Who Knew

Surprising finds in City churches

With many City churches reopening after lockdown I have been enjoying popping into a few and re-acquainting myself with some of the interesting and surprising stuff therein: so I thought I’d share a few!

All Hallows by the Tower can tell the whole history of the City from one building! Above are a Roman floor, a C7 Saxon arch made from Roman tiles and a Saxon cross. And if that isn’t enough, here is a stunning piece of carving by Grinling Gibbons.

The above entry in All Hallows’ Register records the burial of William Laud(e), Archbishop of Canterbury, beheaded in 1645 (the word “Traitor” was originally added then erased): All Hallows was the nearest church to Tower Hill where many notable people were executed, so many famous (if headless) bodies have lain there.

More beheading fun lies behind this strange statue in St Katharine Cree in Leadenhall St: a church consecrated in 1631 by the very William Laud we just encountered…

The Laud Chapel is furnished by the Society of King Charles the Martyr, an Anglo-Catholic devotional society for those interested in the King’s life and death: here he is clutching a copy of the posthumous bestseller “Eikon Basilike”, his spiritual biography published ten days after his beheading. And above him lies a diplomat who could tell a few tales: Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, who handled much of the business between Elizabeth the 1st and Mary Queen of Scots.

The interior of St Katharine Cree is very beautiful and shows an interesting blend of styles at a crossroads of church architecture: the ceiling vaulting looks medieval but the columns and arches speak of the coming Baroque styles (the church was consecrated in 1631).

And finally my favourite tomb monument in the City: Mrs Elizabeth Pepys, long suffering wife of Samuel, has this wonderfully animated bust by John Bushell.

I hope this has whetted your appetite for popping into the odd City church…they all have something interesting to see!

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