City of London Churches, London (Self Guided)

London can proudly boast of having an awe-inspiring collection of churches. Here, you will find every style and type. The religious buildings have been a magnet for people ever since the Vikings started striking terror into the city in the 790s. Take this tour to discover most significant religious sites in the City of London.
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City of London Churches Map

Guide Name: City of London Churches
Guide Location: England » London (See other walking tours in London)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 km
Author: clare
St. Mary Woolnoth

1) St. Mary Woolnoth

On the corner of Lombard Street and King William Street you will find the church of St Mary Woolnoth, one of the few churches in London that has no crypt; instead, under the building is the Bank Tube Station.

The site on which today’s church stands is a very ancient Roman and pagan place of worship. The Christian church was built in the 12th century. The full name was St Mary Woolnoth of the Nativity; it is supposed that Woolnoth was the name of a 12th century merchant benefactor. The Norman church was rebuilt in 1445, with the spire added on in 1485.

The church was damaged during the 1666 Great Fire of London; but Sir Christopher Wren was able to repair it, keeping much of the 15th century structure. Two new bells (tenor and treble) were hung in 1670 and a third bell was cast in 1672. In 1711 the building was considered unsafe and demolished.

Today’s church was rebuilt by the 1711 Commission for Building Fifty New Churches and was financed by the Coal Tax. Designing the church fell to Nicolas Hawksmoor and it is one of his more imposing structures, with its two turrets supported on Corinthian columns in the English Baroque style.

The interior is lovely, but rather geometrical in design, with an interior square enclosed by three rows of four columns, which in its turn is surrounded by a larger square dominated by the Baroque baldaquin.
Sight description based on wikipedia
St. Stephen Walbrook

2) St. Stephen Walbrook

You really should take time to visit St Stephen Walbrook Church situated next to the Mansion House (the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London).

The Walbrook is a small river running from the City Wall into the River Thames – hence its name. In the 7th century a Saxon church stood on the west side of the brook. It was demolished and rebuilt in 1439 on the east side. This church was destroyed in the Great Fire in 1666 and Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to build the new one.

The new church was built over the brook which now flows through a concrete tunnel underneath the building. The church is considered one of Wren’s finest churches, with its 63ft dome centred over a square of 8 columns. The circular base of the dome is supported in its turn by 8 arches that cross each other in the style of a Byzantine squinch. The building was a bit damaged during the Blitz of 1941, but was soon restored.

You can’t miss the beautiful white stone altar by Henry Moore in the centre of the church, but you might be surprised to see a telephone in a glass box on display. This telephone is the first one ever used by the Samaritans, a confidential emotional support service who have a “hot-line” 24 hours a day and give help and advice by telephone, letter and e-mail. The Samaritans were founded in 1953 by Dr Chad Varan, the rector of St Stephen Walbrook. On the left wall of the church, you can admire the painting “Burial of St Stephen” by Benjamin West.
Sight description based on wikipedia
St. James Garlickhythe

3) St. James Garlickhythe

After the Great Fire of London in 1666, Sir Christopher Wren spent the rest of his life designing churches to replace those that had been destroyed in the disaster. In all, he rebuilt over 50 churches and one of these was St James Garlickhythe which you will find in the Vintry Ward, near Mansion House tube station.

The church comes by its strange name due to its proximity to the unloading area of French ships bringing wine and garlic to the city. “Hythe” is a Saxon word for dock or landing place, and the merchants sold their wares on “Garlick Hill”, where the church now stands.

The first church was built in the 12th century and then enlarged in 1326. In the 15th century it became a collegiate and was served by seven chantry priests. After the Great Fire and rebuilding the church was re-consecrated to St James and the local parishioners voted to keep the entire name, even though “hythe” was no longer in use.

During the Blitz in 1941 a bomb crashed through the roof of the church, but was removed before it could explode. At the end of the war, during rebuilding, the church was found to be infested with Death Watch Beetle and it was closed until 1963.

