It’s no secret that London is jam-packed with architectural masterpieces, from striking skyscrapers to glorious royal palaces. Some of the most enchanting buildings in the UK capital, however, are its serene churches, many of which have witnessed centuries of incredible history.
From magnificent cathedrals to chapels with ornate interiors, here’s our guide to the most beautiful churches in London.
No cultural tour of the city is complete without wandering past the most famous cathedral in London. St Paul’s white domed roof has been an iconic part of the skyline for over 300 years and the cathedral even held the title of the tallest building in London up until 1967!
Admire St Paul’s amazing exteriors before strolling up the steps into the airy vestibule. You can take a quick peek inside the main hall or tour the entire building (including seeing the tombs of Horatio Nelson, Florence Nightingale and Alexander Fleming) for just £18 if you book online in advance.
Why not stay within throwing distance of this monumental London cathedral at our Leonardo Royal Hotel London St Paul’s?
Westminster Cathedral is the most important Catholic church in Central London that’s located just minutes from both Buckingham Palace and the equally as striking Westminster Abbey. Built during Victorian times, it’s famed for its red and white striped brick exteriors and oriental-style domes.
Indoors, you’ll find Westminster Cathedral’s huge central nave (which can seat a whopping 1000 people!) decorated with smooth marble, mosaics and glittering gold detailing.
Tucked between the Thames and Borough Market, Southwark Cathedral is a quiet haven away from the bustling crowds. It was constructed during the mid-1800s, although a church has existed on the same site for 1000 years.
One of the high points of visiting this cathedral in London is to see its impressive organ. Southwark Cathedral’s Merbecke Choir also perform concerts on the 4th Sunday of every month which are well-worth planning your visit around if you’re a musical fan.
Perhaps one of the best-known City of London churches, St Mary-le-Bow is found on Cheapside within the Square Mile. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren (who also lays claim to nearby St Paul’s Cathedral), it’s full of bold baroque-style features including Corinthian columns and a bright blue and gold ceiling.
Tradition states that you can only call yourself a true Cockney if you were born within earshot of the church’s famous Bow Bells. Visit just before the hour changes to hear their legendary ringing.
Dating back to Norman times, St Bartholomew the Great’s décor is a real mishmash of architectural styles. The small, and often overlooked, church near Cheapside is not only worth a visit for its gorgeously ornate interiors, but also for its silver screen credentials.
You might recognise St Bartholomew the Great as a filming location of the fourth wedding in Four Weddings and a Funeral, plus it’s been used in various period dramas including The Other Boleyn Girl and Shakespeare in Love.
The elegant borough of Greenwich is full of wonderful buildings which are ideal for exploring on a sunny (or rainy!) London afternoon. When it comes to churches, you’ll find the tiny Chapel of St Peter and St Paul is a must-see. It forms part of the Royal Naval College buildings and, despite its small size, is intricately decorated in a Neoclassical style.
Take some time out of your day to admire the chapel’s pretty plasterwork ceiling, monochrome floor tiles and 17th century altarpiece.
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