The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 30 The City To The East Of The Bank

St Mary Axe

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On the left, at the corner of St. Mary Axe, stands the church of St. Andrew Undershaft (open 12-3, Saturday 12-2), a Perpendicular building of the early 16th century (upper story of the tower rebuilt in 1830). The name is derived from the ancient practice (discontinued in 1517) of erecting a 'shaft' or maypole, taller than the tower, in front of the south door. At the east end of the north aisle is the alabaster monument of John Stow (1525-1605), the antiquary and topographer, supposed by some to be by the same sculptor as the bust of Shakespeare at Stratford-on-Avon. The pen in Stow's hand is annually renewed on the Sunday nearest April 6th. On the same wall, farther to the west, is the monument of Sir Hugh Hammersley, Lord Mayor in 1627, notable for the fine figures of the two attendants, by Thomas Madden. In the south aisle is a tablet recording that Holbein (1491-1543) was for some time a resident of this parish. The vestry contains some interesting old books. The west window and the upper parts of the aisle-windows have some old glass. The organ is by Renatus Harris, the font by Nicholas Stone (1631). In St. Mary Axe, leading to Houndsditch, is the imposing building of the BALTIC MERCANTILE AND SHIPPING EXCHANGE (1903; No. 24), the headquarters of a body of merchants and brokers who deal in floating cargoes, consisting of grain, timber, oil, coal, and other commodities, and also of shipowners and shipbrokers for the chartering of vessels and the arrangement of transport. This institution is an amalgamation of the old Baltic (which sprang from an old coffee-house, 'The Virginia & Baltick Coffee House,' frequented by merchants and others interested in the trade with the Baltic ports) and the Shipping Exchange (the modern representative of the old 'Jerusalem Coffee House'), the headquarters of the merchants interested in the Eastern trade. There are about 2600 members, and the premises consist of a large hall, known as 'The Floor,' and various other rooms, including a restaurant. The name 'Baltic' is now misleading.