Woolwich Episcopal Area
Lewisham and Greenwich Archdeaconry
Details of the Church
Christianity in Greenwich goes back to 968, and a church has stood on the traditional site of the martyrdom of St Alfege since 1012. In his sixth year as Archbishop of Canterbury, Alfege was taken hostage by Viking raiders and murdered on 13 April.
A new church was built around 1290. Cardinal Morton was vicar 1444-1454; King Henry VIII was baptised here in 1491; and Thomas Tallis – the “Father of English Church Music” – was buried here in 1585. But the building, undermined by burials, collapsed in a great storm in 1710.
The present church, the third on the site, was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, who trained under Sir Christopher Wren, working with him on the Greenwich Royal Naval College. It was dedicated in 1718. The medieval tower was strengthened and refurbished in 1730 by John James of Greenwich. It continued to be associated with celebrated personalities: John Flamsteed – the first Astronomer Royal – worshipped here; General Wolfe – the hero of Quebec – was buried here; John Julius Angerstein – the inspiration for Lloyd’s insurance – was Churchwarden; and General Gordon – overwhelmed by the Mahdi at Khartoum – was baptised here.
The church suffered extensive fire damage from bombing in World War II. It was restored by Sir Albert Richardson and rededicated in 1953.