Anglo-Saxon • Gothic • Tudor • Elizabethan • Jacobean • Baroque • Queen Anne • Georgian • Victorian • Jacobethan • Edwardian • Bristol Byzantine
If you are an architectural or Gothic enthusiast, then by golly your appetite will be slaked in London with a bountiful feast of historically significant churches and buildings…..almost too many to mention! In this post I have listed some of London’s beautiful churches, a few of which you may recognise, and some will be new to you; albeit certainly in no way new to London . I have visited many of these churches myself (these I have listed first), and they are all well worth the time………..never let it be said that “if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all” – they are all completely different and each quite enchanting. Besides these churches we also have one of the finest Gothic Cemeteries in the UK, so whether you are here for just 3 days in London or a London resident, this is a ‘not to be missed’ visit for any enthusiast.
All Hallows London Wall, London Wall, EC2
18th C church built by George Dance the Younger. The churchyard is bounded by one of the few remaining sections of the original London Wall (London Wall, now the name of a road in the ‘City of London’, was the defensive wall first built by the Romans around Londinium. Until the later Middle Ages the wall defined the boundaries of the City of London). Until recently; used by ‘Wallspace’.
All Soul’s, Langham Place, W1
Classical design by John Nash built in 1822 as part of his vision for developing Regent Street. A circular portico is topped by a remarkable needle spire.
St. Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe, Queen Victoria Street,. EC4
The offices of the Redundant Churches Fund are in this church, which was damaged beyond repair in the Blitz. Situated in the square mile, this was a wonderful discovery.
St. Bride’s, Fleet Street, EC4
Recently restored to Christopher Wren’s design, this is the “church of the press”, so named for its use by newspaper reporters from Fleet Street. This is the eighth church in this location, and remains of the other seven, plus Roman pavement, can be seen in the crypt museum. By far my favourite church.
St. Clement Danes, Strand, WC2 (near The Royal Courts of Justice)
The official church of the Royal Air Force contains over 8oo badges of RAF squadrons and units. The first church here was built in the 9th century. The bells are famous in the nursery rhyme “Oranges and Lemons”. A wonderful church to visit; humbling.
St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, WC2
Classical church famous for the classical orchestra of the same name. Lunchtime concerts Monday, Tuesday, Friday. I truly loved the interior of this church and love listening to the bells ringing out!
St. Paul’s Cathedral, Ludgate Hill, EC4
Christopher Wren’s classical masterpiece. The present cathedral replaces Old St. Paul’s, which was destroyed in the Great Fire. There is a museum in the crypt, and memorials to Wren, John Donne, and the Duke of Wellington. A magnificent church to visit that left me feeling quite spiritual and rejuvenated. The super-tour is NOT to be missed! and the view from the galleries….awesome!
Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge, SE1
Gothic church contains magnificent stone carvings, and the tomb of Shakespeare’s brother Edmund. You feel like you need to tip-toe round the hallowed tiles of this church. Amazing to visit.
Westminster Abbey; Gothic cathedral Parliament Square, SW1
The premier church of the realm and burial place of many of Britain’s monarchs. This is the cathedral where Prince William and Kate Middleton are to be married. This history and significance of this cathedral will leave you breathless.
Westminster Cathedral, Victoria, SW1
The most imposing and most important Catholic church in England, a marvel in multi-coloured brick. A truly inspiring church to visit with one of the most magnificent interiors that leaves you wanting to go back again and again to enjoy the spendid mosaics.
Still to visit…………
All Hallows Staining, Mark Lane, EC3
Historic early church, beloved of Queen Elizabeth I.
All Hallows-by-the-Tower, Byward Street EC3
in 1666, Samuel Pepys climbed the tower of All Hallows to observe the destruction of the Great Fire. This church, which dates from the 12th-15th centuries, although badly damaged in the Blitz, the font cover carved by Grinling Gibbons was untouched. In the crypt there is evidence of Roman paving, and stones from the 7th century Saxon church that stood here. ( I visited this church about 8 years ago, but have no photos….so will visit again and share the experience )
All Saints, Margaret Street, W1
A striking Victorian Gothic design in coloured bricks built by William Butterworth in 1849.
