Reigate Stone

Excavations at St. John's Priory, in Cowcross Street, London, EC 1

The two pieces of Reigate Stone mortared into the brick wall comes from the window tracery of St John's Priory, in Cowcross Street, London EC I. This was the chief house of the Order of SL John of Jerusalem in England, founded in the 12th century. 800 years ago these stone window bars must have had sharp edges, but rain, frost and physical damage have eroded them to this rounded and pitted form. These pieces were excavated by the Museum of London during an examination of the site before it was redeveloped. The Priory was one of several near the Fleet River, in what is now Smithfield, now well within London but was then countryside, beyond the City wall.


Two of the pieces of Reigate Stone from St John's Priory, now built into the curved brick wall

The Agas map of the area of St John's Priory.

Agas' maps have recently been dated to circa AD 1561-70 (London Topographical News May 1996), so the buildings would have been at least three hundred years old when the map was made. The major building at the top centre of the map is the Priory and Church of St John's. Almost all of the buildings shown on the map would have been thatched and probably whitewashed against the danger of fire. Instead of being yellow or brown as we might expect, they must have looked a drab grey from the ash of the wood fires.

The strips of land at the top may have been the herb garden beds where medicinal plants were grown for the hospital.

The Ketton Stone capitals carne from St Pancras Station. Damaged by nearly 150 years of London soot, smoke and frost, pieces began to fall from the building. They are cleaner now, after the restoration of the Station In 1995, but for most of their lives the stones were black with soot. Many of the capitals were replaced with modern copies in the same Ketton Stone. Ketton Stone is a Jurassic limestone quarried at Ketton, a village close to Stamford in Lincolnshire.

 

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