In part, this page commemorates an Augustinian church that was taken from the Order over 460 years ago, but has not been forgotten. Austin Friars’ Church in London was just two metres shorter than the Cathedral at Canterbury.
The Austin Friars (Order of Saint Augustine) first came to England over 750 years ago. In 1248 Richard de Clare invited the friars from France to his land at Clare in Suffolk, England. In 1250 they opened a second house, and in 1253 a third one, this time in London. (Although the date of 1253 is mentioned in one early publication, the first undoubted reference to the London convento refers to 1270. The most definitive statement possible is that it certainly began between 1253 and 1270.)
London Priory (convento in Italian) was founded at the expense of Humphrey de Bohun, the sixth Earl of Hereford and Essex, Constable of England, an ex-Crusader, one of the great magnates of the realm and a blood relative of the king, Henry III. Humphrey de Bohun, who was High Sheriff of England, died in 1275 and was buried in the Augustinian church in London (i.e., the first "temporary" thirteenth-century Augustinian church on the London site. The magnificent church, which the Augustinians served there until 1538, was built in the fourteenth century, circa 1354 AD.)
A direct relative of Humphrey de Bohun was a contemporary Augustinian, who was his confessor, William of Monklane O.S.A. William may have been eligible to become the King of England had he not excluded himself from the possibility by taking Augustinian vows. The London site and the cul-de-sac around it both became known as Austin Friars. The street still remains today, with its name unchanged. It is situated one block from the Stock Exchange Building and two blocks from the Bank of England. (See map below.)
From the start the Augustinian property in London was a small plot of land in the Broad Street Ward not far from Bishopsgate in the north of the City, and gradually increased it by the acquisition or donation of adjoining properties. Somewhere nearby, the parish church of St Olave was transferred to the care of the Austin Friars, and it was a place of Augustinian activity at least until the construction of the large Augustinian church (see photos) on the Austin Friars' own land in the mid-fourteenth century.
Geoffry Picheford, the constable of Windsor Park, in 1277 received an order to cause the Austin Friars to have oaks of timber of the King's gift. This ordered delivery of oak timber from Windsor Forest in 1277 shows that part of the Austin Friary (convento) in London was being built at about that time. In 1281 or 1282 Robert Burnell, Bishop of Bath and Wells, handed to the Austin Friars adjacent tenements he had bought there so as to enable the enlargement of the Austin Friars' land in London. A further donation of another tenement in 1334 added a further house and garden to the Augustinian precinct in London, and more again with the donation of property by Sir Reginald de Cobham in 1343. Thus after eighty years of enlargement by donated acquisitions, the property was extended to have a frontage on Broad Street by 1254, when the Augustinian church that lasted until World War II began to be constructed.
The London Priory of the Austin Friars soon became the largest Augustinian community in England, and long remained that way. As early as 1289 there were sixty Augustinians there, in 1314 there were eighty. That the English Austin Friars preached to the people, heard confessions, quested for alms, and took their fair share in the life of the neighbourhood where they lived, may be taken for granted. But they lacked men of outstanding quality, as saints or scholars, or simply as leaders of the people. It is only after the tragedy of the Black Death, which reached England in the autumn of 1348, that the Austin Friars began to make their mark as leaders and scholars, chiefly in London, York, Oxford, and Cambridge
But one document has survived from the years immediately preceding the Black Death which shows that the London house of the Augustinian Order was already an important centre of public life before 1348. The Battle of Crecy in northern France was fought victoriously over the French in August 1346, and there still exists the sermon which Richard FitzRalph, then archbishop-elect of Armagh, preached at a public procession of thanksgiving in London, most probably in September of that year
The King had prepared the ground for his victory by a mandate to the mendicant friars of the city, bidding them explain from the pulpit the legal arguments on which he rested his claim to the French Crown in opposition to Philip of Valois. The mandate, which is dated 15th March 1346, is addressed principally to the prior provincial of the Dominican Friars in London; but there is a note at the end of the document, stating that similar letters had been sent to the prior and convent of the Austin Friars in London. This note is of interest as a first glimpse into the semi-political activities of the London Austin Friars, which become more and more public in the next two generations. Unfortunately the name of the Augustinian Prior in London is not given in this document. The Austin Friars Priory (convento) saw something of the horrors of 1381: thirteen Flemings who had taken refuge in the church were dragged out and killed by the mob, but the animosity of the rioters does not seem to have extended to the friars.
