There are certain things I look for in a museum – atmosphere, history, interesting artefacts and ideally a scale model or two, and All Hallows by the Tower has it all.
The atmosphere box is ticked as soon as you start walking down the small staircase into the crypt under the church and see the stone archways with exhibits relating to London and All Hallow’s church to be explored between each one.
History is catered for by the fact this is the oldest church in the City of London, but what’s more interesting is actually seeing this history. London was founded by the Romans and here you can see Roman remains under the church from when they occupied much of the area known today as the City. The church was then founded after the Romans had dispersed and the Saxons arrived in the area (although their main settlement was much further East around Covent Garden and Aldwych) and an original Saxon arch can still be seen in the church.
But the history doesn’t stop with the architecture – many famous individuals are associated with the church, including Thomas More who was beheaded at the Tower of London during Henry VIII’s reign and whose body was subsequently brought to the church; and Samuel Pepys who watched the great fire of London from its tower in 1666. http://www.ahbtt.org.uk/history/famous-people/
So we move on to the artefacts…these have been carefully chosen and reflect different periods of London’s past, but one that was a bit more random stood out most for me – a crow’s nest with a plaque on it saying it came from Sir Ernest Shackleton’s last antarctic expidition. Just the fact it’s a crow’s nest was enough to catch my ineterst as you don’t see one of these every day. Some of the other exhibits didn’t cunjure up my imagination as much as I would have wished, but that may have been because I didn’t have long to visit, but as long as there is one thing I’ve never seen before I’m happy and I’m sure I’ll go back again to look at everything in more detail.
And last but not least, there’s a scale model of Roman Londinium with the fort in the top left, the forum in the middle and the bridge conecting it to the settlement in Southwark to the South.
So all in all this church with it’s mix of both tangible architectural history, the weight of history in the events that took place here, the crypt setting and excellent use of a scale model must surely make it worth a visit!
Address: Byward Street, London EC3R 5BJ