All Hallows Undercroft Museum


Byward Street, London EC3R 5BJ


020-7481 2928



Opening times:

Mon–Fri 8:00–17:00, Sat–Sun 10:00–17:00

How to get there:

Tube: Tower Hill

Entry fee:


This historic church was largely destroyed in the Second World War but the brick tower, the only example of Cromwellian church architecture in London, has survived. It was from here, on 5 September 1666, that Pepys surveyed the destruction of the Great Fire: ‘I up to the top of Barkeing steeple, and there saw the saddest sight of desolation that ever I saw. Everywhere great fires. Oyle-cellars and brimstone and other things burning.’ The tower is now surmounted by a spire in the manner of Wren by Lord Mottistone of Seely & Paget (1958). Mottistone was also responsible for the rest of the church’s post-war reconstruction with, internally, a ribbed perpendicular-style vault of grey concrete. Bomb damage revealed ancient Anglo-Saxon fabric, probably 11th-century. Of particular note is the font cover, an outstandingly beautiful piece of limewood carving by Grinling Gibbons (1682) with cherubs, flowers and delicate ears of wheat. In 1922 All Hallows became the guild church of Toc H, a registered charity which, in the words of its own manifesto, is ‘committed to building a fairer society by working with communities to promote friendship and service, confront prejudice and practise reconciliation’. It was founded in the same year by the church’s new vicar, ‘Tubby’ Clayton. In the sanctuary is the tomb of Alderman John Croke (d. 1477) with a casket, a 1923 Arts and Crafts piece by Alec Smithers, containing the Toc H parent Lamp of Maintenance.

The Undercroft museum, entered under the tower, was excavated by Mottistone. There are remains of two tesselated Roman pavements from a 3rd- or 4th-century villa, ashes of Roman London, burned by Boudicca in ad 61, a Roman tombstone and the cosmetic equipment of a Roman lady. Also displayed are fragments of three Saxon crosses, the most important of which, c. 1030–60, is inscribed with the name ‘Werhenworth’ and has remains of figure carving, including an image of Christ. At the east end is a memorial chapel containing the ashes of members of Toc H and a plain medieval altar table from the Crusader castle of Chastiau Pelerin at Athlit, Palestine.

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Details below are taken from our Blue Guide Museums and Galleries of London.  This is a 2005 title, here generally updated for website address and opening times, with useful comments from some of the museums themselves.  More recent information is given in Emily Barber's magisterial new Blue Guide London, "Exceptional update to a classic and useful guide to this amazing city" (Amazon reader review).

FULL LISTING of CURRENT EXHIBITIONS in London from Apollo Magazine »

Emily Barber recommends five major London museums »

Please do share your comments and updates with us via the form below the entry for each museum.


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