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Crypts of London: Past and Present

Crypts of London: Past and Present

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A fascinating voyage of discovery under London's churchesAfter the devastation of 1666, the Church of England in the City of London was given 51 new buildings, in addition to the 24 that had survived the Great Fire. During the next 100 years others were built in the cities of London and Westminster, most with a crypt as spacious as the church above. This book relates the amazing stories of these spaces, revealing an often surprising side to life—and death—inside the churches of historic London. The story of these crypts really began when, against the wishes of architects such as Wren and Vanbrugh, the clergy, churchwardens, and vestries decided to earn some money by interring wealthy parishioners in their crypts. By 1800 there were 79 church crypts in London, filled with the last remains of Londoners both illustrious and ordinary. Interments in inner London ended in the 1850s: since then, 52 crypts have been cleared, and five partly cleared, resulting in the gruesome business of moving human remains. Today, many crypts have a new life as chapels, restaurants, medical centers, and museums. With rare illustrations throughout, this fascinating study reveals the incredible history hidden beneath the churches of the city.