Church of Holy Trinity, Minories

Coordinates: 51°30′46″N 0°04′29″W / 51.512647°N 0.074632°W / 51.512647; -0.074632
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Holy Trinity, Minories
A drawing published in 1907 of the west front of the Church of Holy Trinity, Minories.
LocationCity of London
CountryUnited Kingdom
DenominationChurch of England
FoundedAs an Abbey chapel, 1293
As a parish church, 1593
Years builtc. 1300, rebuilt 1706

Holy Trinity, Minories, was a Church of England parish church outside the eastern boundaries of the City of London, but within the Liberties of the Tower of London and therefore in the East End of London. The liberty was incorporated in the Metropolitan Borough of Stepney in 1899, and today is within the City of London. Converted from the chapel of a nunnery, Holy Trinity was in use as a church from the 16th century until the end of the 19th century. It survived as a parish hall until it was destroyed by bombing during World War II.


The parish covered an area previously occupied by the precincts of the Abbey of the Minoresses of St. Clare without Aldgate, founded by Edmund Crouchback, in 1293, for a group of Spanish nuns of the Order of St. Clare who arrived with his second wife, Blanche of Artois. [1] The nuns were also known as the Minoresses – which came to be adapted as the name for the district, Minories. The nunnery was surrendered to the Crown in 1539, during the Dissolution of the Monasteries,[1] and the buildings, excluding the chapel, were used as an armory for the Tower of London, and later, as a workhouse. Some of the abbey buildings survived until their destruction by fire in 1797.[2]

The nuns' chapel became a parish church. Considerable changes were made to the building: all the ancient monuments were removed, a gallery, a new pulpit and pews were installed, and a steeple was built.[3] The first recorded reference to a dedication to the Holy Trinity dates from 1563.[4] Later in the 16th century, the church was a Puritan stronghold, where both John Field and Thomas Wilcox preached.[5] Until 1730, the church claimed the rights of a royal peculiar – including freedom from the authority of the Bishop of London; and the right to perform marriages "without licence".[6]

Monuments in the church included those for William Legge (1608-1670), a commander for King Charles I during the English Civil War, his wife, Elizabeth Washington (distantly related to George Washington) and their son, George Legge, 1st Baron Dartmouth. In 1849, a mummified head was found in the under-floor vaults, which was reputed to be that of Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, who had been executed for treason by Queen Mary I in 1554. The head was displayed in a glass case in the vestry,[7] but later went to St Botolph's Aldgate where it was interred in a vault and eventually buried in the churchyard in 1990.[8]

The 18th century altar and reredos at the east end of Holy Trinity, from a photograph published in 1898 shortly before the church closed.

The church escaped the Great Fire of London[9] but fell into disrepair and was rebuilt in brick in 1706, retaining the north wall of the medieval building.[10] The new church was a plain structure, a single space undivided by pillars or columns,[11] 63 feet (19 m) long and 20 feet (6.1 m) wide, built at a cost of £700.[12] The bells were housed in a wooden turret above the projecting porch.[11]


Closure and destruction[edit]

In 1899, the church was closed under the provisions of the Union of Benefices Act 1860[13] and united with the parish of St Botolph's Aldgate. The pulpit was taken to All Saints Church, East Meon in 1906.[14] The former church was used as a parish room until destroyed by bombing during the Second World War.[2] The medieval north wall survived until the clearance of the site in 1956–8.[15]


  1. ^ a b East of London FHS Archived 2008-09-20 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b "Trinity (Minories) Aldgate Bus Station, Archaeological impact assessment". City of London.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Tomlinson 1907, pp. 241–87
  4. ^ Tomlinson 1907, p.162
  5. ^ "PuritansCalvinism". Archived from the original on 5 February 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2009.
  6. ^ "Transport Office - Trinity (Holy) the Less Lane". A Dictionary of London. 1918. Retrieved 11 January 2009.
  7. ^ Daniel, A E (1895). London City Churches. Westminster: Archibald Constable and Co. pp. 338–339.
  8. ^ "St Botolph, Aldgate T Q 3358 8120 (Julian Ayre, Sean O'Connor) SAB87". London Archaeologist. 6 (10). 1990. Archived from the original on 13 January 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  9. ^ "Church bells web site". Archived from the original on 12 August 2008. Retrieved 1 October 2008.
  10. ^ Tomlinson 1907, p.264
  11. ^ a b "Stepney". An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in London, Volume 5: East London. 1930. pp. 69–101. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  12. ^ Hughson 1805, p,186
  13. ^ The Times, Tuesday, 20 June 1899; pg. 8; Issue 35860; col A Ecclesiastical Intelligence Ancient church closes
  14. ^ "British Listed Buildings". Retrieved 10 September 2017.
  15. ^ Collins 1960, p.160


  • Collins, F.J. (1961). "Notes on the Church of Holy Trinity Minories". Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society. 20: 160–5.
  • Hughson, David (1805). London. Vol. 2. London: J. Stratford. p. 186. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
  • Tomlinson, Edward Murray (1907). A History of the Minories. London: Smith, Elder & Co.

External links[edit]

51°30′46″N 0°04′29″W / 51.512647°N 0.074632°W / 51.512647; -0.074632