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William Gray of St Bride

William Gray



St Bride

Researched by Henrietta Clarke

William Gray (sometimes Grey) carried out a significant amount of joinery work in St Bride’s between 1675 and 1692. There is no mention of him in Wren’s building accounts, only of William Cleere, the joiner who worked extensively with Wren, but Gray’s work is detailed in the churchwardens ’accounts of the time. On 5 June 1675 the records show that it was agreed to:

send to the judgemt of Sr Christopher Wren for the prices of the joyner’s work to be sett for doeing ye Pulpitt and Portalls and wainscot and other workes at the east end of the Church.

(Walter H Godfrey, ‘Appendix 3: Wren’s building accounts and churchwardens’ accounts’, in Survey of London Monograph 15, St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street (London, 1944), 123-138)

Mr Gray is then duly voted to do that work on 29 June 1675. In December 1675 it was agreed to give him an advance of £100 for work on the pulpit, the altarpiece, the pews and other works which he estimated would come to about £300.

On 24 January 1693 William Gray, Matthew Williams, and two others were asked to produce an estimate to alter the two side galleries. On 30 January the accounts record an “agreement with Matthew Williams, joiner of St Bride’s Parish” to finish the work of the Galleries for £27 in two months. It is therefore possible that Matthew Williams took over the joinery work at the church at this point. In his will of 1698, William Gray states that he is weak in body so perhaps his health was a reason for no longer working at St Bride’s.

William Gray also worked at the nearby church of St Martin within Ludgate. There are entries in the vestry minutes for various sums including one for £300. He is thought to have worked on the four door surrounds with the carver William Emmett and to have made the splendid double churchwarden chair. He also worked on the rebuilding of St Clement East Cheap and St Mary Abchurch.

Little is known about William Gray’s personal life except that he was of St Bride’s parish and was married to Mary Gray (née Cartwright) and had four children: Thomas, Mary, William and Elizabeth. The executors to his will were his father-in-law Thomas Cartwright senior and his brother-in-law Thomas Cartwright junior.


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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