London’s Oldest Churches


London’s long history has meant that over the centuries, it’s amassed a great many churches. From East London accommodation to hotels near Earls Court London, you can’t walk a mile in the city without seeing some tremendous and beautiful places of worship. London has a heritage of them, and many mark some important moments in the city’s life.

If you’re religious or simply an architecture connoisseur, a day trip in the city exploring London’s most famous and oldest churches is a great way to get to know the English capital. Guests of hotels in Kensington are well placed to explore some of the city’s most historic places of worship, where they can learn more about London’s long past.

Below you’ll find an overview of the oldest churches in London and where to find them, providing guests of the Park Grand Kensington Hotel London with a number of tourist attractions and historic landmarks for their stay in the city. 

All Hallows By The Tower

All Hallows By The Tower

All Hallows By The Tower is known as the oldest church in London and is located on Byward Street, overlooking the Tower of London. Built back in AD 675, the church was originally part of the Abbey of Barking but became a popular church after the Norman conquest and building of the Tower of London. The history behind it also includes being the site where executed bodies beheaded at the Tower of London were transported for burial.

St Dunstan In The East

St Dunstan In The East

Though no longer a functioning church, the gardens of St Dunstan In The East are a popular hidden gem in the Borough area. Situated equidistantly between London Bridge and the Tower of London, St Dunstan In The East was built in the 12th century as was a parish church up until it was partially destroyed by bombing during the Blitz. In the 70s’, the ruins were developed into a garden area with creeping vines and flower beds, making it a peaceful reminder of the magnificent mediaeval church that once stood there.

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey dates back to the 10th century when it was developed as a priory for Benedictine Monks after a purported sighting of St Peter on the Thames. However, back then it was known as St Peter’s Priory and only became Westminster Abbey when Henry III began building himself a burial place in the 13th century. Over time, the Gothic building was added to by more and more kings and has become the prime coronation ceremony site. There are many famous figures buried at Westminster Abbey. Guests of Park Grand accommodation in London will find the likes of Chaucer, Queen Elizabeth and even Stephen Hawking buried here, as well as plenty of stunning church wings and religious artworks. 

St Olave’s

Dating to 1450, St Olave’s Church was one of the only City of London churches to survive the Great Fire of 1666. It’s not surprising then, that the famed diarist Samuel Pepys who wrote about the event is buried here alongside a range of other notable London residents. Pepys himself is said to have saved the church from destruction by having the wooden buildings beside the church torn down to stop the fire’s spread. The church is one of the smallest in London and is built in the Perpendicular Gothic style, with ominous skulls decorating the entrance doorway.

St Giles-without-Cripplegate

With its predecessor being a Saxon and then Norman church, the St Giles-Without-Cripplegate was built in 1394 and was another church that managed to survive the Great Fire of London. Interestingly, this ever-evolving church is now set within the compounds of the Barbican Centre, juxtaposing the brutalist architecture with its gothic exterior. The church is dedicated to St Giles, the patron saint of beggars and disabled people, and is still used to this day.

St Helen’s Church

St Helen’s Church is located in the City of London at Bishopsgate and was first mentioned back in the 13th century. The church, however, is theorised to have been built on the ruins of a Roman building and survived both the Blitz and the Great Fire of London. However, it was damaged in two bombing attacks by the IRA in 1992 and 1993 but has since been restored. This beautiful mediaeval church is well known for its array of monuments and memorials. These include plinths and statues dedicated to Crosby Hall founder Sir John Crosby, Sir Julius Caesar Adelmare, a Judge of the Court of Admiralty and several other influential figures from throughout history.

St Bartholomew-the-Great

Another shapeshifting church that was originally designed as a priory, St Bartholomew-the-Great dates back to 1123 and saw its role change after the dissolution of the monasteries into a stable and a factory before finally settling back into an Anglican Church. The Romanesque interior is a stunning piece of interior design and lends much atmosphere to this beautiful Smithfield parish. So much so in fact that it has been used as a filming location for the likes of Four Weddings And A Funeral, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Shakespeare In Love.

Temple Church

Temple Church

Located in Temple on the banks of the River Thames, Temple Church was once the headquarters of the Knights of the Templar who were key players in the crusades to Jerusalem and were one of the first international banks. Temple Church’s iconic design is rounded and has thick stone walls, making it a unique-looking church on the banks of the River Thames. Nowadays, visitors can learn about the history of Templar initiations and history by visiting and touring this atmospheric and beautiful building.

Southwark Cathedral

Southwark Cathedral is one of the best examples of Gothic Revival architecture in London and is situated in the Southwark area of Central South London. With a history dating back to before the Norman conquest, the cathedral had a new nave built in the 19th century as well as stunning arched ceiling interiors. The church is still well-attended to this day and is well known for the resident cat that can often be found on social media pages and stalking the aisles of the church itself. The current cat is a black and white one called Hodge who can often be found in the church and even has its own accessories for sale in the church shop.