High over Relly's church

What does a Shakepearian villain, the author of Utopia, a pioneering Universalist minister and record-making building have in common? A single place

Crosby Hall (1, 2) was a late medieval merchant’s house in the Bishopsgate section of London, near the even older (and surviving) St. Helen’s Church. Among its famous early residents were the Duke of Gloucester — later Richard III, famous in the Bard’s play as the horseless prince-killer — and Thomas More. The area went downmarket in later generations and after the Great Ejection, the area was riddled with Nonconformists. A Presbyterian chapel flourished there for many years, but on its demise, it was taken over by the Universalist minister James Relly as his third and last meetinghouse, closing with his death. Thus the connection.

The area slipped more, and at one point the hall became a wool warehouse, I believe. It was disassembled in 1908 and — thankfully — reassembled in Chelsea in 1910. It survives as a private residence.

The area is full of banking institutions today; the site of Crosby Hall has a rather uninspiring postwar office building on it. But not for much longer.

That site and a couple nearby are being redeveloped as the tallest building in the UK: the Bishopsgate Tower.

Gosh — you can’t scratch London without hitting something.

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