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William Emmett of St Bride

William Emmett


Carver and Master Joiner


St Bride

Researched by Henrietta Clarke

William Emmett was a Master joiner and carver in wood and stone who worked on several City churches including St Bride’s, where he was responsible for “carving the patterne of a cherubim’s head to be made and cast in Brasses for the Branches”. He also worked on St Martin Ludgate, where he was paid £6 for work on the spire

for 8 scrowls att the foot of the spire 3 fo. long, 18 in wide wrought on 3 sides, and for 16 more over the ovale windows.

(LMA, CLC/ 313/ J/ 002/MS025539/003 Accounts of expenditure on rebuilding of the City churches after the Great Fire)

William was born in about 1641 and started his apprenticeship with his uncle, Henry Phillips, Master Joiner to the King, on 27 July 1658. He gained Freedom of the Joiners Company in 1666. William’s father, Morris, was a bricklayer as was his brother, also called Morris. He had two other brothers: George also a bricklayer and Henry a painter-stainer. William married Jane Brown in St Margaret’s Westminster in 1671.

The Wren Chapel 1687, Royal Hospital Chelsea by Sir Christopher Wren, carving by William Emmett.

Like the celebrated carver Grinling Gibbons, William Emmett worked in both wood and stone and had a workshop in Ludgate Hill, close to St Paul’s. Both men, highly successful and recipients of patronage from the Crown across their careers, were involved in major building projects at Kensington, Whitehall and Hampton Court Palaces, as well as Royal Hospital Chelsea. However, William never achieved the same level of fame as Grinling.


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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