In the contest of the mendicant orders with Richard FitzRalph, the Archbishop of Armagh, in his very public protests against mendicant privileges, no special share can be assigned to the Austin Friars of London. In the controversy with Wycliffe, however, the Augustinians were well represented by Banchin, a friar of their house and afterwards its Prior (superior), who took an active part in exposing the errors of his teaching in the council of 1382. Five years later the convent came into contact with the Lollards in a more exciting way. A certain Peter Patteshull, who had once been an Austin Friar and had become a Lollard, preached in the church of St Christopher to a congregation imbued with the same views as himself, on the alleged iniquities practised by the members of his old Order.
Some of the Austin Friars came to the church to hear him, and one openly protested. The Lollards set upon him, turned the friars out of the church and roused by the charges made by Patteshull, determined to burn down the Priory. They were checked by the prayers of two of the Austin Friars, and by that time one of the sheriffs arrived and persuaded the Lollards to disperse without doing any damage. How much foundation Patteshull had for his accusations — which were aimed at no particular friary, but at the Order generally — it is impossible to say. Two friars had left the London house in 1364, taking with them books and other goods, apparently owing to a disagreement with their superiors, and another had apostatized in 1387, but neither case proves anything as to the general state of religion within the Priory.
To make provision for the future expansion of their church and friary, a religious order usually took advantage when an opportunity arose to acquire additional properties in their immediate vicinity. The dwellings on such properties were usually left standing, so that rental income would eventually pay for the purchase of the property. Because of this practice, a minor yet not insignificant proportion of house rental in cities was done by religious orders, especially to foreign visitors and merchants who desired accommodation at a cheaper rate and for a longer period than hotels offered. This happened with Austin Friars in London, whose vicinity became the centre in London for Flemish merchants.
Later in the era of Henry VIII, the Austin Friars in London were landlords to Eustace Chapuys, the ambassador of Emperor Charles V at the court of Henry VIII, and also of the Dutch scholar, Erasmus – who was offended at being asked to pay, and did not do so. It was where earls and dukes from the country districts had their London living quarters, Also in this vicinity the ambassadors of France and Spain dwelt and where Italian bankers transacted their business only two blocks from the headquarters of the Bank of England. The available accommodation also brought the Guilds within the monastic confines where they could rent a hall and other rooms for their requirements. The Austin Friars, of course, were not alone in this endeavor. In 1537 the 1,031 beds available for visitors to the city of York were found almost exclusively in religious houses, the four mendicant houses among them.
These Order-owned dwellings around its Priory occasionally also served as a holding place for a foreign knight on parole after being captured in battle and before a ransom was handed over. For example, Charles, the Duke of Orleans, was taken captive at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 and not ransomed and released until 1440, a lengthy twenty-five years later. The land in London known as Austin Friars was a larger space than that of any other monastery within the walls of London. It extended from Throngmorton Streert on the south, to London Wall on the north, and from Copthall Avenue to Broad Street. (See the London street map lower down this page). The south gateway led to the west porch through a graveyard, where there was an open pulpit. There was a short cut from the north gate through Moorfields, which the general public used.
There were continual difficulties in relation to Austin Friars in London, as was noted by William Becchi O.S.A. of Florence, who was elected Prior General at the General Chapter at Siena in 1460. In his administration proved to be quite forthright and somewhat severe. For example, in March 1461 he deposed the Priors of the Austin Friaries at London and Oxford “because of their poor administration,” and then placed these communities under the supervision of three vicars of his choice, one of whom was an Augustinian who is remembered in the history of early English literature, Osbern Bokenham O.S.A.
