Saint Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe, London

Saint Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe, London

Devoted to Saint Andrew the Apostle, this church stands in an elevated and commanding position on the northern side of Queen Victoria Street. Initially known as Saint Andrew juxta Baynard Castle, owing to its proximity to the former grand medieval fortress of the same name, the church adopted its current name in 1361 when the King's Great Wardrobe, which stored royal supplies and ceremonial attire, was relocated from the Tower to new premises nearby. Both the church and the Wardrobe met their demise in the Great Fire of London in 1666. However, following their destruction, Saint Andrew's was reconstructed on the original site between 1685 and 1693 under the direction of Sir Christopher Wren. Among the numerous City churches rebuilt by Wren, it was his final project and, at a cost of £7,060, primarily funded by revenue from the coal tax levied to support post-Fire reconstruction, it was his most economical undertaking.

One of Saint Andrew's notable claims to fame lies in its association with William Shakespeare. The playwright worked nearby at the Blackfriars Theatre for a minimum of 15 years and would have been familiar with the medieval church. Eventually, he purchased a residence in Ireland Yard, which also fell within Saint Andrew's parish boundaries. In honor of its most illustrious resident, the modern church now showcases a memorial to William Shakespeare in the western gallery, crafted from oak and limewood. Additionally, a corresponding memorial pays homage to one of Shakespeare's contemporaries, the renowned lutenist, vocalist, and composer John Dowland (1562-1626). In a somewhat fanciful depiction, Shakespeare and Dowland are depicted kneeling on a stage while cherubs hold back the final curtain. Beneath the window situated between the two figures, you will find the following inscription:

‘If music and sweet poetry agree,
As they must needs, the sister and the brother…
Dowland to thee is dear, whose heavenly touch
Upon the lute doth ravish human sense…’

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Saint Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe on Map

Sight Name: Saint Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe
Sight Location: London, England (See walking tours in London)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in London, England

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