Tuesday 20th October – 32rd meeting of 2015
We met and traveled to Tower Hill where we turned away from the bustle of The Tower to the church of All Hallows by the Tower. It stands on its own and is a quiet space to view and reflect on its long history as the oldest church in the City of London.
An arch remains from the original Saxon church of 675 AD under which are parts of a Roman pavement (discovered in 1926) proving that city life has existed on the spot for 2,000 years. The church interior today is light and airy and made up of various parts of the original building as unfortunately it was bombed in 1940 and only the walls and tower remained. It was rebuilt over a period of years and rededicated in 1957 attended by the late Queen Mother.
In between times the church has dealt with numerous beheaded bodies from the Tower including Thomas Moore, John Fisher and Archbishop Land. The church survived the Great Fire in 1666 due in part to efforts by Admiral Penn (William Penn’s father) who with his friend Samuel Pepys watched events from the church tower. William Penn founder of Pennsylvania was baptised and educated in the school room here.
At the time of the rededication in the 50’s ‘Tubby’ Clayton was the vicar and he also founded Toc H and the movements lamp of maintenance still burns in the Lady Chapel and his effigy and remains rest in the church.
There is a large Museum Crypt which is full of things to see including The Roman pavement, the marriage register of John Quincy Adams – 6th President of the USA who married there in 1797 to Louisa Catherine Johnson and various chapels including the St Francis Chapel Crypt.
There is such a variety of things to see – too many to list, and the church has a long list of activities besides the actual services themselves so it is well worth a visit.
While we were there we were treated to a rehearsal of their Christmas Concert of a quartet of unaccompanied singers and it was really beautiful. The church is used by the Thames Waterman and also is the church of HM Revenue and Customs.
We plan to return as not everyone managed it today and hope to have a guided tour next time.