London’s relationship with religion has been a long and tumultuous one. Over thousands of years, London has seen the dissolution of the monasteries, changes from Religio Romana under the Romans into Christianity and many more unique events that have shaped the very identity of London. Guests of 5 star hotels in London will find that there are many places of worship that welcome visitors with open arms, even organising tours of London for those who are interested.
London’s many church and cathedral scenes creates a map of the city’s history, amny of them having been engineered and designed by the city’s most famous architects. When you throw in the push for diversity in London and the awe inspiring mosques, synagogues, Hindu and Sikh temples, you have a city characterised by culture and tradition. Whether you’re a guest of London hotel special offers or just visiting for the day, you’ll no doubt stumble across one of these historic beauties.
Having existed on its spot in Westminster since the 11th century, the history of Westminster Abbey actually dates back a hundred years prior to the 9th century, when St Peter’s Abbey was formed after an alleged vision of the saint by a fisherman on the River Thames. When it was rebuilt by Edward The Confessor in the 1050s, it was designed as a burial place for the king. 10 centuries later, and it is home to many kings and queens as well as other historically significant Brits. The gothic spired cathedral is open to visitors and has a stunning interior full of memorial plaques, royal tombs and much more. With many famous funerals and coronations having been staged at the Abbey it’s probably the most famous of its kind in the UK.
Westminster Cathedral is not to be confused with the Abbey, indeed it is actually of the Roman Catholic, rather than Church of England denomination and holds the title of seat for the Archbishop of Westminster. The neo-byzantine design of Westminster Cathedral is sure to turn heads in its Victoria locale, and is famous for its arts & craft style mosaics across its interior. The beautiful cathedral is one of the largest in the world and is open to visitors throughout the week.
St Paul’s Cathedral
Tying with Westminster Abbey for the top spot of iconic London religious spaces, St Paul’s Cathedral has had three iterations over the millenia. The current St Paul’s was designed by Sir Christopher Wren in the late 17th century and was part of a reconstruction plan after the great Fire Of London decimated many of the city’s well known structures. St Paul’s English Baroque architectural style, complete with jaw dropping domed ceilings was designed at one of the highest points of the City of London, and can be seen from many of the city’s parkbound viewpoints.
Located in the City of London ceremonial borough, St Paul’s Cathedral includes a wealth of beautiful artworks, stained glass windows and stunning interior design flourishes such as the Whispering Gallery, a cornice above the main gallery that holds unique acoustic properties. If you stand at one side of the gallery and whisper into the circular cornice, a receiver on the opposite side can hear your voice! It’s characterful quirks like this that have inspired generations of tourists and guests of the nearby Montcalm at the Brewery hotel to visit and explore this fascinating Anglian cathedral.
St Dunstan In The East
Moving from the well known to the hidden gems, St Dunstan In The East may not be a functioning church, but the ruins of this Church of England parish halfway between London Bridge and the Tower of London has in recent decades, found new life as a public garden. After being damaged in the Blitz, the church fell into disrepair and a small, idyllic garden was developed around its ruined arches. Nowadays, creeping ivy, flower beds and small lawns await the commuters and tourists who spot it from the corner of their eye on St Dunstan’s Hill.
ISKCON Soho London Temple
Moving on to different religions that are popular in London, the ISKCON Soho London Temple is a colourful and vibrant temple in the heart of London’s West End. For guests of West End restaurants looking for a little peace and quiet, this temple just off of Oxford Street has, amidst its beautiful altars to Sri Sri Radha Lononisvara, a range of cafes, vegan and medicine stalls.
The London Central Mosque
Also known as Regent’s Park Mosque due to its location beside the royal park, this hub for British muslims can hold up to 5000 people for worship. The golden arch and stunning dome of London Central Mosque were designed in the late 70s for the growing population of London muslims, whilst its bookshop and bistro also draw in those from outside the religion, but with a curiosity for the culture as well.
Situated in the London Bridge area, Southwark Cathedral is one of the best examples of Gothic architecture, having been built in the style’s revival in the late 19th century. The cathedral’s history dates back more than a millennium and is the seat of the Anglican Diocese of Southwark. With monuments to Shakespeare and a famous choir, this beautiful place of worship evokes a sense of accessible grandeur and a welcoming community feel.
London Sri Murugan Temple
Another Hindu stalwart, this stunning temple is designed in the traditional fashion of southeast Asia and is located between Ilford and East Ham. The London Sri Murugan Temple is dedicated to Lord Murugan, symbolically known as the God of the Tamil people and his colourful altars within the temple really stand out.
This historic church on the banks of the River Thames can be found near Fleet Street and its round design dates back to the late 12th century, when it was built for the Knights Templar, a group of holy crusaders who served King John. This group has been the source of inspiration for many works of fiction and the temple itself is now a mysterious tourist attraction that still houses clergymen to this day.