London is home to some of the best buildings in just about every category, and religious monuments are no exception. It’s one of the world’s most diverse capitals with a rich and vibrant history. But it’s not just the icons like St. Paul’s Cathedral that are worth visiting.
By exploring some of the lesser-known religious locations, you can learn about new cultures, belief systems and the diverse society of London. Here are five monuments and buildings that top our list of the best hidden religious locations in London.
Chapel of St. John the Evangelist
The Tower of London may not be much of a hidden gem. But it is home to the Chapel of St. John the Evangelist, one of the oldest intact places of worship in the City. It’s a Romanesque chapel on the second floor of the White Tower, which was constructed between 1077 and 1097.
Despite its significance, it’s surprisingly small, but it was once the primary place of worship for residents of the White Tower. Plenty of nobles who met their maker within the Tower of London, such as Lady Jane Grey, once prayed in the chapel.
St. Anne’s Limehouse
Nicholas Hawksmoor was a leading English architect of the 18th century. He championed the architectural style of English baroque, leaving his imprint on the British Capital by designing six churches. And one of our favourites is St. Anne’s Limehouse.
Located in Tower Hamlets, St. Anne’s Limehouse was first constructed in 1727. And though it’s taken quite the beating since, it’s proved itself a survivor. It was gutted by a blaze in 1850 and sustained damage during WWII. Each time, it was quickly restored to its original appearance.
St. Pancras Old Church
‘Old’ couldn’t be a more fitting middle name for St. Pancras Old Church. Dating back to somewhere around 314 AD, this church is thought to be one of the oldest sites of Christian worship in the UK. In addition to looking spectacular and boasting a fascinating history, this church has one of the most intriguing graveyards.
St. Pancras Old Church is home to the extravagant Tomb of John Soane and the famous Hardy Tree, which grows through a series of gravestones arranged by a worker named Thomas Hardy in 1865.
The Bevis Marks Synagogue
The Bevis Marks Synagogue is the UK’s oldest, purpose-built synagogue. It was constructed in 1701 by Portuguese and Spanish Jews who had fled from Amsterdam. It’s been continually used as a place of worship since first opening its doors over three centuries ago.
All visitors are welcome at the Bevis Marks Synagogue, which is usually open daily. If you’re feeling somewhat peckish, you’ll be glad to know there’s an onsite restaurant serving cheap but delicious bites.
The Shri Swaminaryan Mandir
As far as religious monuments in London go, we don’t think the Shri Swaminaryan Mandir gets enough credit. It’s one of the most visually stunning Hindu places of worship in the capital, constructed with stone using traditional methods in 1995. And, it was built by the guru Pramukh Swami Maharaj, who will turn 95 in 2020.
The Shri Swaminaryan Mandir has been described as the largest Hindu temple outside India and Europe’s first traditional Hindu stone temple. Explore the grounds, marvel at the architecture and enjoy the serenity by paying a visit. It’s usually open daily, and admission is free.
Learn more about London’s fascinating and icon locations on one of our London tours. You’ll the very best of what the city has to offer with the help of one of our expert guides.