In 1463 Becchi spent ten days in the English Province on official visitation, but did not visit its main house, i.e., London – which could have been an intentional decision on his part. Even so, he directed decrees to the Austin Friars in London on 23rd April 1463 to combat a number of lax attitudes and practices. The decrees stated:
"The house in London to be under the jurisdiction of the Prior Provincial like the other convents, notwithstanding all privileges and exemptions granted by former Priors General. Bachelors, lectors and students sent to studia but not studying shall not only lose their liberties, but also their chambers in their native convents and be treated like ordinary friars. The Prior Provincial may recall or modify privileges granted by the prior general but obtained fraudulently. All Priors to make an inventory of the goods of a sick confrere and in case of his death these goods must be publicly announced and sold.
"The statutes regulating the introduction of novices must be strictly observed. London should always elect a prior who is a man of letters and a graduate. Under pain of excommunication, the Prior of London must give an annual financial report within three months after the end of the year. The members of London must provide preachers for the Sundays of Lent. The Prior must force, if necessary, all members of London to attend the conventual Mass and Vespers on all weekdays and feast days. If any graduate fails to attend he shall he deprived first of his conventual pittance, and the second time of his active and passive vote; if he be a non-graduate he shall be deprived for the first time of the conventual pittance and the second time he shall receive the discipline (a leather scourge) and sit on the floor on all Fridays for one month."
Two members at least of the London Priory besides Banchin and Lowe were renowned for their learning: Thomas Pemchet, D.D., who taught divinity at Pavia, became Provincial of the English Province, and died in London in 1487, and John Tonney, at one time also Provincial, who died in 1490.
Manuscripts were a valued and expensive possession. In Rome, the Prior General declared in February 1465 a set of rules for the Austin Friars' Library in London: "The Regent of Studies and the Guardian of the library at Austin Friars in London should be regulated in such a manner that one of the doctors should be Regent one year and Guardian of the library in the year following, unless he should become Prior. No one person should unite both or all three positions in his hand. If he should disobey, he shall be deprived of his position and another appointed. Books, especially those of a speculative kind not to be taken from the library, unless they be duplicates. A master or bachelor preparing himself for a university activity, may borrow them, however, for fifteen days, or for a month at the most."
By the sixteenth century there was a decrease in Augustinian vocations in London; a total of thirty priests were needed there. Because of this, in 1510 the Priory received permission from the Prior General to bring in Augustinians from other parts of England. (In that period, each Augustinian house had to recruit its own members, and persons wishing membership in the Order were required to join the nearest Augustinian community to their place of residence.)
If the Austin Friars added anything new in London it was their spiritual care for strangers. Their unique location in this great metropolis was no doubt the cause for this specialized work. The tenements within their monastic enclosure and those of the immediate neighborhood were principally rented to foreign merchants, mostly Lombards and Flemings. The name Lombards was applied to all Italians and by Flemings were meant the Dutch people.
Augustinian Priors General often granted permission to Augustinian foreign students at Oxford and Cambridge to go to London during their vacations, but principally during Lent, to preach Italian and German sermons and to hear the confessions of their nationals. In 1350, an official resolution of the City Council of London called Friar Richard Savage O.S.A. "a blessing to all strangers repairing to London" and begged for his academic promotion because of this work.
The Flemings in particular played an important role in Austin Friars and it is, therefore, not surprising, that after its suppression the king permitted this church to serve as "the foreigners' church." In 1550 it finally became the German church when it was given to the Dutch Huguenots. Ironically it was a German aerial landmine which fell upon and destroyed the remnants of this magnificent church on 10th October 1940.
In the reign of Henry VIII some light is thrown on the condition of the Augustinian priory in London. In 1525 some of the friars were imprisoned in the Tower of London because a friar had died in their friary's prison. Whether anything was discovered detrimental to the priory or not, it was to this house that Robert Barnes, an Austin Friar from Lynn, was sent in 1526 after he had done penance at St Paul's Cathedral for his heretical opinions. Little restraint can have been put on him as the account of a heretic shows to whom he sold an English New Testament. As Barnes was allowed to receive any visitors he chose he can have had little difficulty in secretly obtaining such a book from foreign merchants living nearby.
