As the name suggests, the church of All Hallows Bread Street stood on the corner of Bread Street and Watling Street. This was next to the bustling medieval market of Cheapside and Bread Street was where the bakers had their shops. Watling Street was major Roman Road that ran south east to Dover on the coast and north east to Wales. The dedication to “All Hallows”, which means “all the saints”, implies it was founded by the Saxons. However, the first written reference is in 1227.
In 1559, the spire was damaged by lightening and was deemed too expensive to replace. The rest of the church was burnt down in the Great Fire of 1666. It was rebuilt by Wren and his assistant Hawksmoor in 1684, unlike the church of St John the Evangelist in nearby Friday Street whose parish was combined with All Hallows Bread Street.
By the 1850s, the City of London was dominated by the commerce of the Empire and its residents largely moved to the suburbs. This meant declining congregations for the city churches and so many parishes were combined together in the Union of Benefices Act of 1860. All Hallows Bread Street suffered this fate and was demolished in 1878 and the parish combined with St Mary le Bow.
All Hallows Bread Street is best known for being the christening place of the poet John Milton, of “Paradise Lost” fame. This is commemorated in a plaque on the wall of St Mary le Bow. Other traces of the church of All Hallows Bread Street can be found in the many parish boundary markers around Cheapside.