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St James's Church Garlickhythe


St James's Church Garlickhythe is an ancient church that was destroyed during the Great Fire of London of September 1666 and rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren (opening on 10 December 1682, though the tower was not finished until 1717). In 1855 an embalmed mummy, known as Jimmy Garlick (Garlickhythe) was discovered in the vaults and for many years was on public display in a glass case, though I am unsure if this is still the situation. After World War II, there were claims that Jimmy Garlick had started to haunt.

First mentioned in a will dating from the 12th century, St James’s Church probably dates back to the Saxon era. Dedicated to the St James who was martyred in Spain in 44AD, the church was part of the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostella where the Saints body remained hidden for 800 years.

The name Garlichythe refers to it being close to a very old and important hythe (a Saxon term for landing place) on the Thames, where Garlic (and wine) was usually delivered and then sold on Garlic Hill.

St James Church is closely associated with eleven Livery Companies (out of the 104 total), these being the Skinners, Vintners, Dyers, Painter-Stainers, Joiners and Ceilers, Horners, Needlemakers, Glass Sellers and Looking Glass Makers, Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers and the Fanmakers. It is also associated with on of the three historic companies without livery, the Parish Clerks.

Jimmy Garlick
Found in 1855, this mummy was originally thought, after examination by the British Museum, to be that of an adolescent child from the 18th Century. However, new light was shed his origins by the Discovery Channel documentary called ‘Mummy Autopsy’ in 2004. Their investigation showed that Jimmy was fairly old at time of death, suffering from decaying teeth and osteo-arthritis. Carbon dating places his death within the 160 year period between 1641 and 1801.

St James Church was nearly hit by a German Zeppelin’s bomb during World War I, after which a Bomb Sermon was introduced to give thanks. In May 1941 the church was not so lucky and a 500lb German bomb came through the roof during an air raid and embedded itself in the south aisle. The bomb did not explode.

It was suggested that perhaps this disturbed Jimmy who’s apparition (or walking mummy, depending who’s version you read) was said to be seen after the war. He has also been blamed for unusual noises in the Church and for moving items around.


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