All that remains of the Medieval Franciscan Monastery in London, or the famous school which occupied the same site, are two blue plaques on the wall of a London office building.
The friary was founded in Stinking Lane, part of the Butchers quarter, in 1225. The land was donated by merchants, the timber by King Henry III and the church building was financed by the Mayor of London. It was a prestigious foundation and rapidly expanded -within 20 years it housed 80 friars. The church was expanded again in the 13th century to have 11 chapels and amongst those buried there are 3 queens of England – Eleanor of Provence (Henry III); Margaret (Edward I) and Isabella (Edward II).
It continued on the site until it was closed down in 1538 on the orders of Henry VIII as part of his dissolution of the monasteries. The building passed to the City of London and the church continued to be used for worship. Henry’s son, Edward VI founded Christ’s hospital, a school for Orphans, in the friary buildings in 1552.
The church was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666 and was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren and became known as Christchurch.
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Christ’s Hospital school remained on the site until 1902 when it relocated to Horsham in Sussex. The site was redeveloped and now houses the offices of Merrill Lynch International.