The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 26 From St Paul's Cathedral to the Bank of England

St Giles Cripplegate

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Parallel with the west part of London Wall, to the north, is Fore Street, containing the important church of St. Giles Cripplegate, famous as the burial-place of John Milton. This Perpendicular edifice of the 14th century was practically rebuilt after a fire in 1545, and various restorations and additions were made in the 17-18th century, including the archway before the west front. Near the north door is a bronze statue of John Milton, by Horace Montford, with reliefs from 'Paradise Lost' and 'Comus' (1904). In the south-west corner of the churchyard is a bastion of London Wall. The INTERIOR is open 10-4 (Saturday 10-1; illustrated guide 6d.). Milton, who died in Bunhill Row in 1674, was buried in the same grave as his father 'in the upper end of the chancel, at the right hand'; the probable spot is now marked by a stone in front of the chancel screen. Near the west end of the south aisle is a cenotaph by Woodthorpe (1862), with a bust of Milton by Bacon (1793). Other famous persons interred in this church are John Speed (1629), topographer (south wall, below the clock); Sir Martin Frobisher (died 1594), seaman and explorer (east part of south wall); and John Foxe (died 1587), martyrologist (west wall, at end of north aisle; Latin inscription by his son). The epitaph of Thomas Stagg (1772), behind the organ, ends with the curt phrase 'That is all.' The oldest monument is that of Thomas Busby (died 1575; in the Chapel of the Incarnation, at the east end of the north aisle). In the middle of the north wall is the monument of Constance Whitney, a kinswoman of the Lucys of Charlecote, who died in 1628, at the age of seventeen. The attitude of the figure gave rise to an absurd legend that she was buried in a trance and awakened by the attempt of a thief to steal her ring. Oliver Cromwell was married in this church, at the age of twenty-one, to Elizabeth Bourchier (or Bouchier), on August 22nd, 1620. The stained-glass window at the west end of the south aisle commemorates Edward Alleyn. The carved pulpit, altar-screen, and font-cover are probably by Saunders. The organ, by Renatus Harris (1705), is in a modern case. The valuable church-plate includes a 'mazer' of bird's-eye maple carved in 1568. The Great Plague was at its worst in the parish of St. Giles, and the plague burials nearly fill a folio volume of the parish register (1665). The register records also the burial of Daniel Defoe in Bunhill Fields (1731).