Within a stone’s throw of St Paul’s Cathedral stands the impressive church of St Vedast-alias-Foster. St Vedast was an obscure 6th century Flemish saint and Foster is the English corruption of that name, and on Foster Lane you’ll find this Wren church.
The church itself is well worth a look inside, as it contains many 17th century furnishings which have been taken from other City churches. The steeple is very fine too. It’s been attributed to Nicholas Hawksmoor but there’s no actual evidence. What marks the church out is what is found to the north of the entrance.
Fountain Court is a charming little garden, hidden away from the hustle and bustle of Cheapside. You’d hardly know you were in the City. Around the paved courtyard are several interesting artworks to discover. In the north-east corner is a Vintners’ Company plate dated 1711. What it’s doing there is a slight mystery but the Company did own property in Foster Lane (Nos. 3 & 4) in 1548 and sold it in 1945 to provide a new rectory for St Vedast's.
Since the church was bombed during World War Two it may simply have been moved. In another corner is an elegant stone relief of Canon Mortlock, who was rector of the church after the war and oversaw its reconstruction by Stephen Dykes Bower. It is by the distinguished sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein, who carved it in 1936. Mortlock was a friend of Epstein’s and gave the eulogy at Epstein’s funeral in 1959.
While Mortlock was rector the distinguished archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan worshipped at the church. He was the second husband of the crime writer Agatha Christie and spent many years digging in Iraq. A souvenir of his excavations can also be seen in the courtyard. It’s a baked brick from ancient Kalhu in northern Iraq, inscribed with cuneiform writing from the 9th century BC Assyrian king Shalmaneser.
Pop in during the week and you’ll find more little gems within this shady courtyard.