|All Hallows-by-the-Tower Churchyard||City of London|
The Abbey of Barking owned land in the City and built a small church here c.AD675, hence the church's former name. There is evidence of a Saxon church and Saxon coffins have been found, also a section of C2nd Roman pavement. Samuel Pepys, William Penn and John Quincy-Adams, later the 6th President of the USA, are among those associated with the church. Much of the old church, which had survived the Fire of London, was destroyed in WWII, the new building dedicated in 1957. The churchyard was once larger, reduced when Tower Hill Terrace was created in the east and Tower Place in the south. Closed for burials in the 1850s it was being used as public open space by 1875. The remaining garden area lies at the east end of the church, with areas of grass, trees and shrubs with some tombs and gravestones. In the 1990s a restaurant adjoining the garden was built as part of improvement works.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/04/2010
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All Hallows-by-the-Tower Churchyard Garden to east of church, April 2010. Photo: S Williams
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All Hallows was formerly called All Hallows Barking. The Abbey of Barking (q.v.), founded 666, owned land in the City and built a small church here, probably in AD675, hence the church's former name of All Hallows Barking, which therefore existed here some 400 years before the Tower of London was built. The Abbey lost control of the foundation at All Hallows in the C12th, regaining it in the C14th until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536. Evidence of what was a large Saxon church still exists, a number of Saxon coffins have been found and the Saxon arch of the church was revealed in 1940 following bomb damage. A section of Roman tessellated pavement is preserved in the undercroft of the church dating from C2nd.
The medieval church escaped the Great Fire of London, Admiral Sir William Penn of the nearby Navy Office having ordered houses between the fire and the church and Navy Office to be demolished to prevent the spread of the fire. In 1940 bomb damage reduced the old building to its tower, north and south walls and part of the east end. Rebuilding began in 1948, and the new church was dedicated by the Bishop of London on 23 July 1957. St Dunstan in the East, also destroyed by bombing, was not rebuilt and the parish was amalgamated with that of All Hallows.
All Hallows is associated with numerous famous people, including Samuel Pepys who watched the Great Fire from the church tower. William Penn, son of Admiral Sir William Penn and later founder of Pennsylvania was baptised here in 1644; John Quincy-Adams, later the 6th President of the USA, was married here in 1797. Among those buried were John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester and friend of Sir Thomas More, who was executed on Tower Hill in 1535, his body later moved to St Peter's in the Tower; and Archbishop William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, beheaded in 1644 or 1645, his headless body remaining here between 1645 and 1663 after which it was removed to the chapel of St John's College, Oxford where he had been educated.
The churchyard was closed for burials in the 1850s, and was being used as public open space by 1875. Like many overcrowded churchyards in London, its closure came as a result of the first Burial Act of 1852 and its subsequent amendments during the 1850s. The Metropolitan Open Spaces Acts of 1877 and 1881 and the Disused Burial Grounds Act of 1884, later extended under the Metropolitan Open Spaces Act of 1887, enabled 'open spaces and burial grounds in the Metropolis for the use of the inhabitants thereof for exercise and recreation'. The churchyard was once larger but the area was truncated when Tower Hill Terrace (q.v.) was created in the east and Tower Place in the south. What remains of the churchyard garden lies at the east end of the church and consists of two areas of grass with tombs and gravestones and acts as a landscaped setting for that end of the church. Development works in the 1990s enabled new facilities to be built in the south-east part of the churchyard, including The Vestry Restaurant and provided the remaining garden with disabled access.
The restaurant is now run as Beyond Boyle@All Hallows, a partnership between the Beyond Boyle Foundation, the church and a number of London charities. The project's aim is to provide people who have experienced homelessness with the opportunity to learn skills associated with the restaurant industry and to gain real work experience, whilst at the same time helping them to rebuild their lives. Trainees participate in a programme of personal development, learning life skills alongside hospitality training, giving them the confidence to reintegrate with society and motivating them towards independent living.
Each year on Ascension Day All Hallows continues to observe the ancient custom of Beating the Bounds, rooted in mediaeval times when parishes reaffirmed their boundaries by processing round them at Rogationtide, stopping to beat each boundary mark with wands and to pray for protection and blessings for the land.
B Cherry and N Pevsner 'The Buildings of England, London Vol. l: The Cities of London and Westminster', London, 1985; B Plummer and D Shewan, 'City Gardens', London, 1992; Rev Phillip Blewett, 'All Hallows by the Tower' Visitors' Guide (1990); Simon Bradley & Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England, London 1: The City of London', 1997 (1999 ed.); George Godwin & John Britton 'The Churches of London: A history and description of the Ecclesiastical Edifices of the Metropolis, Volume I', London, 1838; Philip Norman, 'The London City Churches, Their Use, Their Preservation and Their Extended Use', The London Society, (1920s)