Mellitus Street, W12

Place Name

Saint Mellitus of Canterbury (died April 24, AD624) was the first Bishop of London and the third Archbishop of Canterbury (AD619 – AD624), he was known for his missionary work and his diplomatic efforts between the Roman church and the churches of Britain. Thought to be from noble Roman birth, he was sent to help Augustine, the archbishop of Canterbury, in his work converting the East Saxons, by Pope Gregory I also known as Gregory the Great in AD601. On his arrival Augustine consecrated him as bishop in the province of the East Saxons, making Mellitus the first Bishop of London after the Roman departure (London was the East Saxons’ capital). The Pope also sent a letter instructing Mellitus to tell Augustine and his fellow missionaries to destroy the Saxons’ idols and to convert their places of worship into churches. He also advised that they should adapt pagan festivals into Christian observances – making the new religion more palatable and furthering the cause of the church in England. After a brief exile in Gaul, he was recalled by Laurentius, then-archbishop of Canterbury, who he succeeded in AD619. According to legend, Mellitus saved Canterbury from destruction by fire, the strength of his prayers summoning a great wind that drove the flames away from the city. This is one of a small number of Edwardian streets built in 1911 that are named after bishops of London, who were lords of the manor of Fulham. Their former summer house, Fulham Palace, is a few miles away and Wormholt, as the area was referred to, was considered the waste ground of the manor and used for “depasturing cattle and swine of copyhold tenants”.

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