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BARBICAN LIFE


View to the west showing a musical rehearsal in


progress, with the Grand organ in the background. Photo by Ravi Juneja


The Grand Organ – originally built in 1733 for St. Luke’s


Photo by Ravi Juneja


Church and Hospital, and was himself one of the first hospitallers. The chancel arch dates only from the postwar building. The small heads at the lower ends of the outer courses are of Bishop Andrewes and Sir Martin Frobisher. A small portion of an earlier arch is visible in the south aisle. The chancel is now open-planned to facilitate the use of it for concerts and recordings. Slightly to the left of the centre aisle, on the floor near the pulpit, is a stone recording the burial place of John Milton. Perhaps St Giles’ most famous parishioner, Milton died in


1674 in a house nearby in Artillery Row. Milton was born in Bread Street in 1608 and educated at St. Paul’s School and Christ College, Cambridge. In 1649, after Charles I’s execution, he was appointed Secretary for Foreign Tongues to Cromwell’s newly formed Council of State. He began to go blind in about 1650. A plaque records the death of Sir Martin Frobisher, who lived in Beech Street nearby, was an explorer of the North-West Passage to the Spice Islands, and one of the captains against the Spanish Armada. He was wounded fighting the Spanish off the French coast and taken to Plymouth, where he died. His heart and entrails were removed and buried in St. Andrew’s Church at Plymouth. The rest of the body was brought back to Cripplegate and buried in the south aisle.


As noted above, Lancelot Andrewes, a translator of the Authorised Version of the Bible, was vicar here from 1588 - 1605; John Foxe author of “The Book of Martyrs", is buried in the church. Also buried in the church, alongside his wife is John Speed, a historian and a map-maker during the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I who lived in Milton Street.


Also associated with the Church are Sir Humphrey Gilbert, founder of Newfoundland; Thomas Morley, a great musician and organist of St Giles’, Ben Johnson, Poet Laureate; Prince Rupert of the Rhine, cavalier and scientific inventor; the Revd. Dr Samuel Annesley, vicar 1658-1662 and grandfather of John Wesley; W Holman Hunt, painter; and Sir Ebenezer Howard, pioneer of the Garden Cities and New Towns Movement. Oliver Cromwell was married in the church in 1620 aged 21 to Elizabeth Bouchier, the daughter of a Cripplegate merchant. Daniel Defoe, the author of “Robinson Crusoe” is reputed to have been born in Fore Street on September 30th, 1660, the son of a butcher. There is no record, however, of his baptism in St. Giles’ Registers. His real name was Foe. He was a jack of all trades, a diplomatist, a hosier, a spy, a brick maker and a member of the Butchers’ Company. He wrote many pamphlets. For “The


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Shortest Waye with Dissenters” he was arrested and sentenced to a fine, the pillory and imprisonment in Newgate. Dying in Ropemaker’s Street, he was buried in Bunhill Fields. His death is recorded in St. Giles Register as follows: ~ “1731, April 26th - Mr Dubow, Cripplegate”. John Bunyan, a Nonconformist, was imprisoned for many years, during which time he wrote two of his famous books "Grace Abounding" and “Pilgrim*s Progress”. He occasionally attended this church, and used to preach once or twice a year in Monkwell Street Chapel in this parish after his release from Bedford Gaol. He died in 1688 and, like Daniel Defoe, he is buried in Bunhill Fields Within the Lordship of St Luke's part of the parish lived others associated with the church, including George Fox, founder of the Society of Friends; John Wesley founder of Methodism; William Blake painter and poet; William Turner landscape painter; and David Livingstone missionary and explorer.


The Organs


The Grand Organ comes from St. Lukes’. Noel Mander remodelled it. Although the organ loft and much of the piping and panelling are new, the core of it is the original 1733 organ of Jordan and Bridge, and it is said that Handel when he lived in London played on it. However Handel is reputed to have played on every organ in London. A new Chancel organ was installed 2008, has two manuals, a straight/concave pedalboard, mechanical action, 15 speaking stops, a balanced Swell pedal and a full range of modern accessories including generals and a stepper. This organ is ideal for accompanying musicians on the large chancel, to which it is adjacent.


A practice organ has also been installed in the Vestry, all changes being the result of a successful appeal by the Church Organ Fund. From the outside of the church the most distinguishing feature is the tower with its brick addition and cupola. The tower is described in a C18 guidebook as, “an antient and most respectable pile of Gothic


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