All HallowsbytheTower in London

Show Map

All Hallows-by-the-Tower, also previously dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, is an ancient Anglican church located in Byward Street in the City of London, overlooking the Tower of London.


All Hallows-by-the-Tower was first established in 675 by the Saxon Abbey at Barking and was for many years named after the abbey, as All Hallows Barking. The church was built on the site of a former Roman building, traces of which have been discovered in the crypt. It was expanded and rebuilt several times between the 11th century and 15th century. Its proximity to the Tower meant that it acquired royal connections, with Edward IV making it a royal chantry and the beheaded victims of Tower executions being sent for temporary burial at All Hallows.

The church was badly damaged by a nearby explosion in 1650, which demolished its west tower, and only narrowly survived the Great Fire of London in 1666. It owed its survival to Admiral William Penn, father of William Penn of Pennsylvania fame, who saved it by having the surrounding buildings demolished to create firebreaks. During the Great Fire, Samuel Pepys climbed its spire to watch the progress of the fire.

Restored in the late 19th century, All Hallows was gutted by German bombers during the London Blitz in World War II and required extensive reconstruction, only being rededicated in 1957.

Many portions of the old church survived the war and have been sympathetically restored. Its outer walls are 15th century, with a 7th century Saxon doorway surviving from the original church. Many brasses remain in the interior (where one of London's brass rubbing centres is now located). Three outstanding wooden statues of saints dating from the 15th and 16th centuries can also be found in the church, as can an exquisite Baptismal font cover which was carved in 1682 by Grinling Gibbons for ₤12, and which is regarded by many as one of the finest pieces of carving in London. In 1999 the AOC Archaeology Group excavated the cemetery and made many significant discoveries.

The church has a museum called the Crypt Museum, containing portions of a Roman pavement which together with many artifacts was discovered many feet below the church in 1926. The exhibits focus on the history of the church and the City of London, and include Saxon and religious artefacts. Also on display are the church's registers dating back to the 16th century, and notable entries include the baptism of William Penn, the marriage of John Quincy Adams, and the burial of Archbishop William Laud.

The altar in the Crypt is of plain stone from the castle of King Richard I at Athlit in The Holy Land.

All Hallows-by-the-Tower is celebrated and remembered throughout the world in the use of its name both in Dublin (All Hallows College) and in Brisbane, Australia (All Hallows' School). It has been the Guild church of Toc-H since 1922. The church was designated a Grade I listed building on 4 January 1950.

Notable people associated with the church

  • John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the United States: married 1797
  • Judge Jeffreys, notorious "hanging judge": married 1667
  • Archbishop of Canterbury William Laud, beheaded at the Tower: buried 1645
  • Thomas More, beheaded
  • John Fisher, beheaded at the Tower: buried
  • Lancelot Andrewes, baptized
  • William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania: baptised 1644
  • Albert Schweitzer, made organ recordings at All Hallows
  • Philip Clayton, also known as 'Tubby', Former Vicar and founder of Toc H
  • Cecil Thomas, a sculptor who provided several funerary figures between the Wars


The earliest records of an organ in All Hallows is one by Anthony Duddyngton dating from 1521. This was presumably lost during the English Civil War.

An organ was installed in 1675 by Thomas and Renatus Harris. In 1720 a new case was built by Gerard Smith. The organ was restored and improved by George Pike England in 1813, Bunting in 1872 and 1878, and Gray and Davison in 1902. There was further work by Harrison and Harrison in 1909 and 1928. After destruction in 1940, a new organ by Harrison and Harrison was installed in 1957.


  • Albertus Bryne II (or Bryan) 1675-1713
  • Charles Young 1713-1758
  • Charles John Frederick Lampe 1758-1767
  • Samuel Bowyer 1767-1770
  • Charles Knyvett and William Smethergell 1770-1783
  • William Smethergell 1783-1823
  • Mary Morrice 1823-1840
  • Lisetta Rist 1840-1880
  • Arthur Poyser
  • Gordon Phillips 1956-1991
  • Jonathan Melling

See also

  • List of churches and cathedrals of London

External links