Thursday, 5 July 2012

Brief history of St Giles Cripplegate

The church of St Giles Cripplegate was first built in 1090 and was dedicated to St Giles the patron saint of Blacksmiths and cripples. The part of the name 'Cripplegate' existed before the church (it was Anglo-Saxon). The site stood just outside the walls and Cripplegate (a large section of wall is visible to the south of the church) in a marshy area known as Moorfields. It was rebuilt in 1390 in a perpendicular style but suffered a major fire in 1545, although after the fire it was rebuilt much as it was before. The church was saved from destruction in the great fire by the city walls which prevented it from spreading further northwards. The top of the tower was rebuilt in brick in 1682 which was also when the wooden cupola was added (although the present one is modern). During the Georgian era as the surrounding area became more habitable and the residents more affluent the church was gentrified with the addition of pews and galleries. In the Victorian era as with many other churches the building underwent a large restoration project. Much was done to the church, the Georgian alterations were torn out and the building was enriched with battlements and a rag stone facing giving the church a more medieval appearance. 

The church was gutted by the bombing during the Second World War which decimated the surrounding area. Until the war the church was surrounded with a maze of lanes and houses, after the war much was destroyed and those which were left were demolished for the new Barbican estate. The church now stands marooned in the centre of the Barbican estate. The image left © shows the destruction war brought in the nave.  

The church was restored relatively sympathetically by Geoffrey Allen in the 1950's and was reopened along with the opening of the Barbican complex. The Image bottom left shows a modern drawing of the church. The image bottom right ©  shows the church within its original context with houses pressed up against it. 

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