Apart, however, from the views of individual friars the priory's attitude with regard to the king's marriage and the questions arising from it is easily explicable. Thomas Cromwell - chief minister to King Henry VIII and architect of the English Reformation - lived nearby, and in 1532 began to build his huge house on land leased from the Austin Friars and adjoining their churchyard. He therefore had exceptional opportunities for interference and influence, of which he undoubtedly took advantage. He found a willing instrument in the prior, George Browne, who identified himself with the politics of the king, and was duly rewarded afterwards by being chosen to be one of the commissioners to visit all the houses of mendicant friars in England.
The other Austin Friars in the Priory were not likely to prove an obstacle to Thomas Cromwell's wishes if some anonymous information in about 1534 about the lax standards of the friars were true. In this it is said that the services were neglected, that there was no common refectory, and that the prior was incapable of maintaining discipline. Although George Browne O.S.A. does not seem to have been prior at this date, he must be held in some measure responsible for a state of things which could not have been of sudden development. When in August 1538, their church was used by the Lutheran preacher who came in the train of the Saxon and Hessian ambassadors, the end of the friary must have been felt to be near. In the following November the house was surrendered by the prior Thomas Hamond and twelve friars. The income of the convent was estimated at £57 0s. 4d., much of it coming from rents received.
Austin Friars was one of the first monasteries in London to be suppressed. Having Thomas Cromwell as a neighbour probably ensured that its dissolution was executed swiftly, for he profited from the outcome. The property had been valued in 1534 as bringing in a yearly rental of £57 0s. 4d., (fifty-seven pounds, no shillings and four pence) from the surrounding houses it owned and leased out as a source of income. With the suppression in early 1539, Cromwell and other favourites of the King took possession of these buildings, although the Augustinians still used the church until September 1539. Already in May 1532 Cromwell had leased from the Augustinians a series of tenements that they owned on the southern boundary of their property, abutting their graveyard and the place where an open-air pulpit stood. After the dissolution, he took over the adjoining Augustinian tenements that he had not previously leased. On this extended area, he began constructing a palatial residence for himself, which was uncompleted when he fell out of royal favour and was executed on 28th July 1540. With Cromwell’s execution in 1540, the former Austin Friars' property was temporarily held by three agents of King Henry VIII. On 13th May 1541 the entire Austin Friars’ property passed into the ownership of one of these royal agents, Sir William Pawlett, who had become Comptroller and Lord High Treasurer of the King, and the first Marquis of Winchester. For the next ten years he used the former Austin Friars Church as a stable and for the storage of coal and corn.
By a decree by King Edward VI on 24th July 1550 Pawlett was obliged to yield up the nave and aisles of the church to the Protestant exiles of London. After King Edward VI died, the Marquis attempted to force these Protestant Huguenots from the building, but Queen Elizabeth I promptly ordered him to return it to them. The Marquis then walled off the nave and aisles from the choir and transept of the church. His son, the second Marquis of Winchester, was equally disinterested in maintaining the parts of the former church and Austin Friars buildings that he had inherited from his father. The fourth Marquis subsequently sold most of his ruinous inheritance to John Swimerton, a merchant, who set up a glass factory in the former large Augustinian refectory.
In 1896 excavations were made on the property, and revealed that the monastery had extended for 61 metres (200 feet) towards the London Wall, and 107 metres (350 feet) towards Broad Street. The cloisters had occupied a position in the north-western angle of the nave and transept of the church. Other buildings were located, including the Prior’s house, the Chapter house, the cloisters, and some domestic offices. In the west walk of the cloister had been a school, as well as the great Austin Friars Library which had centuries had stimulated the intellectual and artistic life not only of the Augustinians stationed in London but also of those Augustinian friar-students at Oxford who studied in London during the university’s period of summer recess.
The buildings essentially had not been demolished after the Dissolution of 1539, and had not been incinerated in the Fire of London in September 1666, but had been removed or renovated individually separately over the centuries. The last remnant of them to remain standing was the parts of Austin Friars Church that finally were razed by German bombing in 1940 during World War II.
