St Mary Magdalen, Milk Street

St Mary Magdalen, Milk Street

Photo of Wood Street
Country England
Denomination Roman Catholic, later Anglican
Completed 12th century
Demolished 1666

St. Mary Magdalen, Milk Street, was a parish church in the City of London, England. It was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and not rebuilt.


The church stood on the east side of Milk Street, north of its end in Cheapside, in Cripplegate Ward Within (parts of the parish were also in Bread Street Ward).[1] John Stow, in his Survey of 1603, described Milk Street as having many fair houses for wealthy merchants and others. He attributed the origin of street's name to it being a place where milk was sold.[2]


The earliest mention of the church was in 1162 as "St. Mary Magdalene in foro Londoniarum." It is also recorded as "St. Mary Magdalene, Milk Street" in a document dating from between 1203 and 1215.[1] One notable clergyman who served the church was Francis Fletcher, who was briefly Rector of the parish, resigning in July 1576 to join Drake in his three-year circumnavigation of the world.[3]

Stow, writing in 1603, notes that St. Mary Magdalene's was a small church and that it had recently been repaired. He lists a number of important Londoners who had been buried in the church, including Sir William Cantilo, knight and Mercer (died 1462) and several Lord Mayors of London: John Olney (Mayor in 1446, died 1475), Sir John Browne (mayor in 1480; d. 1497), Sir William Browne (Mayor in 1513, died during his term of office), Sir Thomas Exmewe (Mayor in 1517, d. 1528), and Thomas Skinner (Mayor in 1596). He notes that "Henry Cantlow, Mercer, merchant of the Staple," built a chapel in the church and was buried there in 1495.[2] Hughes confirms that the church records contain the names of many important City dignitaries.[4]

Also buried at the church was the eminent physician Dr Thomas Moundeford (1550–1630). A longtime resident of Milk Street, Moundeford was six times President of the Royal College of Physicians and personal physician to Arbella Stuart.[5] His wife Mary Moundeford (nėe Hill) died aged 94 in 1656 and was also buried in St Mary's. She was godmother to Rachel Speght, who dedicated her poem Mortalities Memorandum to her.

The parish was a Presbyterian stronghold in the years leading up to the Civil War.[6] Its incumbent, Thomas Case, was the first London clergyman to host Morning Exercises – special services to cater for prayers for friends and relations in the Parliamentarian army of the Earl of Essex. However, along with most of the Presbyterians, Case objected to the execution of King Charles and was deprived of his position in 1650.[7][8]


The church was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and not rebuilt, Instead the parish was united to that of St Lawrence Jewry, and the site, together with that of the adjoining church of All Hallows Honey Lane and several houses, was acquired by the City, cleared, and laid out as a market-place, called Honey Lane Market. The market closed in 1835 and the Corporation of London built the first City of London School there.[9]


  1. 1 2 Harben, H. (1918). "Mary (St.) de Crichirche (Fraternity of) - Mary (St.) Matfellon". A Dictionary of London. London: Herbert Jenkins..
  2. 1 2 "Cripplegate warde". A Survey of London, by John Stow. 1908 [Reprinted from the text of 1603]. pp. 290–303.
  3. George Hennessy, Novam repertorium ecclesiasticum Londonense (London, 1898), p. 268
  4. Hughes, A. W (ed.). The register of St. Lawrence Jewry and St. Mary Magdalen, Milk Street, London: 1677-1812. London: Harleian Society, 1941.
  5. Archer, Jayne Elizabeth (2010). "Women and Chymistry in Early Modern England". In Long, Kathleen P. Gender and Scientific Discourse in Early Modern Culture. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing Company. p. 201.
  6. Huelin, Gordon (1996). Vanished Churches of the City of London. London: Guildhall Library Publishing. ISBN 0-900422-42-4.
  7. Borer, M.I.C. (1978). The City of London: A History. New York: D.McKay. ISBN 0-09-461880-1.
  8. Mullet, Michael (2004). "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  9. Keene, D.; Harding, V. (1987). "All Hallows Honey Lane 11/0". Historical gazetteer of London before the Great Fire 1, Cheapside: Parishes of All Hallows Honey Lane, St.Martin Pomary, St. Mary le Bow, St. Mary Colechurch, and St. Pancras Soper Lane. Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey,. ISBN 0-85964-190-2.

51°30′49″N 0°5′35″W / 51.51361°N 0.09306°W / 51.51361; -0.09306Coordinates: 51°30′49″N 0°5′35″W / 51.51361°N 0.09306°W / 51.51361; -0.09306

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