Holy Trinity, Minories

Church in/near Aldgate, existing until 1899

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Holy Trinity, Minories was a Church of England parish church outside the eastern boundaries of the City of London, but within the Liberties of the Tower of London.

A drawing published in 1907 of the west front of the Church of Holy Trinity, Minories
Credit: Uncredited
The parish covered an area previously occupied by the precincts of the Abbey of the Minoresses of St. Clare without Aldgate, founded by Edmund Crouchback, in 1293, for a group of Spanish nuns of the Order of St. Clare who arrived with his wife. The nuns were also known as the Minoresses – which came to be adapted as the name for the district, Minories. The nunnery was surrendered to the Crown in 1539, during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and the buildings, excluding the chapel, were used as an armory for the Tower of London, and later, as a workhouse. Some of the abbey buildings survived until their destruction by fire in 1797.

The liberty was incorporated in the Metropolitan Borough of Stepney in 1899, and today is within the City of London.

The nuns’ chapel became a parish church. Considerable changes were made to the building: all the ancient monuments were removed, a gallery, a new pulpit and pews were installed, and a steeple was built. The first recorded reference to a dedication to the Holy Trinity dates from 1563. Later in the 16th century, the church was a Puritan stronghold, where both John Field and Thomas Wilcox preached. Until 1730, the church claimed the rights of a royal peculiar – including freedom from the authority of the Bishop of London; and the right to perform marriages "without licence".

Monuments in the church included those for William Legge (1608-1670), a commander for King Charles I during the English Civil War, his wife, Elizabeth Washington (distantly related to George Washington) and their son, George Legge, 1st Baron Dartmouth. In 1849, a mummified head was found in the under-floor vaults, which was reputed to be that of Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, who had been executed for treason by Queen Mary I in 1554. The head was displayed in a glass case in the vestry, but later went to St Botolph’s Aldgate where it was interred in a vault and eventually buried in the churchyard in 1990.

The church escaped the Great Fire of London but fell into disrepair and was rebuilt in brick in 1706, retaining the north wall of the medieval building. The new church was a plain structure, a single space undivided by pillars or columns, 63 feet long and 20 feet wide, built at a cost of £700. The bells were housed in a wooden turret above the projecting porch.

In 1899, the church was closed under the provisions of the Union of Benefices Act 1860 and united with the parish of St Botolph’s Aldgate. The pulpit was taken to All Saints Church, East Meon in 1906. The former church was used as a parish room until destroyed by bombing during the Second World War. The medieval north wall survived until the clearance of the site in 1956–8.

Main source: Wikipedia
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A drawing published in 1907 of the west front of the Church of Holy Trinity, Minories



Aldgate was a gateway through London Wall from the City of London to Whitechapel and the East End.

It is thought that a gate at Aldgate was already spanning the road to Colchester in the Roman period, when the City wall itself was constructed. The gateway stood at the corner of the modern Duke's Place and was always an obstacle to traffic. It was rebuilt between 1108–47, again in 1215, and reconstructed completely between 1607-09. The gate was finally removed in 1761; it was temporarily re-erected at Bethnal Green.

While he was a customs official, from 1374 until 1386, Geoffrey Chaucer occupied apartments above the gate. The Augustinians priory of Holy Trinity Aldgate was founded by Matilda, the wife of King Henry I, in 1108, on ground just inside the gate.

Within Aldgate ward, Jews settled from 1181, until their expulsion in 1290 by King Edward I. The area became known as Old Jewry. Jews were welcomed back by Oliver Cromwell, and once again they settled in the area, founding London's oldest synagogue at Bevis Marks in 1698.

At Aldgate's junction with Leadenhall Street and Fenchurch Street is the site of the old Aldgate Pump. From 1700 it was from this point that distances were measured into the counties of Essex and Middlesex. The original pump was taken down in 1876, and a 'faux' pump and drinking fountain was erected several yards to the west of the original; it was supplied by water from the New River. In ancient deeds, Alegate Well is mentioned, adjoining the City wall, and this may have been the source (of water) for the original pump. A section of the remains of Holy Trinity Priory can be seen through a window in a nearby office block, on the north side.

The area around the large traffic roundabout to the east of where the gate stood is also often referred to as Aldgate (although strictly, this is Aldgate High Street, and extends a short distance into Whitechapel; it is also known occasionally by the epithet 'Gardiners' Corner', in honour of a long-disappeared department store).

Aldgate underground station was opened on 18 November 1876 with the southbound extension to Tower Hill opening on 25 September 1882, completing the (Inner) Circle. Services from Aldgate originally ran far further west than they do now, reaching as far as Richmond, and trains also used to run from Aldgate to Hammersmith (the Hammersmith & City line now bypasses the station). It became the terminus of the Metropolitan line only in 1941. Before that, Metropolitan trains had continued on to the southern termini of the East London Line.

Platforms 1 and 4 at Aldgate are the only two platforms on the network to be served exclusively by the Circle line.
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