All Hallows by the Tower – even the very name is evocative.
And so it should be, for it is the oldest church in the City of London, and the church nearest to the Tower of London.
And although two queens and three dukes, among others, lie buried beneath the altar pavement of St Peter ad Vincula, the chapel within the walls of the Tower and conveniently close to the gallows on Tower Green, it was All Hallows which had the care of a number of other beheaded bodies – including, most notably, those of Thomas More, Bishop John Fisher, and Archbishop Laud.
All Hallows by the Tower is a beautiful and fascinating church to visit, as I discovered when I attended the Sung Eucharist at 11am there on Sunday 6th January 2019.
The service, for Epiphany (the coming of the Magi) was presided over by the Revd. Prebendiary Rose Hudson-Wilkin.
She made a great impression upon us with her sermon against the divisions that arise between Christians of different denominations: “for we all have the same message”.
She said she felt so sad when a member of the congregation said to a visitor: “Don’t worry, we’re not Catholic, we’re Christian.” The visitor then walked away. She longed to run after the visitor and replace that false message with her assurance of welcome and acceptance for all, regardless of any artificial divisions.
The undercroft of the church houses precious historical relics; beneath the present nave is the undercroft of the Saxon church containing three chapels: the Undercroft Chapel, the Chapel of St Francis of Assisi and the Chapel of St Clare. An exhibition of Roman and Saxon artefacts, may be found in the Undercroft Museum, and at the far end you will find a rare example of a Roman tessellated pavement, perfectly preserved.
The pavement was discovered in 1926 and represents evidence of city life on this site for nearly two thousand years.
Do include a visit to All Hallows by the Tower when you visit the Tower of London.