The Austin Friars library
The formation of libraries was practice of the mendicant orders, and in this respect the Austin Friars were not behind the London houses and friaries of other religious orders in the early fifteenth century. London's Austin Friary contained a magnificent library built by Bishop John Lowe, O.S.A., when previously he had been the Prior there
. Thomas Fuller in his History of the Worthies of England (published posthumously in 1662) wrote about Lowe on p. 168: "He was a great book-monger, and on that score, Bale (no friend of friars) giveth him a large testimonial. He deserves well of posterity in preserving many ancient manuscripts and bestowing them on the magnificent library which he furnished at St Augustine's in London. But alas! That library at the Dissolution vanished away with the fine spire steeple of the same church (oh, the swallow of sacrilege!), one person, who shall be nameless, embezzling both books and building to his private profit...” (Fuller was referring to the first Marquis of Winchester, who bought the Austin Friars in London from Henry VIII after the king had confiscated it from the Augustinian Order.)The Austin Friars Library in London was of importance to the Augustinian Province, and also to the City of London generally. It contained an accumulation over the centuries of many rare and precious manuscripts and early books. A first-hand report of this fact was provided by John Leland (or Leyland), who lived from 1303 or 1306 until 18th April 1552. In 1533 King Henry VIII appears to have entrusted Leland with a document, "a moste gracyouse commyssion" (or diploma as he called it in Latin), which authorized him to examine and use the libraries of all religious monasteries and houses in England. Leland discovered a multitude of rare manuscripts and otherwise unattested texts in those crucial years before the monasteries were dissolved and their treasures scattered to the four winds. Leland kept lists of what he saw and continued his bio-bibliographical work until his fall into insanity in 1547, a matter of months after the death of his beloved king. As Leland spent the next few years travelling from house to house, he compiled many lists of books, most of which lists were completed before the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538-1539, and their manuscripts variously were stolen, sold, used for wrapping paper, or simply left to rot in monastic buildings that had been unroofed.
One of the patrons of John Leland in 1533 was Thomas Cromwell, who lived on property leased from the Austin Friars in London which adjoined the graveyard on their property. He reported his visit to the Austin Friars library in his Collectanea, and praised Dr John Brome O.S.A., a tireless collector of historical and literary manuscripts who had been associated with that library. Brome is accredited with having placed in the Austin Friars library books that were not to be found anywhere else in England. It is quite possible that many former volumes of the Austin Friars library ended up in what was called the King’s Library, and which was purchased by the British Museum in 1823. In that collection there are many original manuscripts by Augustinians, amongst which are the works of John Capgrave, Thomas Winterton, Robert Waldeby, Geoffrey Hardeby, and others.
Brome had been Prior of Austin Friars, and was a contemporary of John Capgrave O.S.A. of Lynn, but who made frequent use of the Austin Friars library in London in his achievement of being the most prolific author, compiler and publisher in the history of the English Augustinian Province. Austin Friars library had long been famous, and the friars allowed access to scholars, students and scribes for the transcription of manuscripts. This privilege, however, was abused at times. This was recorded, for example, in 1364 in a document was issued by the Pope in Avignon on behalf of the English Augustinian Provincial, Geoffrey Hardeby, William de Anulekan, the Prior of Austin Friars London, and Thomas Litz, the Sub-Prior, against two ecclesiastics who had carried off books and other valuables from Austin Friars.
The document was addressed to the Bishops of London and Chichester, the Abbot of Westminster and the Prior of Christchurch; these four men were officials of the ecclesiastical court. Because the two accused were ecclesiastics, the charge was a matter for the ecclesiastical jurisdiction. The outcome of the matter is no longer known. In that the English Provincials for centuries had resided in the London friary, the Austin Friars library held the most important records of the English Province. The disappearance of manuscripts such as those by John Capgrave O.S.A. such as his Followers of St Augustine and Illustrious Men of the Order have certainly impaired the writing of Augustinian history.
Images (above): At the top, a strret map of the vicinity of Austin Friars Lane; at bottom, an early sketch of the sixteenth-century Winchester House on the site of the former Austin Friary.
