St Mary-At-Hill has been a parish church for over 800 years. It is dedicated to St Mary the Virgin. In the 10th and 11th centuries Billingsgate Quay was an important Anglo-Saxon harbour and was the primary route north into the old city. This route travelled directly past the site and the route itself had a particularly steep rise from the river, which subsequently gave the church the name of St Mary at or on the Hill.
In 1666 the medieval building was almost destroyed in the Great Fire of London, with parts of the walls and tower being damaged or demolished. The rebuilding was overseen by Sir Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke. The church was expanded and other churches which were not rebuilt, such as St Botolph Billingsgate, were joined into St Mary at Hill. The church by 1901 had 4 parishes.
Central to St Mary-at-Hill is the organ, acknowledged as one of the ten most important organs in the UK built and installed in 1848 by William Hill, one of the leading organ-makers of the 19th century.
The site was tragically damaged in a fire destroying the dome and roof. Despite this set back, the main structure of the church was once again extensively restored, with the surviving internal furnishings remaining in storage for protection.
Famous people to be affiliated with the church include Saint Thomas Becket who was born less than a mile away. Thomas Tallis, one of England’s greatest composers was a choral singer here in 1536.
Today St Mary hosts an annual Fish Harvest in October as it is the located in Billingsgate which was the largest fish market in the world by the 1800s.
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