St. Mary Axe
St. Mary Axe was a medieval parish in the City of London whose name survives as that of the street which it formerly occupied. The church itself was demolished in 1561 and its parish united with that of St. Andrew Undershaft, which is situated on the corner of St. Mary Axe and Leadenhall Street. The name derives from the combination of the church dedicated to the Virgin Mary and a neighbouring tavern, which prominently displayed a sign with an image of an axe.
The street St. Mary Axe is perhaps most famous for fronting the Baltic Exchange at No. 38, and being the location of 30 St. Mary Axe, a skyscraper built on the former site of the Baltic Exchange (destroyed by an IRA bomb in 1992) and colloquially known as the Gherkin due to its unusual shape. The street originates as a turn off Houndsditch at its northern end, with traffic flowing one-way southbound, and it originates at its southern end as a turn off Leadenhall Street, with traffic flowing one-way northbound. Both one-way portions of St. Mary Axe converge at Bevis Marks, where traffic is bound westward towards Bishopsgate and Wormwood Street.
'Number 70 St. Mary Axe' appears in several novels by the British author Tom Holt as the address of a firm of sorcerers headed by J. W. Wells (The Portable Door (2003), In your dreams (2004), Earth, Air, Fire and Custard (2005), You Don't Have To Be Evil To Work Here, But It Helps (2006)). This is itself a reference to Gilbert and Sullivan's The Sorcerer. In the song My Name Is John Wellington Wells, the lyric renders his address as "Number Seventy Simmery Axe"; this reflects the fact that some Londoners pronounce the street's name as "S'M'ry Axe" rather than enunciating it fully.
- Ann Saunders, The Art and Architecture of London: An Illustrated Guide (Oxford: Phaidon, 1984), 80.
- Google Maps