Brompton Oratory (London Oratory), Brompton Road, SW7
An ornate Italian Catholic church built in 1884 with the 3rd widest nave in Britain after Westminster Abbey (London) and York Minster (York). Magnificent organ containing nearly 4000 pipes.
Chelsea Old Church (All Saints), Cheyne Walk, SW3
Although was damaged in the Blitz (later restored), the 1528 More Chapel, built for Sir Thomas More and his family, survived unaltered.
Holy Trinity, Sloane Street, SW7
Arts and Crafts style church with superb stained-glass windows by Edward Burne-Jones.
St. Alfege, Church Street, Greenwich, SE10
Thomas Tallis, “the Father of English Church Music”, is buried in this 1718 church designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor. The church, badly damaged during the Blitz, has been restored.
St. Andrew, Holborn Circus, EC1
The largest parish church designed by Christopher Wren. Thomas Coram, founder of the Foundlings Hospital, is buried here.
St. Andrew Undershaft, St. Mary Axe, Leadenhall Street, EC3
A largely Tudor church housing a memorial to John Stow, author of the 1598 “A Survey of London”. The unusual name of the church comes from the fact that a popular maypole once stood nearby.
St. Anne and St. Agnes, Gresham Street, EC2
Small gem rebuilt by Wren after the Great Fire.
St. Anne Limehouse, Commercial Road, E14
A striking tower tops the Classical church designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor in 1712.
St. Bartholomew-the-Great, West Smithfield, EC1
One of the few remaining Norman churches in London. Began in the 12th C as the chancel of a monastery on this spot. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries the building saw use as a stable and factory, before reverting to a church in the 19th C. The entry is a 13th C arch with a half-timbered gatehouse above.
St. Bartholomew-the-less, West Smithfield, EC1
A 15th C tower and vestry are melded into an 18th C design in this chapel of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital.
St. Benet’s, Paul’s Wharf, Queen Victoria Street, EC4
Welsh Episcopalian church designed by Christopher Wren.
St. Botolph, Aldersgate, EC1
Georgian church on 11th century foundations, blessed with excellent stained-glass.
St. George’s Cathedral, Lambeth Road, Southwark, SE1
Catholic cathedral designed by Pugin.
St. Giles Cripplegate, London Wall, EC2
The first church here dates to 1090. John Milton is buried at St. Giles.
St. Magnus the Martyr, Lower Thames St., EC3 – by London Bridge
Rebuilt by Christopher Wren after the Great Fire; records show the history of the church in honour of St Magnus dates back at least to 1067. The present building was described by T. S. Eliot in 1922 as holding “inexplicable splendour of Ionian white and gold”.
St. Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside, EC2
A true Cockney must be born within the sound of the bells of St. Mary-le-Bow. The present church is a Wren design.
Temple Church, The Temple, EC4
One of the oldest buildings in London, this delightful round church is tucked away in a quiet courtyard, just yards from the hurly burly of busy Fleet Street to the north. The church was built by the Knights Templar in 1185. ( I have in the past also visited this church, but again have no photos…..so watch this space)
Wesley’s Chapel, City Road, EC1
The “mother church of world Methodism” opened by Wesley in 1778. There is a Methodist museum in the crypt.
Please do be aware that on the whole most of these churches are free to visit (with the exception of St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey for example), however, they do depend on donations for upkeep. They are so beautiful and genuinely worth their weight in gold, and a pound or so will ensure they are here for years to come for us and future generations to enjoy.
If you have visited any of these churches and would like to share your story, please do let me know via the comments section and I would be delighted to have you do a guest blog. Thanks for dropping by.
10.02.2011 please note that due to some inadvertant, inaccurate information shown in the original post, this blog post has been rewritten and amended. Any inaccuracies in the previous publication of this blog post should be ignored. Thank you.