The erection of this very large and magnificent second church in 1354 owed a lot to a descendant of their Priory's first major benefactor, another Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford and Essex, The funds were assigned in a document that he signed during his final illness on 9th October 1361, just six days before he expired. The document still exists. The earl’s will also allocated a sum of 300 marks for Masses to be sung by friars of the Order. From a bird's eye view of London, given in the panoramic sketch of the city by Anthony van den Wyngrerdge in 1548, the picturesque and majestic appearance of Austin Friars Church is easily noticed, In the language of earlier guide books of the city, the steeple of Austin Friars Church was noted as "a most spirited spire, over the roof of the city."
This magnificent church had a nave about 27 metres wide and 47 metres long. The length of nave and choir together was about 90 metres; this was only 2.0 m shorter than the famous Cathedral in Canterbury, and in London most probably was second in length only to Saint Paul's Cathedral - both the gothic St Paul's Cathedral destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666 and the Classical-Baroque St Paul's Cathedral designed by Christopher Wren that replaced it on the same site. Outside of London, the nave was second in width only to Chichester Cathedral. It has been described as "a noble model of a preacher's nave, for which it was specifically designed."
The church consisted of a choir, with north and south aisles, chapels of St John and St Thomas, transepts, and nave of two aisles. Of side altars, only those dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, St James and St Catherine are known. The nave of the church was 83 feet in width, while Exeter Cathedral is only 70 feet, and that of Winchester but 80 feet. In its length of 153 feet it exceeded Exeter by 13 feet and was only eight feet less than Canterbury Cathedral. (One metre is 3.8 feet; one foot is 0.3048 metres.) The tall and slender steeple required repairs after being ruined by a storm in 1362. The Augustinian in charge was probably John of Arderne, whose business acumen was so well-known that the king himself had made use of it. John rebuilt the Priory in 1355, and in 1358 was praised by the Prior General for planning to add an infirmary to the building.
The claim that around 1500 some major changes must have been made to the church is verified by comments made by the Prior General after an extensive fire was reported there in 1503. Before the fire of 1503, the church's nine leadlight ("stained glass") windows on each side were regarded as having been the most beautiful in London during the latter part of the fourteenth century. These windows were still mentioned in the eighteenth century, centuries after the Augustinians lost control of the property in 1538. Apparently these windows were lost in a disastrous fire in 1862, which destroyed the roof and all woodwork and fittings. These windows were replaced with very poor substitutes in 1865.
Written records name at least ninety-two laypeople interred in the vast interior of Austin Friars’ Church, mainly persons of nobility or with knighthoods, and sometimes also their wives and a child of the family. These included Edmund, the first son of Joan (known in history as “The Fair Maid of Kent,” born 1328, died 1385), who was the mother of King Richard II.
At the dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry VIII in 1538-39 the Austin Friars Church and land, etc., were given to William Poulett (or Powlett), Lord Saint John. He tore down the Priory (friars’ residence), and built a large house called Poulett House, or Winchester House, within the precinct and walls of the Priory in 1539. The choir section of the church used as a grain store and stable until demolished in 1603 by a subsequent Marquis of Winchester, and the nave - the main body of the church - and its former west end were enclosed from the steeple and choir and in 1550 granted to the Dutch Huguenots in London for use as their place of worship. In this way, what came to be called the Dutch Church was founded there on 24th July 1550 when King Edward VI gave a charter to Protestant refugees - mainly Dutch - from Continental Europe who were led by a Polish minister, Jean a Lasco.
Sir William Poulett (or Powlett, or Paulet), the first Marquis of Winchester. On the site of the demolished Austin Friary in London, he built Winchester House. The second marquis, his son, demolished the fine steeple of the former Austin Friars Church on the same property. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marquess_of_Winchester
DestructionAll but the outer walls and columns of the Dutch Church dividing the nave and the aisles were destroyed by fire in 1862, and after this fire it was proposed to pull down the church and erect a chapel on its site. But the determined opposition of the trustees supported by Gilbert Scott to this act of vandalism prevented the destruction of these noble remains, one of the few relics of 14th or 15th century work left in the City. Gilbert Scott described the building as a noble model of a preaching nave, for which purpose he considers that it was specially designed, being of great size and openness, in length 150 feet by 80 feet internally, supported by light and lofty pillars sustaining eighteen arches. Its architectural style is called Early Perpendicular.
