History of St Sepulchre Church
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History of St Sepulchre Church

Church of St Sepulchre, gruesome medieval links with Old Bailey.


The 150 feet high tower contains a ring of twelve bells, restored in 1985, famous in the nursery rhyme as The Bells of Old Bailey.

One celebrated yet tragic Rector, John Rogers, was burnt at the stake in Smithfield in 1555, the first Protestant martyr of Queen Mary's reign. He was killed for assisting William Tyndale to translate the Bible into English.

In the north wall of the sanctuary are what may be the remains of an Easter Sepulchre. The most notable person known to have been buried in this chapel was Roger Ascham, the beloved tutor of Queen Elizabeth I who died in 1568.

In a glass case on a pillar at the south east of the nave is the Execution Bell, a grim reminder of the connection between this church and old Newgate Prison which stood, until 1902, on the site now occupied by the Central Criminal Court - The Old Bailey. In 1605 Robert Dowe gave fifty pounds for the ringing of the great bell on the mornings of executions, and for other services concerning condemned prisoners including the ringing of this hand-bell at midnight outside the condemned cell.

On the south wall is a relic of the 1450 church, a Piscina for rinsing communion vessels. This appears to be darkened by fire and is thought to still bear the traces of the Great Fire of London in 1666.

Location: Church of St Sepulchre, London, EC1A 9DE