The Medieval Combat Society
Location: Great St Helen's, London, EC3A 6AT
Opening Information: 09:30-17:00 Monday-Friday
A church was known here since Saxon times and was dedicated to the Empress Helena with a legend that the Emperor Constantine erected the original church in honour of his mother. About 1212 William Basing, Dean of St Pauls bult a new church attached to the old church and was given permission to establish a Benedictine nunnery on its north side in the early 13th century. The church was originally seperated by a wooden nave with nuns on the north side and for parish use on the southern side. On the north side was built a squint or bagioscope consisting of lancet windows through which nuns could view. The two chapels were added in the middle of the 14th century. The nuns were reproved in 1385 for the lifestyle which included the waving over the screen, too many children running about, wearing ostentatious veils, kissing secular persons and for the number of little dogs kept by the prioress.
Alice Ashfed leased the land next to the church for £11 6s 8d a year to a local Sheriff John Crosby in 1466, and who built Crosby hall on it. John was an alderman in 1470, knighted in 1471 and when he died in 1475 he left 500 marks to the church. Crosby hall was dismantled in 1910 and rebuilt on the embankment at Chelsea.
In 1538 Henry VIII sold the nunnery and buildings valued at £314 2s 6d to the Leathersellers Company. The wooden screens dividing the nave were removed allowing the church to be used by the parish. A person was employed in 1644 to deface the brasses in the church. The church survived the Great Fire of London in 1666 and an IRA bomb1992 caused considerable damage to the church and a futher IRA bomb in 1993 but did less damage.
John de Oteswich and his wife. The effigies are thought to be late 14th to early 15th century. The effigies were removed in 1874 during the demolition of the church of St Martin Outwich which stood in Threadneedle street. John was the son of William de Oteswyche a surgeon in 1300 who had died by 1331 and owned tenements in St Martin and St Benet Fink. In 1387 the Advowson of St Martin was purchased by John Churchman for William and John de Oteswich and by license of King Henry IV in 1405 gave the advowson to the master and wardens of the taylors and linen-armourers and their successors to the help the poor of that company.
Sir John Crosby 1475. John bequeathed 500 marks for the four great arches that split the naves.
John Spencer and Wife 1609
daughter of John Spencer 1609
Robert Cotesbrok 1393
Civilian and wife 1465
Nicholas Wotton rector 1482 from St Martin Outwich
Thomas and Margaret Wylliams 1495
Ecclesiastic in doctors dress 1500 from St Martin Outwich
John Leenthorp 1510 (Leventhorpe?)
Robert Rochester 1514
Medieval Squint or Bagioscope