St Gregory by St Pauls – as the name suggests – was a parish church right next to Old St Pauls Cathedral. There is some uncertainty as to what it looked like. The Agas map from 1555 shows a traditional square towered church building – but many other churches on the map look exactly the same – so this might just have been a generic image used as an icon to denote ‘church’. A model of Old St Pauls in the Museum of London shows St Gregory’s at the west end with a spire arising from the middle of the church roof. Another, from a book called “Old London Illustrated” by H.W.Brewer, has a view of Ludgate showing St Gregory’s with a steeple on the square tower. We shall probably never know the answer as it burnt down in the Fire of London and was never rebuilt.
John Stow in his Survey of London published in 1598 had this to say :
“At either corner of this west end is, also of ancient building, a strong tower of stone, made for bell towers: the one of them, to wit, next to the palace, is at this present to the use of the same palace; the other, towards the south, is called the Lowlardes’ tower, and hath been used as the bishop’s prison, for such as were detected for opinions in religion, contrary to the faith of the Church. Adjoining to this Lowlardes’ tower is the parish-church of St. Gregory, appointed to the petty canons of Paules. Monuments of note I know none there.”
The church was dedicated to St Gregory the Great – in other words Pope Gregory I (540 – 604 AD ) who sent St Augustine to Canterbury to found the cathedral there in 597 AD. The first mention of St Gregory by St Pauls is in 1070 in a manuscript that describes the miracles wrought when the body of St Edmund was brought to London and placed in the church. We know the church was repaired and beautified in 1631 and then partially pulled down in 1641 under the instruction of Inigo Jones who was rebuilding St Pauls at that time. In 1666 it was completely destroyed in the Great Fire of London and the parish was combined with St Mary Magdalen Old Fish Street which stood nearby. The map below shows the parish of St Gregory in green surrounding St Paul’s and St Mary Magdalen in yellow.
Today there is little to remind us of this lost church – no physical remains or parish boundary markers – only a brief mention on a sign in the churchyard of St Pauls shown below.