One of the oldest churches in the city of London, has to be “All Hallows” which stands on Tower Hill, to the west of the Tower of London. This fine old church which dates back to the seventh century, has had a bloody history, it is where the bodies of those who were executed as enemies of the state were received.
All Hallows Church was founded in the late seventh century by the Abbey of Barking, and was known as “All Hallows Barking. Traces still exist of the first church that stood on that site, in the under croft with its three subterranean chapels.
According to Celtic legend, “Bran the Blessed” an ancient warrior, who lost his life on the battlefield, had his severed head brought from the Irish battlefield, and buried facing France, to ward off French invasion.
Brian the Blessed is believed to have links to Arthurian legend and the Holy Grail, and to this day is revered by modern-day Druids.
Following the arrest of the “Order of the Knights Templar, a relationship between the Templars and All Hallows existed, and they were brought to London and imprisoned in The Tower of London.
William de la More, the Master of the Temple on English lands, accompanied by members of the Order, were marched from Tower of London to All Hallows Church on the 29th April 1311. William read out a pre-written statement, to those present:
We believe all that the holy church believes and teaches us, we declare that our religion is founded on the vows of obedience, poverty, chastity and the aiding in the conquest of the holy land of Jerusalem… And we firmly deny and contradict one and all of us, all many of heresy and evil doings, contrary to the faith of the holy church.
William pleaded with those present, that he and his fellow brethren, be treated like the true children of the church that they be… and called upon other Christians at attest to their Christian beliefs and acts.
And if in our examinations we have said or done anything wrong through ignorance of a word, since we are unlettered men, we are ready to suffer for the holy church like him who died for us on the blessed cross… we pray that our examination maybe read and heard before ourselves and all the people. In the very language and words in which it was given to you and written down on paper.
Finally, an agreement could be reached which was acceptable to both parties, which allowed the remaining Knights Templar to leave prison, and King Edward II, to have played a part in the final outcome.
The Templars agreed to admit to some minor irregularities, for which they could do penance for. The physically fit made a statement of guilt and appealed for re-admission to the church of St. Pauls, whilst those less able were heard at All Hallows.
The Order of the Knights Templar, brought back to England, altar stones from Athlit Castle in Acre, their last commanding position in the Holy Land, before being pushed out by Saracen Forces. The stones are now located under the present high altar at All Hallows. A monument to the Knights Templar…
All Hallows Church is where the bodies of executed traitors, taken from the Tower of London, would rest awaiting burial. Many a powerful figure who had fallen from grace could end up here, like: Sir Thomas More.
William Penn, he who founded Pennsylvania in the U.S. was baptised at All Hallows in 1644. In 1797 John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the U.S. was married here.
Admiral Penn, father of William Penn, saved the church in 1666, during the Great Fire of London.
All Hallows Church suffered immense damage during World War Two, most of the wooden sections destroyed. All that survived being Tower – Walls – Grinling Gibbons carved font cover.
The under croft was rebuilt as a museum for curiosities; containing a Saxon Cross – Crow’s Nest from Ernest Shackleton’s ship that took them to the Antarctic. A stone altar, linked to the Knights Templar.