Explore the City's Ancient Alleyways in the Footsteps of Charles Dickens
St Peter's Cornhill
Stop here at the top of the steps at the churchyard entrance.
Can you see the nearby plaque? Make your way over to it. It describes the legend of how the church was founded by Lucius in AD 179. The present church is rather plain and one of the cheapest of Wren's designs. Note that the churchyard is raised above the level of the alley. This was to allow burials one on top of the other until the practice was stopped in the 19th Century. Then all burials were in large cemeteries away from the centre of London.
This gloomy graveyard was the setting in 'Our Mutual Friend' for Bradley Headstone to declare his love for Lizzie Hexham. She rejects him, with disastrous results. Headstone tries to murder her fiancée and himself drowns in a lock. Dickens describes the scene as follows:"The court brought them to a churchyard; a paved square court with a raised bank of earth about breast high, in the middle, enclosed by iron rails. Here, conveniently and healthily elevated above the living, were the dead and the tombstones. Some of the latter were droopingly inclined from the perpendicular as if they were ashamed of the lies they told."
Now continue along St Peter's Alley and exit to Gracechurch Street.