- (St.) Andrew Undershaft
- At the south-east corner of St. Mary Axe in Aldgate Ward.Earliest mention found in records : " St. Andrew ad Sanctam Trinitatem " (q.v.) 12th century (Anc. Deeds, A. 2338, 7284-5).Other forms : " St. Andrew juxta Alegate," 52 H. III. (Ch. Inq. p.m.). " St. Andrew towards Alegate," 1285 (Ct. H.W. I. 72). " St. Andrew on the way to Alegate," 1289 (H. MSS. Com. 9 Rep. p. 3). "Sancti Andrae super Cornhulle," 31 Ed. I. (Lib. Cust. I. 228). " St. Andrew Aneknappe," 1361 (Ct. H.W. II. 30). " St. Andrew atte Knappe on Cornhill," 37 Ed. III. (Cal. P.R. Ed. III.1361-4, p. 437). " Seint Andrewe atte the Shafte vppon Cornhill," 1477 (Jupp. Carp. Co. p. 26). " St, Andrew atte Shafte upon Cornhull," 1482 (Ct. H.W. II. 583). " St. Andrew beside Christ's Church," 35 H. VIII (L. and P. H. VIII. XVIII. (1) p. 530). " St. Andrewe Vndershafte, Algate Ward, 1516 (Fabyan's Chr. p.295). " St. Andrew super Cornhull " was the most general designation during the 14th century.A considerable portion of the church was rebuilt by Stephen Gennings, Mayor, in 1520-32 (S. 112) in the Perpendicular style of Gothic. It was restored again in 1627 and again in 1684, having escaped the Great Fire, also in 1704 (Strype, ed. 1720, ii. 66), about 1831, and in 1875-6. Monument in the church to John Stow, the antiquary.A Rectory. Patron : the Bishop of London.Parish of St. Mary Axe united to it, temp. Elizabeth (Strype, ed. 1720, I. ii. 72-3).Derivation of name : Stow speaks of it as " the faire and beautifull Parish church of " S. Andrew the Apostle with an addition, to be knowne from other churches of that name, " of the Knape or Undershaft, because that of old time everie yeare on May day in the " morning it was used, that an high or long shaft or Maypole was set up there, in the " midst of the streete before the south doore of the sayd church, which shaft when it " was set on ende, and fixed in the ground, was higher than the Church steeple " (S. 145).Though by the statement that the shaft when set up was higher than the church steeple, Stow seems to imply that this circumstance gave rise to the name of Undershaft, yet is it not probable that the true origin of the name is to be found in the Knape or Undershaft, which our author mentions without, it would seem, understanding it, and which is wholly ignored by the current explanation above mentioned? What this was is not explained, but the word Knape is obviously derived from the A.S. Cnaep which Bosworth defines as a top, cap, knop or button, and Skeat as " the top of a small hill." It seems not unlikely that there was a hillock or artificial knob in the middle of the street opposite the church containing a socket in which the shaft was set up and that this protuberance went by the name of the Knape or Undershaft. It seems more probable that the church would take its name from a permanent object in its immediate neighbourhood rather than from a maypole set up once a year. Moreover the name of a neighbouring object is constantly applied adjectively to city churches and the addition Undershaft as just explained would be quite in accordance with practice. It must be remembered that the practice of setting up the shaft had ceased before Stow was born, namely by the 3 Ed. VI. when the shaft was sawn in pieces, and the story of the shaft having been higher than the steeple may not improbably have been invented to account for the name, the true origin of which may have been long forgotten.The earliest instances of the use of the name give the forms " atte Knappe," " Ane knappe," in 1361 and 1363, and it is not until more than a century later that the forms " atte the Shafte " and " atte Shafte " occur.
A Dictionary of London. Henry A Harben. 1918.