Every major city in Europe is home to several famous churches, and London is no different. What’s remarkable about the famous churches in London is that many were built shortly after the Great Fire of London in 1666.
This tragic event resulted in 86 of the 100 existing churches in London and the subsequent reconstruction of 51 of these, including the most famous of all (number 1 in this list).
The Christian places of worship in London are extremely diverse, especially compared to the churches in Paris or Rome which are predominantly Catholic. Most churches in the city are Anglican followed by nonconformist and Catholic churches.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most famous churches in London, structures with fascinating architecture that define the urban landscape of the city.
1. St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral is not only one of the most famous churches in London but is also one of the most amazing landmarks in the city. It’s the Magnum Opus of Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723), the most renowned architect of the Baroque era who rebuilt over 50 churches in the City of London after the Great Fire.
The Baroque building is the most prominent example of the Engish Baroque architectural style and replaced the Old St Paul’s Cathedral. It was completed between 1675 and 1710. The church is topped by an astounding dome which was inspired by the dome of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, an amazing sight in the city.
2. Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey is considered to be the most important church in England, mainly because it has been the coronation and burial site for British monarchs. It’s located in the City of Westminster, an inner London Borough, and just west of the Palace of Westminster, another very important building in the country.
The building is a fantastic Gothic church which means that its construction started during the Middle Ages, more specifically the year 1245. It was given a special status referred to as a “Church of England Royal Peculiar” in the 16th century which means it’s under the responsibility of the reigning monarch of Greta Britain.
3. Southwark Cathedral
Southwark Cathedral is officially known as “The Cathedral and Collegiate Church of St Saviour and St Mary Overie” and is located in Southwark, a district in central London just south of the City of London. It’s located right next to the tallest skyscraper in London, a modern building called “The Shard.”
The cathedral has an extensive history as the first building on this site was completed in 1106. It was originally called the Southwark Priory, an Augustinian priory dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It’s another prominent example of Gothic architecture in London, although many elements were added during the 19th century in the Gothic Revival style.
4. Temple Church
Temple Church is another famous church in London with a remarkable history. It was built as the English headquarters of the Knights Templar and completed in 1185. The church is a prominent example of the round church architecture often used in churches built by this Catholic military order.
It’s located within the boundaries of the City of London, the historical heart of London, and the area around it is now referred to as the Temple. It’s not too far away from the ceremonial entrance to the City of London known as “Temple Bar” as well. The church was heavily damaged during World War II but has been completely rebuilt to its former glory since.
5. Westminster Cathedral
Westminster Cathedral is often overshadowed by Westminster Abbey but is a very remarkable structure as well. It’s the largest Catholic church in England with a length of 110 meters (360 feet) and a width of 47 meters (156 feet) and features an amazing bell tower that stands 87meters (284 feet) tall.
It’s also a relatively new church as it was completed between 1885 and 1903 after the Diocese of Westminster had purchased this land not too far south of Buckingham Palace. It features a distinctive brick and stone design and was built without the use of steel reinforcements, quite fascinating indeed.
6. St Martin-in-the-Fields
St Martin-in-the-Fields is also located in the City of Westminster and stands majestically on the northeast corner of the most famous square in the area, Trafalgar Square. The name of the church refers to the man it was dedicated to, Saint Martin of Tours, and the fact that this was still rural land when it was originally constructed during the Middle Ages.
The medieval structure that once stood here became very important as the city expanded towards Westminster. It was demolished and replaced with the Neoclassical building designed by James Gibbs (1682-1754) between 1722 and 1726. The most prominent feature of the church is its spire which reaches a height of 59 meters (192 feet).
7. Holy Trinity Sloane Street
The Holy Trinity Sloane Street is officially known as the Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity with Saint Jude, Upper Chelsea. It was built in the neighborhood just bordering the City of Westminster to the west and is another famous church in London with a remarkable design.
This Arts and Crafts building, an art movement that inspired the Art Nouveau artists in the late 19th-century was built between 1888 and 1890. It replaced an older building built between 1828 and 1830 that only stood here about 6 decades before it was demolished. As the name suggests, it’s located on Sloane Street, a major street in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
8. St Mary-le-Bow
St Mary-le-Bow is one of the many historic churches that were rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London in 1666. It’s located just walking distance east of its bigger brother St Paul’s Cathedral in the heart of the City of London.
This impressive structure is one of the most prominent landmarks on a major thoroughfare in central London called “Cheapside.” That’s mainly because of its distinctive steeple which reaches a height of 68 meters (223 feet) and was completed in 1680. A church on this location has been present since the Saxon times.
9. St Bride’s Church
St Bride’s Church is located on the opposite side of St Paul’s Cathedral as St Mary-le-Bow and as you expected, this church was destroyed by the Great Fire of London and rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren. It also looks pretty similar although its steeple is slightly taller than that of St Mary-le-Bow at 69 meters (226 feet).
This height makes it the second-tallest church designed by Wren in London as only St Paul’s Cathedral is higher. The church is located on Fleet Street, an area associated with newspapers and journalists. It was seriously damaged during the London bombing of 1940 and rebuilt after the war with the financial support of the local newspapers.
10. Shoreditch Church
Shoreditch Church is officially called St. Leonard’s, Shoreditch, and is located in the London Borough of Hackney in East London. A Saxon church on this location was first mentioned in the 12th century and the medieval church that succeeded it partially collapsed in 1716.
The current version of Shoreditch is a remarkable Palladian building, an architectural style inspired by famous Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580), a man who built numerous villas and mansions in the region near Venice, Italy. The structure was designed by George Dance the Elder, a man who also designed the Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London.