Today you can admire the nave with its two narrow aisles and five bays, its double rows of Ionic columns, its barrel vault ceiling, its gallery added in 1714 and a particularly fine painting: “Ascension” executed by Andrew Geddes in 1815.
Sight description based on wikipedia
St. Mary-le-Bow

4) St. Mary-le-Bow

Tradition dictates that a Londoner isn’t a true Cockney unless he is born within earshot of the bells of St Mary le Bow.

This historical church features in the famous nursery rhyme “Oranges and Lemons”, as the “Great bell of Bow”. According to legend, it was the sound of the bells of this church that persuaded Dick Wittington to “Turn again Wittington, Lord Mayor of London”, when he was leaving the city after being mistreated by the head butler in his master’s house.

The original Saxon church was replaced by a Norman one, which was destroyed by the London Tornado in 1091. A new church was built with two arches (bows) from which it took its name. The bells were heard from miles around and were used to signal the curfew.

St Mary le Bow was another church destroyed in the Great Fire in 1666 and rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren in 1673, with the steeple added on in 1680. The mileage from London to the Sussex town of Lewes was calculated from the door of the church and milestones bearing a bow and a string of bells can still be seen between the capital and the country town.

The church was destroyed during the Blitz in 1941 and rebuilt in 1956. The famous 12 bells were put back in place in 1961. The interior of the building is beautiful, painted in blue and white with gold beading. In the churchyard you will find a statue of Captain John Smith, the founder of the State of Virginia in the United States.
Sight description based on wikipedia
St. Paul's Cathedral

5) St. Paul's Cathedral (must see)

Ludgate Hill, one of three ancient hills in London, has been the site of a place of worship since 604 AD. The present building on the hill is St Paul’s Cathedral, and it is quite rightly the most famous of London’s landmarks and the most visited cathedral in the world, after St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Between 604 and the Great Fire of 1666, there had been several churches on the hill, and after the last one was destroyed in the Great Fire, Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to build a new, bigger one. He had to make five different designs of the building before one was finally chosen; work began in 1675 and the cathedral was officially opened in 1711.

The interior of the cathedral is very beautiful with the inner dome painted with 8 monochromes by Sir James Thornhill, depicting the life of St Paul. The inner dome holds three galleries: the internal Whispering Gallery takes its name from the unique acoustics – a whisper against the wall on one side of the gallery can be heard on the other side. Above this is the external Stone Gallery and above that is the external Golden Gallery.

In the Nave there are three chapels: on the North aisle are the All Souls Chapel and the St Dunstan’s Chapel; on the South aisle is St George and St Michael Chapel. The Knights Bachelor Chapel and the OBE Chapel are to be found in the crypt.

The tombs of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Christopher Wren are also in the crypt, along with tombs and memorials to many others who have made a great contribution to the nation, including artist and musicians. Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral was held here, and of course, the marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Diana was celebrated in the cathedral.

Why You Should Visit:
An architectural masterpiece and symbol of London during the War.
There is always much to explore, both above ground and in the crypt.

You have to pay for the entrance of this cathedral. Buy tickets online to save time. You can also buy an audio tour at the entrance.
To really appreciate the interior, you should climb the steps to the dome (which should take a good 30 min.) You will find an external viewing area at the top.
Part way up there is also a whispering gallery from which you look down into the church from above.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 8:30am-4:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
St. Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe

6) St. Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe

A church called St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe arouses everyone’s curiosity, and you shouldn’t miss visiting this lovely 17th century church, which is to be found on St Andrew’s Hill.

The original church was founded in the late 12th century and was once part of Baynard’s Castle, a royal residence for many centuries. The church came by the Wardrobe part of its name in 1361 when King Edward III moved his Royal Wardrobe from the Tower of London to a storeroom to the North of the church.

The Royal Wardrobe isn’t a cupboard for hanging clothes, but rather a largish building where arms, clothing and other paraphernalia belonging to the Crown were stored. During the Commonwealth of England, the Wardrobe was emptied by Cromwell and used as an orphanage.

Both the Wardrobe and the church were destroyed by the Great Fire in 1666 and the new church was one of over 50 designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1695. Only the tower and walls remained after the Blitz of 1941 and today’s building was re-consecrated in 1961.

