Friday, July 1, 2022

6/27 Two Pepys Churches--All Hallows by the Tower and St Olave's Church

This is my last day in the UK, so I wanted to make sure I got to visit the inside of the two churches that Samuel Pepys knew and visited.  Sadly, most of this area was destroyed in the Great Fire of London or WWII, so the area looks nothing like what Pepys saw in the mid-1600s, but these two churches help you gain a little imagination.

First, it is important to remember that London began as a Roman City.  So underneath all of the central city, known as The City, is Roman Londinium.  Londinium was a walled, military city of about one square mile and was the capital of Roman Britain.  The location was chosen by the Romans because of the narrowness of the Thames River, across which was built a rough bridge. 

Based on archeological evidence and documentation left by the Romans, it probably looked like this:

As you walk around central London, you will still see bits and pieces of the old Roman walls, like this section near the Tower of London.  Think of London as a city of layers--the Anglo-Saxon city was built upon the Roman city and the Medieval city built on top of the Anglo-Saxon city, with Pepys city built upon that, and the modern city built on the top of the layer cake. 

This is All Hallows by the Tower I posted about in the last post.  This church is known as the oldest church in London and the tower of which Samuel Pepys climbed to view the Great Fire in 1666, when nearly all of the central city burned.

Unfortunately, the entire center of this church was bombed during WWII and rebuilt, however, the original church walls on the sides of the church survived.  

In this photo, you can see the fire-darkened walls of the church from 1666.  


An interesting baptismal font that looks as if it is made from marble, but is actually made of wood.  This is a cover which can be winched out of the way when it needs to be used.  

One of the positives of the WWII bombing of this church is that the remnants of the Anglo-Saxon upon which the Medieval church was built came to light.  The arch shown in the second photo was originally covered with plaster.

You can go down underneath the church to see the layers in the crypt.  This is a section of Roman road, for example, discovered during the rebuilding after WWII.  The road and arches are several feet below the current street level because as the city has been destroyed and rebuilt, rubble is built upon, raising the level of new layers.

The crypt also displays items discovered in the church from Roman to more modern times.

This is a small, more modern chapel in the crypt in a room containing many boxes of cremated remains.

Across the busy street in front of All Hallows is Seething Lane, the street that Pepys lived on and the church that he and his wife attended regularly--St Olaves.

This plaque memorializes Samuel Pepys, who wrote often about attending this church.  He and his wife are buried in the nave, but it is all currently covered by carpeting, so nothing can be seen.

Elizabeth Pepys died a few years before Samuel, but he had this memorial to her designed.  The fun part is that her bust shows her looking directly at the Naval Department pew keeping an eye on her husband. 

The Naval pew is the one in the front on the left.

The location of the Naval pew is confirmed by this carving on both ends.

If anyone in that church needed to be watched, it was Pepys, the great philanderer!!

I originally was going to post about my experience on the London Eye on this day, but decided to put it in a separate post. 

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