The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 33 The Tower and Tower Hill

Allhallows Barking

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33. THE TOWER AND TOWER HILL. STATION: Mark Lane, on the Metropolitan and District Railway OMNIBUSES: Nos. 42, 78, over Tower Bridge; Nos. 4, 47, for the south end of the bridge. TRAMWAY No. 68. Immediately opposite Mark Lane Station, in Byward St., is the entrance to the church of Allhallows Barking, the successor of a church founded in the 7th century by Bishop Erkenwald and committed to the care of the Abbess of Barking Abbey in Essex. Since 1922 this venerable building has been the guild church of Toc H. The clerestory, chancel, and aisles of the present church are in the Perpendicular style (late 15th century), while the pillars of the nave are Norman (circa 1087). The brick tower, at the west end of the nave, dates from 1651, and is the only example of Cromwellian church architecture in London. Over the modern entrance porch are statues of the Virgin Mary, St. Ethelburga, first Abbess of Barking, and Bishop Lancelot Andrewes. The interior (open 8-6) contains perhaps the finest series of brasses in London, the earliest being the small circular brass of William Tonge (1389), in the south aisle. The finest is the Flemish brass of Andre we Evyngar and his wife (1530), in front of the litany desk; in the north aisle is the good French brass of John Bacon (1437); and between the choir-stalls is the English brass of Roger James (1591). The Jacobean pulpit, with good Sussex iron-work; the font (south aisle), with a carved cover; the organ-front of 1675; and the three 18th century sword-rests, on the south side of the altar-screen, may be noted. The glass in the fine east window is by J. Clayton (1908). On the north side of the church once stood a famous chantry founded by Richard I. and suppressed in 1548 under Edward VI., and a belief long prevailed that Richard's heart was buried here and not at Rouen as usually stated. The precise site of this chapel is doubtful, but in 1922 a chapel of Richard I. was dedicated on the north side of the altar as the central shrine of Toc H. Here, in a casket resting on the tomb of Sir John Croke, is the first ever-burning 'Lamp of Maintenance,' presented by the Prince of Wales. Many of those who suffered execution on Tower Hill were buried in this church, in most cases only temporarily. The body of Archbishop Laud, executed in 1645 and buried here, was transferred in 1863 to St. John's College, Oxford. Bishop Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626) and William Penn were baptized in Allhallows; and here John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the United States, was married to Louisa Johnson in 1797. Pepys in his diary for Sept. 5th, 1666, records the narrow escape of this church from the Great Fire.