Canon Clarke, who was ordained in 1932, served as minister of St Peter’s Knowl Hill in Berkshire, for thirty years. From a young age, Clarke’s father had encouraged him to keep notes on church architecture. On what he called his ‘church-crawls’, he visited nearly 11,000 churches in his lifetime, all over England. He kept notes on each in notebooks and collected postcards, filling 112 albums. Volunteers from the Canon Clarke Project have spent the last year and half digitising that collection and making it available to the public through the Lambeth Palace Library website.

This walking Church Crawl follows a route that takes in Charterhouse, Gray’s Inn, Lincoln’s Inn and Temple Church, and lasts around two hours. All buildings are free to enter, apart from Temple Church, for which an admission cost must be paid. All are open regularly, but please consult the chapel websites for restricted hours to avoid disappointment.

Download Leaflet and Map

We have a PDF Leaflet showing the route and other information that you may find interesting. To download the leaflet please right click on the map image and choose the "Save link as" and select where to store it on your system. Alternatively you can left click the image to open the leaflet in a new browser window and then use the browser menu to "Save file as".


The Charterhouse

The Charterhouse site originally began life in 1348 as a burial ground for victims of the Black Death. By 1361, the then Bishop of London, Michael Northburgh convinced Sir Walter de Maunay to convert the plague-cemetery chapel into a Carthusian monastery, or charterhouse. The first prior and monks arrived in 1370.

After the Reformation, the building was bought as a private mansion. It became one of the most fashionable residences in London. In 1611, merchant Thomas Sutton bought it from Lord Thomas Howard, Earl of Suffolk. Sutton intended to use the site as an almshouse and school for the poor.

Inside the Chapel, Sutton’s memorial can be found left of the altar. When he died in 1611, Sutton was believed to be the richest commoner in England. When he moved to London in 1583, ‘he brought with him the quantity of two horse-loads of money’, one servant testified. The alabaster monument to Sutton was executed by Nicholas Stone Senior. It was completed in 1615 for £366 15s. Sutton lies on his tomb, flanked by captains in armour supporting an inscribed tablet. With their backs to a skull and hour glass, Vanity sits blowing bubbles with Father Time. Higher on the monument is a relief of a preacher giving a sermon to the Brothers of Charterhouse. On the outer sides are the figures of Faith and Hope. Charity stands on top of the arms of Charterhouse.

On 11 May 1941, most of the Tudor buildings at Charterhouse were set alight during an air raid. The Chapel had a remarkable escape. The building was saved only by the actions of a Dr and Mrs Harris of neighbouring St Bartholomew’s College, by cutting down a connecting staircase.

Charterhouse Website                    

Gray's Inn

The Chapel at Gray’s Inn dates to 1315, and is in fact more ancient than the legal institution it now serves. In its seven-hundred-year history, it has been rebuilt many times, including during the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, and again after suffering bomb damage during the Second World War. The first record of a chaplain being employed by Gray’s Inn, dates to 1400.

In 1574, William Charke was appointed as Chaplain. Whilst teaching at Cambridge, he had preached a sermon claiming that the Devil had introduced church hierarchies to subvert true religion. After being expelled for his fanaticism and arriving at Gray’s Inn, the Bishop of London attempted to subdue his extreme views, and had him sent to convert Catholics in the far reaches of the kingdom. He eventually moved to preach at Lincoln’s Inn, during which time he was involved in the imprisonment of Catholic priests.

Thirty years later, in 1599, Roger Fenton began to preach at Gray’s Inn. Like Charke, he was a prolific scholar. He was a vocal advocate of a strict form of Protestantism, whereby Christians should use misery as a means to live closer to God. His most lasting contribution to Protestantism was his involvement in the publishing of the King James Bible, which later became the standard bible in use in the Church of England.

After suffering damage during the Blitz, the Chapel structure unfortunately retains very few features of historical significance, other than a few fifteenth- and sixteenth-century windows. After the Second World War, some of the nineteenth-century stained-glass was removed and put into storage, only to be rediscovered in 2009. The Chapel was rebuilt to designs drafted by Sir Edward Maufe.

Gray's Inn Website                 

Lincoln's Inn

A chapel has existed at Lincoln’s Inn since at least 1428. The Chapel has a special status because it is not under ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and therefore does not have an attached parish; it is known as a ‘peculiar’. The Inn itself was founded to avoid falling foul of the law: in 1234 Henry III decreed that no legal institutions were to reside in the City of London, and so members of the legal profession moved to Holborn. Lincoln’s Inn was also founded on the site of the house of the Bishops of Chichester, which, being the residence of a bishop of a different diocese, could not fall under the jurisdiction of the Bishops of London.

Through the centuries, parishes took on social duties, such as caring for the poor. After the Act for the Relief of the Poor passed in 1601, the government required parishes to house the impoverished in workhouses. These establishments soon gained a reputation for being unhealthy places for residents, especially children. William Hogarth created the engraving Study for the Foundlings, to shock the public and reveal the cruel treatment that orphaned children were subjected to in early Georgian London. Records show that parents would leave their children at Lincoln’s Inn, specifically as it did not fall under parochial jurisdiction, in the hope that they would escape the cruel treatment of the workhouse.

The medieval chapel at the Inn was replaced in the seventeenth century. However, by the end of the century, the building had fallen into disrepair and Sir Christopher Wren was asked to survey the structure. It was decided that the main fabric of the Chapel would be retained, but with the addition of a new roof, a third aisle, a vestibule and two vestries.

Lincoln's Inn Website                 

Temple Church

Temple Church has had a gripping history. Although now associated with the legal inns of court, its earliest association was with that of the Knights Templar. The Templars were founded as an order of warrior-monks after the siege and capture of Jerusalem by Christian forces in 1099. They were committed to protecting pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land. As their wealth and influence grew, their organisation spread across Europe. A base was founded in London by the middle of the twelfth century.

Inside the Church, we find buried the ‘greatest knight who had ever lived’, William Marshall. Only being invested into the Knights Templar on his deathbed, Marshall had spent his life touring Europe to participate in tournaments. Whilst participating in this noble sport, he developed close associations with English royalty. By the reign of King John, Marshall had gained significant influence in the Angevin Empire. He remained loyal to the notorious King throughout the constitutional crisis that led to the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215.

The most significant architectural feature of Temple Church is its round nave, which dates to 1185. The circular nave is a common feature of Templar churches, and was designed to resemble the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, said to be the tomb of Christ. Inside, the Purbeck marble tombs are dedicated to William Marshall, his sons William and Gilbert, Geoffrey de Mandeville and Robert de Ros.

Temple Church Website