St Botolph's Aldersgate
|Denomination||Church of England|
St Botolph's-without-Aldersgate is a Church of England church on Aldersgate Street in the City of London, dedicated to St Botolph. Of medieval origin, it survived the Great Fire of London with only minor damage but fell into disrepair and was rebuilt in 1788–91. The church is renowned for its beautiful interior and historic organ.
The church was one of four in medieval London dedicated to St Botolph, a 7th-century East Anglian saint, each of which stood by one of the gates to the city. The others were St Botolph's, Billingsgate (destroyed by the Great Fire and not rebuilt); St Botolph's, Aldgate; and St Botolph's, Bishopsgate.
The church was founded before 1291. The earliest recorded rector is John de Steventon in 1333. The living was originally in the possession of St Martin's-le-Grand, but on the dissolution of the priory Henry VIII granted it to the bishop of the newly founded Diocese of Westminster. The patronage eventually passed to the dean and chapter of Westminster Abbey.
During the Middle Ages there was a hospital for the poor outside Aldersgate. A Cluniac foundation, it was suppressed by Henry V as an alien house, and its lands and goods were granted to the parish of St Botolph. 
The medieval church was a Gothic building, divided by arcades into nave and aisles. There were three gables at the east end. In 1627, the steeple was rebuilt in Portland stone, with battlements and a turret, and the rest of the church repaired. Many of the pews were replaced, and a new clock and dial were installed. The improvements cost, in total, £415. The medieval church was 78 feet (24 m) long and 51 feet (16 m) wide. The 17th century steeple was about 65 feet (20 m) ft high, and contained six bells. In an account published in 1773 the church is described as having galleries on the north and west sides, oak pews, and a carved oak pulpit.
Eighteenth century rebuilding
The church escaped the Great Fire of London with only minor damage, but, having become unsafe, was demolished and rebuilt in its present form in 1788-91 under the supervision of Nathaniel Wright, surveyor to the north district of the City of London. The new church was built of brick, with a low square bell tower at the west end constructed on the remains of its stone predecessor.
The plain exterior is in contrast to what John Betjeman called an "exalting" succession of features inside. The interior has wooden galleries supported on square panelled columns, a semi-circular apse with a half dome, a highly decorated plasterwork ceiling, and, at the east end the only 18th century stained glass window in the City of London, a depiction of The Agony in the Garden painted by James Pearson. The stained glass in the aisles is partly Victorian, and partly from the 1940s. Some monuments were preserved from the old church, including the tomb of Anne Packington, who died in 1563. The organ, in a gallery at the west end, is by Samuel Green and dates from 1788.
The east façade, towards Aldersgate Street, is a screen wall, erected in 1831, executed in Roman cement, with a pediment and four attached Ionic columns standing on a high plinth, with a Venetian window between them.
The church underwent several restorations during the 19th and 20th centuries, and many of the furnishings are from the late 19th century . From the mid-1980s the church was restored by Caroe & Partners. Work on the east front was completed in 2008.
St Botolph's churchyard was combined with those of St Leonard, Foster Lane, and Christchurch, Newgate Street, into Postman's Park, and this now contains the Watts memorials to civilian Londoners who died heroic deaths.
Currently, St Botolph's-without-Aldersgate is used by London City Presbyterian Church, a congregation of the Free Church of Scotland, that meets there every Sunday. During the week, the building is used for lunchtime services, under the auspices of St Helen's Bishopsgate, Church of England.
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- British History Online 'Religious Houses: Hospitals', A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 1: Physique, Archaeology, Domesday, Ecclesiastical Organization, The Jews, Religious Houses, Education of Working Classes to 1870, Private Education from Sixteenth Century (1969), pp. 204-212. Date accessed: 3 January 2008.
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- Details from listed building database (199275) . Images of England. English Heritage.
- Betjeman, John (1967). The City of London Churches. Andover: Pitkin. ISBN 0-85372-112-2.
- "The London Encyclopaedia" Hibbert,C;Weinreb,D;Keay,J: London, Pan Macmillan, 1983 (rev 1993,2008) ISBN 978-1-4050-4924-5
- "Architectural Background". Guild Church of St. Botolph without Aldersgate. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- Now much reduced since the late nineteenth century when many bodies were disinterred and reburied at Brookwood Cemetery Clarke, J.M (2006). The Brookwood Necropolis Railway. Usk: Oasdale. ISBN 978-0-85361-655-9.
- Pevsner,N. and Bradley, S. (1998). London:the City Churches. New Haven: Yale. ISBN 0-300-09655-0.
- Details from listed building database (199275) . Images of England. English Heritage. accessed 23 January 2009
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