Above: The tranquil churchyard is completely surrounded by offices.
The church of St Katherine Cree stands on the north side of Leadenhall Street, at the junction of Creechurch Lane. First mentioned in 1280, the church was erected near the Priory of Holy Trinity, also known as ‘Christ Church’. The word ‘Cree’ is a corruption of ‘Christ’. The church was for the use of the parishioners living near the priory. It is possible that the church was in existence at the date of the building of the priory in 1108.
If you walk around the site of the church, your journey will take you along Creechurch Lane before turning right into Mitre Street. At the eastern end of Mitre Street, another right turn will bring you into the street called Aldgate before returning to Leadenhall Street and the entrance to the church. At no point on your walk will you come across the churchyard which is completely hidden from view. The churchyard is actually to the NE of the church. Access from the church is possible but the door providing access is usually kept locked.
The ancient churchyard is completely surrounded by the exterior walls of office buildings. During normal office hours – 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, Mondays to Fridays – there is a second access point via a narrow passageway about half-way along Mitre Street. You will know if the churchyard is open for public access because the sturdy iron gate is open on most weekdays. At lunch-time, the churchyard is filled with office-workers seeking somewhere to sit and eat their takeaway meal.
If you want to be able to collect your thoughts on your visit, it is best to avoid the hours between 12.00 noon and 2.00 pm. Although a little overgrown with large shrubs, it is a really ancient place. It is likely that it was in use as a churchyard when the priory was in existence – as a place of burial for those who lived and worked in the priory and also for parishioners of St Katherine Cree. No particularly interesting graves are to be seen today but it is always fascinating to discover such a hidden place within the City. It is probably the most well-hidden churchyard in the City of London – if not in the whole of Inner London.