The interior of the church has arcaded bays supported by piers instead of columns. On the North side of the Sanctuary you can see a figure of St Andrew that dates back to 1600. Another figure, of St Ann holding the Virgin, who in her turn is holding the baby Jesus, comes from Italy and was executed in the early 16th century.
St. Bride's

7) St. Bride's

It would be a real shame if you left London without seeing St Bride’s Church, which is closely related to the printing presses of the daily nationals in Fleet Street.

The original church dates back to the 6th or 7th century and was built just after the conversion of the Saxons to Christianity. Dedicated to St Bridget of Ireland, it’s possible that the first building was erected by Celtic monks. Only the foundations remain of this early church, which was replaced by a Norman place of worship in the 11th century and enlarged in the 15th century.

When most of London was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, St Bride’s wasn’t spared and Sir Christopher Wren designed the new building, which became the 2nd tallest church he designed after St Paul’s Cathedral. Of particular note is the tiered steeple; archetypical wedding cakes are based on a copy of this spire.

The church first became connected with the newspaper world in 1501, when the first printing press in London was installed in a building on the church grounds. This was an auspicious move on the part of Wynkyn de Worde, the press’s owner, because at that time only the clergy and the nobles were able to read. A few years later, playwrights and authors started asking him to print their works and other printers set up in business around the church – Fleet Street was born.

When the church was partially destroyed during the Blitz of 1941, newspaper owners and journalists paid for the church to be rebuilt. During excavations in the crypt, the foundations of the original 6th century church were uncovered. Today, the crypt is a museum, full of ancient relics and a history of the printed word.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Temple Church

8) Temple Church

While you are in London, don’t miss visiting the Temple Church located between Fleet Street and the River Thames. It is one of the last Norman churches in England and it features in the film “The Da Vinci Code”.

The church was built in 1185 by the Knights Templar as part of a monastic complex that included living areas, military training facilities and exercise and leisure areas for the Brothers and the novices.

The nave is circular and called “The Round”. It has five free-standing columns of Purbeck marble and stone effigies of knights on the floor. Once these were thought to be tombs, but they aren’t, they are memorials. The Knights used the nave for worship and for their secret initiation rites. The oblong cancel was added in 1240. The church was also used as a sort of bank, where noblemen deposited money in the care of the Knights to keep it safe from the Crown.

By the 14th century the Knights had become unpopular because they were rich and corrupt, so they were imprisoned in the Tower of London, accused of blasphemy, heresy and unsavoury sexual practices.

The Crown confiscated the church and later gave it to the Knights Hospitaller, who in turn rented a part of it out to two colleges of law students. In 1540 King Henry VIII abolished the Knights and took control of the church, installing a priest of his choosing. In 1608 King James II gave the building back to the Inner and Middle Temple law colleges, to whom it belongs today.

Don’t miss the Norman door and the gargoyles on the five columns in the nave. As they are inside the building, it’s easier to admire them close-up. The beautiful wooden alter was designed by Sir Christopher Wren.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in London, England

Create Your Own Walk in London

Create Your Own Walk in London

Creating your own self-guided walk in London is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Bloomsbury Museums, Part 1

Bloomsbury Museums, Part 1

There are over 240 museums in London and they welcome about 42 million annual visitors nationwide. This wonderful tour will lead you to the most famous and significant museums of London Bloomsbury area, such as British Museum, Charles Dickens Museum, London Canal Museum and others.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 km
Bridges of London

Bridges of London

Thirty-four bridges span the Thames in London. Each one has its own history and is worth seeing. Take this walking tour to appreciate the beauty of London bridges.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.1 km
Kensington/Knightsbridge Walk

Kensington/Knightsbridge Walk

Situated just below Hyde Park, Knightsbridge and South Kensington are two adjacent neighborhoods with grand Victorian homes and leafy garden squares. The area is also a shopper's paradise featuring two iconic luxury stores, whereas museumgoers will find a number of excellent museums on history, science and arts. On this self guided walk, you will explore the famous homes, grand luxury shops...  view more

