London has suffered two major catastrophes throughout its history; the Great Fire of London of 1666 and the Second World War. Both events took with them a large proportion of the city’s homes, historical buildings and businesses, with huge damages suffered by many others. We’ve been on a quest to find the oldest constructions of note in the capital, including the oldest church, pub, restaurant, shop and tube station.
is the oldest parliamentary building, constructed in 1097. At the time it was the biggest, grandest building of its kind in the UK, and advisors to William II, who ordered its construction, questioned why he needed a hall of such scale. Unfortunately it was partially destroyed by London’s second great blaze in 1834 and sections of it had to be rebuilt, but care has been taken to preserve its original features so that its current guise is pretty close to the original. Once used for courts of law and public events, over the last hundred years it has seen official ceremonies like coronation lunches, veteran parades, and the lying-in-state of the bodies of Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother.
There are various claims to being the oldest church, depending on whether you take into account successive rebuilds and renovations. In terms of the age of the site, it is All Hallows by the Tower. Founded in 675, a piece of Roman pavement has miraculously managed to survive within the building, proof of its grand old age, however much of it was destroyed during the bombing of World War II. The beheaded bodies of several high profile characters was brought here after their execution at Tower Hill, among them Thomas More, the writer and chancellor charged with treason by the court of Henry VIII, and Archbishop William Laud, the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1633 to 1645, also a victim of the charge of high treason.
St Bartholomew the Great is another contender. The Anglican/Episcopal church was founded in 1123, however it has been used continuously as a place of worship since 1143. Its dramatic interior has several claims to fame, appearing in Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Other Boleyn Girl and Shakespeare in Love.