Mary (St.) Axe.-On the west side of the street of St. Mary Axe. In Lime Street Ward.
First mention found in records : "St. Mary del Axe," 15 H. III. (Anc. Deeds, A. 2664).
The later forms are : "St. Mary apud Ax" (Rot. Hund. I. p. 409). "St. Mary de Ax" (Lib. Cust. II. 229, 236). "St. Mary atte Axe" (Rot. Hund. I. p. 420). "St. Mary atte Naxe," 1349 (Ct. H.W. I. 622).
It seems also to have been called "Sancte Marie pellipariorum" (Anc. Deeds, A. 7307), being the endorsement on a deed of 1170-1197 "Modo Mari Ax." The endorsement may be of later date.
Parish united to St. Andrew Undershaft, 1565 (S. 162), the church being in disrepair and no services held (Bills, 5 H. VIII. No.79).
It had belonged to the Priory of St. Helens (Lib. Cust. I. 229 and 236).Wheatley says that the church was given in 1562 to the Spanish Protestant refugees for divine worship.
The site occupied by the church and churchyard was granted by the Bishop of London in 1561 to the rector and churchwardens of St. Andrew Undershaft for the support and reparation of that church, and the grant was confirmed by Queen Elizabeth in the fourth year of her reign, and is known as the Black House Estate. The estate in 1860 consisted of five houses numbered 38, 39, 40, 41 and 42 St. Mary Axe ; No. 39 being occupied by the Lime Street and Cornhill Wards School. The houses have since been renumbered and three taken down, one only being built on the vacant site.
The numbers now are 37,43 (the School House) and 45 St. Mary Axe, and part of 115 Leadenhall Street, and they are partly erected on the site of the churchyard (End. Ch. Rep. 1903, p. 16).
This seems to correspond with the identification of the site in O.S. 1875.
Derivation of name : Stow says the name "at the Axe" was derived from the Sign of an Axe over against the East end of the Church, and "Pellipar" from a plot of ground lying on the north side pertaining to the Company of Skinners (S. 162).
But the forms as set out above are "de," "del," "apud," as well as "atte," and the true origin of the name appears from a document of the reign of H. VIII. 1514, above referred to, in which the full dedication is set out to St. Mary the Virgin, St. Ursula and the Eleven thousand Virgins, the name "Axe" being added because the church boasted possession, as a relic, of one of the three axes with which the Virgins were executed (Bills, 5 H. VIII. No.79) set out in Gentleman's Mag. Lib. XVI. 44, 45.