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Travel Distance: 4.4 km
Holborn/Covent Garden Walk

Holborn/Covent Garden Walk

During this self guided walking tour around Holborn and Covent Garden areas you will have a chance to visit such famous and interesting London attractions, as National Gallery, London Coliseum, London Transport Museum and many others. Don't miss your chance to explore the best of the Holborn and Covent Garden areas.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 km
East City of London Walk

East City of London Walk

The City is a notable part of central London. This neighborhood is colloquially known as the Square Mile, as it is 1.12 square miles (2.90 square km) in area. The City of London is able to offer great number of things to see. This tour will guide you from the Tower Bridge to the “30 St Mary Axe”, great achievements of architecture and engineering.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 km
London's Historic Pubs Walk

London's Historic Pubs Walk

If there’s anything more an iconic symbol for London than Big Ben or the London Eye, then it must be the traditional English pub and London is full of them, dating from pre-Victorian times to just about five minutes ago. With so much history surrounding London there is no shortage of historic pubs to choose from. Whether you fancy half timbered, rambling watering holes or small but perfectly...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.8 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

London Souvenirs: 20 Distinctively British Products for Travelers

London Souvenirs: 20 Distinctively British Products for Travelers

Most visitors to London consider shopping as part of their must-do London experience. From street markets to Victorian arcades to snobbish Sloane Square to busy Oxford Street, there are a host of shops selling items which typically represent this vibrant city. Whether you are shopping for souvenirs...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in London for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best London has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting London's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the London Pass, London Explorer Pass, or iVenture Card.

A city pass combines all or multiple London's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of London hotels conveniently located for a comfortable stroll: The Trafalgar St. James London Curio collection by Hilton, Corinthia Hotel London, The Grand at Trafalgar Square.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as London, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of London typically costs somewhere between US$30 and US$130 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of London from the open top of the bus listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the six interconnecting routes, plus get on board the Thames River Sightseeing Cruise. The tickets are valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours.

- Spend half a day pedaling your way around London Royal Parks on a guided bike tour to see the city's most spectacular highlights stopping at some for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning interesting facts about the attractions from a knowledgeable group leader.

- Commit yourself to a full-day of sightseeing to appreciate the English capital in its full splendor complete with its top (UNESCO-listed and other) attractions, plus to enjoy a sightseeing cruise down the River Thames, and more.

- Dive into Britain’s royal and political history on the Westminster Abbey & Houses of Parliament tour for an up-close view of the country's two most prominent landmarks that have been in place and duly served their purpose for almost a millennium.

- Explore the WWII chapter of the British history on a guided 2-hour walking tour of Churchill War Rooms & Westminster to see how they operated back in those days. Hear some little-known war tales and tidbits about London and the country's most celebrated leader, Winston Churchill.

- Satisfy your penchant for English tradition, glamour and food culture in style with an afternoon tea experience at the 5-star Grosvenor House Hotel in London complete with a full set of lovely cakes, sandwiches and tea!

- If you're into music, give yourself a treat, whilst in London, to the Musical Theater Show at Apollo Victoria Theatre presenting the alternate side of the famous Wizard of Oz story previously untold.

Day Trips

If you have a day to spare whilst in London, why not use it to explore some out-of-town destinations like the Warner Bros. Studio London, Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and Bath, Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick Castle, Cotswolds, or Leeds Castle, Cliffs of Dover and Canterbury. For as little as circa US$100+ to US$120+ per person you will get a chance to explore the postcard-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage sights, get behind-the-scenes of the mystical world of Harry Potter, see what has been the home of the British Royals for the past 900 years, explore the ancient rock formations, Roman Baths and medieval castles, walk the streets of the charming hometown of William Shakespeare, check out one of the world’s most prestigious universities, get to see the picture-perfect region officially designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, otherwise known as “forever England,” renowned for its quaint villages and rolling hills, admire the symbolic White Cliffs of Dover, and more. For any of these tours you will be picked up straight from your hotel in London and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned coach or train (whichever is applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.