Posts Tagged ‘Dick Whittington’


Plaque marking the site of Whittington’s House in College Hill

Sir Richard Whittington (1354-1423) was a merchant and Politician. He was a 4-time Lord Mayor of London, a Member of Parliament and Sheriff of London. In his life, he sought to improve conditions for those living in London, financing drainage projects and hospital wards. Whittington also provided finance for a 128 seater public toilet on the banks of the Thames known as Whittington’s Longhouse. His bequest was used to rebuild Newgate Prison, build the Guildhall Library and carry out repairs to St Bartholomew’s Hospital. The remainder was used to found a charity which is still in operation today.

By Alex Hogg and Co, after Guillaume Philippe Benoist – From “History of the Memorable Sir Richard Whittington”, in The New Wonderful Museum, and Extraordinary Magazine[2], volume vol. 3, Alex. Hogg & Co., 1805, page 1420 OCLC:43172669., Public Domain,

Sir Richard Whittington’s House in 1803. This file is from the Mechanical Curator collection, released to Flickr Commons by the British Library. Public Domain,


He was also the basis for the folk-tale Dick Whittington, who came to London to find his fortune. The real Whittington was born in Gloucestershire and being a younger son was sent to London to learn his trade as a Mercer. He became very successful and amassed a large fortune which enabled him to lend money to the King. But this is about as far as the folk-tale and the real story compare. Pictures of him with a cat come from much later periods.

He is buried in St Michael Paternoster Royal in the city (see )


Plaque on the wall of St Michael Paternoster Royal


St Michael Paternoster Royal. Photo by Julien Walker (

St Michael Paternoster Royal. Photo by Julien Walker (

The first recorded church on this site is in the 13th century. This was presumably destroyed during the great Fire of London and Sir Christopher Wren built a new church between the years 1686 to 1694.


The name Paternoster Royal is most likely derived from a maker of Rosaries (Paternoster) and the region of La Reole in Bordeaux, from where wines arrived at a nearby wharf.



It is sometimes known as the Whittington church, as Dick Whittington, four times Lord Mayor of London, lived nearby and was buried in the medieval church. A modern memorial window to him can be found in the church.

The Dick Whittington Memorial Window

The Dick Whittington Memorial Window

The interior was restored following damage during World War II and has some fine modern stained glass windows. The church now serves as the headquarters of  The Mission to Seafarers.



St Mary Le Bow from Cheapside

St Mary Le Bow from Cheapside

There is some evidence that the church may have existed on this side since Anglo-Saxon times. However, it is certain that a Norman church was built here around 1080  and served as the London headquarters of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

West Door

West Door





The original church was rebuilt after it was badly damaged by the London tornado of 1091 and finally succumbed to the great Fire of London in 1666.



















It was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren after the fire and this church survived until 1941 when it was almost totally destroyed during the bombing of London. Rebuilding did not commence until 1956  and the church was finally reopened in 1964. As a result, it is home to some very fine modern stained-glass windows.



It is the home of Bow Bells and it is said that the mediaeval bells  could be heard as far away as Hackney marshes and legend has it that it was the bells of St Mary le Bow that Dick Whittington heard as he was leaving the city which called him to turn around and seek his fortune again there.