Sunday, 5 September 2021

Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
99, Saint Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe

Saint Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe is the last of Wren’s city churches (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Today is the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity (Trinity XIV), and later this morning (5 September 2021) I am presiding and preaching at the Parish Eucharist in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick, and preaching at Morning Prayer in Saint Brendan’s Church, Tarbert, Co Kerry.

Before the day gets busy, I am taking a little time this morning for prayer, reflection and reading. Each morning in the time in the Church Calendar known as Ordinary Time, I am reflecting in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

My theme for the coming weeks is Wren churches in London. Already in this series, I have visited Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London (28 April). This week’s theme begins this morning with Saint Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe.

Inside Saint Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe on Queen Victoria Street (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Saint Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe, on Queen Victoria Street, two blocks south of Saint Paul’s Cathedral and close to Blackfriars station, is the last of Wren’s city churches. It was first mentioned around 1170, so it must have been founded considerably earlier. In the 13th century, the church was a part of Baynard’s Castle, an ancient royal residence.

In 1361, King Edward III moved the Royal Wardrobe, which was used to store royal belongings, including arms, clothing and other personal items, from the Tower of London to a building just north of the church. This association gave the church its unique name.

William Shakespeare was a member of the parish for about 15 years while he was working at the Blackfriars Theatre nearby. Later he bought a house in the parish, in Ireland Yard.

Saint Andrew’s has a memorial to Shakespeare in the west gallery, carved in oak and limewood. There is also a matching memorial to one of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, the famous lutenist, singer and composer John Dowland (1562-1626) who was buried in the churchyard of Saint Ann’s, Blackfriars. Saint Ann’s was not rebuilt after the Great Fire and its parish was afterwards merged with Saint Andrew’s.

In a rather fanciful scene, Shakespeare and Dowland are shown kneeling on a stage while cherubs hold back the final curtain. Under the window between the pair is 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 …


Although these lines may be appropriate in Dowland’s case, they have only a slim link with William Shakespeare. Although they come from The Passionate Pilgrim, a collection of verse published in 1599 with Shakespeare’s name on the title page, this poem was written by Richard Barnfield.

Both the former royal wardrobe and the church were destroyed in the Great Fire in 1666, and, the location of the king’s store room is now only remembered in Wardrobe Place.

After the Great Fire, was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren in 1695. It is among the simplest of his designs, was rebuilt in 1695.

In the following century, the hymnwriter John Newton, author of Amazing Grace, had close links with Saint Andrew by the Wardrobe and its rector, William Romaine.

Changes in parochial boundaries in the 19th century also had an impact on the parish boundaries of Saint Andrew’s. In 1542, the Mercers’ Company bought from Henry VIII the property of the Hospital of Saint Thomas of Acon which included the advowson of St Mary Colechurch at the corner of Cheapside and Old Jewry. The Great Fire destroyed this church and the benefice was united with Saint Mildred Poultry.

In 1871, Saint Mildred’s was pulled down and an exchange of rights was made between the Company and the Crown which gave the Company a share in the presentation of Saint Andrew by the Wardrobe. Under a Deed signed in 1984 the Company became the joint Patrons with the Parochial Church Council of Saint Andrew’s.

The church was again destroyed by German bombs during the London blitz in World War II, and only the tower and the walls survived.

The church, which was designated a Grade I listed building in 1950, was rebuilt and rededicated in 1961.

The pulpit in Saint Andrew’s came from Saint Matthew’s, Friday Street, and the font and cover from All Hallows’ Church, Bread Street. The royal arms, of the House of Stuart came from Saint Olave Old Jewry, which was demolished in 1887. The weathervane on the steeple comes from Saint Michael Bassishaw, which was demolished in 1900.

The Revd Guy Treweek was priest-in-charge in 2011-2015. His wife, Bishop Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester, is the first woman to become a diocesan bishop in the Church of England.

The present rector is the Ven Luke Miller, Archdeacon of London. He studied history at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, and theology at Saint Stephen’s House, Oxford. He is a member of the Society of the Holy Cross. His wife, the Revd Jacqueline Ann Miller, is a curate at Saint Peter, Eaton Square.

For many years Oswald Clark, a former Chairman of the House of Laity of the General Synod in the Church of England, was parish clerk and a churchwarden there.

A number of City Livery Companies have links with Saint Andrew by the Wardrobe and some of their banners are in the church, including the Mercers, Apothecaries, Parish Clerks and Blacksmiths. Saint Andrew’s has been designated as the Ward Church of the Castle Baynard Ward.

The church offers this prayer for people who have no shelter on the streets of London:

God of compassion,
your love for humanity was revealed in Jesus,
whose earthly life began in the poverty of a stable
and ended in the pain and isolation of the cross:
we hold before you those who are homeless and cold
especially in this bitter weather.
Draw near and comfort them in spirit
and bless those who work to provide them
with shelter, food and friendship.
We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


A number of City Livery Companies have links with Saint Andrew by the Wardrobe and some of their banners are in the church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Mark 7: 24-37 (NRSVA):

24 From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25 but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 He said to her, ‘Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ 28 But she answered him, ‘Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’ 29 Then he said to her, ‘For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.’ 30 So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ 35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 They were astounded beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’

The pulpit in Saint Andrew’s came from Saint Matthew’s, Friday Street, and the font and cover from All Hallows’ Church, Bread Street (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The pulpit in Saint Andrew’s came from Saint Matthew’s, Friday Street, and the font and cover from All Hallows’ Church, Bread Street. The royal arms, of the House of Stuart came from Saint Olave Old Jewry, which was demolished in 1887. The weathervane on the steeple comes from Saint Michael Bassishaw, which was demolished in 1900.

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (5 September 2021, Trinity XIV) invites us to pray:

Eternal God,
may we trust in you.
Help us to let the world know
your everlasting love.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

A sample of William Shakespeare’s handwriting on display in the church … Shakespeare was a member of the parish for about 15 years while he was working at the Blackfriars Theatre nearby (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

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