St Mary Colechurch

Seal of Peter Priest of St Mary Colechurch.
© John A. McEwan, Seals in Medieval London, 1050-1300: A Catalogue (London: London Record Society, 2016), no. 172.
Origin/Date: London || c.1200

On the corner of Cheapside and Old Jewry, the church of St Mary Colechurch was next to the house where Thomas Becket was born. Becket was said to have been baptised in the church, and it may have been a pilgrim attraction after his murder. The priest of the church, Peter of Colechurch, was the leading figure in raising funds for the rebuilding of London Bridge in the late 12th century, which was paid for by donations to a chapel dedicated to Thomas Becket at the centrepoint. In the 1240s St Mary Colechurch was given to the Hospital of St Thomas of Acre, and after the Reformation was bought by the Mercers. It was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 and not rebuilt.


In England since the twelfth century, a chapel has meant either a part of a church containing an altar and used for worship, or a free-standing building used in a similar way. It can also mean a place of worship in a private house. The term comes from the ‘capella’ or cloak of St Martin, a major relic in France, the name of which was first applied to the building where the cloak was kept and eventually to other religious buildings.


Someone who journeys to holy places (such as biblical sites or shrines of the saints) to seek God's help, to give thanks, or as an act of penance.

Old Jewry

A street in the City of London where the city’s Jewish community settled between the Norman Conquest and their expulsion from England in 1290.


Term given to the movements of church reform which in the 16th century resulted in Protestantism. The Reformation took different forms in different parts of Europe, sometimes being promoted by rulers, as in Germany and England, sometimes expressing itself as a popular movement. While different reformers promoted different doctrines. They were united in their rejection of pilgrimage and visual images which were viewed as idolatrous and superstitious, their emphasis on salvation through faith rather than the sacramental systems, masses and good works and their desire to promote the study of the Bible and the conduct of worship in the vernacular. The origins of these reforms can be traced to religious movements in the Middle Ages, such as the English Lollards. The criticisms of Protestantism provoked a time of reform within the Catholic Church usually known as the Counter-Reformation and expressed in the pronouncements of the Council of Trent (1562-3).  

Thomas Becket

 English Archbishop (Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162) and martyr, famously murdered by knights at Canterbury Cathedral after a dispute with Henry II. Miracles were soon recorded at his tomb. Canonised in 1173, his shrine became one of the most popular pilgrimage centres in Christendom. Patron saint of London with St Paul.

Great Fire

Common name for the devastating fire which burned down much of central London in 1666.