St Olave, Silver Street

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 Above: A stone mounted on the wall of the original churchyard.

The church is believed to have been in existence by 1000. The first mention was 1181 as ‘St Olave de Mukewellestrate’. The dedication is to the Norwegian King Olaf who died in 1030.

In the City there were once three churches by the name of St Olave. This one, whose churchyard remains, stood in Silver Street, which was was not far from the Museum of London. Another, whose tower remains, stood beside Old Jewry. The third church is still in existence, on the south side of Hart Street.

Outside the City a fourth church by this name stood on the north side of Tooley Street but that was demolished in the 1920s. The unusual street name is a corruption of ‘St Olave’s Street’.

In 1609 the church of St Olave, Silver Street, was rebuilt and enlarged 1609. On 4 September 1666 the church was engulfed in the flames of the Great Fire of London and totally destroyed on Tuesday 4 September. It was not rebuilt but the churchyard remained. The parish was later united with St Alban, Wood Street.

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Above: Part of John Rocque’s map, of 1746). The churchyard is almost in the centre, labelled ‘St Olave C Y’ – meaning ‘St Olave’s churchyard’.

The church stood in Cripplegate Ward Within but the parish extended into Aldersgate Ward and the Detached part of Farringdon Ward Within.

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Above: Modern map showing the dual carriageway called London Wall; the Museum of London (at the top towards the left); and the little churchyard of St Olave (in green at the top right hand end of Noble Street).

The little churchyard is now an open space and looks more like a little garden. It was originally on the north side of SIlver Street but, after the Second World War that street was swept away. At the same time London Wall (Street) was re-aligned at its western end so that it now runs along the north side of the churchyard, at the junction with Noble Street. The churchyard was reduced in size when London Wall was laid out in its present width, but a few grave stones remain.

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Above: View of the churchyard from the north side of London Street (Street). The churchyard of St Olave is the grassy area behind the bushes lining the pavement of London Wall. The white van is parked beside the churchyard at the northern end of Noble Street.

The churchyard is not very remarkable but it has an interesting stone that was found after the 1939-45 World War and set into a low wall, beside some steps. The stone plaque (see picture at the top of this article) states that the church was destroyed in “ye dreadful fire of 1666”.


This entry was posted in /Churchyards (c4), /City-Cripplegate. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to St Olave, Silver Street

  1. There is an interesting description of the bomb sites on Silver Street in Rose Macaulay’s delightful novella, The World my Wilderness in which the wild young heroine displaced from Provence, finds refuge in the abandoned buildings with her brother. Page 33 Book Club edition.


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