Wren 300, a city full of people

John Longland of St Bride

John Longland




St Bride

Researched by Simon Wartnaby

John Longland began his career in 1658 with an apprenticeship to a haberdasher which he finished in 1666.

John was involved with the construction of 15 City Churches between 1670 and 1700. He worked on St Bride’s in 1677-8, 1698 and 1702 and on St Vedast’s from 1694 to 1698. In 1675 he became Master Carpenter at St Paul’s Cathedral until his death in 1706.

Carpenter - Timmerman, Jan Luyken, 1694 - Rijksmuseum
Carpenter (Timmerman), Jan Luyken, 1694 - Rijksmuseum

John was also a property speculator and became involved in the fashionable new residential development of Hatton Garden. In 1659 John Evelyn recorded seeing the streets being laid out. The surveyor to the rebuilding of the City Churches, Edward Woodroffe (c1622-75), advised the Hatton estate in 1664. He probably invited others to take building leases, which might have included John Longland.

A Survey of Hatton Garden : a suruey of Hatton-Garden belonging to ... Barron Hatton of Kirby / by Abraham Arlidge. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University Library

The completed estate is shown on a plan of 1687 by the estate surveyor Abraham Arlidge. The plan lists the lessees, including John and his 12 houses in Great Kirby Street, which were completed by 1679. John lived in one of the houses which included a builder’s yard. Another of the builders named on the plan is Valentine Houseman, a joiner, who was also involved with the rebuilding of St Andrew’s, Holborn.

John Longland was buried at St Andrew’s in 1706 where he had worked on the rebuilding from 1684 to 1686. In his will John appointed the two carpenters Richard Jennings and Benjamin Browne as his executors. He bequeathed memorial rings to 13 colleagues he had worked with at St Paul’s, including Wren.


Local churches were the focal point of sixteenth-century City life. Weekly worship and all the milestones of parishioners’ lives took place here: christenings, marriages and funerals. Many churches were lost in the Great Fire.

Read the stories of four that either survived or succumbed to the flames, and how they reemerged from the ruins.

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