London History

The Oldest Church in the City of London – All Hallows by the Tower

All Hallows-by-the-Tower, sometimes known as All Hallows Barking, is an ancient Anglican church on Byward Street in the City of London, overlooking the Tower of London.


All Hallows by the Tower is the oldest church in the City of London. The church dates back as far as 675AD and is full of history.

The Saxon Abbey of Barking founded the church back in the Saxon period. The church was expanded and rebuilt several times between the 11th and 15th century. An arch from the original building remains. beneath the arch is a Roman pavement discovered in the 1920s, providing evidence of city life on this site for the best part of two thousand years.

Roman Pavement - All Hallows by the Tower
Roman Pavement – All Hallows by the Tower

Located next to the Tower of London, the church has cared for numerous beheaded bodies brought for temporary burial following their executions on Tower Hill, including those of Thomas More, Bishop John Fisher and Archbishop Laud.

In 1666 the Great Fire of London started in Pudding Lane, a few hundred yards from the church. All Hallows survived through the efforts of Admiral Penn who, along with his friend Samuel Pepys, watched London burn from the tower of the church.  Famed diarist Samuel Pepys climbed the brick tower of All Hallows to watch the progress of the fire across London. Pepys lived in Seething Lane, across the road from All Hallows.

The church suffered extensive bomb damage during World War II and only the tower and the walls remained. The church was rebuilt after the war and was rededicated in 1957.

All Hallows by the Tower gutted during the WW2 London blitz.

All Hallows by the Tower has a fantastic crypt museum “The Undercroft Museum” where you can see the remains of a Roman pavement, an altar believed to have been carried on the Second Crusade by King Richard II, Roman, Saxon and religious artefacts, and a model showing London at the time of the Romans. Entry is free and you are free to visit from Monday to Saturday between 09:00 and 17:00. Check the website for the latest opening times.

All Hallows By The Tower Undercroft Museum

Official website


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