Come step inside a few centuries of history... These are some of the best churches to visit in London. Updated for 2021!
Once inside, I was hugely touched to see members of the clergy walking among the crowds, welcoming as many visitors as possible. There was also a brief moment of silence when they called for a prayer to think of those in need around the world. It was a moving and inclusive occasion that reminded me of how lucky I am to travel.
This is one place where you'll want to take your time and go slowly. There is so much to see and to take in; you wouldn't want to miss anything. An hour or so doing a bit of online reading about the Abbey would be a wise investment so you can fully appreciate its role in British and royal history. (PS: Believe it or not, it's perfectly okay to walk on the tombs and memorials that cover the floor - it would be impossible to get around if you didn't! But there's one tomb which is never stepped on and that is the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, near the front doors of the building).
For more information, visit Westminster Abbey's website and read reviews from other visitors. London Walks also offers guided tours of the Abbey, which I loved. You can also learn more about visiting the Abbey as part of a very quick tour to London in my blog post about London layovers.
St. Ethedreda's Church
With Catholicism banned in England in 1620, the church was granted to the Spanish ambassador to be used as a private chapel. Therefore, it was considered to be on Spanish soil and thus allowed to continue with Roman Catholic services. Today, St. Etheldreda's is one of the oldest Catholic churches in London.
For more information, visit St. Etheldreda's website and read reviews from other travellers..
St. Bride's Church and Foundation
St. Bride's really is a treasure trove of history. After suffering devestating damage in World War II bombing raids, the restoration efforts revealed some incredible archeological gems - as well as thousands of human remains, including many dating back to the Great Plague of the 1600s!
Today, a visit to St. Bride's is a cheerful affair, especially if you go at lunch time when there's free music recitals. Their next door neighbour, the St. Bride Foundation, is equally lovely. It's a community hub for the arts and education and has a theatre program and an amazing collection of print and typography artifacts.
To learn more about visiting St. Bride's church, you can check out their website and see what other travellers had to say about it here.
Like all London churches, St. Martin has plenty of fascinating history (a 2006 excavation found a grave dating back to 410AD!) but the real reason you want to go here is for the food. YES! Trust me on this. The "Cafe in the Crypt" underneath the church is my absolute favourite place to eat in London. The cafe serves up hearty, hot British food (made with local and organic ingredients where possible) and plenty of cold offerings like sandwiches and salads - all at incredibly reasonable prices and all in support of the church's outreach work. The floor is a sea of gravestones, your neighbours are real honest-to-goodness locals, and the fruit crumble is served with a massive pitcher of homemade custard on the side. What's not to love!?! While it's hard to pick favourites I'm tempted to say that, of all the best churches to visit in London, this might just be my personal favourite, just for the coziness alone.
Full details about visiting are found on the church's website and you can read about what other travellers thought here.
Honorable Mentions: St. Mary-le-Bow and St. Mary Aldermary
If, like me, you find yourself in the area between meal times and want a snack to tide you over, The Host Cafe in the nearby St. Mary Aldermary offers tea, coffee, sweets, and light snack - right inside the church itself. Sitting on a pew, hand curled around a hot mug, gazing up at the incredible architecture - I can't think of a nicer way to enjoy some travel reflections.
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Great post - London is brilliant for churches; I will put a disclaimer there that it's my second favorite spot next to Rome (sorry London, no-one is above Rome for churches), but it's definitely got some spectacular history which is on display in it's wonderful buildings and churches :)
The panel humbly accepts your verdict that Rome is superior (Mother Superior?) in the church department :-)
I haven't explored many churches in London and I typically get to quite a few when traveling. Thanks for the great list for places to see on our next visit.
Hope you get back to London soon to check some of them out!
Are you planning a visit soon? I'm hoping to go back again in the fall (which is a great time both weather wise and crowd-wise). But I'd love to go over Christmas for the carol services.
I love nice churches. Wait, Westminister Abbey? Looks like where Harry Potter was filmed... Lol!
It kinda does! What you can't tell from the front is that the Abbey has several buildings and entrances, including the side doors where we entered- and suddenly there was this quiet courtyard!
Beleive it or not, there ARE Harry Potter tours in London! I haven't gone on one yet, but I would absolutely love to.
The churches in London are lovely, but travel further out into the country to see some more... practically each country village has an outstanding church of some sort !
I absolutely love the tiny stone country churches that you can find all over England. Some of them are nearly 1,000 years old!
I agree - it's one of those places where you could just stare at the ceiling alone for hours.
Glad you enjoyed it!
oh wow! I haven't been to London yet and hopefully I will soon in the future. I'd love to to visit different churches. The art glass window of St. Ethedreda's Church looks really beautiful.That Westminister Abbey looked like where Harry Potter was filmed by the way! (:
You're not the first person to think of Harry Potter! I agree, the stained glass at St. Etheldredas is amazing - it really is an interesting church, with so many different time periods rolled into one building.
Looks like you should co author the next Dan Brown / Robert Langdon novel.
Ha ha ha!!! You never know....
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