December 17

All Hallows-by-the-Tower — London’s “Canadian Church”


Thursday, 15 December 2011

[This post was written by Rafal Heydel-Mankoo to mark the anniversary of the visit to All Hallows-by-the-Tower of HRH The Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) on 15 December 1923, following his tour of Canada. We wonder whether there is a church in London which could claim the status of an Australian or New Zealand church or those of other Realms? ]

Founded by the Saxon Abbey at Barking in 675 (and long known as All Hallows Barking), All Hallows-by-the-Tower (so named for its proximity to The Tower of London), can rightly claim the status of "Canada's Church in London".

The Church of All Hallows-by-The-Tower, is one of London's least explored gems, with its extant roman foundations, atmospheric crypt, tiny underground chapels and historic associations — from "hatch" (baptism of William Penn) to "match" (marriage of John Quincy Adams) to "dispatch" (burial of Archbishop William Laud).

It was from the spire of All Hallows that the famous diarist Samuel Pepys briefly watched the Great Fire of London. Destroyed during the Blitz in 1940, All Hallows' restoration was due to tremendous assistance from Canada.

British Columbian wood was used in the construction of the spire of All Hallows, whilst the carillon of 18 bells was donated by J.W. McConnell of Montreal. The pews were donated by Canadian Pacific and the Province of Manitoba, whilst the Building Products Council of Montreal supplied the floor tiles.

The Lady Chapel of the Church, which is located at the north of the church, bears what is probably Britain's only stained glass reference to the University of Toronto. The window was erected by Canadian friends of Dr. Hugh Hornby Langton (1862-1953).

The window depicts Dr. Langton's arms along with the following inscription:

"Doctor Hugh Langton of Toronto University died 1953 a benefactor of Toc H 11 Toronto. His brother-in-law Major Edmund Street, D.S.O. was the first officer to enter Talbot House, Poperinghe, on 14th December 1915. His sword was brough back and laid up within this Chapel by HRH The Prince of Wales, on the 15th day of December 1923 after his Canadian Tour. This panel was given by Canadian Friends."

Dr. Langton, a graduate of the Unviersity of Toronto, was also its first full-time Registrar (1887-1892) and, upon retirement, became its librarian (1892-1923). A prolific author he also wrote a history of the "University of Toronto and its Colleges" and was the editor of the Chronicles of Canada and of the Review of Historical Publications Relating to Canada (which became the Canadian Historical Review)

I would encourage any Canadian visiting London to make the effort to visit this historic church, easily located approximately 90 seconds walk from Tower Hill underground station.


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