raised walkway parallel to London Wall, and is now part of the parish. The figure at the left of the top row of figures is St. Giles’ himself. There is also a stone statue outside the church over the north door and the top of the west window, where he is depicted with a crutch, as he was lame.

has been celebrated this year and is also currently the subject of an RSC- commissioned new play at the Swan in Stratford called Written on the Heart in which Andrewes is played by Oliver Ford Davies. Andrewes stressed the importance of ritual and liturgy in church services. Dying in

St. Paul is depicted in the window since the Chapter of St. Paul's Cathedral is the ‘patron’, carrying a responsibility for St. Giles and its rectors. St. Bartholomew also is incorporated in the window, and his arms belong to the hospital only a few minutes’ walk away. Bishop Alphune, Bishop of London, who was responsible for the building of the first stone church here in 1090, was a contemporary of Rahere, the founder of St. Bartholomew’s

The East Window – photo by Ravi Juneja

Detail of St Giles from the East Window – Photo by Ravi Juneja


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