“When I grow rich” say the bells of Shoreditch

With this London mini-series almost complete, it’s quite sad to think about finishing it, but as they say, all good things come to an end.

Well known Shoreditch is a hub of up-and-coming North East London, and entertains a steady stream of coffee-drinking, graffiti loving art-students and bohemians – a funky area with a very trendy vibe. Amidst all of these, the Grand Dame that is Shoreditch Parish Church watches o’er.

Records indicate that this is the site of one of the most ancient of London’s churches, dating back to
the Saxon period. The first definite mention of it is in the 12th Century, but
it is implied that it is already quite old by that time. Parts of the 12th
Century church do still survive, although they are now buried amongst later

 “Oranges and Lemons” say the bells of St Clement’s

“Bull’s eyes and targets” say the bells of St Margaret’s.

“Pokers and tongs” say the bells of St John’s.

“Pancakes and fritters” say the bells of St Peter’s.

“Two sticks and an apple” say the bells of Whitechapel.

“Old Father Baldpate” say the slow bells of Aldgate.

“Maids in white aprons ” say the bells of St Katharine’s.

“Brickbats and tiles” say the bells of St Giles’.

“Kettles and pans” say the bells of St Anne’s.

“You owe me five farthings” say the bells of St Martin’s.

“When will you pay me?” say the bells of Old Bailey.

“When I grow rich” say the bells of Shoreditch.

“Pray when will that be?” say the bells of Stepney.

“I’m sure I don’t know” says the great bell of

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,

Chip chop, chip chop, the last man’s dead.

St Leonards was often frequented by Elizabethan actors as it was located near to
the first purpose built theatre called ‘The Theatre’ and also in close proximity
to the ‘Curtain Theatre’. The current church, was built rebuilt in 1740 but its
churchyard still holds earlier graves including those of many actors including
William Shakespeare’s friend and builder of the Curtain Theatre, Richard


The area was considered a very poor district of London. In 1774, the Shoreditch
Vestry levied a special poor rate for the purpose of setting up a workhouse for
the parish of St Leonard’s which illustrates the level of poverty in the area.
The hopeful phrase ” When I grow rich” must have been echoed by many of the
inhabitants of Shoreditch.

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