St Lawrence’s Church, formerly situated on the east side of High Street between East Street and Holyrood Place, was one of the oldest medieval churches in the town. It certainly existed in the early years of the reign of Henry II (crowned 1154) and may have been in existence well before this. The original medieval church had a spire and a row of shops to the front, but in 1727 the shops were removed and replaced with a colonnade, and in 1757 the spire, which had been considered unsafe for many years, was taken down. Surviving 18th and 19th century prints show the church with the colonnade and minus its spire (image 1).

Sir Henry Englefield, visiting the town in 1801, was unimpressed with the church which he described as small and “almost choked up with houses erected around it. The east window is not ugly, but the church does not contain a single object either of beauty or antiquity”.

The parish covered a small stretch of High Street from a block south of East Street to the north half of the Dolphin Hotel and stretched west to the Castle Mound. After 1714 the parish was combined with that of St. John's church which had been demolished in 1708.

The medieval St Lawrence’s church was pulled down in 1839 and re-built in 1842 in early Gothic Style (image 2). The architect was John Wylde. An imposing tower and spire, designed by William Hinves and Alfred Bedborough, was added in 1861 (image 3). The rebuilt church was closed down in 1923 due to a dwindling congregation, and demolished in 1925. It was a very narrow church set right between the houses on the east side of the street and demolition took almost a year for fear of damaging the adjoining buildings. The site was later occupied by Barclay’s Bank, and is now occupied by the Standing Order public house.

1. The First St Lawrence's Church

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An early 19th century print of the old medieval St Lawrence Church, demolished in 1839

2. The second St Lawrence's church

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An engraving published by Rock and Son in 1852. The spire has not yet been built

3. The second St Lawrence's Church

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An engraving published in 1870 showing the church with its spire.

Newspaper clipping:

Further reading:

History of Southampton, by Rev. J. S. Davies, p370-382. (HS/h)
A Walk Through Southampton, by Henry C. Englefield, p33, 85-86. (HS/h)
Medieval Southampton, by Colin Platt, passim. (HS/h)
Southampton Occasional Notes, 2nd Series, by ‘Townsman’, p13. (HS/h)


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