All Hallows Barking is an Ancient Parish in the county of London.
Alternative names: All Hallows by the Tower, Allhallows Barking By The Tower.
Parish church: All-hallows, or All Saints
Parish registers begin: 1558
London Ward: Tower
This church is so called from being dedicated to All-hallows, or All Saints, and the word Barking was probably added as being the name of a manor formerly here, and to distinguish it from other churches dedicated to All Saints. As to its foundation: — Here was built a chapel, founded by king Richard I.; this chapel was confirmed and augmented by Edward I. Edward IV. gave licence for founding a brotherhood of a master, &c., and directed it to be called the King’s Chapel, or Chantry in Capella Beatæ Murkæ de Barking. Richard III. rebuilt it, and founded therein a college of priests: this college was suppressed and demolished A.D. 154S, in the second year of Edward VI.; and in Elizabeth’s reign there were built a number of store houses on its scite. Some persons are of opinion that this church has been enlarged eastward, a foundation of a wall having been discovered to run across at a considerable depth, near the pulpit. In the year 1649, it was greatly injured by gunpowder, which, however, was soon repaired. The steeple was built in 1659. This church escaped the dreadful fire in 1666. It is situate on the south side of Barking-alley, on the north side and near the east end of Great Tower-street, in the ward of Tower, and within the walls of London.
It is an impropriation, in the gift of his grace the Archbishop of Canterbury; said to be worth about £800 per annum.
Rector, Rev. S. J. Knight. Lecturer, Rev. Dr. Owen. Parish-clerk, Mr. Joseph Morrice. Open vestry. — 8 bells. — About 270 houses.
Here is a school, founded by the late Alderman Hickson. It is said that in this parish a child was blown up while in its cradle by 27 barrels of gunpowder, without sustaining any material injury.
This parish contains, on the west side of Mark-lane, 6 houses, and 11 on the east side. On the north side of Tower-street it reaches from Mark-lane to Tower-hill, and from, the hill to Water-lane on the south, including the east side of that lane. Opposite the hill it reaches from Tower-dock to one house northward of Muscovy-court; 3 houses in Cooper’s-row; the East India Warehouses abutting on the old London Wall; a certain building near ditto, adjoining the premises of Mr. Butler; the whole of the east side of Barking-churchyard; and as far as Pearson’s warehouse (formerly the Hemp-yard) on the west side of Seething-lane. On the north side of Thames-street as far as Water-lane, and on the south to Tower dock, with the old Custom House Quays, &c. in this compass.
Source: London parishes: containing the situation, antiquity, and re-building of the churches within the bills of mortality. B. Weed 1824
All Hallows-by-the-Tower was first established in 675 by the Anglo-Saxon Abbey at Barking and was for many years named after the abbey, as All Hallows Barking. The church was built on the site of a former Roman building, traces of which have been discovered in the crypt. It was expanded and rebuilt several times between the 11th and 15th centuries. Its proximity to the Tower of London meant that it acquired royal connections, with Edward IV making one of its chapels a royal chantry and the beheaded victims of Tower executions being sent for temporary burial at All Hallows.
The church was badly damaged by an explosion in 1650 caused when some barrels of gunpowder being stored in the churchyard exploded; its west tower and some 50 nearby houses were destroyed, and there were many fatalities. The tower was rebuilt in 1658, the only example of work carried out on a church during the Commonwealth era of 1649–1660. It only narrowly survived the Great Fire of London in 1666 and owes its survival to Admiral William Penn, father of William Penn of Pennsylvania fame, who had his men from a nearby naval yard demolish the surrounding buildings to create firebreaks. During the Great Fire, Samuel Pepys climbed the church’s spire to watch the progress of the blaze and what he described as “the saddest sight of desolation”.
Restored in the late 19th century, All Hallows was gutted by German bombers during the Blitz in World War II and required extensive reconstruction, only being rededicated in 1957.
Many portions of the old church survived the War and have been sympathetically restored. Its outer walls are 15th-century, with a 7th-century Saxon arch doorway surviving from the original church, which is the oldest piece of church material in London. Many brasses remain in the interior. Three outstanding wooden statues of saints dating from the 15th and 16th centuries can also be found in the church, as can an exquisite Baptismal font cover which was carved in 1682 by Grinling Gibbons for ₤12, and which is regarded as one of the finest pieces of carving in London.