Wednesday, April 18, 2018

What do a Polish nobleman, Hilary Mantel and the Dutch Centre in London have in common?

The answer is Austin Friars, the site of the Dutch church in London, near Liverpool St. Station. In the reign of Henry VIII, the arch-fixer Thomas Cromwell had his house in Austin Friars. It occasionally gets a mention in Hilary Mantel's novel, Wolf Hall. In the reign of his son, Edward VI, the many Dutch in London were given their own church at Austin Friars. The first superintendent of the church was a Polish nobleman, Jan Łaski or Johannes Alasco. He knew Latin and Low German, but is unlikely to have known much if any Dutch. When Edward's half-sister Mary came to the throne he and other leaders of the Dutch church were forced to leave England. Worship resumed in 1559 and continues to this day, although the original Gothic church was destroyed in the Second World War. Below is a picture of the new Dutch church at Austin Friars. This is home to the Dutch Centre in London and holds regular services in Dutch



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