St Dunstans, Stepney
Building From 952
Records of this church go back to AD 952. Until the 14th century it was the only church in east London. The existing 15th century building is the third on the site, though it was reclad in 1880s. The porch and octagonal parish room were added in 1872. Suffered some bomb damage in 1945.
The port of London nearby, this church has many associations with sailors and was once known as 'the Church of the High Seas'. Sometimes the red ensign, or 'red duster', the flag of the merchant navy, is flown from the tower. An old tradition is supported by a rhyme: ""He who sails on the wide sea, Is a parishioner of Stepney." Seems the church was happy to enter births at sea into their register, but paupers from distant parts expected it to apply to their ocean-born children as well and there the church drew the line.
".... When will that be, say the bells of Stepney" - that's the bells in this tower speaking.
The church website has a good gallery of historic pictures, and is our picture source, but disappointingly no textual history of the church.
From London Gardens Online: "The churchyard closed for burials in 1854 and most of the tombstones and headstones were removed between 1885 and 1887 when high ground around the church was dug away. The MPGA then converted the burial ground into a public garden ... 1887".
2018: A London Inheritance explores this church, with many images.