New book reveals secrets of London City Churches

 (First published on ICN in  November 2003)

London City Churches by Paul Middleton and Leigh Hatts. Banksidepress 8.99 This fascinating small book is a must for anyone with an interest in history and contemporary church life. Written by Leigh Hatts, with drawings by architect Paul Middleton, it explores each of the surviving 41 historic churches in the City of London, providing a brief history and an account of their contemporary role.

All the church names have a mediaeval ring to them: 'All-Hallows-by-the-Tower, St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe, St Dunstan-in-the-West, The Dutch Church Austin Friars. Parishioners at these churches have included saints, poets, explorers, royals and paupers. Besides their histories, many surprising activities are revealed in the book. There is the story of Dick Whittington's tomb, a 'camembert cheese' altar, the Samaritans first telephone, the pulpit used by the composer of Amazing Grace, the priory featured in Four Weddings and a Funeral ' a church mentioned by Shakespeare. Inside these churches today, in addition to worship, can be found the London Centre for Spirituality, the National Interpreting Service, the Court of Arches, and Centre for Reconciliation and Peace.

The historic churches in the ancient heart of the capital are shown in their modern role as Christian centres reaching out beyond London and the United Kingdom. Unfortunately one or two churches have been omitted - in particular St Etheldreda's in Ely Place, and St Joseph's in Bunhill Row. This is because they fall just over the City borders - however the authors hope to include them in future editions.

Leigh Hatts is a former arts correspondent of the Catholic Herald, and was editor of London Link, and has written several books on the River Thames. Paul Middleton, designed an ecumenical church in India and set up the annual City Churches Walk. London City Churches can also be bought from many bookshops. It is also available on-line from and can be bought on-line from Amazon on our front page.

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