There has been a parish church on the site of the present day St. Alphege’s since the 12th century to mark the brutal martyrdom of this early Archbishop of Canterbury.
Here Henry VIII was baptised and Thomas Tallis, father of English church music, buried. Today Hawksmoor’s new church of 1712, with its simple unity and impressive strength (the somewhat fussy steeple was added later by John Jones) stands four square to the road at the centre of town.
James Wolfe’s body, brought from Quebec, was finally laid to rest here, and Lavinia Fenton, the Polly Peachum of Beggar’s Opera fame was buried in 1760. Unfortunately an incendiary bomb during the last war destroyed much of the splendid interior. Some Grinling Gibbons woodcarving survived and Thornhill’s painted apse has been restored.
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