St Peter ad Vincula - The Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks

St Peter ad Vincula

• The Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula ("St. Peter in chains") is the parish church of theTower of London. It is situated within the Tower's Inner Ward and dates from 1520. The name refers to St Peter’s imprisonment under Herod Agrippa in Jerusalem.

• The Chapel is probably best known as the burial place of some of the most famous prisoners executed at the Tower and it is a Royal Peculiar. That is to say a place of worship that falls directly under the jurisdiction of the monarch, rather than under a bishop.

• The existing building was rebuilt for Henry VIII by Sir Richard Cholmondeley in 1519–20, but a chapel stood in its position since before the Norman Conquest.

• The Chapel contains many splendid monuments including a fine 17th-century organ, decorated with carvings by Grinling Gibbons.

• The Chapel is perhaps best known as the burial place of some of the most famous Tower prisoners, including three queens: Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, the second and fifth wives of Henry VIII, respectively, and Lady Jane Grey, who reigned for nine days in 1553.

• Thomas More and John Fisher, were executed and later canonised as martyrs are also buried here, as is Henry VIII's minister, Thomas Cromwell, executed in 1540.

• A list of 'remarkable persons' buried in the chapel between 1534 and 1747 can be seen on a table on the west wall.

• Macauley wrote chapel in his 1848 History of England: "In truth there is no sadder spot on the earth than that little cemetery. Death is there associated, not, as in Westminster Abbey and Saint Paul's, with genius and virtue, with public veneration and with imperishable renown; not, as in our humblest churches and churchyards, with everything that is most endearing in social and domestic charities; but with whatever is darkest in human nature and in human destiny, with the savage triumph of implacable enemies, with the inconstancy, the ingratitude, the cowardice of friends, with all the miseries of fallen greatness and of blighted fame. Thither have been carried, through successive ages, by the rude hands of gaolers, without one mourner following, the bleeding relics of men who had been the captains of armies, the leaders of parties, the oracles of senates, and the ornaments of courts."


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