St Magnus the Martyr

Here is a view of St Magnus the Martyr, a Wren church next to London Bridge.

St Magnus the Martyr, 7″ x 10″, in sketchbook 9

St Magnus Martyr has a foundation that goes back before the first stone bridge across the Thames, which was built in 1209.

The church of St Magnus Martyr escaped the fire of London Bridge in 1633. However it was one of the first churches to be destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. It is only a few hundred yards from Pudding Lane, where the fire started. The present church was built 1671-76 to the designs of Christopher Wren. The steeple which I have drawn was added in 1703-6.

At this time, the road going to London Bridge was just to the left (west) of the Church. The clock which you see in my picture, bottom left, hung over the road. I have all this information from the extensive history set out on the St Magnus Martyr website, which includes this marvellous story about the clock:

It was presented to the church in 1709 by Sir Charles Duncombe (Alderman for the Ward of Bridge Within and, in 1708/09, Lord Mayor of London). Tradition says “that it was erected in consequence of a vow made by the donor, who, in the earlier part of his life, had once to wait a considerable time in a cart upon London Bridge, without being able to learn the hour, when he made a promise, that if he ever became successful in the world, he would give to that Church a public clock … that all passengers might see the time of day.” The maker was Langley Bradley, a clockmaker in Fenchurch Street, who had worked for Wren on many other projects, including the clock for the new St Paul’s Cathedral.

The current London Bridge was built 1825-1831. It is a little upstream (west) of the old London Bridge, so the approach road no longer goes past St Magnus Martyr.

The crane in my picture is at the junction of Gracechurch St and Eastcheap, next to Monument Station. It occupies the whole width of Gracechurch Street. It appears to be lifting concrete blocks onto the top of the building that was, for a short while, House of Fraser.

I drew this from a deserted platform, high up near the river Thames.

Inked on location, coloured back home. The outside air temperature was 4 degrees C.

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