The church was accordingly restored in 1863-5, under the direction of the architects l'Anson and Lightly, for its continued use by the Dutch Reformed congregation. The restored building remained until the church was completely razed by aerial bombing by the Germans in the Second World War. Archaeological excavation on part of the site in 1950 discovered some of the foundations of the area around the south aisle of the original thirteenth-century Austin Friars Church, i.e. the one before its magnificent fourteenth-century replacement. This excavation in 1950 revealed a series of bases for the south arcade, which appear to have been part of the original 13th century construction work but had been reused in rebuilding of the church in the middle of the 14th century. In current geographical terms, the church was was located between Throgmorton Street (South), London Wall (North), Broadstreet now Angel Court (East) and Copthall Avenue (West).
The Augustinian churches in England and Ireland generally separated the nave (i.e. the area where the congregation were situated) and the choir (the area of the altar and choir stalls). Whereas in Europe the nave and choir were usually one wide-open unit, in England and Ireland they were separated by an arched passageway over which the bell tower rose. The only remaining example of such Augustinian architecture is now the Anglican parish church of Atherstone, which has a splendid octagonal tower between its nave and choir. (For a photo of the Atherstone church on another page of this web site, click here.)
On the site of London's former Austin Friars Church, the Dutch Church of 1865 (see images above) was destroyed in the Second World War and rebuilt again, but this time entirely in modern, 'sub-classical' style. In 2002 the Dutch minister, Rev Gerard van Es, consented to the Augustinians returning to the site for a Service of Thanks on the 25th anniversary of the second beginning of the English Province; this took place on 8th September 2002. The former Austin Friars Church site was an appropriate site for the Service, because the Province had previously ended in 1538 during the dissolution period of King Henry VIII when Austin Friars Church had been taken from the Order.
On 12th October 2003 the Augustinians again returned to the site to commemorate the 750th anniversary of the Order's original arrival in England. Augustinians joined with the present occupants of the church for this special celebration.
Dr Rowan Williams, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury and international head of the Anglican Communion, gave the address at a Service of Thanksgiving for the 1,650th anniversary of the birth of Saint Augustine; he is a well-known scholar in the field of Augustinian studies. The ceremony took place at Saint Augustine's Church, Hammersmith, London, on 8 November 2004. Photo (above): Site of Austin Friars Church after its bombing by the Luftwaffe on 10 October 1940.
Many orders and congregations following the Rule of Augustine gathered for the event. Among the men were the Recollects, the Assumptionists, the Servites and the Abbot Emeritus of the Canons Regular of the Lateran.The female members of the Augustinian family were represented by the Canonesses of Boarbank Hall and New Hall, the Religious of the Assumption, the Oblates of the Assumption, the Sisters of Mercy and the Nazareth House Sisters. Also present were the Anglican Society of the Precious Blood and the Community of Saint Mary the Virgin. It was a rare event for the Archbishop of Canterbury to speak in a Catholic Church.Photo GalleryFor the Augnet gallery on the Augustinian history of England (especially London), click here.Links
Austin Friars House. A promptional website for the commercial building now standing on the former Austin Friars’ site. It is of interest because it has maps and aerial photographs of the area today. http://www.austinfriarshouse.com/pdf/Austin-Friars-House-Brochure.pdf
Austin Friars, London. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austin_Friars,_London
St Augustine’s Parish, Hammersmith. Contains a photo gallery. http://parish.rcdow.org.uk/hammersmith/about-the-parish/
St Augustine’s Parish, Hammersmith and Fulham, London. A web site that covers more than this Augustinian parish, e.g., the history of the Augustinians (Austin Friars) in England. http://www.saintaugustineshammersmith.org