World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

St. Michael Bassishaw

Article Id: WHEBN0022197852
Reproduction Date:

Title: St. Michael Bassishaw  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: St. Michael's Church, Wolstan Dixie, Thomas Wharton (anatomist), Henry Cornish
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

St. Michael Bassishaw

St. Michael Bassishaw
Country United Kingdom
Denomination Church of England
Architect(s) Christopher Wren
Style Baroque

St. Michael Bassishaw aka Michael Basinshaw, was a parish church in Basinghall Street in the City of London,[1] on land now occupied by the Barbican Centre complex. Recorded since the 12th century, the church was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, then rebuilt by the office of Sir Christopher Wren. The rebuilt church was demolished in 1900.


St. Michael Bassishaw was one of seven churches in the City of London dedicated to the Archangel Michael. "Bassishaw" comes from Basing’s haw, Basing being the name of a prominent family in medieval London and ‘haw’ meaning yard.

From the fifteenth century the dean and chapter of St Paul's Cathedral were patrons of the church.[2]

Medieval church

The earliest surviving reference to the church is in a deed of 1196, as “St Michael de Bassishaghe”.

A 14th-century parish priest of St Michael’s, by the name of William, dug a ditch outside the church to assert his right of way. He was obliged by civic authorities to fill it in again.

Excavations in the late 19th century and again, in 1965, showed that the north wall of the 12th-century church had been built over Roman and medieval rubbish pits, so had to be strengthened by buttresses.

The church was rebuilt in the 15th century.[3] John Burton, a mercer who died in 1460 and was buried in the choir, and his wife Agnes were major contributors to the cost "as appeared by his mark placed throughout the whole roof of the Choir, and the middle Isle of the Church"[4] A chapel was built on the north side of the choir by Sir James Yerford (or Yarford), Lord Mayor in 1520. He was buried there in 1527.[4] The building restored in 1630, but all was lost in the Great Fire of 1666.[5]

In 1662, Francis Hall - a chaplain to Charles II - was appointed Rector. He fled the parish upon the outbreak of the Great Plague of London in 1665, and returned only in 1670 to collect his stipend. His substitute, a priest called Williams, succumbed to the plague in September 1665, along with this wife and three children.


Rebuilding began in 1675 and completed four years later. The work was unsatisfactory. The contractor, John Fitch, encountered problems with the foundations on the east end, so removed them and piled the ground. The walls were faced with brick, instead of the usual stone, and the load-bearing Corinthian columns were described as "specimens of…jerry-building…made up of several sorts of materials and plastered over." By 1693, the parish was lobbying Wren to provide resources for repairs. By the turn of the century, the church was being shored up and in need of repair. This was undertaken in 1713, when the upper parts of the walls were taken down and rebuilt, the slate roof replaced with a lead roof and a steeple added. The total cost of rebuilding was £5,704.

The tower, also of brick,[2] was to the west of the church. The steeple, probably designed by Robert Hooke, took the form of an octagonal drum surmounted by a lantern, from which emerged a trumpet shaped cone. On top of this was a ball and finial, now perched on the spire of St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe.

George Godwin described St Michael's as " a plain substantial building without any striking features".[6] It was 70 feet long and 50 feet wide, divided into nave and aisles by Corinthian columns[6] supporting an elaborate entablature and a coved ceiling.[2] The plan was irregular, being smaller than the pre-Fire church.[7] The main front was on the east, facing Basinghall Street and was unadorned, except for a large round headed window flanked by two round windows.

In 1821 the brickwork was rendered with stucco and pointed in imitation of stone.[2]


In the late 19th century, sanitary regulations obliged the church to clear its crypt of human remains. The work revealed the weakness of the foundations, and in 1892, the church was judged unsafe and closed, and its parish combined with that of St Lawrence Jewry. St. Michael Bassishaw was demolished in 1900 and the land sold to the City for £36,000. Part of the proceeds were used to build St. Michael Bassishaw in Edmonton.[8] This was made redundant in 1992 and converted into flats.

An office building called Bassishaw House was built on the site of the City church. This was demolished in 1965, and an archaeological excavation carried during which some remains of the church's mediaeval foundations were uncovered.[3] Today the site once occupied by St. Michael’s lies beneath the courtyard of the Guildhall offices and the Barbican highwalk.

The plaster coat of arms in St. Michael Bassishaw – the grandest of those in any Wren church – can now be found in the Guildhall complex.

See also

Anglicanism portal


External links

Coordinates: 51°31′0.1″N 0°5′30″W / 51.516694°N 0.09167°W / 51.516694; -0.09167

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.